OK, so it’s been a couple of years, and coincidentally exactly 100 episodes, since I reviewed and created a tutorial to help you to create camera profiles for use in Capture One Pro using the Lumariver Profile Designer software, and with my new EOS R5 sitting around without a custom profile, I figured I’d make one, and I was pleased to see that a few changes made to the Lumariver software have made the profiles easier to create than ever before!
There are a number of ways to create these profiles, and I haven’t tried all of them, but the main thing to note here is that I followed Lumariver Manual instructions for Making Capture One ICC Profiles, and did NOT use the simpler workflow for reproduction. I went through the full steps, and in step 14 I used Alternative A to get the Capture One curve for my profile. The instructions from Lumariver are clear enough, but in my humble opinion could be a little clearer and better illustrated, so here goes with my version.
Preparing Your Photograph
First, you’ll need an X-Rite ColorChecker target. There are other targets that you can use, but I recommend X-Rite’s as they are what I use. You can use the ColorChecker Passport, but for my profile, I used the Digital ColorChecker SG that you can see in this photo, that I used to create my profile. Excuse the grubby outside air-conditioning unit that I placed the target on. I didn’t want to spend much time on this, so I didn’t cover it up or anything. I exposed the chart in Manual mode and ensured that I pulled back slightly from the setting that started the white patches blinking with exposure alerts, so the base image is as bright as it can be without starting to overexpose, just as I shoot all of my images.
For the sake of this process, note that I used the White Balance picker tool in Capture One Pro and selected one of the neutral gray cells on the target, and that set the custom white balance of the image to 5757 Kelvin and a Tint of -2.8. You can use this profile for a wide range of white balances, but to create it, we need to set that custom white balance in this way, and remember the kelvin value for later.
The next part of the process will make your image look crap for a while, but this is necessary, so let’s work through it. As you can see in the screenshot, under the Base Characteristics panel in Capture One Pro, you need to select No Color Correction from the Effects section of the ICC Profile pulldown. If you don’t see this option, click on the Show All option first. It’s also important here to select the Linear Response option from the Curve pulldown, below the ICC Profile pulldown. This is the part that will make your image look flat and much less colorful, so if it still looks OK, go back and check these last few steps.
Then right-click the image that you just changed, and select Export, then Variants, from the shortcut menu that appears (right). You’ll then see a dialog box to select the settings, which need to be the TIFF format, 16 bit, and under ICC Profile select Embed camera profile. For the filename, to make the following steps easier, either change the name to Linear or append the word Linear to the filename as I have (below).
After exporting your Linear copy of the image, go back to the Curve pulldown from the Base Characteristics panel, and this time select Auto, unless you usually select one of the other options, such as Film Standard. I just selected Auto, and then exported a second copy of the image repeating the previous step, but this time appended the words Auto_Curve to the filename so that I can easily identify it as we proceed.
Next, assuming you have already installed and licensed your copy of Lumariver Profile Designer, open it and select General-purpose ICC Profile, as you see in the next screenshot (right).
After that, click on the Load Image button under the Target dialog that should already be selected when you start Lumariver. In the below screenshot it says Drop Image because I have already loaded the image when I captured this. You will just need to hit the Load Image button and select the Linear TIFF that we exported first of the two. Also, select the Illuminant which is closest to the White Balance that you made a mental note of earlier. My image was 5757 Kelvin, so I chose D55. Next, select your target from the pulldown that says X-Rite ColorChecker SG in my screenshot. Again, I’ve already selected this. After that, select Show Target Grid, and align the corners of the grid that will appear with the plus symbols in each corner of your ColorChecker, as you can see in my screenshot.
Now select the Tone Curve option in the bottom right of the Lumariver dialog, and select Load Base Curve, and load the second of the two images that you exported earlier, marked with Auto_Curve in my example. Then, under the Curve Mode pulldown, select Add to Base Curve, and then select Curve: Custom and press the Load Custom Curve button and a dialog will open. Leave that dialog open and go back to Capture One Pro, and go back to the Base Characteristics panel, and locate an image that still has your default camera profile selected, not the one that you used for this export because we changed that.
In my case, the Canon EOS R5 Generic profile was selected. Mouse over the profile that is applied to your images, and you should see a popup with the path to the Generic Capture One Pro profile that your camera has been using. Go to that folder, and locate the profile, then drag the file to the dialog that we left open in Lumariver earlier. This will move the dialog to your profiles folder and select the file that you just dragged, ready for you to import. Also, at this point, note the name of the profile file, or better still, select it and copy the filename to your computer’s clipboard for use in a few moments.
Once you have your Generic profile loaded, you are ready to hit the Render button. As you can see in the below screenshot, once Rendered, you should see a beautiful full-colored version of your original photograph, and this indicates that the process was successful. In previous versions, following the Manual as we just did never gave me a useable profile, and I had to select some other options to get that, but now it works right out of the box, which is great!
Go to the ICC Export tab, and type or paste the filename that I asked you to copy to your clipboard a few moments ago. You just need the first part of the filename, up to the hyphen, which is CanonEOSR5 in my example, and then you want to add something descriptive after that. If you don’t use the same start of the filename as your camera’s generic profile, the new profile will not be listed with your Generic profile under the Base Characteristics ICC Profile pulldown. Any other filename will cause your profile to be listed under the Other section, and that makes it more difficult to locate later.
Check your profile, and see if it is at least marginally better than the Capture One Pro Generic camera profile. The one that I just created is, so I am going to use it by default for my EOS R5 from now on. To make that happen, right-click the ellipses in the top right corner of the Base Characteristics panel, and select Save as Defaults for Canon EOS R5 or whatever your camera is called.
If you do that, from now on, all images that you import into Capture One Pro from the same camera will get this new camera profile assigned. If you prefer to just assign the profile yourself, skip the last step, and just select the profile from the pulldown manually when you want to apply it. To apply the new profile to images that were imported before you created this new profile, you just need to select them, and then select the new profile. If you made the new profile the default, you can also just select Apply Defaults.
Note too that the first part of the profile filename, used to identify it and group the profile correctly, is not included in the pulldown, because it is displayed under the camera’s profiles. This is why you still want to give it a meaningful name after the hyphen. Also, if you want to see your original target photo in full splendor, you’ll need to change the Linear Response curve back to Auto or whatever you use, as well as assigning the new camera profile.
Before / After
So that you can see the difference, here is a Before / After slider. Drag the vertical bar back and forth to reveal the Lumariver camera profile. It’s pretty obvious which it is but I have also labeled them, just in case.
Lumariver Camera Profile
Generic Camera Profile
If you are interested in grabbing a copy of Lumariver Profile Designer to create your own profiles, you’ll find it at http://www.lumariver.com and note that to create profiles for Capture One Pro as we’ve done in this tutorial, you will need at least the Pro Edition, and the Repro Edition also works for this. The Basic Edition does not work. That will only create DNG based camera profiles, but that should mean that it will be enough if you use Adobe Camera Raw based camera profiles. Also, if you need a ColorChecker target, you can get both the ColorChecker Passport and the Digital ColorChecker SG from our friends at B&H Photo or Amazon and if you use our affiliate links it helps to keep the lights on the content coming, as well as being very much appreciated.
Note that in September 2020 I updated this tutorial as a new post here. The process has become much easier and less error-prone following some updates, so please follow the later tutorial.
Following on from the previous episode, this week we look at creating camera profiles for Capture One Pro using a product called Lumariver Profile Designer. This is a video again, so the audio player is basically redundant, but I’ll include it anyway.
I’ll leave my notes below, for those that prefer to read, but this really is an episode that requires you to watch the video to not only understand how to create these camera profiles but also to be able to see the benefits when applying the profiles to images in Capture One Pro. Here’s the video.
My Procedure Notes
Here are the notes I made as I prepared for this episode.
The Lumariver manual states that exposure should be around 220 on the white patches, and I have a photo of the Digital ColorChecker SG from last year that is around 221 on the white patches, so that’s perfect! This image was exposed so that the white patches were not blinking, but 1/3 of a stop brighter would have made them blink on the camera’s LCD.
We first use the White Balance picker to set the white balance using one of the mid-gray patches and note that the image is pretty much a perfect 5000K white balance. Nice!
Then we need to go to the Base Characteristics panel, and under ICC Profile select Effects > No color correction, and also set the Curve to Linear Response. We then export the file as a 16 bit TIFF with the ICC Profile set to Embed camera profile, then export a second TIFF with the Curve set to the setting we usually use, so I’ll go with Auto.
Next select New Project from the Edit menu in Lumariver Profile Designer and select “General-purpose ICC profile”. You can use Lumariver to create DNG profiles for use in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, but our objective is to create a camera profile for Capture One Pro, my raw processing software of choice, so we need to select ICC profile.
We then click the Load Image button and load our linear curve TIFF file, and then select the Illuminant that is closest to the light source that we photographed the target in. My custom white balance showed me a reading around 5000K so D50 is smack on. Then select the type of target used, which in this case is the X-Rite ColorChecker SG.
Press the Show Target Grid button and align the corners of the grid that is displayed with the registration marks on the ColorChecker target, then turn on the Grid is in place checkbox. Click on the Tone Curve label towards the bottom of the right sidebar in Lumariver, press the Load Base Curve button and select the second TIFF that we exported with the Auto Curve applied.
The next option, Curve Mode is actually key to making Camera Profiles for Capture One Pro that work without having to brighten your images up again after applying the profile. You need to set the Curve Mode to Add to Base Curve. The default setting of Replace Base Curve gives you a dark profile. On this screen let’s also load the curve from the Capture One Pro load the ICC profile from Capture One.
Under the Look section, I changed the Tone Reproduction Operator to Neutral, as opposed to Skin&Sky, as I don’t really want anything changing. I also changed the Gamut Compression to None. Gamut Compression basically compresses the colors into a smaller working color space, like sRGB or AdobeRGB, but as I keep my images in ProPhotoRGB for as long as possible, and because I know that the camera is working in a much wider color space, I don’t want to limit them falsely with the profiles I’m creating. It’s great to have these options!
Finally, under the ICC Export section, I turned on High-Resolution LUT, because I can, and we’re now ready to press the Render button. Wow! Right there I like what I see very much. We can now export the ICC profile. The default Profile folder that was selected was for me only. So that I can access this profile from other users, should I create any, I changed this to the /Library/ColorSync/Profiles folder, and called my new profile “CanonEOS5DSR-MBP Generic”. I used this naming convention so that Capture One Pro would list my profile alongside the other CanonEOS5DSR profiles.
I also created a second profile with a 3D LUT (Look Up Table) selected under the Optimization section. The manual says that this is really for Reproduction profiles, but being me, I always want to try to use the best possible options, and 3D LUT profiles apply the corrections differently according to the brightness of the color. Although the manual warns that 3D LUT profiles should only be used on images shot under the same conditions, my tests have shown that these work great as a Generic ICC profile for my Canon 5Ds R.
Note that I needed to leave Scale to Match off when creating a 3D LUT profile, as turning this on made my images too bright, unless I used the Linear Response Curve, and then actually the images looked OK, although a little flat.
Then if it was open we need to restart Capture One Pro so that it can find the new ICC profiles, and all we need to do is select the new profile under ICC Profile in the Base Characteristics section, and WOW! Just watch those colors pop! If you want to really bring out the most from your camera, I think we’ve just found the way to do it!
I honestly didn’t think it was possible to improve the image quality of Capture One Pro, so this is a pleasant surprise. I am going to be applying this new profile from now on, and will also go on to create some other profiles for my studio lighting etc. I think a couple of profiles will probably be enough to cover most of the work I do.
Lumariver Profile Designer Cost
Although the process to create a profile is a little more complex with more steps, once you have saved a project, creating future profiles is a piece of cake, and the look of the images with these profiles is great!
All importantly, the price is very reasonable. The Pro version is said to be enough for photographers, at €100, but for a little extra control and options, the Repro version will set you back €200.
This product now has a place in my Capture One Pro workflow. It’s not that I was unhappy with the color of my images, but I do often tweak it, and these profiles get me closer to where I want to be, and that will be a huge time saver. I just wish I’d found this software sooner!
You can try Lumariver without a license, but you can’t save the project or profiles without a license. That’s still useful, as you can see your photographs after rendering them, to ensure at least that you have the process down before you buy.
Today we’re going to start exploring options that enable us to create camera profiles for Capture One Pro, starting with basICColor input 5. This is something that I’ve been meaning to look into for a while, so I’m pleased to finally be able to bring this to you.
When I was using Lightroom, I used to use X-Rite’s Color Checker Passport to create camera profiles, which I could then assign to images, helping to make the colors as accurate as possible. Before we go on, I want to say that although I feel this is important for product shoot, when the accuracy of the color of the product is important, for my regular art photography, I’d already been far less reliant on this technology even before switching to Capture One Pro, and this really is why I haven’t really missed not being able to create profiles for the past almost two years now, since I jumped ship.
There are still occasions though when I feel that I’d like to lock in the color more accurately, and so I contacted a couple of companies to get access to their software for evaluation purposes. The first company that I contacted was basICColor, and I actually had them provide me with an extended evaluation license last year, but it expired as I got busy again with my Morocco Tour and then my Winter Tours. So, a special thanks to the basICColor team for their patience and generosity in enabling me to prepare this review.
The second solution I’m going to look at is one that has only just recently come to my attention via a reader, and that is Lumariver. These people have also provided me with a copy of their software to take a look at, and I intend to do that straight after we finish this initial review of basICColor Input 5. I do not intend this to be a comparison as such, rather I’d just like to cover our options, and you can choose which option you’d like to go with if indeed you are looking to create your own camera profiles for Capture One Pro.
Anyway, rather than spelling this all out, I decided to record a screencast, so that I could show you the software in action along with some examples using my images, explaining why I personally won’t be using this solution for my general work, although it would be useful for work when complete color accuracy is required, like for product shoots and studio work where the lighting can be completely controlled.
Check out the video to see what I mean, and hopefully, this will help you to understand if there is a place for this kind of software in your workflow. Also note that I would recommend you actually download basICColor input 5 and give it a try for yourself. There is a trial period available if you don’t have a license.
What Does it Cost?
OK, so basICColor input 5 completely surpassed my expectations in the ease of use and quality of the camera profiles created, but the all-important question is, how much is it going to set you back if you decide to buy a license. This may well be the crunch factor for most people, as basICColor is a cool €500 or $600 at the current exchange rate. Either way, you can check out basICColor input 5 here: https://www.basiccolor.de/basiccolor-input-5-en/
Following the release of my video on soft-proofing, I received a few questions that helped me to realize that I need to spend a little time going over the reasons that we even need to use ICC profiles, and what they actually do.
You may recall from the video I released a few weeks ago, that I talked about using ProPhoto RGB whenever possible, and some people asked if they should use this for their computer display. If you recall from the video, I showed you the ICC profiles for my two computer screens, and these were very different from my camera Profile, and my various print media profiles.
Device Capabilities and Restrictions
ProPhoto RGB is a much wider profile, larger than all of the other devices and media profiles that we might use, and this is why I recommend using it when editing our images, but you don’t need to use this for your display, or when actually printing, as these modes of outputting our images have their own limitations, and it’s these very limitations that make ICC profiles necessary in the first place.
So, the first thing to remember is that the ability to reproduce color varies depending on the device or media on which we display or output our images. ICC profiles are used to translate the colors in our image to the ones reproducible by any given device or output media. Another way to think of this is the difference between human languages. If one person only speaks English, and another only understands Japanese, they have no way to communicate. For example, I understand the color red, and the word “red” to describe that color. Now, of course, you’d be hard pushed to find a Japanese person that doesn’t understand the word “red” but assuming they don’t, when I say “red” to a Japanese person, they would not know how to process that information.
Another way to think of this is the difference between human languages. If one person only speaks English, and another only understands Japanese, they have no way to communicate. For example, I understand the color red, and the word “red” to describe that color. Now, of course, you’d be hard pushed to find a Japanese person that doesn’t understand the word “red” in English, but assuming they don’t, when I say “red” to a Japanese person, they would not know how to process that information.
Likewise, assuming I didn’t understand Japanese if a Japanese person said the word “akai” to me, I would not understand them either, and not be able to process that information. However, if we had a dictionary to map the color red to the Japanese word “akai” we could communicate. We’d both understand what red is and be able to visualize the color. On a very basic level, this is what an ICC profile does, but for millions of colors, not just one.
What Problems Exist?
Let’s take a look at the problems we are trying to overcome in a little more detail. The core piece of information that we need to keep in mind is that every device capable of displaying an image has limitations on what colors it can display. These days, our computers understand millions of colors. They understand many more colors that they can display or print. You might think that’s strange, but this is the same theory as my reason for recommending that people work in ProPhoto RGB. We need to edit with more wiggle room than we need, and then adjust this to the output device when necessary. More on this later.
To illustrate the issues we face I created a Granger Chart in Photoshop following the steps in this Luminous Landscape article. This chart (below) contains way more colors than our displays or printers have the ability to reproduce. That’s why there are some crunchy gradations in the chart, and those nasty steps in the gradations will change depending on the device on which you look at the image.
Take a look at the image on two different displays, or on your phone or tablet, and you’ll see differences, ranging from very slight, to quite drastic, depending on the device. Note that I also use these charts in my printing tests sometimes, because they force the printer and media to very bluntly show us what they can and cannot do. More on that shortly too.
Note that I used ProPhoto RGB to create the chart, but I had to convert this to sRGB for the Web version, so the colors get scrunched a little during that process. This is one of the challenges we face. Although things are gradually changing, sRGB is still the standard color space for the Web. To really see the original chart, you’ll need to create one yourself. Then try moving it across displays, if you use a multi-monitor computer.
If we turn the clock back just 25 years, personal computers were just starting to be able to work in more than 256 colors, but a lot of technology was still restricted to just 256 colors. In Photoshop, using the Granger chart I created, I changed the Color Mode from 16bit color to 8bit, and selected Indexed Color, then chose to change the colors Perceptually, to at least give the image a chance to show us a few more steps, and I reduced the image to 256 colors. Here are is the resulting image (below). The image looks so bad because it contains the full spectrum of colors, so when allocating these to just 256 slots, there’s no room to save the colors required to create finer gradations.
Granger Chart 256 Colors
My first PC that I bought back in 1994 was considered relatively advanced for the time, but it could still only display between 16 and 32,768 simultaneous colors out of a possible 4096 to 16.777 million, depending on the video mode, and the imaging software available to me at the time was mostly restricted to only 256 colors. I recall displaying and even doing some early printing of these images, and I regularly used Indexed Color, because it would select the most used 256 colors in my images.
Here’s a photo (below) that I converted to Indexed Color with 256 colors, to remind myself of those days, and the limitations that we faced, and you can see how nasty the gradations in the sky and clouds become, as we force the image to display itself with such a small number of colors. It’s better than the 256 color Granger chart because there is a much smaller range of colors that need to be assigned to the 256 available slots.
Namibia Quiver Trees in 256 Indexed Colors
In printing, we can simulate the issues that we are working to overcome and prove how much ICC profiles help us, by printing that Granger Chart without any color management. I printed it directly to a matte media, which has a smaller color gamut (can reproduce a smaller range of colors) and I turned all color management off. This is what the print looked like (below). Compared to the image we looked at earlier, you can see that the colors are very different, and some even missing altogether.
Granger Chart Printed without Color Management
Then, I printed it again, with the color management turned on, and the ICC profile that I created for this media assigned. This is effectively telling the software how to interpret the image, to get it as close to the colors that the ICC profile tells the software that my printer can reproduce. Here is the resulting image (below).
Granger Chart Printed with Color Management
Keeping in mind that the Granger Chart contains many colors that my printer simply cannot print, making it look very different to the chart above, but I’m sure you’ll agree that the colors themselves are much closer to the chart than the version that we printed without any color management. If I was to print the chart out on gloss media, which has a much wider color gamut, we’d see more colors again, but it would still not be the same as the computer generated Granger Chart above, because of the limitations of the printer. Keep in mind too that this is not because I have a bad printer. I have one of the best printers available today, but this is the reality of where printing technology is today.
Keep in mind too that this is not because I have a bad printer. I have one of the best printers available today, but this is the reality of where printing technology is today.
All Devices Are Different
So, just to recap, using a 3D rendition of my displays and matte media ICC profile (below) the important thing to keep in mind is that all devices are different. As you can see, my matte media printer ICC profile is the smallest, then my iMac display is a bit bigger, and for reference, that is actually just a little bit bigger than the sRGB color space. Then the largest wireframe profile here is my BenQ 4K SW320 wide gamut display which is about the same size as the Adobe RGB color space.
Graphed Display and Print Profiles
Why We Need ICC Profiles
All of these ICC profiles are different, and so we use ICC Profiles to interpret the difference, just like an English/Japanese interpreter might help two people that do not share a common language to communicate. With the aid of the interpreter, they might not have 100% smooth communication, but they will be able to understand each other and get closer to fully understanding than they would without any help at all.
Color Management Module (CMM)
In computer terms, the interpreter in this situation is called a CMM or Color Management Module. This is generally provided as part of the computer operating system or built-in to our image editing software. For example, in Adobe Photoshop, if you select Color Settings from the Edit menu, you’ll see a Conversion Options area, with an Engine pulldown. That’s where you select the CMM that Photoshop will use when interpreting colors and matching colors between various color spaces and ICC profiles.
Adobe Photoshop Color Settings Dialog
I generally leave mine set to Adobe (ACE) but if you look in the pulldown you’ll also see the Apple CMM, which is built into the Mac OS. What you are basically doing here is selecting the interpreter. They may do their job slightly differently but will facilitate communication between the various color spaces and ICC profiles all the same.
Just as we have Output Profiles for displays and printers, any device that is used to reproduce an image, we also have Input Profiles, for devices that are used to input images, such as our cameras or scanners. They follow the same principles and basically act as one side of the interpretation that I’ve been talking about. You can think of the camera color space as English in our human language example, and Japanese would be the printer or display, or vice versa.
Where Do ICC Profiles Come From?
If you are wondering where these profiles comes from, in the case of input devices, there is generally some kind of proprietary computation going on inside the device before the image is saved to the memory card, or in the case of a scanner, you’ll often specify which profile to use, but it’s built into the scanning software.
It’s also possible to create camera profiles for Lightroom and Photoshop, using the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. You just photograph the ColorChecker Passport (see below) and then use X-Rite software to make a profile. Unfortunately, with this method, the profile is saved in a format that isn’t easily used as an ICC profile, and my attempts at creating a useful ICC profile with the ColorChecker Passport and the larger X-Rite Digtial ColorChecker SG card using the X-Rite software have so far not been very successful.
Luckily, because I use Capture One Pro, they already have a great profile for my camera built in, so this isn’t urgent, but I’m also considering picking up basICColor Input 5 at some point, to see if I can make my own camera profiles with that. I’ll let you know how I get on with that if and when I do pick it up.
For displays, at the basic level, your display manufacturer will provide a profile or it will be handled by your computer’s operating system, but to ensure the most accurate color, it’s better to create your own ICC profile for your display with a colorimeter or spectrometer, such as the one’s available here from X-Rite. Keep in mind that if you use multiple displays, you have to profile each of them, and the operating system will remember which profile is for which display and apply them as necessary.
Let’s note too that you only use your display’s ICC profile for your display, and there’s no need to try to use a different profile for it. Even displays that are said to reproduce Adobe RGB don’t actually use the Adobe RGB color space because they are slightly different. You use your display ICC profile for your display, and that’s all. Remember, every device is different and requires its own ICC profile.
To create my own custom ICC Profiles, I use the X-Rite i1Photo Pro 2 Color Management Kit for Photographers, because I also create profiles for my large format printer. This is an expensive option though. If you want to create custom profiles for your display and a consumer printer, the ColorMunki Photo is a great option, and if you don’t print, the X-Rite i1Display Pro is very good for its price. All are available here.
If you use print media from your printer manufacturer, they often come with ICC profiles for their media that are installed with the printer driver software, and if you use third party media, such as the media I use from Breathing Color, you can often download the ICC profiles for your printer from their Web site.
Standard Color Spaces
The standard color spaces that I’ve mentioned, were created by various bodies. According to Wikipedia, sRGB was created by HP and Microsoft in 1996 for use on monitors, printers and the Internet, and subsequently standardized by the IEC as IEC 61966-2-1:1999.
Adobe RGB was developed as you might imagine by Adobe Systems, Inc. in 1998. It was designed to encompass most of the colors achievable on CMYK color printers, but by using RGB primary colors on a device such as a computer display. CMYK is common in commercial printing, and photographers generally use RGB, even when printing most of the time, so we won’t spend any time explaining that today.
The ProPhoto RGB color space, also known as ROMM RGB (Reference Output Medium Metric), is an output referred RGB color space developed by Kodak. It offers an especially large gamut designed for use with photographic output in mind.
Scanning Color Patches
Creating a custom ICC profile for our devices involves showing the software that will create the profile a series of color samples. This software usually comes with the device or color target used. To create a camera profile you include a Color Checker in one of your photos, and the software finds the color patches to understand how your camera has recorded the colors. Because the software knows the actual physical colors of each of the color patches, it’s able to then calculate the difference, and create a table of linkages between the colors in our image and the actual colors that should have been recorded. Those linkages or mappings are what are included in the ICC profile, or in this case, the Camera Profile that gets added to Lightroom or Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw module.
Because the software knows the actual physical colors of each of the color patches, it’s able to then calculate the difference, and create a table of linkages between the colors in our image and the actual colors that should have been recorded. Those linkages or mappings are what are included in the ICC profile, or in this case, the Camera Profile that gets added to Lightroom or Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw module.
Including the ColorChecker Passport in a Photo
When you create an ICC profile for your computer display, you attach the profiling device to the screen. The profiling software then displays a series of colors on the screen and the device reads each color, again, so that it can understand how each color is reproduced by your display. It then calculates the difference between what it sees and what it knows the colors to be and creates the profile containing the mappings between the various colors.
When creating a printer profile, you print out a series of color patches, and then scan them with the profiling device, as you can see in this photograph (below). The process is the same here though, as the software then takes the color information that it scans from the printed media and creates a mapping between what it knows the colors should look like, and what they actually look like, and that becomes your ICC profile for that specific type of media when printing on the same printer.
i1 Pro 2 Printer Profiling
Just as you would have to create a separate ICC profile for both displays if you use a dual-display system, you have to create a separate profile for each type of media that you use, and if you use multiple printers, you’d need to create a separate profile for each printer and for each media type.
Although the printer manufacturer or third party media manufacturer’s profiles are usually pretty good, you’ll generally get better results by creating your own custom ICC profiles.
Working Color Spaces
So, we’ve talked about Input ICC profiles for cameras and scanners as well as Output ICC profiles for displays and printers. When you open an image in your image editing software, you’ll use what’s referred to as the Working Color Space. This is where I recommend using ProPhoto RGB because it’s a very large color space, and that gives us plenty of wiggle room in which to adjust the colors in our image as necessary.
Some people recommend working in smaller color spaces, such as Adobe RGB or sometimes even sRGB because there are limitations on our output options, but this is the wrong way to go about this. To maintain the most color information, use ProPhoto RGB, so as not to limit your image unnecessarily. Note once again, that our cameras generally capture colors that do not fit within the sRGB or Adobe RGB color spaces, so let’s give them room to breathe during our editing.
In this graph (below) I’ve included the Canon 5Ds R ICC profile from Capture One Pro, along with sRGB, the small solid color shape, and Adobe RGB, which is in wireframe, and you can easily see that my camera’s profile extends outside of both the sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces, but fits nicely inside the ProPhoto RGB color space, except for a small area of the blues.
Camera Profile with Working Color Spaces
Note that when working in Lightroom, it uses a proprietary color space similar to ProPhoto RGB, and you can’t change that. This in itself should be a good indication that this is the way to go with regards to selecting a Working Color Space. Capture One Pro has it’s own color space too, but you’ll generally be working on your images in the Color Space for your specific camera, and there’s usually not going to be a reason to change that.
ProPhoto RGB for Editing Whenever There’s a Choice
So, whenever you get a choice, for example, if you are working in Capture One Pro or Lightroom, and you are going to send your images to Photoshop or any other image-editing software, there is always an option to select the ICC profile. My advice is to always select ProPhoto RGB unless you have a reason to select something different. For general editing, keep your images in ProPhoto RGB as long as you can.
As you saw in the screenshot from Photoshop earlier, I set ProPhoto RGB as my Working Space, and I turn on the option to ask me what to do if the images I try to open are not in ProPhoto RGB. There’s no point in exporting from Lightroom or Capture One Pro in Adobe RGB, then converting either. Send what you need, to avoid wasteful conversions.
If you have at some point been influenced by someone telling you that you should use Adobe RGB as your working color space, ask yourself, why you shouldn’t use ProPhoto RGB. Just as you’d need to select Adobe RGB as you pass images around your computer in your digital workflow, you can just as easily select ProPhoto RGB. You lose nothing, but you gain the wiggle room that your images need to be as high quality as they possibly can be.
The idea that you should squeeze them into a smaller working space during your editing just because they’ll get squeezed when you output them later for a specific purpose is seriously flawed. Applications like Capture One Pro and Lightroom enable us to work on our raw images throughout our entire workflow, without any negative aspects. If you need to create a TIFF or Photoshop PSD file, you can work with ProPhoto RGB just as easily as any other color space.
sRGB and Adobe RGB Are Export Profiles
Think of sRGB and Adobe RGB only as export profiles. Use these when exporting images for a specific purpose. For example, whenever I’ve finished selecting my favorite images from a shoot, I save a copy as a JPEG to the Apple Photos application, so that it automatically syncs around all of my devices, as I mentioned in a recent post about how I use Apple Photos. When I export these images from Capture One Pro, I specify sRGB as the color space, because these are only JPEGs for displaying on my various devices.
If you are going to send some images off to a printing lab to get some prints made, they will probably ask you to give them JPEGs in sRGB or hopefully Adobe RGB. Personally, I would avoid using a service that only uses sRGB, but Adobe RGB is generally fine for this specific purpose. When printing at home, usually now directly from Capture One Pro, my images are still in the raw format, using the camera profile provided. If I was to print from Photoshop, I’d use ProPhoto RGB color space when saving my file for print.
OK, so enough on that. I hope you get the message, and I hope this has helped you to understand why we need ICC profiles and the different types of uses of these profiles. If you have any questions or would just like to comment, please do so below. I love to hear from you.
Before we close, I’d like to quickly mention that I’ve set up a new tour to Morocco from October 29 to November 10, 2017. We’ll be photographing the wonderful architecture, landscapes, and culture of this beautiful country, as well as using camel handlers as models to photograph them leading their camels through the sand dunes etc. We don’t have much time to lock in on this, so if you might like to join me please check out the details at https://mbp.ac/morocco.
This week I’ve created a video to explain soft-proofing for print in Capture One Pro and Photoshop, in response to a question from Chris Moore. I’d been meaning to do a video on soft-proofing in Capture One Pro for a while, so thanks for the question Chris!
Soft proofing in Capture One Pro isn’t as useful as it could be, due to the lack of gamut warnings. But, I find that with modern printers doing such a good job of reproducing colors that the human eye perceives to be very close to the original colors in the photograph, even without being able to actually print some of those colors, means that the gamut warning has become a little too harsh.
It’s often not necessary to bring all of the colors in your photographs within gamut, to still get a very pleasing print, but I explain how we can go about that in both Capture One Pro and Adobe Photoshop. I start the video by showing you the difference between a number of key color spaces too, to hopefully make it obvious that we really don’t want to cram our beautiful images, with many more colors, into these smaller color spaces.
Here’s the video, and I’ve outlined some of the key things to keep in mind below too, so I hope you find this useful.
When soft-proofing in Capture One Pro, here are the things you need to check. I don’t go through all of these in the video, so I thought I’d list them here for your reference.
Make sure you have the Viewer Color set to White under the Preferences > Appearance tab, to simulate a white paper border.
Show the Proof Margin, and make sure it’s relatively large so that you can see your image surrounded by white.
Install the ICC profile for your media and printer combination, or the profile that a third party lab uses if you will be sending the photos out for printing.
If you are going to outsource your printing, create a Process Recipe for the required file format, TIFF or JPEG for example, and select the ICC profile for your media – Note that this is only for reference most of the time. You use it for the Soft-Proofing, and will generally export your actual files for printing with a third party printer in either JPEG or TIFF. If they accept TIFF, it’s always going to be better than JPEG.
If you are printing yourself at home, there is no need to export the image at all, unless you will print from a different application than Capture One Pro – Note that I now do all of my printing from Capture One Pro, and I used to print from Lightroom when I was a Lightroom user. This enables me to print directly from my raw files.
To soft proof all the time in Capture One Pro, based on the ICC profile for the selected Process Recipe, select View > Proof Profile > Selected Recipe.
To only show the proof simulation when you want to, select View > Proof Profile > No Profile, and then click on the Spectacles icon in the toolbar, or press P to Show Recipe Proofing. (If P selects the next Process Recipe, click the image thumbnail and try again)
If the image looks very different when you turn on Soft Proofing, consider changing the image using the Saturation, Clarity or other sliders, or adjusting specific colors using the Color Editor.
Be sure to make a Clone Variant of your image before making these changes. You don’t want to change your original for the purpose of printing. Also, don’t try to adjust the image to look exactly the same as when Proofing is not turned on. The simulation is always a harsher than the reality of what will come out of the printer.
If you have various choices of media, consider changing media for one with a wider gamut if possible. I often prefer matte, but gloss media generally has a wider gamut if gloss is an acceptible choice
Capture One Pro soft proofing doesn’t show you a gamut warning when the printer can physically not reproduce certain colors, so it’s sometimes difficult to spot issues or modify the image for print.
To actually see gamut warnings, open the image in Photoshop and go to View > Proof Setup > Custom and select your ICC profile as the Device to Simulate. I generally turn off Black Point Compensation as I usually don’t print with that turned on. Using Simulate Black Ink and also Simulate Paper Color can show the results too harshly, but it’s good to check to see the effects and get used to the difference.
To toggle Soft Proofing on and off, hit CMD + Y, and to view the gamut warnings hit SHIFT + CMD + Y. If there are large areas out of gamut, consider using the Saturation and Brightness filter as an Adjustment layer, and perhaps also create a mask for the areas that are out of gamut, rather than applying the changes to the entire image.
Something else to keep in mind though is that even with colors that are difficult to print, I often do a test print to see how bad things really are before changing the image specifically for print. With the printers I’ve used for the last few years, I’ve found more and more that we can just print the image, and it will look great. If you don’t see anything absolutely horrible in the Proof view, print it and see.
Unless you have specific instructions from a third party printing company to output your image with a certain ICC profile embedded, you don’t need to export or save the image with the ICC profile embedded. Most print services will specify a file format, such as JPEG or TIFF, and a profile to use, such as Adobe RGB or sRGB. When there’s a choice, always use Adobe RGB over sRGB for files to send to a printer.
Anyway, take a look at the video, and if you have any question, leave a comment below.
Please note that due to changes in Phase One, the discount code that I mentioned in the Podcast is no longer valid. If you are not sure it’s for you, download Capture One Pro here and give it a try for a full 30 days to see if it’s for you before you take the plunge.
Also, the software that I used to visualize the ICC profiles as color spaces is ColorThink Pro from Chromix, which you can get here: