Why Not Use a ColorChecker?


Today’s Question: You said you prefer to use adjustments in Lightroom Classic rather than something like the ColorChecker Passport. Can you expand on why that is the case? It seems that the ColorChecker would help ensure more accurate colors in photos.

Tim’s Quick Answer: A product such as the ColorChecker Passport (https://timgrey.me/colorchecker) from X-Rite Photo can indeed help ensure more accurate color in your original captures. However, in many cases this will not actually provide optimal color, since in most cases we don’t want our photos to appear to have been illuminated by pure white light.

More Detail: On the surface it seems like the notion of capturing “accurate” color in your photos is rather straightforward. In fact, however, it can be a little tricky to capture truly accurate color, or to define exactly what we mean by accurate color in this context.

Products such as the ColorChecker Passport from X-Rite are primarily aimed at helping you achieve truly accurate colors in your photos. The problem is that accurate color in this context is generally defined as having the subjects of your photos appear as though they were captured under a perfectly white light source.

In most cases I think it is fair to say that photographers aren’t truly looking for “accurate” color, but rather “pleasing” color that reflects how a scene actually appeared.

For example, if you are photographing during “golden hour” just before sunset, you most likely want to retain the color influence of the golden light illuminating the scene. A product such as a ColorChecker Passport will attempt to remove the golden color of the light in order to ensure more “accurate” color.

There are, of course, situations where you absolutely want to ensure the colors in your photos are an accurate reflection of the subject you were photographing, such as with product photography. In many cases, however, that is not your true goal.

If you you do indeed want the colors of objects in your photos to match the subject as though there was not any color case caused by the lighting illuminating a scene, then the ColorChecker Passport can be a perfect solution. You can learn more here:


Note that I discussed some of the ways you can achieve more accurate colors right at the time of capture in the article “Capturing Accurate Color” in the June 2021 issue of my Pixology magazine. You can learn more about the magazine on the GreyLearning website here: