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Thread: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

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    Hansm's Avatar
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    Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    After looking at the Lawyers office pics I'm wondering if in this Digital time a colorimeter is still valuable to purchase.
    You can tweak colours very good in all RAW workflow programs. But normally the way I do is to look at the screen and tweak till everyting looks right.

    When shooting Interiors and products to be shure to get the right colour isn't it better to measure the colourtemp and set this value in the RAW converter?

    What do you think is the best way?
    Last edited by McQ; 11th March 2009 at 04:22 PM.

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Quote Originally Posted by hansm View Post
    After looking at the Lawyers office pics I'm wondering if in this Digital time a colorimeter is still valuable to purchase.
    You can tweak colours very good in all RAW workflow programs. But normally the way I do is to look at the screen and tweak till everyting looks right.
    Hi Hans,

    Probably dependes on what you're doing with the images - if you're only viewing them on your screen - and you're happy with the colours then probably not - but if the images are being printed, or displayed on someone elses screen - and colour accuracy is important - then yes, very much so.

    If your screen isn't calibrated and profiled (by a colorimeter) then there's no way of knowing if the colours you're seeing are the same ones you're adjusting the image to (eg you might adjust the hue of the sky until it looks blue, but you're really changing it to purple).

    Does this help answer your question?

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Quote Originally Posted by hansm View Post
    When shooting Interiors and products to be sure to get the right colour isn't it better to measure the colourtemp and set this value in the RAW converter
    Hi Colin,

    I'm not sure the above statement relates to the one you've answered.

    To my simple mind, wouldn't shooting a Whibal card, or similar, under the product lighting and using the eyedropper on that in RAW conversion be easier and more accurate?

    In the context we're considering, all you have said is absolutely essential too, but I'm not sure it was quite what Hans was suggesting.

    BTW thanks for quietly picking up on my mistake on perspective in Sedali's 24-70 thread.

    Cheers, Dave

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Hi Dave,

    Who knows!

    I think he might be confusing a colorimeter & a gray card?

    Also - just for the record - adjusting colours "by eye" is probably the least accurate method. I'm reminded of a test I did with a collegue on just this point ...

    We took a couple of shots of me - one holding a WhiBal card, one without. I put the one without the card up on the screen in ACR - moved the temp and tint sliders and asked my friend to put them where the skin tones looked best (he shoots weddings, so I'd expect him to be good at skin tones). When he had it looking (what he thought was) right we flicked to the one with the WhiBal card and used the whitebalance tool ...

    ... from this we learned two things ...

    1. That although he was in the "ball park", he wasn't particularly close, and

    2. We agreed that the changes made by using the white balance tool were much closer.

    So for colour critical shots (like portraiture) I ALWAYS go off the WhiBal card and seldom make anything but the smallest of changes from there.

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Dave,

    Who knows!

    I think he might be confusing a colorimeter & a gray card?

    Also - just for the record - adjusting colours "by eye" is probably the least accurate method. I'm reminded of a test I did with a collegue on just this point ...

    We took a couple of shots of me - one holding a WhiBal card, one without. I put the one without the card up on the screen in ACR - moved the temp and tint sliders and asked my friend to put them where the skin tones looked best (he shoots weddings, so I'd expect him to be good at skin tones). When he had it looking (what he thought was) right we flicked to the one with the WhiBal card and used the whitebalance tool ...

    ... from this we learned two things ...

    1. That although he was in the "ball park", he wasn't particularly close, and

    2. We agreed that the changes made by using the white balance tool were much closer.

    So for colour critical shots (like portraiture) I ALWAYS go off the WhiBal card and seldom make anything but the smallest of changes from there.
    Hi!
    Expodisc is a kind of choice for indoor photo.All the best!Radu Dinu

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Thanks all for the input.

    I was raising this question after seeing the pictures from the Lawyers Office made by GUI.
    These colours look very realistic. So I was wondering if he used a Colourmeter to check the colourtemperature and used this value in the RAW editor.

    The monitor I use is calibrated and the results I see on the monitor are very close to the prints I get from the final output.

    Normally I tweak a little on the colourtemperature in Lightroom until it shows the expected colour.
    But if you get a job where the colour is very critical then is it better to use a colourmeter and use this value in Lightroom?
    I'm always shooting RAW so I don't setup the whitebalance in the camera. Maybe I'm wrong but then the Expodisk is useless or do I make a big mistake in this point of view.
    Shooting a graycard makes more sense to me.

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Quote Originally Posted by hansm View Post
    Shooting a graycard makes more sense to me.
    Me too. I use the grey card a lot. Indoors, that is. Outside I don't bother.

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Quote Originally Posted by hansm View Post
    Thanks all for the input.

    I was raising this question after seeing the pictures from the Lawyers Office made by GUI.
    These colours look very realistic. So I was wondering if he used a Colourmeter to check the colourtemperature and used this value in the RAW editor.

    The monitor I use is calibrated and the results I see on the monitor are very close to the prints I get from the final output.

    Normally I tweak a little on the colourtemperature in Lightroom until it shows the expected colour.
    But if you get a job where the colour is very critical then is it better to use a colourmeter and use this value in Lightroom?
    I'm always shooting RAW so I don't setup the whitebalance in the camera. Maybe I'm wrong but then the Expodisk is useless or do I make a big mistake in this point of view.
    Shooting a graycard makes more sense to me.
    Hi Hans,

    You wouldn't normally use a colorimeter for this purpose. Sekonic do have a new colour light meter that can do this, but it's more for balancing the colour temperature of mixed light sources with gels so that you don't get mixed temperature lighting.

    Expodisc work just fine in most situations, but they're designed for people who don't like gray cards (to quote the creator - who also admitted that a gray card is just as accurate if that's your preference). Expodisc works just fine with a RAW capture because the colour temperature is passed as a metadata tag - my biggest grips with Expodiscs is simply the procedure it takes to use them -v- a gray card; many mistakenly think that you put the expodisc up to the lens and take a shot of whatever you were going to take a shot of, but that's incorrect ... you need to go to the position of the subject and take a shot back towards the incident light. And if you happen to be using a mixture of flash and ambient then you're REALLY got your work cut out for you.

    With an Expodisk you're presetting the temperature so that you don't have to correct the result; with a gray card you're simply tweaking the result - horrible philosophy if you're taking about exposure, but when you're talking colour temperature - especially with ACR - it just doesn't have any downside (it's totally lossless).

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Thanks a lot Colin.
    I always put the expodisk aside. But it looks that I had the wrong impression of it.
    I will dive deeper into this tool and see if it can be a valueable add on.

    All others, also thank you for your advises.

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Quote Originally Posted by hansm View Post
    Thanks a lot Colin.
    I always put the expodisk aside. But it looks that I had the wrong impression of it.
    I will dive deeper into this tool and see if it can be a valueable add on.
    Hi Hans,

    Well ... I have 2 of them, but never use either - I have 1 WhiBal card, and I use it all the time, if that helps!

    But they do look nice

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Hi Colin,
    I was not intending to buy something for this.
    Till now I can manage without it.
    Looking more close to the Expodisk website and videos, it changed my opinion about it.

    Guillermo explained his workflow and I was amazed. I wasn't aware about the softeware he writes and the results that can be achieved by it.

    Man, since I joined his forum I learned a lot more then I expected

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Quote Originally Posted by hansm View Post
    Looking more close to the Expodisk website and videos, it changed my opinion about it.
    It can work well - but - take a scenario where you're hand-holding a camera with a flash on top taking candid shots of people outside (ie a fill flash) situation (quite common) - you just can't do it with an Expodisk, whereas with a simple gray card it's just as easy as any other time.

    I found that the practice just didn't live up to the theory with them.

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Hi Colin,

    One question about the gray-card. Are you just using it to have a gray area to put the eyedropper for finding the colourbalance or do you really use this card as your reference.

    In the last case then you have to be shure the view angle to this card is spot on and not within angle. At least that is the way it's learned to me in the film era (past century) when using a lightmeter + graycard to get correct exopsure.

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    Re: Is a colorimeter still valuable?

    Quote Originally Posted by hansm View Post
    Hi Colin,

    One question about the gray-card. Are you just using it to have a gray area to put the eyedropper for finding the colourbalance or do you really use this card as your reference.

    In the last case then you have to be shure the view angle to this card is spot on and not within angle. At least that is the way it's learned to me in the film era (past century) when using a lightmeter + graycard to get correct exopsure.
    Hi Hans,

    I only use it as a spectrally neutral reference ... I use a custom profiled Sekonic 758DR light meter for critical exposures.

    In my experience using an 18% grey card doesn't work well for digital (probably because it's suggested my many that todays cameras are in fact calibrated to 12% gray), which tends to significantly bias a camera into giving better highlight range, but poorer shadow detail rendition (ie one should probably have a permanent EC of around +0.3 for better shadow detail.

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