Phase One’s Capture One software is rightly very widely used by photographers for processing their images. Its colour management has always been excellent and the built-in camera profiles are accurate enough for many types of photography. However, I have had a few customers in the fashion and fine art reproduction areas who needed to improve upon the standard level of accuracy and get results closer to the original garment or art work. Capture One’s own Color Editor module allows you to edit the supplied profiles and save them under new names but this tutorial will take you through the steps you need to create a completely new custom camera profile for your camera and lighting set up.
Camera Profiling Requirements
In order to create camera profiles you need a special test target and profile creation software. I used a X-Rite ColorChecker Passport and X-Rite i1 Profiler software. You could also use the larger ColorChecker or other target and there are plenty of alternative software packages. The ColorChecker Passport does come with its own profiling software but the profiles it creates are only compatible with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Whichever target you use you need to photograph it under the lighting that you intend to use for the rest of the shoot. It needs to be lit evenly and exposed correctly. It also makes it easier if it is reasonably large in the frame and straight.
Processing the Raw File
Camera profiling applications generally require 8-bit TIFF files and so you will need to process the image through Capture One before you create the camera profile. However, this needs to be done in a very specific way if you want to get a good profile. Flick to the Color tab and under ICC Profile select Show All at the bottom of the drop down menu. Then go back into the ICC Profile menu and choose Effects/No color correction. This disables the default profiles. You will also need to set the correct Curve. Choosing the camera Linear curve usually gives the best results. Don’t worry if the image looks awful. That shows you how much work the camera profile does in creating a decent image.
Click on the Output tab and start by choosing TIFF 8-Bit Full Size (Adobe RGB) as the Process Recipe. But then change the ICC Profile to Embed camera profile. You can now set the destination and process the file.
Creating Camera Profiles for Capture One
The process of creating the camera profile in i1 Profiler is pretty quick and easy. You select Scanner Profiling and select your target type, in the case X-Rite ColorChecker 24. You can then drag and drop the Tiff file you processed out of Capture One. If the exposure, cropping etc is good it should automatically find the 24 colour patches in the image. If it doesn’t you can manually set the target cropping. It will warn you if it thinks the exposure is out of the acceptable range. Then click Next. The Reference file for the ColorChecker target is included in the i1 Profiler software so you can just click Next again. Give the profile a sensible name; include camera model, lighting, location and anything else that will help you identify exactly what situation the profile was created for. Choose ICC Profile Version 2 and either User level (Mac) or System level (Windows) and click Create and save profile. i1 Profiler will then create the profile and give you a report on the profile. It lists a series of delta E values. Delta E is a measurement of colour difference. The lower the numbers are the better the profile. You can experiment with different exposures or film curves to get you lower numbers. In my test I got an average delta E (CIE 1976) of 0.03 with 100% of the patches in gamut.
Applying a Custom Profile in Capture One
Capture One reads which profiles are on your system when it launches. So if you want it to see the new profile you will have to Quit and then start the application again. In the Color tab you should be able to find your new profile under ICC Profile/Other. The supplied ICC profiles tend to made to give pleasing results as are the curves other than linear so you may see the image is a bit flatter than you were used to but you can now adjust the image using the Exposure tab as normal. Camera profiles are about getting the colours right, not necessarily the exposure. Any adjustments you make and the profile can be applied to the rest of the images in the series by using Copy and Apply adjustments commands.
Creating camera profiles for Capture One, or any other software, can mean a little experimentation and testing of different settings. Some camera profiling software offers choices for how the profile is made and what is prioritised – accuracy or a more “pleasing” result. I suggest that you put some test shots through the built-in profiles and then compare the results to the custom profiles. Don’t forget when you process shots out of Capture One you will want to choose a destination colour space, such as Adobe RGB, sRGB or ProPhoto. Once you get a good camera profile you may be very pleased how much more colour accurate the images are.