Categories: Tutorial

Creating Camera Profiles for Capture One

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.

Rob :

View Comments (27)

    • Thanks. I have the full license. You can't license the scanner/camera module separately. Getting an i1 Photo Pro 2 or i1 Publish Pro 2, or the i1 Publish software will give you access to the scanner/camera module. Alternatively you can use other software such as BasicColor Input: http://www.basiccolor.de/basiccolor-input/

      • So you're saying I have to spend a thousand pounds to create camera profiles for a 500 pound camera??

      • one could use http://www.delt.ae to create the icc profil. it's free and easy to use.
        I can match fadgi and metamorfoze in studio on a d800 with a CC in C1 but never get a delta e (1976) close to 0.03.
        My workflow is different though - i apply the icc in PS after the conversion - gives me better results. I might retry with a CCSG.
        LR Profil delta Es via the plugin are far worse in my experience.

        • Thank you for the tip about Delt.ae Markus. It works like a charm in conjunction with this tutorial, instead of using i1 Profiler, which I do have since i own a i1Display Pro, just not the scanner license. Also, it seems that my target, the Color Checker Passport is not even supported for scanner profiling in i1Profiler.
          I have much to learn about color correction and profiling, but I'm very interested.

          Also a big thank you to Rob for putting this tutorial together!

        • Any tips on how to get the target found on delt.ae please? I followed all guides and procedures but the target is never found... I've even chatted with their support to no avail...

  • Great article, some questions:
    1/ Would this also work with the ColorChecker Digital SG? Would this result in the widest color gamut available?
    2/ How does the ColorMunki Photo compare to the i1Photo Pro 2 (I'm looking for best quality)?
    3/ Would you recommend i1 Profiler or BasicColor Input? Why?
    4/ What are thoughts on the Adobe Lightroom plug-in, enabling an automated way of creating a camera profile, using the ColorChecker Passport?

    Kind regards and many thanks,

    Kind regards,

    Antwerp, Belgium

    +32 483 025 110

    • Yes, it would work with the SG. Not sure the gamut would improve but worth a try. Just make sure you light the target carefully.

      I1 Photo Pro 2 much much better. Color Minnie is aimed at amateurs.

      If you have a need for printer profiling and go for the i1 Pro 2 then you may as well use i1 profiler for camera profiles as well. But if you just want a camera profiling solution then basiccolor cheaper. All their software is very good, and you do get a few more features but I've not noticed much improvement over the x-rite software. You can however get a free trial version so it's worth trying.

      The Colorchecker Passport plug in does work very well with LR.

      Thanks for getting in touch. It's always good to know these articles are being read and found useful. Rob

  • Very interesting article! I'm trying to learn a bit more about Capture One's color pipeline and have a few questions:

    I assume the captured linear RAW data is demosiaced. That demosiaced data is then gamma encoded and converted to Capture One's internal editing space (16-bit ProPhoto like Lightroom?). Is it correct to assume the Camera Profile is used to "calibrate" the demosiaced data before it is transformed to it's internal editing space?

    Is there any drawbacks to having the ICC model handle the tone mapping (gamma correction) when the image states (scene-referred (camera) vs. output-referred (editing)) differ? It's been my impression that letting the application supply the tone mapping across these image states can work better. ....then just using the color matrix from the camera profile to render color to an internal ending color space.

    Perhaps this is how Capture One works, just using the color matrix in the profiles to do the linear to gamma translation?

    Trying to get a solid understanding of the process before setting up a large studio color workflow.



    • Hi Peter. Camera profiles characterise the data captured from the camera, calibration would imply it would be changing the data to conform with some standard or other. Anyway, the way most raw processing software works is that the profiles do the conversion to the working space but then other default adjustments are made, such as tonal curves etc. I think if you want a more specific answers as to how Capture One works then its best if you ask them.

  • Thanks for the great information.

    I take product photos for online stores. I'm wondering what the best format/settings would be to export these images once the ICC profile has been applied. It seems as though when I export JPG, PNG or TIFF the colors change somewhat.

    What export format would allow me the closest representation to the image in Capture One? Should the ICC profile be set to 'Embed camera profile' when exporting the final image?

    Thanks again for the great information!

    • The colours won't be changing due to the file format you chose, but because of the profile selected when you export. The sensible profile to use for anything going online is sRGB. This is a smaller colour space than a camera and so some colours may change but it should be minimal if colour managed correctly. Embed sRGB in the final file.

  • I have read somewhere that if you press AUTO adjustments in C1 while the color checker passport is big across the screen, it is doing very good job to set the colors...I have to try it :)

    • You'd be better off creating the camera profile with the Passport software and then adjusting, Auto or manually, to the colours and tones in the particular image. Also I don't think that the Auto adjustment takes into account the zoomed image, but rather all of it.

  • Hello there!

    Great tutorial. Thanks for putting it up!

    I'm using my Passport perfectly with the automatic CameraRAW profile creator that X-Rite offers for it, but I can't seem to get the i1Profiler to read my picture. I've tried everything, all the way to using keystone to get the image perfectly straight, but i1Profiler says it can't read the points. I try to manually set the corners, but still it fails. Since it's meant for scanners, I think it expects a perfect size/proportion as input, and even trying to manually set the corners, it notices they're off of that set proportion it's expecting.

    Any suggestions? :(

    • I think it only works if the iProfiler software is enabled for scanners as well. I have the idisplay for calibrating my screen but I can't get it to work as the way you desrcibe it. As soon as I want to write the profile it says that I need to insert the dongle. This is related to the fact that I only have the hardware to calibrate a screen.
      Any other ideas?

      • Yes, that's right. You'd need the i1 Photo Pro 2 or i1 Publish Pro 2 packages, or the new i1 Studio. I always thought it was lazy and confusing for X-Rite to leave all the options visible with the i1 Display Pro.

        • It's starting to make sense now why I didn't get my i1 software to recognize the picture taken.
          I have the i1 Display Pro. :(

    • If you can't get it to read the picture, make sure the checker is in the right horizontal orientation with the gray scale on the bottom. Simple thing but it caused mystical errors on my end until I thought it through.

      • Thanks for the reply. It still doesn't work... :(

        After I manually set the crop points, it says: "The loaded scan may be upside down or incorrectly cropped. Use the image rotation control to flip the image to the proper orientation and make sure the crop marks are placed properly."

    • It can be a bit tricky sometimes. Two things seem to cause i1 Profiler problems when reading camera targets. First, resolution as you said. Take the image into Photoshop and resize it. As long as you don't have your Colour Settings set to do any automatic profile conversions it won't affect the colour. Second, it can be exposure. As a test only, try brightening or darkening the image in Photoshop. If it works then you know the exposure was out of tolerance and try bracketing the shot of the target next time.

      • Indeed setting up "linear" response gave me a sort of underexposed image, but even though I brought it 1 exposure up, the software still won't detect. I'm actually kinda happy with C1 color rendering, but I didn't spend 100 dollars on a Passport for nothing. lol

        It works great (X-Rite's software's automatic detection-wise) with Lightroom, although I still don't like the brightest colors in LR. They're still a little electric, not much different from Adobe's original profile. The blues and purples render much, much better though. But I have a picture of a magenta flower that I can't get to render right.

        Here's a link for the flower picture in RAW with it's Lightroom and Capture one rendering, along with RAW files of the Passport with my four lenses (taken in different days - the flower was taken on a somewhat cloudy day though).

        Thank you guys for the willingness to help! :)

  • Oh and the latest free i1Studio software upgrade for past Munki owners supports making the profile as long as the Munki is still plugged in. Kind of cool.