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How to Use X-Rite ColorChecker Passport in Lightroom CC

Photo Moment - May 24, 2019

If you're using Lightroom CC (actually… as of last week it's now called just “Lightroom”, but it was called “Lightroom CC”, to separate it from “Lightroom Classic”, which at one point itself was called “Lightroom CC”, but before that it was just called “Lightroom”… um…) and you used to create custom color profiles with the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport using the super-convenient plugin for Lightroom Classic, then you know that since Lightroom still doesn't support plug-ins, so that workflow still isn’t there.

Fortunately, there's a workaround. It does take a few steps, but they're easy enough to complete!


Here's the short version of what you have to do. I'll detail each step below.

  1. Export a RAW photo of the ColorChecker from Lightroom 
  2. Convert that RAW file to DNG using the Adobe DNG Converter [download here for free]
  3. Open that DNG in the ColorChecker Camera Calibration app and save the resulting profile [download here for free]
  4. Import that profile into Lightroom and apply it to your photos
  5. Check white balance (if needed)
  6. Copy profile to all related photos

Why profile in the first place?

If you're wondering what this is all about in the first place, the purpose of this exercise is to normalize the colors in an image so they all match an accurate standard. This is not important to many photographers, but if color accuracy is critical to your workflow (for example in product photography, you usually need the product you're shooting to be accurately represented on screen and in print), then this process is super important. Taking a photograph of a known-accurate color chip chart, in this case the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport, then letting software automatically build a profile to shift the colors your camera captured to the colors that the chip chart is known to be, creates an accurate representation of that product.

Creating the profile in Lightroom used to be a one-click process. But for now, it requires several extra steps.

Need a ColorChecker Passport Photo? Get yours here!

Step 1 — Export the RAW photo from Lightroom

The actual step one is to photograph the ColorChecker in the first place. Ideally you've photographed this in the same environment, under the same lighting, with the same lens (and it has to be the same camera or this is pointless) as the photos you want to attach a profile to. This can be done under any lighting conditions, and to be truly accurate about it, as you change environments you should shoot another calibration photo. 

The X-Rite ColorChecker Passport PhotoThe X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo

You do NOT need to do any editing to the photo first. If you do, they will be ignored. Even if you need to adjust your white balance, you'll do that later.

In this tutorial I'm using photos from a recent client shoot for EarthMonkeys, a plush doll sold on Amazon. The client of course wants the photos to represent the real product as accurately as possible. No, we can't control what other people's screens look like, but by providing a photo that's calibrated, we're at least uploading an accurate image to Amazon.

To export the RAW photo(s) from Lightroom, select the image and go to File > Save To… then change the file type to “Original + Settings”, and choose a location. You'll want to put it in a folder because the DNG Converter wants to read the contents of a folder, not a single file. I made a “DNG” folder on the Desktop.

Export a RAW image from Lightroom to a folder on the DesktopExport a RAW image from Lightroom to a folder on the Desktop

Next… convert RAW to DNG and create the color profile!


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Comments from YouTube

Thanks a lot. I have question - what is your opinion: It is better to use x-rite that creates DNG profiles or Spyder CHECKR which creates presets? I mean LR and PS. I am thinking of using more in reporteage and travel photography than in the studio.
Really, those are two different things, and using the X-Rite for an outdoor constantly changing shooting environment doesn't make sense, as you'd have to photograph it in every environment. And travel/reportage is never about perfect color accuracy.
Hello Joseph, I recently started using Lightroom CC on a Dell with Windows. I purchased the x-rite color passport 2 and followed your instructions with the jpegs/nefs I took with my nikon d3500. The first hiccup I encountered was that ColorChecker Camera Calibration would not recognize the NEFs/RAW files from my Nikon for one reason or another, but I was able to turn the files into TIFs which I could upload to the program. The profile saved as .icm files, but when I try to import the profile on light room it acts like it doesn't recognize it and states 'No profiles or presets found'. Are you aware of any fixes I can do with my current platforms without changing versions, software, or ??? I'm open to downloading other versions. I'll be calling x-rite about the issue, and adobe if it can't be resolved...
I don't follow. You have to convert to DNG first, as explained in beginning of this video, not us NEF files. And you're exporting .dcp files from the calibration software, not .icm files. I recommend watching this video again.
I am an experienced product photographer and I noticed even though my monitors are color calibrated just the gray card gives me a much more accurate color in the photos! When I create a profile and I apply it to the photos my colors are not accurate at all! What is the point of using this just to get a starting point? Well, the adobe profile gives you the same thing! I do not understand why everybody is so crazy about this thing! Today I literally spend over 2 hours researching to see maybe I am doing something wrong but I think I am right here!
So, I can't comment on your particular setup, but the Adobe profiles absolutely do NOT give you the same thing. Without a reference point (an absolute known color), it's 100% guessing. A profile can't just make any photo accurate magically. It's not possible to say something is accurate without a reference to compare it to. I have calibrated monitors too and often I prefer the NON calibrated look, and your eyes shift throughout the day, too. The truth lies in the numbers. If your eyedropper shows same levels or R G and B, then you know it's neutral. You could do the same with colors but how can you measure the RGB values of a red sweater or blue jeans you photographed? You can't… hence the X-Rite reference chart.

I won't argue that these aren't as critical as they used to be, since so much media is consumed online where we have zero control over what the end user sees, but if you're photographing a product then, as you know as an experienced product photographer, delivering an image to your client that accurately represents the product is extremely important.

If you're getting great results without it, then great. But for those of us who want that consistency as we move between lenses, lighting situations, etc., then calibrating the photos to a known baseline is a critical step.
great tutorial, thanks Joseph! One question, My Lightroom CC doesnt have a Save To option, will I get the same end results if I export the colour checker image to a folder in the same way as you saved it? following all the other steps the same? many thanks
They finally renamed it "Export", so yes, that's the same command.
Thanks for a great tut, I watched at 0.75 speed.
haha excellent, glad that worked out for you ;-)
PhotoJoseph had to, you’re the eminem of photo tutorials! 🤣
😆dude that guy is insane… I'm a sloth compared to him!!
Thank you, Joseph, for a great tutorial. I've been trying to add the Colorchecker Profile in LR Classis and had no luck. Today, I've finally managed to do it. Thank you for creating this very practical video. Cheers, K
Awesome, glad it helped!
Thank you for this video! Everything is explained perfectly!
Awesome, thank you!
What an amazing tutorial.
you made it clear and easy to understand!
Thank you!Been struggleing with this
Awesome, glad I could help!
PhotoJoseph you really did🙏🏻
Why would you not set the white balance before exporting the DNG?
In this case I had set the white balance in camera.
Does anyone know why my custom profile looks De-saturated?
Chuchu that’d be a negative....😔
One up for this video Joseph. Thank you - the tutorial was needed :)
The Video version isn’t compatible with the color checker application.
Thanks so much for the Video.
I have a question that I hope you can answer: when the profile for my camera under certain light circumstances is created, does it also take in consideration the white and black point and therefore adjust the contrast for a given scene?
Thanks a lot in advance already and keep up the good work!
Profile? Profiles are generic. Do you mean auto correction? Auto is individually calculated for each photo
@PhotoJoseph thanks for your response.
sorry, my bad. Of course profiles are generic when it comes to color.
And maybe I am not thinking it through correctly but depending on the profile (in LR for example), I sometimes get a flatter or a more contrasty Image. So does the colorchecker passport create a different white and black point depending on the light conditions?
Thanks anyway
Nino Jonas yes; the software looks at the chart and makes the colors shift as needed so they are all accurate, including making white white and black black.
Great topic that I have not found addressed elsewhere and great instructions and presentation. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.
Thank you! I get the feeling people don’t use color charts as much anymore. I find it indispensable for product photography though.
That's a sub and like and comment. Thank you very much it helped me a lot. 🙂
Very nice. One question, do I have to this in every different shooting or is it the one time only?
Thank you
Technically any change could change the color — the lighting, reflective surfaces near the subject, camera and lens combo, etc. Most people probably don’t profile that often though n
that's what i'm asking myself too. Have you found the answer yet?
Why hasn't intelligent software grown up Adobe?
Automatically recognise the unique layout of the colorchecker, and give option where to save your new profile it made???!
Teh X-Rite software is quite antiquated, to be honest. Frustrating for sure. I wonder if they even care anymore.
Great Video! Tks! ColorChecker Camera Calibration work also with ColorChecker Passport VIDEO?
Different process entirely. The video card has a different color chip pattern. For video, a LUT gets generated by software NOT provided by XRite. Many third party options, plus its built into Resolve.
@PhotoJoseph Does this mean I can't use Passport Video to create a color profile for photos to use in Lightroom? I would like to buy a version that works well both for photo (Lightroom) and video (Final Cut)
Unfortunately no. You need two cards. I have no idea why they are different; the cynical side of me says that it’s just a money grab, but it hopefully is more than that.
@PhotoJoseph TKS!
Mate your awesome
Why thank you 🙏🏻 😊
Nice video and edit Joseph. Good setup, it feels a more personal presentation to the viewer as opposed to formal...if you don't mind me saying.
I wish this worked for Premiere CC
It does… different workflow and different ColorChecker though. You want the ColorChecker Video
oh and as discussed in the live Q&A, I don't know if you need a plugin or if the calibration tools are built into Premiere, but you can definitely use it.
@PhotoJoseph Thank you and have a great weekend! I hope one day there is a plug-in or baked in option like Resolve.
Great timing I literally just bought one
Daniel Sripuntanagoon sweet!
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