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Every Photographer Should Have a Color Checker Card to Establish Neutral White Balance and Tint for Each Camera and Lens Brand Combo

re: white balance and tint

Datacolor SpyderCHECKR

One of the very first things I do with a new lens or camera is to establish what is a neutral white balance and tint settings for a specific camera+lens combination. See white balance and tint.

I like to at least get a baseline on mid-day sun and late-day sun and blue shade, because tint required for neutrality changes as the color temperature changes. But it’s more challenging than that:

  • Sometimes Adobe ships defective camera or lens profiles for Adobe Camera Raw. Later, an update fixes the problem; I’ve seen 10 to 20 point swings in magenta, for example.
  • Each lens line (eg Sony vs Sigma vs Zeiss) tends to have differing color temperature (yellow/blue) and tint (magenta/green characteristics. Usually a lens line is self-consistent, but rarely matches another brand.
  • Tint in particular can change with aperture. See for example White Balance and Tint — Huge Difference Wide Open vs Stopped Down.
  • Tint changes with color temperature. Just about every camera I used has a green shift as the light becomes more blue. Under the right conditions, I can show this phenomenon in a single capture (meaning there is no “correct” tint, only a magenta or green bias in some areas).
  • Polarizers and filters can affect tint slightly (usually only a little). Usually only a few points, but if you’re picky it’s worth knowing.

So... get the Datacolor SpyderCHECKR ASAP as it is 36% off today only. The clamshell design (BH SKU DASC) is best to start with, though some other ones are useful too, like the pocket-size ones. Also be aware that some displays are not color accurate (like my LG 5K) and that you should have a color managed display from NEC or Eizo.

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