Saturday, October 31, 2009

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport


I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of these and recently used it at the 2nd annual Family Fright Night held at the McKee Centre. Members of the club took photos of about 150 scarry little monsters (and some little princesses). We used the ColorChecker with each of the photographers.

Not all the results are in yet and not all the other members are going to get the benefit of the Lightroom Plug-In at this time. I have not started the editing yet for the Portraits but once I do I will report on this. From all accounts on the Internet the software is excellent and it makes color correction a snap.

The product itself was small and easy to carry in a pocket. It is well made as are other X-Rite products. So far I am very happy with this ColorChecker Passport. Below is some information from X-Rite.

Buy the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport from Amazon.com


Press Release: X-Rite Introduces ColorChecker Passport Into Digital Photography Raw Workflows – from Capture to Edit

All-new Hardware/Software Solution Also Offers Adobe® Imaging Solutions Users Even More Power With Seamless Integration of DNG Profiling & Many Other Passport Features

Grand Rapids, MI –September 15, 2009 – (NASDAQ: XRIT) X-Rite, Incorporated – the world leader in color management and measurement technologies (www.xrite.com) today introduced ColorChecker Passport, an all-new solution for digital photographers working in a Raw workflow to quickly and easily capture accurate color, instantly enhance portraits and landscapes, and maintain color control from capture to edit. The powerful color control and creativity possible with the all-new X-Rite ColorChecker Passport are designed to be adopted into any Raw workflow – a solution made even more powerful when combined with Adobe® Imaging Solutions for those who want to benefit from DNG profile creation and the many other seamlessly integrated features of Passport. JPEG shooters benefit, as well.

“We developed ColorChecker Passport primarily for photographers working in a Raw workflow. It’s a powerful capture to edit solution for color control and creativity that becomes even more powerful for DNG profile creation when combined with Adobe Imaging Solutions. Users will benefit from the included Camera Calibration Application and Lightroom® Plug-In software to create Custom DNG Profiles that accommodate different lighting sources, even unusual artificial lighting. The extended functionality from the all-new camera calibration software also ensures an accurate color foundation, image to image and camera to camera,” states X-Rite Senior VP of Sales and Marketing Iris Mangelschots.

Introducing Raw Color Power From Capture To Edit
Based on X-Rite’s renowned ColorChecker product line, ColorChecker Passport allows those working in Raw to quickly and easily capture accurate color, instantly enhance portraits and landscapes and maintain color control from capture to edit – significantly reducing image processing time and improving quality control. In addition, ColorChecker Passport delivers valuable color control benefits to JPEG shooters.

This all-new hardware/software color solution comes in a durable, protective “passport” sized case for the ultimate in functionality and portability, and combines camera calibration software and three photographic targets.

The Total Package Comes With:
  • White Balance Target
  • Classic Target
  • Creative Enhancement Target
  • Camera Calibration Software
  • Protective Case & Lanyard
All-new Creative Enhancement Capabilities: The Look You Desire In A Few Clicks
Whether it’s a studio shot, a colorful landscape or a multiple scene photo event, ColorChecker Passport extends the power of photo editing software with one-click enhancements that articulate your inspiration in a fraction of the time.

The Enhancement Target also provides a visual reference for judging, controlling and editing images for shadow details, highlight clipping or color shifts. This includes multiple levels of warming and cooling patches for portraits and landscapes to help create pleasing and repeatable edits with a single click. When it comes to clipping, the all-new Passport Creative Enhancement target offers the ability to quickly verify any clipping and ensure that the image has optimal shadow and highlight detail as well as ensure color fidelity across all hues.

Extending An Industry Classic: Color Referencing For Specific Color Evaluation – PLUS DNG Profile Creation
The customary functionality of the Passport Classic Target is now extended with the included camera calibration software that produces DNG profiles of your camera’s response to the individual scene’s lighting. As a result, you get consistent, predictable and repeatable results from image to image and camera to camera. You can quickly establish an accurate color foundation, minimize color differences between cameras and lenses, and easily adapt for mixed lighting.

The Passport Classic Target still provides a built-in point of visual color reference. Photograph the Classic target in the same lighting as your images; then open it in your photo processing software as a reference to help with color correction.

The Classic Target also includes the 24 color reference patches, a long-time industry standard, with each patch representing the colors of natural objects, such as sky blue, skin tones and leaf green; and each patch reflecting light just like its real world counterpart. Each square is individually colored using a solid tone to produce pure, flat, rich color without dots or mixed tints.

The Classic target can help photographers make global corrections based on accurate information, saving hours of time by giving them a point of reference to see exactly how changes will affect the rest of the colors in an image before application.

White Balance Target: Capture True Colors from the Start
The ColorChecker Passport White Balance Target is a newly formulated spectrally flat target that provides a neutral reference point that reflects light equally across the visible spectrum, compensating for varying lighting conditions. With the Passport White Balance Target, you’ll be able to eliminate problems that can arise from inaccurate white balancing such as color casts, and improve camera display previews for more reliable histograms as well as speed up post-production editing by eliminating the need to neutralize each image individually.

All-new Camera Calibration Software: Custom DNG Profiles with Adobe Imaging Solutions for an Accurate Color Foundation
With the included ColorChecker Passport Camera Calibration Application and Lightroom® Plug-In, shooters can quickly and easily build DNG profiles for Adobe® Imaging solutions including Lightroom®, Photoshop®, Photoshop® Elements, Camera Raw (ACR) and Bridge.

This new advanced profiling technology provides excellent results with just the small 24-patch ColorChecker Classic target, producing DNG profiles that work exceptionally well, even in unusual artificial light sources. Whether shooting with just one camera, or multiple cameras, photographers can easily establish an accurate color foundation and maintain control of their colors.

Passport Camera Calibration advantages include:


  • Camera calibration for Raw shooters for greater capability to calibrate and correct color
  • Accurate color that provides a consistent foundation for creative interpretation
  • Minimized color differences between cameras and lenses
  • Automatic adaption for mixed lighting
  • Color balance matches across different scenes
  • Dual-illuminant profiles that take into account two different light sources in a single profile
Create Dual-Illuminant Profiles

A very powerful feature of the software is the ability to create dual-illuminant DNG profiles. This type of profile takes into account two different light sources to create a single profile, which can be applied to an even wider variety of lighting conditions. Dual-Illuminant profiles can be made with any two of twenty-one supported illuminants, allowing you to create a profile for just about any kind of lighting condition you may encounter. Dual-illuminant profiles allow you the freedom to move between the represented lighting conditions without switching profiles.

Great for JPEG Shooters, Too
From the start, ColorChecker Passport has great benefits for those who shoot in a JPEG workflow. You can ensure your JPEG files are captured correctly from the onset, giving you greater freedom to evaluate and optimize shadow details or highlight clippings as well as an excellent visual reference for color spectrum and color adjustments.

A Portable Protective Case: A Passport For Any Shoot
Rugged enough to take anywhere, small enough to fit into a camera bag or pocket, the protective casing adjusts to multiple positions to self-stand, providing the flexibility to place the targets exactly where needed and includes a lanyard for additional convenience for scene placement.

“With ColorChecker Passport, you can expect much faster image processing time, improved quality control, all in a cool little package that you can take anywhere,” Mangelschots confirms.

See For Yourself: Passport Featured On All-new Website
To view ColorChecker Passport’s features and benefits in action, visit xritephoto.com and click on the product page to view a ColorChecker Passport video. Featuring pro photographer and X-Rite Coloratti Seth Resnick, the video is one of the many informative tools available on the all-new website. xritephoto.com is both an online resource center and virtual community for anyone interested in digital photography to learn, explore, and exchange ideas about color.


(Version 1.01 - October 2009)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Delta Photo Club Print Night

Sometimes your day to day work and your personal life seems to work against you. You get sick like I was last week but couldn’t take the time off to rest properly to get better. More work piled on and I had several evening commitments I had to keep including one night of teaching. I managed to get through a rough week but I have still been busy. Today I managed to rush home after a 3:00 to 5:00 meeting. I should have rested but I wanted to get some prints entered into this evenings print competition.

Christ-091021-4963v
“Christ” – At a great old church and cemetery
in Miscouche, PEI

With only about 1:45 minutes to edit, print and mount 3 images and cook dinner to boot I wasn’t sure I was going to get anything done. I rushed as I did all week and managed to quickly rifle through several thousand images from my recent trip to Nova Scotia and PEI. I found six I liked and quickly edited them. After selecting what I thought were the best four, I printed them as 11x17’s and mounted them onto plain white 16x20 card stock backing boards. Done.

BillTheCat-091021-2115v
“Bill the Cat” – From a small shop
in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

OK, devour dinner, spaghetti and home made marinara sauce with hot Italian sausage. Yum! A quick drive to the McKee Center and submit my photos. This evening judge was the two time award winning professional photographer of the year, Greg Schurman. The three photos I entered I posted here. I received a lot of great comments from my first photo of “Lichen On Rocks” and more great comments on my next two photos, “Christ” and “Bill the Cat”.

MossOnRocks-091021-4843
“Lichen On Rocks” – On a beach just North of
the Englishtown ferry in
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

There were a lot of other great images and not winning is OK. I was finally relaxing listening to Greg's great critique and commentary. When the final three winning images and the three honourable mention images were posted up front I was shocked to see two of my images there! 1st place for “Christ” and an honourable mention for “Bill the Cat”. Wow, after my long endless week, I had my best showing ever. It’s a great feeling doing well. I have posted the three images here to share them with you and in my own way to just show them off.

© 2009 François Cleroux

(Version 1.00 - October 2009)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Portable Backup - Part 3

In this last part of this series I will cover a few other Portable Backup options. We have covered using Laptops, Net Books, various Multimedia Storage Devices including what I believe to be the best Multimedia Storage Device, the Sanho HyperDrive ColorSpace UDMA 500 GB. Here will we look at three other options, Portable CD/DVD backup units, your iPod Classic or iPod Video, and Off-Line or Web Based Backup.

Once again though I would like to take this last opportunity to stress the importance of backing up your images when you are on the road. In future articles I will be talking about good home or business based backup solutions and things to look for with a few tips or things to watch out for.

PORTABLE CD/DVD UNITS

These types of portable units became popular years ago when a portable large capacity solution was required for portable digital backups of data, images and video. Sony and other manufacturers made similar units for this “Photography" or “Video” solution but many no longer make them as the small, high capacity and relatively cheap portable hard drive solutions like the Sanho HyperDrive ColorSpace UDMA 500 GB. Some companies still offer them a portable CD/DVD solutions for computers and where DVD compatibility is required for playing Video in standard DVD players. These types of units are making a bit of a comeback with Netbooks as most Netbooks do not have CD/DVD players or recorders built in. Something to think about if you are looking at purchasing a Netbook.

EZDigiMagic DM220-08 Portable DVD Recorder

EZDigiMagic

The EZDigiMagic unit will copy various memory card formats (CF, CF UDMA, MicroDrive, MMC, SD, SDHC, MemoryStick and MemoryStick Pro) to a CD or DVD all with the push of one button. The unit will automatically span onto several disks if the Memory Card is larger than the CD or DVD can accommodate.

The unit is small and portable and can be powered by batteries or with the included AC adapter. The menu system is easy to use on the backlit LCD display. There is also a Ultra-Verify Mode for verifying that all your data or images are copied over properly.

The speed of the unit will vary depending on the speed of the memory card and the media type used but generally 1 Gig of information can be copied in approximately seven minutes (using real world tests). A 4 Gig memory card takes about 26 minutes. This unit works well and if you use 4 Gig memory cards with Standard DVDs, it is perfect. Using larger capacity cards requires the use of Spanning onto multiple disks as this unit does not support the higher capacity Double Layered disks.

All in all this unit worked well but found that traveling with the unit was not as effective as using smaller and faster hard drive based solution. Having to carry a bunch of 4.7 Gig blank DVDs also proved to be more cumbersome. Even with a small capacity hard drive solution of say 120 Gigs, it would take 26 blank DVDs to store the same amount of photos.

Power is another issue for the portable user. Whereas the San Ho unit is capable of backup over 200+ Gigs of images on a single charge, the EZDigiMagic is not capable of doing even one quarter of that on a set of NiMh Rechargeable or the more expensive Lithium Ion batteries.

If you require an external CD/DVD burner for a Netbook, this is a good option. On the plus side also is the fact that multiple copies can be made and thus copies can be given out. You could technically give out copies of photos to a bride at a wedding minutes after the event is over. In my opinion however, for a good portable Photography Backup solution, the portable Hard Drive/Card Reader is much better.

Check out the new DM220 Plus here: EZDigiMagic DM220PLUS Portable Digital Photo & Video Backup DVD Burner & Viewer

APPLE iPOD

Several attempts were made to create CF/SD card readers for iPods starting way back in the days of the first iPod Video. The new iPod OS allowed for Photos and Videos to be displayed. Several devices came out promising Compact Flash memory card reading capabilities but the two units I tried back then never actually worked and were quickly discontinued. Apple had its own Dock unit with a built in CF Reader but it was also quickly discontinued.

Since those days several more companies including Belkin have come up with solutions, again with mixed results. Apple also has a USB Camera Connector that allows an iPod to be attached to a Camera via a USB Cable. There are issues with this also and it could possibly be the “slowest” backup method ever created next to Off-Line Backup. For the money the Camera Connector could be worth a try if you own a newer generation iPod Classic or iPod Video. Note that your Camera will act the the card reader and will not be able to take photos while backing up a memory card: Apple Camera Connector for iPod 5G, 5.5G (White) Note that this kind of setup will quickly drain your iPod’s battery as well as your Camera’s battery.

Belkin Media Reader with Dock Connector for iPod

Belkin

Belkin’s solution is small and portable. The unit connects to your iPod using FireWire technology and then using the iPods screen and menu system you can copy files from CF and SD cards onto your iPod. I stated FireWire technology but the Belkin device is not capable of using the full speed of the FireWire connection resulting in extremely slow backup speeds. A 1 Gig CF card takes about 21 minutes to do a full backup. A 4 Gig card would take about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Wow, compared to the 26 minutes above for copying to a DVD or even faster using the San Ho HyperDrive UDMA unit, this is very slow.

Another issue is battery life. Although the unit uses 4 AA batteries for the Card Reader, the process of moving and copying photos onto the iPod also quickly drain the iPod batteries.

All in all this is a small portable solution that would work if you only had smaller memory cards or did not take many photos. I could not see myself copying 2 or 3 - 8 Gig memory cards every day on this unit.

There are several other similar products out there but this is the best one if this interests you. Do your homework as some of the others who’s names I will not mentioned are absolutely awful products. If you find a good one, let me know. For now, check out the Belkin unit here: Belkin Media Reader with Dock Connector for iPod (White)

OFF-LINE BACKUP

Where ever I go now I keep hearing that Off-Line Backup is the way to go. I completely disagree with that statement, specially for a portable photography solution. Off-Line Backup is also not a very good solution for your Home Base for Photography Backup although there are a few good upsides. I will discuss this issue when I cover Home/Work Photo Backup options in a future article but for now, here are some reasons why it’s not a very good option for mobile use.

The single biggest reason is the need for a laptop or Netbook. If you have a laptop or Netbook you can simply use that for your backup. If you are going to erase your memory cards and require a second backup bring along a small USB based Hard Drive like the Western Digital Passport Hard Drives. Small and Cheap.

Another reason for not using Off-Line Backup is the speed of the backup. Yes, in this day of ultra high-speed Internet access you would think backing up 4 Gigs of memory would be quick, but remember that doing a backup this way requires a fast UPLOAD speed which is almost always much slower that the fast DOWNLOAD speed of standard High-Speed Internet connections. This can made common slow connections found in many Hotels and Smaller Cities very slow. A 4 Gig memory card could take several hours to upload completely.

Other that the very slow connection is the possibility of NO connection. Very often when traveling abroad, you get to locations that do not have Internet access at all or sometimes in large hotels where 15 minutes of access can cost you $10.00 or even $20.00 dollars. If you are out in the field, on the best photo shoot ever, how will you backup a card so you can format it so you can keep shooting with no Internet Access?

Another issues with costs even for home or work is that many Internet Service Providers have Bandwidth Limits with a Maximum Data Upload/Download. If you exceed these limits which is easy to do when doing photography specially with new 10, 12 or more Mega Pixel cameras, you could find yourself paying a ton of extra cash per month.

Anyways, there is a time and place for Off-Line Backup but for a portable solution it is not the way to go. If you are wanting to check this option out I would recommend looking at iDrive, Mozy and Carbonite. Some are free with limits on how much can be backed up and some offer packages with more backup storage space for a monthly fee. Carbonite is $54.00 per year as of October 2009 with un-limited data.

One word of warning with Off-Line Backup Companies, make sure you read all the fine print! Some companies will retain the rights to your files, documents and artwork should you leave, quit, cancel services or die. Again, do your homework. Also, there have already been several Off-Line Backup Companies including a Large Photography Specific Company in the Eastern U.S. that shut down leaving owners of Photos scrambling to get their images back. Some have shut their doors never to be heard from again and leaving photographers without ANY images. Make sure you have your own backup if you use an Off-Line solution.

CONCLUSIONS

It becomes obvious that backup is essential but the question is how When travelling, size, weight and ease of use are extremely important and must be considered. After trying out many of the options discussed in the three “Portable Backup” articles, I have found that the Sanho HyperDrive ColorSpace UDMA 500 GB meets all the requirements.

Check it out at: Sanho HyperDrive ColorSpace UDMA 500 GB.

I will be updating this article with an update soon as I am trying out yet another device . . .

Portable Backup - Part 1

© 2009 François Cleroux

(Version 1.01 - October 2009)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.