Calibrating Your Camera

Creating an accurate profile for your digital camera is not easy. Unless you’re using your camera in a strictly controlled lighting situation, such as a studio, the variable lighting conditions from one scene to another make profiling a digital camera difficult. This leaves you with three options: shoot RAW files, painstakingly profile the camera with the best profiling package you can afford, or use a generic profile, such as sRGB.

Shooting RAW Files Requires No Camera Profile

Whether you need to profile your camera depends on your workflow. If you shoot JPEG files, the camera has to apply a color space to the image file. However, if you shoot RAW files, no profiling is necessary. A RAW image file consists of bit-for-bit data captured by the digital image sensor. When you select the RAW setting on your camera, the camera ignores the color space settings. When you import the RAW image into Aperture, Aperture ignores the color space settings as well.

Profiling Your Camera

Most digital cameras are set at the factory to shoot in a default color space when you first use them, but each camera, regardless of manufacturer and model, has a unique gamut. In order to color calibrate your camera, you need to create a new custom profile. Color calibrating your camera requires a profiling package designed for profiling digital cameras, a carefully constructed lighting environment dictated by the profiling package, and the use of a color calibration target. Because each camera is unique, you must repeat the color calibration for each camera.

Using a Generic Profile

Provided that your displays and printers are calibrated, setting your camera to shoot using a generic profile, such as sRGB, is easier than profiling your camera. Most digital cameras have more than one color space option available. As the image is shot, the camera converts the image from its native color space to the generic color space you selected prior to shooting the image. When the image file is imported into Aperture, ColorSync manages the color in the image according to the generic color space and accurately displays it on the screen.

Note: Digital cameras that don’t have the ability to change generic profiles shoot in the sRGB color space. You cannot create a custom profile for these cameras.