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03-02-2016, 07:15 AM   #1
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Color problems with orange on K-5

Hello everyone!

I'm a relatively new user. I'm using a K-5 to shoot very colour particular images for product photography of jewellery.

The subjects often show super-saturated colours and I'm writing because I consistently find that it's almost impossible to translate a well-saturated orange onto the camera for some reason.

The blues are oversaturated most of the time but downing the saturation isn't a problem, greens can be very hard for the camera to read properly sometimes, but all of that pales in comparison to how wrong the oranges look.

For info; I shoot the subjects in lights of about 5K Kelvin. To the eye, the colours look accurate but for some reason the camera always sees red instead of orange.

For just a reference idea, from Google (links unrelated to me), a real-life colour like this:

http://www.gemselect.com/photos/sphalerite/sphalerite-gem-219373a.jpg

Ends up digitally looking literally like this:

http://www.gemselect.com/photos/spessartite-garnet/spessartite-garnet-gem-138223a.jpg

And at a difference like that, no amount of Photoshopping it back seems to help; they end up looking completely unrealistic and wrong.

This can be a problem when you're shooting things for which small color variations amount to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of value difference.

This seems to happen regardless of whether the images are .dng or .jpeg. The monitor is calibrated using Spyder 5 and I don't have problems getting most colors right... But orange and sometimes green eludes me most of the time.

Does anyone know where the problem stems from? At first I thought it might translate poorly onto the computer (Retina Macbook) and a part of the problem certainly lies there; but even on the camera screen itself, the color is well off target.

Anything I can do to minimize the occurrence of this?

Many thanks!

03-02-2016, 07:41 AM   #2
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What profiles are you using for your raw conversion? Have you tried calibrating your own with an X-Rite ColorChecker Classic Card MSCCC B&H Photo Video or variant?
03-02-2016, 07:46 AM   #3
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Sorry, we can't diagnose issues without images. There are just too many variables out there that could be causing your problem, everything from camera setting, exposure, to the more diffraction in the longer wave length spectrums, to lens and focus issues. Without images we have no clues as to where to even start.

I'd suggest that anyone in field like this
QuoteQuote:
This can be a problem when you're shooting things for which small color variations amount to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of value difference.
should definitely not be relying on photographs to make their evaluations. IN that case, looking at an image on the wrong monitor could affect the evaluation. The monitor of the viewer would have to use the exact same set up as the monitor of the image creator.

It's a very rare guy who who has a setup that is completely accurate for exact colour reproduction. That's a skill set in it's own right, not something that come built into camera. Usually if you try and exactly reproduce a colour chart, you're going to end up with a "best of" trade off. Not an exact reproduction.

Last edited by normhead; 03-02-2016 at 07:55 AM.
03-02-2016, 07:50 AM   #4
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Get a color checker. I would not even dream of shooting product photography without one of these. The most popular model is the Xrite ColorChecker Passport but since you already have a Spyder, you might consider Datacolor's version of the same tool Datacolor SpyderCHECKR Color Calibration Tool for Digital SCK100

You have to create a profile of your lens/camera combo (and since you're at it, it wouldn't hurt to make a specific profile for the lighting you are using, even if you don't end up keeping it. So lens/camera/lighting combo). The software will then adjust your camera's output to the know values of the target swatches and fix things like saturation and hue shifts. Also, make sure that your raw converter isn't adding some processing by default on import that you don't want.

Also, it's important to realize that reds, and to some extent oranges are tricky for just about any camera to capture. The red channel is usually the first to blow out, even when the other channels have yet to reach their maximum value. So what you get is a failure by the camera to capture the relationship of the red channel to the blue and the green channels. In order to preserve that relationship, you might need to intentionally underexpose a bit by a known amount (a half to two thirds of a stop is usually enough), and then correct your exposure by that amount in post processing. Luckily the K-5 has great shadow recovery.

03-02-2016, 08:11 AM   #5
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Yes, reds are trouble for CMOS cameras in general. How to avoid it is thinking about light.
As Maxfield noted, underexpose a bit. That helps. Shoot RAW, so you can recover the underexposure. Digital is more forgiving of underexposure than overexposure - so was film. Use your exposure compensation function for this.

LEDs can be trouble, too. Their color output seems good but they're "spiky" compared with incandescent, halogens etc. That can lead to overexposure the camera sees better than our eyes.

Once you've figured out those settings, save them in a USER mode! That will save you lots of time later. Save it as the 2-sec delay with no SR so your tripod shots are best.
03-02-2016, 12:16 PM   #6
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My 2 cents...

Check the color of you light sources:
You may need to gel your flash (generally puts out a blueish light) or purchase daylight balanced light
Look out for other sources of light (windows and such)
Don't mix light sources, stick with one type and balance for that light

Consider: Using a window light instead of artificial light, see if you can get colors closer with that.
A) it is free
B) you have a default WB for daylight in your camera
C) No color card needed

Check the White Balance on your camera:
After you have one light source or type, adjust you White Balance with a color card (worth the investment for your type of work)
Set you WB manually and leave it for the duration of the shoot

Check the color Calibration on your monitor:
You may just need to alter your monitor colors so you can edit the files correctly. There are many options out there, I use a spyder.


Good luck!
03-02-2016, 01:03 PM   #7
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Please post some photos. It's hard to speculate without knowing what to look for. Everything else said by other members apply: Monitor calibration, lighting, settings, etc.
03-03-2016, 01:49 AM   #8
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Many thanks to everyone for all the ideas. I was really surprised by the outpour of useful comments and helpful suggestions.

Also, I completely agree on the topic of "you shouldn't rely on pictures to buy valuable things" and so does everyone else in this trade; the photos do serve a purpose but no one pays before they see the products so no worry.

A sample problematic photo without any editing is attached below. Just for reference purposes, next to it is another sample of a blue sapphire in very low JPEG quality but with accurate colour. Both are resized and of low quality because of the attachment size limit.

To be more precise and add various info:

* WB is not custom-adjusted (yet!) - I'm just reading and figuring out how to do it now. At the moment, most of the time it's on auto and here and there I adjust it in-camera. From what I gather from this thread, a better solution would be to not meddle with it in camera and shoot a colour checker instead and then use that profile to convert RAW. I still need to figure out how to do this once the colour checker is ordered.

* JPEGs do work most of the time; will shoot RAW only now since the profile will need adjustment once I get a colour checker card.

* The images are processed to get the focus points together; so 5-6 images are focus stacked in Helicon Focus in order to get a clear view of the whole product

* The lights used are specifically developed for gemstones and jewellery. They're 5K Kelvin and show very accurate results to the naked eye in most cases (in comparison to actual daylight colour).

* The plan is to use Spyder Studio 5 to calibrate the monitor and the printer to work in tandem (as much as possible). The intended printer is Pixma Pro-1.

In summary, that's about it. Would appreciate help.

Also, if anyone has any experience, does Canon Pixma Pro-1 print colours accurately once calibrated? I understand the gamut limitations but from what I simulated in Photoshop with soft proof by downloading colour profiles for both the printer and the intended paper, it seems to be quite okay.

---------- Post added 03-03-16 at 02:03 AM ----------

In addition to the above post and for more clarity, here are two additional photos in slightly higher resolution and again unedited except for focus stacking and jpeg conversion; the first one is extremely reddish and inaccurate, while the second one is very close to the real life version.

Not okay orange:
http://s22.postimg.org/5ryms4gch/Focus_Result_15_B_8_4.jpg
View image: Focus Result 15 ( B, 8, 4)

Okay orange:
http://s9.postimg.org/umiv9229r/Focus_Result_19_B_1_1.jpg
View image: Focus Result 19 ( B, 1, 1)

The colours of the two are not the same in real life either, but the difference is smaller than the camera would suggest. The stone in the first photo is a vivid reddish orange in real life, not a muddy reddish-brownish-orange that the camera shows. The second one is a clear orange without any reddish undertones in real life.

Of course, backgrounds also make a difference; but the stone in the first photo appears too reddish no matter whether which type (pattern/smooth) or colour (white, black, grey, coloured) background it is put on.

Attached Images
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 Photo   
03-03-2016, 03:35 AM   #9
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Agree with maxfield_photo. Be sure to calibrate your results.

Do you use Lightroom? Even without a color checker, try simply setting the Camera Calibration (under the Develop module) from Adobe Standard to Embedded. This can make a significant difference in rendering of specific color ranges. (although I think what you're seeing is beyond fixing by the built in calibration profiles).
Of course, using something like the Color Checker Passport will create an even better starting point for camera's color profile.
03-03-2016, 08:35 AM   #10
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AWB is a four letter word, at least in product photography, and especially if you're shooting JPEG. But you've answered your own question, if you have 5000 K lights, then setting your white balance to 5000 K should get you in the right ball park. There is an option in the white balance menu of your camera to dial in a specific color temperature. In practice though, your lens, and to a small degree even the camera's sensor may introduce color casts, so a better option is to set a custom white balance using a reference tool.

Here is a link to a fairly in depth video in the Xrite Collorchecker Passport, but the Spyder tool works exactly the same (it is a bit bigger, which is nice for wide angle lenses, but a little more cumbersome)
03-03-2016, 09:11 AM   #11
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Just to add what others said... Jpeg should NOT be used.

> Jpeg is allowing the camera to make a decision about the color when creating your image file.
> Raw leaves the color decisions up to you, which you want in almost every situation.

If you do nothing else
> Switch to Raw
> Configure your WB for the light you use (by eye or color checker)
> Finalize your edits in LR

These 3 should get you 85-90% of the way there. Adding a monitor calibration will give you 100%.
03-03-2016, 03:48 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by amoringello Quote
Do you use Lightroom? Even without a color checker, try simply setting the Camera Calibration (under the Develop module) from Adobe Standard to Embedded. This can make a significant difference in rendering of specific color ranges. (although I think what you're seeing is beyond fixing by the built in calibration profiles).
Of course, using something like the Color Checker Passport will create an even better starting point for camera's color profile.
Thanks for the suggestion about the embedded generic profile, it helps. Of course, switching profiles will help more once I get the passport.

A question though - why Lightroom? My normal path goes focus stack -> Photoshop. Photoshop opens the RAW file in the Camera Raw Editor anyway and all the options mentioned in the above thread and more seem to be available. I've never used Lightroom before, so if there's any difference I'd be grateful for an explanation (keeping in mind that I don't need to batch-process because really, these things vary incredibly from picture to picture with stones).


QuoteOriginally posted by maxfield_photo Quote
AWB is a four letter word, at least in product photography, and especially if you're shooting JPEG. But you've answered your own question, if you have 5000 K lights, then setting your white balance to 5000 K should get you in the right ball park. There is an option in the white balance menu of your camera to dial in a specific color temperature. In practice though, your lens, and to a small degree even the camera's sensor may introduce color casts, so a better option is to set a custom white balance using a reference tool.
I do actually use the colour temperature settings, but honestly, it hasn't made much of a difference. Gems are super-saturated and changing the light temperature... Unless I change it drastically, by about +/- 1k up or down, doesn't produce a large difference. They do play havoc with my backgrounds and reflections though (in the sense that the reflections - if any - go from pure white to colour cast). The same thing happens if I try to play with colour casts on the camera - it gives the images a very unrealistic colour cast even when applied selectively to only some areas.

I guess a colour checker, again, is a part of the solution. I have Datacolor's cube (got it in the Studio kit), but it's not a huge difference when every picture has to be custom-tailored to reflect the particular stone. Since most of them do get their colours right at this point, shooting with a passport for the problematic ones should help.

QuoteOriginally posted by Blacknight659 Quote
Just to add what others said... Jpeg should NOT be used.
If you do nothing else
> Switch to Raw
> Configure your WB for the light you use (by eye or color checker)
> Finalize your edits in LR

These 3 should get you 85-90% of the way there. Adding a monitor calibration will give you 100%.
Noted, again - will promise to never use JPEG for initial edit ever again. I do have to repeat the above question about Lightroom though. Shouldn't editing it in Photoshop Camera Raw before conversion produce pretty much the same results?
03-03-2016, 05:06 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Spectrum Quote
A question though - why Lightroom? My normal path goes focus stack -> Photoshop. Photoshop opens the RAW file in the Camera Raw Editor anyway and all the options mentioned in the above thread and more seem to be available. I've never used Lightroom before, so if there's any difference I'd be grateful for an explanation (keeping in mind that I don't need to batch-process because really, these things vary incredibly from picture to picture with stones).
The profile can be applied in Adobe Camera Raw as well (in fact, Lightroom is just repackeged ACR with some added organization features). With Lightroom at least, the Xrite software will run as a plugin. I'm not sure if there is an ACR version of the plugin, but there is also a small piece of stand-alone software that will accomplish the task of generating a profile for you if you use other programs besides Lightroom. The Datacolor software looks similar from what I can tell. There is no need to use Lightroom if you don't want to.
03-04-2016, 07:01 AM   #14
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Many thanks, got it.

I've ordered the card and educated myself further on the rest of it so it's a lot clearer now what needs to be done and how.

Thanks again to everyone who responded and helped! You people are immensely helpful.
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