written by: digitaldan1•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/27/2009
When you need accurate color, this inexpensive tool's a nice choice.
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For many photo enthusiasts, auto white balance does the trick when it comes to getting accurate “enough" color. What happens though if you really need the most precise color reproduction possible? Product photographers for instance often have to struggle to accurately reproduce packaging colors (no small consideration when companies spend thousands of dollars or more developing identity colors).
If that’s the case for you there are a few options. One inexpensive one is the QPcard 201, a color reference and software system designed to help you get the most accurate color possible and avoid the dreaded problem of metamerism (This is a condition where a color photographs differently under one form of light than another. Many purple flowers photograph blue for instance.)
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Ease of use
The QPcard is fairly easy to use. Place it within the image area, choose custom white balance or any specific white balance setting except for auto white balance. Make sure the card fills a good part of the frame and photograph it. It’s important to create the image under the same lighting the other photos will be shot under. Change the lighting setup and you need to create another reference image.
Once you have the reference image, you can create a color profile for that lighting. QPcolorsoft 501 software (a free download from the company’s website) creates the profile and applies it to the image. It even has a batch conversion capability, so you can have the program convert all your images for a specific profile. The software is somewhat easy to use and versions are available for both Mac and PC.
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Price to value
A single QP 201 card costs about $15 and is small enough to fit in a camera bag pocket. If you need accurate color, this is a worthwhile investment, but take care to protect the card when not in use. It is probably not necessary for the average photo hobbyist though, unless you have a specific need for accurate color. If flower or product photography is your thing, such a tool is worth having.
Argraph, the company that distributes the QPcard, provided a QP 202 two card packfor the David Busch Quick Snap Guide to Photo Gear.