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X-Rite ColorChecker Digital SG Review

The X-Rite ColorChecker Digital SG is a top of the range colour calibration tool with an extended colour and greyscale chart to give accurate colour, for colour critical work.


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Features 
Performance 
Verdict 

Xrite Colorchecker Sg Main White Bg

The X-Rite ColorChecker Digital SG is an A4 (8.5x11inch) sized colour calibration tool. with additional greyscale colours, as well as expanded skin tones for additional accuracy compared to a standard 24 patch colour checker. It can be used to calibrate your digital camera, as well as scanners.

X-Rite ColorChecker Digital SG Features

ColorChecker Digital SG

The ColorChecker Digital SG comes with a protective cardboard case, and is made from tough plastic. In the centre is the standard 24-patch target, with additional colours, giving a total of 140 target points. The target is an industry-standard colour patch that enables custom camera profiles to be made and also allows the evaluation of specific colours. X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Software is available for download from X-Rite's website. For the purposes of the review we used a Windows 10 PC.

 

X-Rite ColorChecker Digital SG Performance

There are a number of different methods for using the X-Rite ColorChecker SG... 

  1. Adjust the photo after taking, using the grey point to adjust the white balance and levels
  2. Use X-Rite colour profiling to create a colour profile for your photos, and then you can adjust all of your photos with this

 

The first option of adjusting the white balance (and levels) using a grey point can give an improvement to colour reproduction. However, for the most impressive results, using a colour profile gives the best results.

Screen Shot Setting Up Calibration
Screen Shot Setting Up Calibration

The X-Rite ColorChecker Passport software, and process involved is straightforward, as long as you shoot AdobeDNG raw images (with a camera from Pentax, Leica, and some others). If your camera doesn't shoot DNG images, then you'll need to convert them to DNG to use the ColorChecker Passport software, or alternatively you can profile the images using Adobe Lightroom, or Capture One. 

The Passport is placed within the image frame to establish the profile, if the software fails to Auto Detect, then the position of the colour patches can be manually specified. This is a simple enough procedure, and once you've setup the profile in the software, you can then use that in your favourite image editing software to apply the colour profile to the photos taken in the same lighting conditions.

 

Uncorrected image | 1/60 sec | f/4.2 | 18.0 mm | ISO 200
Uncorrected image | 1/60 sec | f/4.2 | 18.0 mm | ISO 200

X-Rite Profile Applied | 1/60 sec | f/4.2 | 18.0 mm | ISO 200
X-Rite Profile Applied | 1/60 sec | f/4.2 | 18.0 mm | ISO 200

The sample shots show the difference between the un-calibrated image and the calibrated image, and whilst at first glance, it can look like a subtle difference, there is a noticeable difference in the accuracy of the colour reproduction, with more accurate blues, and toned down yellows.

Using a grey card will help improve your camera's white balance performance, and this will be most noticeable under challenging lighting conditions, or with older cameras that struggle with white balance.

However, for the best results calibrating your shoot makes a lot of sense, and if you're shooting a whole series of images, it's impressive that you can quite quickly and quite easily get the right colour for a whole shoot. This will be of particular benefit if you're involved in product photography, or on-line sales, where colour reproduction will be critical.

The ColorChecker can be used with JPEG files to fine-tune the end result, but the software is primarily intended for use with DNG files. This is fine for Pentax, Leica and a few other cameras, but not all marques offer DNG capture. In this case it will be necessary to use Adobe's DNG converter, or you can use Adobe Lightroom, or Capture One. If using one of these programs is part of your workflow already, then this should be an easy change to make to your workflow.

 

X-Rite ColorChecker Digital SG Verdict

The X-Rite ColorChecker Digital SG is relatively easy to use and gives impressively accurate colour calibration results when working with critical colour requirements. General users might bear in mind that, depending upon their camera, the advantages gained may be subtle. The ColorChecker Digital SG needs to be shielded from direct light sources, as the semi-gloss colour patches can be reflective at times.

The X-Rite ColorChecker Digital SG is priced at around £315 inc VAT, so this is quite an investment. For those that have less to spend, the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport 2 (£107 inc. VAT) is a more wallet-friendly way to start colour management. For those that shoot a lot of photos, being able to get the colour correct for a whole series of photos, the advantages will be clear. 

 

X-Rite ColorChecker Digital SG Pros

  • Well made
  • Easy to use
  • Practical
  • Provides excellent colour calibration

X-Rite ColorChecker Digital SG Cons

  • No fade checking patch
  • More expensive than the Passport

Features4.5/5
Handling4/5
Performance4.5/5
Value3.5/5
Overall Verdict

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