That is one nice lookin grey card you got there. Did you pick that up at a normal photo store or was it special order
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
Sticking a Kodak card in the desitometer gives the following readings:
Maybe this will help.
IMHO grey cards should not be used to determine color balance when printing. As you have found they vary quite a bit. Even if you used the same one each time, the chore of trying to get a good color match would be a frustration not worth the effort. I use the Kodak color seperation and step wedge thingies as well as a white sheet of paper all in the frame together. The combination gives me all the information I need. Oh ya and a good south facing window for light during evaluation. That's my method YMMV.
I wouldn't go for making the gray card read neutral gray on the print as measured by a densitometer, i.e. for equal RGB reflectances, I'd work at making the print look visually like the gray card you shot. This is usually judged under high color rendition index lights, GE Chroma 50 flourescent lamps or similar. You could also go for the lighting in which the print will be displayed, but that gets trickier. More colors on the target, like the Kodak Q-13 or the Gretag Macbeth Color Checker, actually make color balancing easier to do.
As for 9CC being significant in printing, in studios I used to work to less than a maximum of 2.5CC units for commercial ad work, where color wasn't all that critical. For other, more critical uses, I'd work to tighter tolerances. (This on 4x5 transparency films.) I do the same when printing.
BTW, as I'm sure you noticed, there are significant differences in color within each gray card on your scan. The film doesn't look like that, does it?
Originally Posted by Ed Sukach
No, the film doesn't look like that - it is negative film. By eye, yes, the card color does look significantly different - supported by the analysis.
Originally Posted by Lee L
The density difference is not that pronounced, either ... I think that is due to the characteristics of the Fuji Crystal Archive paper.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
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The first thing I would do is get even lighting on your targets- you don't appear to have that now. The lower right looks obviously darker than the upper left. This could be a very big issue - you are just making things harder by trying to match grays from areas of different negative densities. Ed said, "Exposure was not a factor," but the print indicates this may be otherwise.
Ed wrote, "Where - has anyone seen a CALIBRATED grey card?"
Yes - and you have too! The easiest one to find is the Macbeth Color Checker chart. It uses specially formulated paints to make all the targets on it. I've got a paper that was written when the Color Checker came out in the mid-70s, and the grey steps are very neutral from 450 to 700 nanometers, below 450nm, they start to drop in reflectance as the wavelength gets lower.
Have you measured your two cards with a densitometer to see if they really are close to neutral? Or evne close to each other?
Also, you said one card was printed in a book - the printing inks may not be very neutral. That is one reason that the Macbeth uses paints.
Chuck wrote, "I always thought grey cards were calibrated for black and white exposure calculations, not for color correctness."
The Macbeth is designed for color correctness.
Ed wrote, "By definition Grey is equal parts of cyan, magenta, and yellow (a.k.a. "white") at a reflectivity of 18%."
Ed, this is not really right. You would be closer to the truth is you have written "By definition, Grey is equal parts of red, green, and blue at a reflectivity of 18%." Your camera is measuring the light from the grey card, not printing inks or dyes.
It's possible to make fairly pure colors of RGB for making an exposure, but the problems will start when you start using colors like Cyan, magenta, and yellow when printing. Cyan is a mixture of green and blue, and magenta is a mix of red and blue, and they are often not (chromatically) pure mixtures.
When color printing, some of the red, green, and blue reflectivities that make up an image are contaminated by colors from each of the dye layers in the print (and the film as well).
For example, when making meaurements of a supposedly pure blue patch on a print, there will be some wanted blue density from the magenta dye layer, some blue density from the cyan layer, and some unwanted blue from the yellow dye layer. But since each of those layers contain other colors, that blue patch will also have some red from the magenta layer, some green from the cyan layer, and some yellow from the yellow layer. That blue patch will not be a pure blue. The same thing will happen when you try to print a neutral grey - there should be equal amounts of RGB, but there will be unwanted amounts of the "impurities" found in each of the dye layers that made up that grey patch. You should get ahold of Photographic Sensitometry, by Zakia and Todd for much more thorough discussion on this complicated issue.
Ed wrote, "Even if the response of the exposure meter is not chroma dependant, black and white film certainly IS -- see Fred Picker and his modified meters."
Meter response most certainly is color dependant. But that should not be an issue here.
Lee has made some good points on the subject of the light used to make visual color balance observations.
Kirk - www.keyesphoto.com
As already mentioned, the Kodak Gray Card may not be a truly neutral grey, just as the white side may not be a truly neutral white. I've found that the 'Gray Card Plus' is a little more accurate - as well as being more useful - but I do change it regularly, and don't use it for critical work.
There are calibrated charts - but at a calibrated price. I use DSC charts. These come with a calibration certificate, and a recommendation to renew them regularly (you can trade your old one in!). They are primarily intended for setting up video cameras, but they are equally useful, if a bit OTT, for film. There is now a swimsuit edition as well as the plain greyscale version, by the way.
Here is an article on grey card neutrality. The author has an interest in promoting his grey card, but the information seems good, if restricted in which cards were measured and the number of samples.
Thanks, Helen!! Many!
I'll look into this more thoroughly tomorrow.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
Helen, and others interested ...
The quest for a suitable grey card continues.
The DSC web site contains a wealth of information -- bordering on plethora. Apparently "good" products, but kind of intimidating.
The article enclosed there, written with information about the Gretag/ MacBeth Color Checker and its problems with UV illumination was "very* informative. For the price, one would expect better performance.
I wish there was more direct information of what to choose for a simple, run-of-the-mill configuration, and calibrated grey card - and at least some indication of prices. I do like their construction - using an aluminum substrate, and a clear plastic overcoat.
There is an offer - a "special" where one could save $290 .... what would the original price be to allow such a saving?
Which DSC card do you use, and could you suggest a dealer?
Now, I've searched through the "usual suspects" ... er ... dealers. No one seems to stock the most promising candidate so far ... the Kodak "Grey Card Plus", catalog #847-8174. I'll e-mail one of our sponsors, Calumet, and see if it can be obtained.
Speaking of Calumet - there is an indication of the problems one might encounter in a search like this: They list a "Robin Meyers Imaging Digital Grey Card." Seems pretty good at first glance ... in 10 x 15 cm size. The next listing .. apparently the same card in a different size - 15 x 22.5 cm, carries a warning label: The Digital Grey Card is designed for digital photographers only. It will not work with film light meters". I thought grey would be grey, would be grey...?
All that as it may be, the only indication I've been able to see about accuracy is a claim by Delta, for a very inexpensive version of their grey card - "Accurate to 1%".
This all will all be useful in my future work. Now, I will be working to find "correction factors" for use with one of my existing Delta grey cards ... I am going to shred the Kodak card I have ... apparently - and for whatever reason - it is `WAY off. Although the prints I have of my latest work are certainly OK, I'll be making a LOT of test exposures with various color balancing to determining "correction factors" - by trial and error.
I'm pressing my wife and daughter into service. Both have far better color vision than I do.
Once I get all this sorted out, I'll be concentrating on what happens with this HP scanner I've been using....
On to the darkroom.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
In looking around a bit more, I found a couple of German products I hadn't seen before, and which are more affordable than the DSC options. (BTW, the way I read the DSC special pricing, it was "buy one, get one free", so you'd be spending at least $290 to get two cards.)
The Fotowand grey card and color grey cards are more reasonable in price, are on a washable plastic substrate, come in a couple of sizes, and the "color" version has circles with 5CC each of R, G, B, Y, M, and C, plus two patches of darker and lighter grey. This might help with judging subtle color shifts. Their US dealer catalog page is at: http://www.thedopshop.com/cat-charts.cfm?catid=62 They also have some gray scale and color patch cards.
I haven't use the Fotowand products, so can't vouch for them personally. They do look interesting, though. The manufacturer's page is: http://www.fotowand.com/cv.htm?/dual.htm#4985eng.htm
Differences in the ability to perceive color are common, and if I recall my reading correctly, women are generally better at it than men. When I was working in commercial studios, I was often "borrowed" by studios near the ones I was working in, to make close calls on color balance clip tests by people who wanted a second opinion or didn't trust their own judgement.
I, too, am curious about that "digital" gray card, and the claim that it won't work for film cameras. I spoke with Calumet yesterday about a gray microfiber cleaning cloth they carry, but they couldn't tell me if it was the Wico 18% gray. I've wondered why I hadn't seen that product in the market.
Last edited by Lee L; 03-17-2005 at 03:35 PM. Click to view previous post history.