Absolute Color Accuracy – How to achieve the most faithful color rendering

By John Walrath


As photographers, we are always looking for color that matches our creative intent. Often the need is to reproduce color absolutely and the other is to simply achieve better color. Absolute color relates to translating color as accurately as possible from the real world to our digital world, while better color can mean a nicer look or consistency between multiple shots. A lot goes into reproducing color accurately. Factors like lighting, camera and lens as well as the actual colors of the subject are important considerations.



The light source illuminating your subject bears a major influence on color capture. Camera sensors are very capable in many lighting conditions but struggle in others. Lighting can be the biggest obstacle. Strong or vibrant color can also challenge a camera’s capabilities.

If absolute color accuracy for the most faithful color reproduction is your goal, using a known color reference to aid color correction is the best way to assure color is accurate. The alternative is to push and pull sliders until you believe it looks correct. Implementing a SpyderCHECKR is a more efficient way to confidently reproduce faithful color.



SpyderCHECKR is used to correct the influence of the light source, or sources that illuminate your subject and to adjust color. To use, include the SpyderCHECKR or SpyderCHECKR 24 in the scene you are photographing to be used as a reference image. Take a reference image like this each time the lighting changes.



When you edit these images, use the white balance eyedropper on one of the several neutral tones on the front of the SpyderCHECKR. If you seek just a white balance correction, use the large gray target on the reverse side. To correct for color accuracy, create a user preset with the SpyderCHECKR software using the color chart reference and apply it to the set of images in the same lighting. Once you apply these techniques, you’ll be on your way to having absolute color accuracy.