How to Use a Colour Checker Card

Check out this handy tool for keeping your colours looking good.

Colour checker cards (also known as colour checker passports) seem to cause confusion for some photographers.

In this class, Karl clears up some of that confusion, explaining what colour checkers are and how to use a colour checker.

You’ll see different types of colour checkers and grey cards as Karl explains the pros and cons of each. Taking an image into different pieces of software, Karl also shows how to neutralise an image using colour checkers.

In this class:

  • What is a colour checker?
  • Different types of colour checkers
  • How to use a colour checker
  • How to remove colour cast in an image
  • How to neutralise images
  • How to create a colour profile

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Nigel

    Karl, totally agree with not messing with maker’s colour science and given all the post work etc using a colour checker seems pointless.

    Would you say the same of monitor calibration devices that you hang in front of your computer monitor, given how good some of the built-in monitor colour profiles are with modern monitors?

    I’m asking as I created a profile with a new Calibrite (used to be Xrite) monitor calibrator and the result was a tint of yellow and a slightly milky look. I found the standard iMac or the Adobe (rub) profile built into my 27-inch Retina display iMac to be better.

    Your thoughts? Do you calibrate your monitors for photography and video at your studio?

    1. Hi, we calibrate our monitors regularly and this is important because they drift over time and out of the box they are usually not accurate. However it does depend if the monitor is truly capable of being calibrated, for example is it meant for calibration and does it have the appropriate gamut coverage in its specs. We use mostly Eizo monitors which have their own built in calibrators that flip down every 200 hours and run the whole process, it then saves the profile automatically and is the latest profile that coloursync from the mac will read. We also have an Asus Art Pro and a high quality Ben Q monitor where we have to calibrate ourselves with an external Xrite calibrator, this is done monthly and keeps them looking pretty good but not quite as good as the Eizos as their gamut is not as broad. I’m surprised you are getting an odd result with your calibrator, usually the process is pretty straight forward, ensure the calibrator is on the screen properly and that the room is not overlit and also that the monitor is suitable for this type of calibration.

      1. Nigel

        Super detailed answer, Karl. Thanks for that. I suspect it is the 2017 Retina 27-inch iMac that is the issue. I don’t have any issue doing post work in Capture One on the iMac, might be a ‘trifle’ out here and there but my eye knows what images look like on my Mac and I edit my images accordingly and nobody viewing my images have calibrated monitors anyway so I find the monitor calibration to only make a tiny difference in the shadow detail. When I upgrade my Mac I’ll have to look at an Eizo monitor anyway as Apple no longer make a 27-inch iMac so I’ll have to go for the Mac Studio and separate monitor.

        Thanks for tip on Eizo with build in calibrator, will be nice not to have to hang a Calibrite thing over the screen and, yes, I have the room in the dark and angle the screen to get good contact with calibrator. Somebody at Calibrite helped me with a few custom settings that made a huge difference, but I feel there is still a trifle of milkiness and a slight hing of yellow to my eye, which is the reason I simply went back to the iMac standard profile as I can’t trust the Calibrite with my particular iMac monitor.

        Thanks again.

  2. Hi Karl – how often do you recommend updating ones colour checker, even one that has the case and is only opened for use? I noticed mines says 2019 so it’s a good 4 years old at this point and has lasted me well through college until now. Cheers.

    1. Hi Pete, as long as you’ve kept it closed when not using it and it hasn’t been left in the sun then it should be fine for another 4 years at least. I’ve got one that’s 15 years old and it still looks like my new one.

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