How can i match colors from the real world to my computer monitor. I have seen tons of post talking about matching colors from picture to picture, calibrating colors on my monitor, etc. But i haven't really seen a post that talks about how to make sure the product i'm photographing is what i'm seeing on my screen.

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    This task is in general case computationally and practically unsolvable. ColorChecker won't provide you with exact mapping in each situation. Jul 20 '16 at 23:45
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    Scratch the word "practically": sure Maki suggested a valid solution which is sufficient for most cases. Thing is, there is no perfect one. Jul 21 '16 at 2:09

During the photo shoot, you need to take an exposure of a color calibration card (ColorChecker) and use it to create a camera color profile in your computer. X-Rite is a leading company in this field.

Check out this video for the process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn5VvB32wVI

Preferably, create one profile for each photo shoot, and not only a general "daylight" profile as they demonstrate.

This is the first step. The next step is to use a display calibrator to calibrate your display colors as well.

Third step is to calibrate a printer profile if needed, and X-Rite has tools for that as well.

  • ok so that could help me get started. So I guess the next question is how far can colors be in a product shot. In my case a rug. I know that answer can be opinion based bust i would to hear from people who have been in this situation. Do companies normally want the color an exact match? Or is something just really close ok?
    – Cody Pace
    Jul 21 '16 at 11:16

Re: your other question about what could still cause variations in color. (@Cody Hint: just because one relatively new low rep member has a negative comment on a question is no reason to immediately delete it.)

The biggest issue is most likely the fluorescent lighting. There are two major considerations with most types of fluorescent lights in the context of color accuracy:

  • Limited spectrum. They don't put out the full spectrum of light that is contained in sunlight or other fuller spectrum sources. All lights have a CRI or color rendering index. The higher the CRI number, the fuller spectrum the light is from a given type of bulb. A typical commercial grade fluorescent bulb has a CRI of about 50. Most other types of fluorescents range from about 65 to 75. Some tri-phosphor cool white fluorescent bulbs can reach as high as 89 CRI. A quality incandescent or halogen bulb can have a CRI of 100.
  • Flicker. Fluorescent lights flicker with the frequency of the alternating current that powers them. In the U.S. this is usually 60Hz. Not only does the brightness fluctuate with the phase of the alternating current, but the color changes as well. At the peak of the cycle the color is brighter and bluer, and in the trough it is darker and a muddy brown. If your shutter time is shorter than one complete cycle of the lights' oscillation you'll get different color in each shot depending on exactly which portion of the oscillation the lights were in while the shutter was open. If shutter speeds shorter than approximately the camera's flash sync speed are used the color will even fluctuate from the top to the bottom of the image as the light changes during the time the slit between the first and second curtains travel across the sensor.

You can combat the flicker by insuring a shutter speed of about 1/100 second or slower (1/60 is even better). This of course, necessitates the use of a tripod or other stable camera mount to eliminate blur caused by camera movement. But you're still left with the relatively low CRI of most fluorescent lights unless you use high CRI fluorescent lights specifically made for photographic use.

  • I haven't seen the question, but I don't think that it got deleted by the community. I think it's more likely that Cody got intimidated by that negative comment and deleted it himself.
    – null
    Jul 21 '16 at 12:41
  • Awesome! This is great information! The fluorescent tubes we use are just plain jane bulbs and this could be one of our issues. We shoot in a warehouse that is entirely lit with them. We have a couple of umbrella lights we use as well but I feel it's such a large space and because the floors are concrete and shiny much of that lighting is lost.
    – Cody Pace
    Jul 21 '16 at 13:05

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