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How to Use a Color Chart in Product Photography

How to Use a Color Chart in Product Photography

Raise your hand if you’ve ever purchased a shirt online in a particular colour—maybe your favourite or one matching the event’s theme—only to discover it looks different in person.

You don’t want your customers to experience that in your brand, do you?

At Pixel by Hand photo editing service, we’ve seen our fair share of color discrepancies in product photography. Color is a key element of any image, and customers are unlikely to purchase items if there’s an obvious difference between what they expect to see online and the reality. Through our color correction service, we’ve helped hundreds of eCommerce brands achieve pixel-perfect hues in their product images.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to use a color chart in product photography, and why it’s essential for consistent branding.

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Why is Color Accuracy Important in Product Photography?


Accuracy in the color of the products is an integral part of any business. In fact, 87% of consumers attribute color as the primary reason for their purchases and 22% of retail returns happen because a product looks different in actuality. It’s why if you wish to succeed online, you shouldn’t take color for granted. When a consumer returns a product because it is different in person, it can hurt your brand, and in turn, your bottom line. You not only risk having bad reviews but also losing customers. 

For example,  a customer might order a pair of yellow shoes online, only to find out that they’re a different shade in person. This can lead to negative reviews and loss of sales, as customers will hesitate to buy from you if they cannot trust the product’s hue. You don’t want to end up in one of those “Expection vs Reality” viral videos that  circulate the internet – so how do you ensure that the colors in your images are accurate?

The answer lies in using a color chart. A color chart helps to remove any guesswork when it comes to product photography and allows photographers to capture images with consistent and accurate colors and avoid discoloration. This can be especially useful for eCommerce stores, as customers will often make decisions about a product based on its color.

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What is a Color Chart?

The Macbeth ColorChecker was the first color chart ever introduced in 1976—a cardboard-framed arrangement of 24 swatches based on Munsell colors. Today, color charts are mostly made of plastic and are available in different sizes. But they remain a humble tool that professional photographers can use to capture the colors accurately regardless of the lighting situation.

Although modern-day cameras have come a long way to interpret colors in their subjects, there are still several factors that can influence how the colors are represented in the resulting images:

  • Lighting temperature: this is the type of light used for the shoot (natural, tungsten, fluorescent).
  • Lighting intensity: this is how bright the lights are.
  • White balance settings: this is how cameras interpret colors in different lighting temperatures.
  • Exposure settings: this is the amount of light allowed in the image.
  • The type of lenses used: different lenses may produce different effects.

A color chart can be used during a product photoshoot and later as a reference point in post-production to ensure color consistency throughout the creative process. Professional photographers can save hours in photo color correction editing to adjust their exposure, perfect white balance settings, and fine-tune other details.

Color charts also allow photographers to accurately represent the colors of their products, even in challenging lighting conditions. For example, a photographer using a tungsten light might have difficulty capturing accurate colors; a color chart can help them get more consistent results.

How to Use A Color Chart in Product Photography


You can use a color chart by taking a picture of it close to the subject or in the same light as the subject at the start of the photoshoot. Then, with the eyedropper tool in your editing software, you can select the patch closest to 18 percent gray. This action will instantaneously allow your software to recognize that color as gray and adjust the overall color of the image. Here’s an easy-to-follow guide from The Slanted Lens on how to use a color chart.

Once you have figured that out, you can apply the same adjustments for the rest of the photographs taken within the same set-up and lighting environment. This is a great time-saver that allows you to do batch edits during color correction.

Using a color chart for product photography is the best way to guarantee accurate colors in your eCommerce photos. This simple step can prevent you from receiving bad reviews and losing customers due to inaccurate images of your products. So make sure to add this tool to your arsenal and start using it during your photoshoots.

Why You Should Use a Color Chart?

Using a color chart in your photography is essential for achieving accurate and consistent color in your images. While you may think that your camera’s color settings are enough to produce high-quality images, several factors can still impact your output. The surrounding objects in your scene, for example, can give off ambient light that may cast a color tint on your images, causing them to appear differently than they actually are.

To ensure precise color production, it is strongly recommended that a color chart be used on set. Capturing a reference shot of the chart in similar lighting conditions as your subject will help you adjust and fine-tune your camera’s settings to generate accurate and reliable colors for stunning images.

Using a color chart can also save you a significant amount of time during post-processing.   By taking a quick reference shot, you can easily adjust your color correction settings using the eyedropper tool. This will provide a consistent look across all of your images and eliminate any guesswork during post-production. After your images have been imported and corrected, you can then make any final adjustments to shadows, highlights, and other filters.

Lastly, using a color chart can help you identify any color cast that may be present in your images, such as a warm or cool tint. This is crucial for ensuring that your images are not only accurate but also appealing to the viewer.

For example, a product photographed in natural light may appear too cool if the white balance has not been adjusted properly. By comparing your reference shot of the chart to your product images, you can quickly identify any color cast and adjust it accordingly. This will give you more control over the overall look and feel of your images and produce results that are both accurate and attractive.

  • Bounce Rate: This metric is simply the percentage of people who leave after visiting only one page. Improving this number can increase your overall conversion rate by helping ensure that customers see more of your store and become familiar with your products, resulting in a higher likelihood of purchases.
  • Average Order Value (AOV): This refers to the average amount spent per order and is an important metric to track. Increasing the AOV can be achieved through up-selling and cross-selling strategies as well as offering discounts or free shipping on higher order values.
  • Cart Abandonment Rate: This refers to shoppers who add items to their cart, but then don’t complete the purchase. Reducing this number by improving things such as checkout flow, payment methods, and security can improve your overall conversion rate.
  • Average Time on Site: This metric measures how long visitors stay, with a longer time indicating more engagement and interest in what you have to offer. Improving this number can lead to better customer relationships and higher conversions.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): This measure is the ratio of people who click on a specific link, such as an ad or banner. Increasing CTR can help boost your conversion rate if it’s done correctly.
  • Average Page Depth (AKA Pages Per Session in Google Analytics): This metric measures the number of pages customers view. Increasing this number can give you an understanding of how engaging your product and content pages are, which can lead to more purchases.

15 Photography Composition Techniques to Improve Your Product Photos

Good photography composition is just as much an art as it is a science. In this quick guide, we’ll walk you through 15 photography composition techniques to help improve your photos. But first, let’s define what composition is in photography.

How to Keep Colors Accurate in Product Photography

Understanding how to photograph objects to appear as they would to the human eye is key to accuracy in product photography. Besides using a color chart, we are finishing this article with more tips on how to keep colors as accurate as possible during a product shoot.

1. Histogram

A histogram is a graph that measures the exposure of an image, represented as a value on a bar chart. Working with histogram allows you to ensure that you get the correct exposure, which is particularly handy when shooting light color objects or against a white color background, as they tend to get overexposed quickly.

2. Light Source

When shooting products, make sure that your light sources are of the same color temperature. Otherwise, your products may have uneven tones on different sides. Don’t rely on your camera’s internal white balance correction feature—they are not always accurate, particularly in a mixed light environment.

3. Shoot in Raw

RAW files give more leeway for adjusting the white balance during post-processing. They are quite forgiving if you have overexposed or underexposed areas, which means you can edit shadows and highlights without losing detail—something that is often associated with a JPEG.

4. Invest in a Good Display Screen

The best monitors for photo editing should provide broad color coverage, accuracy, and uniformity. The good news is that, there’s a wide range of high-quality display screens in the market at different price points for both enthusiasts and professionals.

5. Check Color on Multiple Devices

While you may have a reliable display screen, it also pays to double-check the color tone on a different device. This way, you can get an idea of how others will see your images.

What Is Color Matching Service and Why Is It Best For Your Business?

Color matching and color-changing services play a vital role in the success of any business, especially eCommerce. EJM discovered that over 11% of customers stated they will return their items based on discrepancies in the color. This implies how crucial it is for businesses to deliver a product that matches customers’ expectations and ensures them a pleasant shopping experience.

How Will I Know If I Need Color Correction Service?

If you’ve implemented all of the tips above but still find that your colors are off, then it might be a good idea to outsource professional color correction services. Professional colorists have a deep understanding of the relationship between colors and can accurately adjust them in Adobe Photoshop or any other graphics editor.

There are several signs that indicate that you may need a color correction service. Some of these signs include:

  • Inconsistent color: If you notice that the color of your images is inconsistent, with some appearing too warm or too cool, it may be a sign that you need color correction. For example,  if you’re shooting against a white background, the objects should appear exactly the same regardless of their position in the frame.
  • Excessive contrast: If the image looks too saturated or if the shadows appear to be too dark, it may be due to incorrect saturation settings or poor white balance. A professional colorist can help you adjust the contrast and brightness settings to produce a more even look.
  • Out-of-gamut colors: Colors that are out of the standard color range, such as bright blue hues or neon magenta, can be difficult to correct. A professional colorist will be able to adjust the colors back into the gamut so that they look natural and consistent.
  • Poor white balance: Poor white balance is a common issue that can cause your images to appear too yellow, too blue, or too green. If you notice that your images have a color cast, it may be a sign that you need color correction.
  • Unnatural skin tones: If the skin tones in your images appear unnatural, it may be a sign that you need color correction. This could be due to incorrect white balance, which can cause skin tones to appear too yellow, too pink, or too orange.
  • Over or under-exposed images: Over or under-exposed images can cause color inaccuracies, making your images appear too bright or too dark. If you notice that your images are not correctly exposed, it may be a sign that you need color correction.
  • Post-processing difficulties: If you’re struggling to achieve accurate color in your images during post-processing, it may be a sign that you need color correction. For example,  if you’re having trouble accurately adjusting the whites or the blacks, it could be a sign that the colors are off.

If you recognize any of these indicators in your photos, it may be worthwhile to look into a color correction service. A professional will help guarantee that each one of your images is precise and uniform, allowing you to save time and energy during editing.

Pixel By Hand Color Correction Service

At Pixel by Hand photo editing service, we’ve worked with a wide range of digital photographers, from hobbyists to professionals. We specialize in eCommerce product photography and have a great understanding of product color accuracy. We take the time to adjust your images so that they are consistent across all devices, including phones, tablets, and desktop monitors. Our photo editors use Adobe Photoshop software with calibrated displays to ensure accurate color reproduction.

We understand that each image is different and requires an individual approach. Whether you’re looking for a subtle color change or a comprehensive color correction, our editors are here to help.

If you’re having difficulty with the colors in your images, reach out to Pixel by Hand today and see how we can help. Our team of professional photo editors is here to assist with all of your image editing needs. Get started on your FREE TRIAL today!

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