Originally Posted by Spray Machine
The biggest problem with the cameras is finding a spot on the car that is perfectly flat. Almost impossible to find places on a car that are not convex, concave, curved/rounded to some degree. If you can find a flat spot the cameras will generally give you a blendable match. If your trying to take a read off a spot that isn't perfect it will read incorrectly, outside light getting in the exposure cause by not sitting perfectly flat at a 90 degree angle will affect the scan. Trunk lids, roofs, hoods that appear more or less flat have some degree of curve. The more curved the surface the more incorrect the scan will be. Also the camera must be absolutely dead still when reading. Even the tiniest vibration/movement will kill a read, nearly impossible to do when you have to hold the camera in your hands, they really need a remote to activate the camera to eliminate hand shake and need the manufacturers to make a perfectly flat spot somewhere on every vehicle. Its like a camera with a slow shutter speed, if not held perfectly still the 'picture' it takes/reads/scans will be blurred, it cannot focus on the type,size and reflective properties of the metallics in the surface your trying to read. No good for scanning tri-coats. If you really want to mess with the cameras mind scan a chrome bumper or a window!
I remember when these camera's first came out, I was excited because I had several shops that would eat up hours every day because of color match. About 8 Reps where summoned to a meeting prior to the reveal of this miracle machine. We all waited in anticipation for the Factory Trainer to take the first reading but, before he did we where told that the camera was "only a tool" and that "we still needed variant decks", it was also mentioned that "the camera "may come up with completely different formula's and manufacturer's codes for one specific color" and so on.
My suspicions where now up, but I thought, keep an open mind, so I did. Finally it came to taking the readings on a panel selected by the trainer and we patiently watched. It came up with the right car, the right color and even the right variant...needless to say I was impressed and felt my color matching days where over....until noon came around. Several of us took the camera outside and took readings of our own cars, I was driving a 1987 Eldorado, straight white (tough color to match), another fellow had a new Ford truck, metallic Red with pearls (also a tough color). The camera was then hooked up to the computer and formula's where run...My Cadillac came up as a white, but from a Nissan. My college's truck apparently was painted with a Dodge red and didn't have any pearls in the formula just metallic's. We also checked the color chosen by the camera to color chips...it was a joke. We brought this to the attention of the instructor, he was upset that we used his $10,000 dollar camera without permission and tried to explain why the camera came up with the readings it did. As you mentioned, the reasons given where, not clean enough, panel area not flat enough, age of the paint, camera wasn't calibrated and so on.
I asked if he would calibrate the machine, clean the area of both vehicles that he wanted to take a picture of and make everything perfect and see what happened. My car was now a Toyota white and the Ford truck was Jaguar's red....re-shoot the panel, same area and again, totally different formulas from different manufacturer's. The instructor tried to explain why but my faith was gone.
We got our cameras and we tried them out in the field, they had a terrible record for blendable match on metallic's and pearls and on solid colors, it was a little bit better but not worth the investment and I stopped using it. I had several customers that had to have this camera and spent the money to get it...every one of these camera's within 6 months was collecting dust in the corner or tucked away in the manager's office.
If that piece of equipment was as good as it was professed to be, all body shops would want one. The last company had 3 cameras and we couldn't even loan them out to shops, they knew how expensive they could be with mixing formulas that it spit out and ending up throwing the paint away because it wasn't even close.
This is one of my personal experiences with the color matching camera and for the amount of money that they initially want for them and their ability to match colors, it wasn't viable. There may be people that use them, but I will guarantee that they have an excellent painter in their shop that still tints colors by eye because the camera is a machine, the human eye is what looks at cars driving down the street.