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Thread: Custom white balance, do you use this often and if so why?

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    Member Andrea1's Avatar
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    Custom white balance, do you use this often and if so why?

    Hi again,

    I've just been doing some reading about custom white balance and am wanting to give it a go.

    Is this something that is done all the time or just for particular type of photos depending on the lighting? Just not sure how often this is done as i have never seen this done when i've been out and about.

    Thanks

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    I have used custom white balance for indoor shots - but you may need to set up several custom white balances for this to be effective if colour conditions are changing. For example, when taking shots of an indoor sporting event, some competitors were on red mats while others were on blue mats. Despite the action occurring in the same hall, same overall lighting at the same time, I still needed two different cwb to deal with the different reflected colours.

    Often, if your picture has white in it, it is just as effective to use the AWB dropper in your post-processing soft ware.

    These days, for variable indoor light, I use a Spyder colour checkr in post.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I have used it as well. It is helpful when the camera's auto-white balance feature is giving results that are not accurate. Remember though if you shoot RAW, you can change the white balance during editing as well.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    I recommend to shoot raw and put white balance on auto, this way it's just not a concern. You already have all the other technical things that distract you from composition / seizing the instant when you're taking pictures, having one less is very nice.

    Imagine if you could just put any ISO to suit your composition needs (DOF, light, movement, ...) instead of having to worry about not generating too much noise, or if you didn't have to slightly close the f-stop to get rid of either lens faults or slightly imprecise focus. Wouldn't it be awesome?
    You can do that with white balance, so why bother?

    Cheers

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    +1 for AWB and RAW. Then you can do what you like in post processing, from choosing a preset to setting the colour temp to a preferred value.

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    Thanks guys,

    Just seems like one more thing to worry about, and what i really want to do is just capture a shot!!

    A

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    If you are shooting in variable lighting conditions...........does the auto white balance become variable as well? Does it change along with the ambient light colour? If it does........would it be correct to use say a cloudy setting to keep the colour changes stable?..........so that when it comes to PP everything is at the same light colour and it ( in theory ) should be simple to keep the series the same colour?
    cheers
    Jan
    Last edited by ricstew; 05-05-2012 at 7:47am.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricstew View Post
    If you are shooting in variable lighting conditions...........does the auto white balance become variable as well? Does it change along with the ambient light colour? If it does........would it be correct to use say a cloudy setting to keep the colour changes stable?..........so that when it comes to PP everything is at the same light colour and it ( in theory ) should be simple to keep the series the same colour?
    cheers
    Jan
    White balance is determined as a Kelvin temperature (google it to find out more). Basically AWB uses a detection system within the camera to determine what the white balance should be. But a Kelvin of 5200 is the same, no matter what the scene looks like. Cloudy etc, are just preset kelvin values, nothing more.

    So, yes you can use the cloudy setting, or AWB, or (on some cameras) you can dial in the actual kelvin value you want. But all of these are changeable to any other kelvin value in post processing, as long as you shoot RAW.

    If you want to test it out, get your camera out, set it up and take one shot on AWB, one on Cloudy, one on Tungsten, one on sunny etc, then get on the computer and compare them. You will find if you change the white balance in post, to the same value, each photo will look basically the same.

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    Thank you Rick.....I get that but does the Auto w/b change in changing light conditions? If I started shooting in a room with tungsten and then turned on a fluro lamp and then used a flash............would the auto w/b change from what it thought was right.........from one condition to the next when the lighting changed? so that the three shots in the same room had different colour auto w/b?

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    It's all about the Light!
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    Shoot raw, leave it on either auto or cloudy
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricstew View Post
    Thank you Rick.....I get that but does the Auto w/b change in changing light conditions? If I started shooting in a room with tungsten and then turned on a fluro lamp and then used a flash............would the auto w/b change from what it thought was right.........from one condition to the next when the lighting changed? so that the three shots in the same room had different colour auto w/b?
    Yes! AWB is just that, it automatically chooses an appropriate white balance for EACH shot.

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    AHAH! Thats what I thought Thank you for confirming it So Kym tell me please what the difference would be and why I would choose either........... Auto ( will change ) to cloudy ( wont change ) ?

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    Yep , But both are changeable if shot in RAW in PP , If you shoot in RAW , Just set the camera to AWB
    Canon : 30D, and sometimes the 5D mkIII , Sigma 10-20, 50mm 1.8, Canon 24-105 f4 L , On loan Sigma 120-400 DG and Canon 17 - 40 f4 L , Cokin Filters




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    Mmmm, just wondering why some photographers use those 18% grey cards or lens covers? Are these things then not necessary if it all gets fixed with pp?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea1 View Post
    Mmmm, just wondering why some photographers use those 18% grey cards or lens covers? Are these things then not necessary if it all gets fixed with pp?
    I would recommend you give it a go as seeing the difference Using custom white balance was a big learning from me years after I gave up film. I thing AWB works well out doors for me, but indoors, this is often not the case and the menu choices are not always spot on either.

    After learning this, I bought some white lens caps but really found them pretty useless as the cap clips onto a screw on ring which is plastic and prevented me from using my Cokin filters as it is hard to unscrew because the plastic squashes. I just carry one now and will just hold it in front of the lens when required.

    Just be careful about the grey cards. From recent reading, it seems 18% is not the right standard for digital. I think the right tint for digital is 12% but I have yet to play with one.
    RodW
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    If you want the right wb I would recommend a grey card for sure.....even if you shoot in raw you can spend a lot of time and tears in pp getting the correct wb, especially on people.

    99% of time outdoors I uses the cloud wb as most often a warmer result is good.


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    I mostly shoot in RAW and AWB. I tend to use Cloudy setting during the wet season when it is ... well cloudy and overcast. I find that the cloudy setting is overly warm for dry season when the sun is shining every day. I tend to only use the other settings or custom white balance when indoors or when I purposely want to use White Balance for a creative effect
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea1 View Post
    Mmmm, just wondering why some photographers use those 18% grey cards or lens covers? Are these things then not necessary if it all gets fixed with pp?
    I can't see how those 'lens covers' can work properly to be honest .. I think the assumption is that you and/or the camera are within the lighting arrangement that is going to cause the issue.


    Quote Originally Posted by rodw View Post
    .....

    Just be careful about the grey cards. From recent reading, it seems 18% is not the right standard for digital. I think the right tint for digital is 12% but I have yet to play with one.
    Unless you want the grey card to help you determine exposure, the percentage rating is irrelevant.
    The 18% rating is the shade of grey that will give you a neutral RGB rendering(128, 128, 128)

    Most grey cards will be 18%, as this is the most common. Handy device for determining exposure if using film(and a light meter is some kind).

    If determining an accurate WB is you objective then a grey card is a grey card, as long as it is grey(and not tainted or stained with other markings and so forth)
    Note you can also use a piece of (very)white paper, as long as the white paper is clean.

    CFL lighting is difficult to balance properly, but mixed lighting is also a challenge to get colour balance right.

    Mix CFLs and standard fluoros and daytime ambient, and you have a hard time finding a good balance.


    Are these Grey Cards neccesary .. nope!
    Handy .... yes for sure ... but not necessary.

    My large fold up grey card thing cost about $20. Handy when it's needed, but it's not needed that often.
    It folds in on itself down from 56cm to about 20 or 15cm and is easily transported in most camera bags .. so I thought it was worthwhile having.
    And I've used it on many occasions too.
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    The lens caps work because to set a white balance you only need to fill the frame with a neutral colour

    But yes, the light had to be the same from where you are to where the subject is

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    If you know ahead of time that you are going to shoot many photos in the same location with somewhat stable light, it does make sense to set WB before rather than in post processing.
    My answer (just shoot raw and put it on auto) was more generic.
    Still shoot raw!
    Last edited by patrickv; 06-05-2012 at 7:49pm. Reason: typo

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