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04-08-2008, 10:50 PM   #1
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18% Gray Cards

We just got a few of these in at my job. I was actually pretty surprised how much a difference they made when using the k200d in manual using the green button. I took pictures of the white counter top and the resulting exposure was drastically different (almost 1.5 stops). I wanted to know if anyone here uses them with any of their Pentax (or any digital) Cameras.

04-09-2008, 12:17 AM   #2
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Coming from film, I used to use grey cards alot. Nowadays, I prefer to meter off memorized values (like grass or a clear blue sky or even the palm of my hand) if I meter at all in that way. The fact is I usually use a digital preview and figure it out from the histogram. I pretty much shoot it raw 95% of the time so I bring back the tones in PP. Thus my main concern is just getting all the data, regardless of what the meter says.

Far more useful to me is my x-rite ColorChecker...
04-09-2008, 05:31 AM   #3
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Very rarely use a gray card anymore. Exposure is most often simply based on visual inspection and the histogram today. However, since I do a lot of product photography under artificial lights, I routinely use a white card to ensure fairly accurate white balance. As I understand it, gray cards can also be used for white balance as well, though I haven't tried it.

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04-09-2008, 09:40 AM   #4
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I use it very often. God's gift to photographers when the lighting or contrast are "tricky". Also, it saves so much time in post processing, I think everybody should have one.

04-09-2008, 11:10 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by flyer Quote
I use it very often. God's gift to photographers when the lighting or contrast are "tricky". Also, it saves so much time in post processing, I think everybody should have one.
Agreed. Also, gray cards can be used for white balance. I alway use a gray card before shooting to use as a reference for later post processing. It's a must have for anyone who shoots RAW and color correction.

Cheers!
04-09-2008, 04:27 PM   #6
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I've been doing this for more than 12 years and I still can't get a good guess at the exposure by eye so you're a lot better than me! Seriously, my primary grey card is the one I bought when I started photography more than a dozen years ago. And yes, you can use a grey card to get a white balance as long as the grey is spectrally neutral. But there are some cheaper grey cards out there that have a slight color shift so just keep this in mind before using a greycard for getting a white balance.

QuoteOriginally posted by stewart_photo Quote
Very rarely use a gray card anymore. Exposure is most often simply based on visual inspection and the histogram today. However, since I do a lot of product photography under artificial lights, I routinely use a white card to ensure fairly accurate white balance. As I understand it, gray cards can also be used for white balance as well, though I haven't tried it.

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04-09-2008, 05:03 PM   #7
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My humble advise is not to mess around with 18% grey cards but instead get a 'Whibal" card. Each one is measured prior to leaving the factory to ensure it is the correct shade of grey. They are not cheap but if you want accurate white balanced images you need an accurate reference card. There is more info here.
04-09-2008, 05:27 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by superbass Quote
We just got a few of these in at my job. I was actually pretty surprised how much a difference they made when using the k200d in manual using the green button. I took pictures of the white counter top and the resulting exposure was drastically different (almost 1.5 stops). I wanted to know if anyone here uses them with any of their Pentax (or any digital) Cameras.
While the cards are useful, I always found that walking around in the woods with a grey card, and putting it under the tree where my subject was, generally caused my subject to fly away or hop along to somewhere else.

I did a little thinking and found that things like treetrunks, paved roads, etc, were suitable substitutes and stopped carrying mine.

04-09-2008, 07:37 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jun Park Quote
I've been doing this for more than 12 years and I still can't get a good guess at the exposure by eye so you're a lot better than me! Seriously, my primary grey card is the one I bought when I started photography more than a dozen years ago. And yes, you can use a grey card to get a white balance as long as the grey is spectrally neutral. But there are some cheaper grey cards out there that have a slight color shift so just keep this in mind before using a greycard for getting a white balance.
Agreed. Personally, I use a Gretag Macbeth Colorchecker every time I shoot, and it's useful for camera calibration. They changed their company to X-Rite now, but they have spectrally neutral gray cards as well.

Last edited by imadethis; 04-09-2008 at 07:45 PM.
04-09-2008, 09:42 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
While the cards are useful, I always found that walking around in the woods with a grey card, and putting it under the tree where my subject was, generally caused my subject to fly away or hop along to somewhere else.

I did a little thinking and found that things like treetrunks, paved roads, etc, were suitable substitutes and stopped carrying mine.
Ha ha.

I actually bought an expo disc for fixing the white balance. I thought it was amazing till I tried using a white piece of paper and found that the results were similar. At this point, it was kind of a waste of money since I'm no pro.

I've always thought my pictures were kind of flat and grayish, but I don't like doing too much in post. So when I saw what the gray card could do I was impressed. I guess I never really thought that the camera's exposure isn't always right. Mark one for experience.
04-09-2008, 09:54 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by J.Scott Quote
My humble advise is not to mess around with 18% grey cards but instead get a 'Whibal" card. Each one is measured prior to leaving the factory to ensure it is the correct shade of grey. They are not cheap but if you want accurate white balanced images you need an accurate reference card. There is more info here.
The Whibal looks like it's easier to carry around than an expodisc, but it does add an extra step in post.
04-10-2008, 03:32 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by superbass Quote
Ha ha.

I actually bought an expo disc for fixing the white balance. I thought it was amazing till I tried using a white piece of paper and found that the results were similar. At this point, it was kind of a waste of money since I'm no pro.

I've always thought my pictures were kind of flat and grayish, but I don't like doing too much in post. So when I saw what the gray card could do I was impressed. I guess I never really thought that the camera's exposure isn't always right. Mark one for experience.
Are the pictures flat due to exposure or due to incorrect contrast? but lets not start a depabe on this one it will never end,

It is also not so much that the metering gets it wrong, but that the metering may not be looking at what you want exposed correctly. I generally use spot metering (shooting in and out of shadows makes all other modes useless) anf I always thy to be concious of my lighting. I generally (not always) shoot manual, and set the metering for the conditions, using both the exposure meter, and as others have suggested, the histogram, and then keep the exposure the same until lighting conditions change. Works for me
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