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11-26-2013, 10:55 PM   #1
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White Balance

Using my new K-50 (my1st DSLR), to take pictures in a florescent lit small conference room of my wife's retirement function. When I set the WB to florescent and using P mode w/o flash the skin tones were extremely orange tented. I noticed the same thing in the same room a few weeks ago when took pictures of her signing her retirement papers.
All shots with auto WB w/o flash had much more accurate skin tones. With the little information I've provided, can anyone advise me of what I was doing wrong? I did delete the shots.

11-26-2013, 11:30 PM   #2
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Fluorescent light bulbs come in many different light temperatures. The K-3 actually has 4 different "fluorescent" settings, not sure about the k-50. But anyway, just setting it to fluorescent may not be accurate for the particular bulbs in use at any given location. If there are other light sources, like a window, then that complicates things even more.

Best thing is to take a grey card along and shoot some test shots of it to determine the actual temperature. If you are shooting RAW that can be adjusted in PP, if you are shooting jpeg then you need to set a custom white balance in the camera. There is a procedure for doing that, but I don't use it so check your manual for 'custom WB'.

But as you found, AWB generally comes out fairly good.

Last edited by jatrax; 11-26-2013 at 11:31 PM. Reason: spelling
11-26-2013, 11:44 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Fluorescent light bulbs come in many different light temperatures. The K-3 actually has 4 different "fluorescent" settings, not sure about the k-50. But anyway, just setting it to fluorescent may not be accurate for the particular bulbs in use at any given location. If there are other light sources, like a window, then that complicates things even more.
They also change color with age, so even in the same room the light can vary from fixture to fixture. Fluorescent is notoriously hostile to photographers, it does many terrible things that require workarounds to get decent shots. Another one of its fun tricks is the cheaper ballasts operate at mains frequency, 50 or 60hz depending on your location, so the light is cycling colors 50 or 60 times per second. That means you need a slow enough shutter speed that will capture the full cycle of the light so you can get good consistent color between shots.

Also, in the future, don't delete bad pictures until you know for sure why they are bad. You learn more from your failures than your successes in photography, especially when getting help from those of us who have had our own similar failures in the past.
11-27-2013, 12:01 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
Also, in the future, don't delete bad pictures until you know for sure why they are bad. You learn more from your failures than your successes in photography, especially when getting help from those of us who have had our own similar failures in the past.
Now that should be a "sticky"!

11-27-2013, 12:08 AM   #5
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My K200D stays in custom WB. I gave up on the settings and bought a Grey Card about a year ago. Best thing I EVER did as far as proper color reproduction. It only takes about 30 sec. or less to whip out the grey card and set the WB to current conditions. I've been MUCH happier with the colors in my pictures since I stated using the grey card.
11-27-2013, 12:10 AM   #6
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Sometimes there is enough color information to fix images like that, even if they were JPGs. Exactly how depends on your image software.

It may be useful to go around your house into all the rooms where you might take pictures and check the lightbulbs. A lot of new bulbs state a color temperature, like 3500K. Your manual has a chart showing the color temperature of each preset, so you can match bulb to setting.

I was always forgetting to check the white balance before shooting, then forgetting to change it back. I still don't have that habit, I just shoot RAW with Auto WB and set it later.
11-27-2013, 04:15 AM   #7
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A good way to solve this problem is to use the Expodisc. It can handle mixtures of light sources - even when you don't know what various types of light bulbs are in a room. Easy to use, and potentially more accurate than a gray card.

http://www.expoimaging.com/product-overview.php?cat_id=1

If you get one, chose a size at least as big as the largest filter thread size on your lenses. For Pentax, this typically means getting a 67mm or 77mm Expodisc.


Also note that Pentax DSLRs have a custom setting (buried toward the end for the menus) for which white balance gets used during flash. This may have affected your results as well.

Last edited by DSims; 11-27-2013 at 04:23 AM.
11-27-2013, 06:51 AM   #8
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Florescent light is not easy because there's so many variables, as others have said. It also doesn't help that many businesses tend to mix light sources. Overhead florescents, desk lamps/overhead pot lights, and windows all have different white balance needs. It can be tough.

11-27-2013, 10:31 AM   #9
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The only solution to WB that really works is to shoot RAW and fix it in post processing. I leave the camera on AWB so the jpegs look ok on the back LCD, and fix it later in DxO and/or Lightroom. I've never quite understood the use of JPEG only. It's like using a Polaroid instead of Velvia. No point in it for me. The K10 gets switched to RAW+ when I'm somewhere and want to leave some snaps on a friend's computer. the rest of the time it's on RAW. I use PEF and have my DxO export DNG. It helps in the sorting and deciding when I actually need to run shots through DxO first.
11-27-2013, 05:24 PM   #10
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I would agree with Elliot, never delete images. No matter how bad you think they are, they are a) better than nothing. And b) usually fixable to some extent.

As for WB most photo editors can fix WB issues as long as there is something that you determine should be either white black or grey (absence of any mix other than white and black) with the click of a button, and get close even with JPEG .

Lastly another confusing point with flourescent lamps is they change color over the period of the arc, 1/120 of a second or twice per 60Hz cycle. Don't believe me, take a photo on the diagonal of a flourescent light tube at a fast shutter speed.
12-03-2013, 11:45 AM   #11
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Why not use the WB system your camera provides?

Shoot a shot select WB from the controller the last photo you took will appear in the screen. Run through the pre-set selections provided and look to the photo for the changes in WB. If one of this those works use that preset for your shots - you can even save that photo as new. That doesn't work then make your adjustment using the kelvin gage and save that as your adjustment.

It's actually a pretty easy way to set WB. Once you do it a couple of times its easy and it takes less than 10 seconds to accomplish.

I adjust WB this way all the time when I run into difficult light.
12-03-2013, 01:33 PM   #12
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Two things: 1. Use a gray card first. 2. Shoot RAW so you can change WB, assuming you have some software to do so.
12-03-2013, 03:04 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by LOU16 Quote
White Balance
Shoot in raw and tweak in PP if things aren't to your liking.
12-03-2013, 07:35 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by geru2000 Quote
Why not use the WB system your camera provides?

Shoot a shot select WB from the controller the last photo you took will appear in the screen. Run through the pre-set selections provided and look to the photo for the changes in WB. If one of this those works use that preset for your shots - you can even save that photo as new. That doesn't work then make your adjustment using the kelvin gage and save that as your adjustment.

It's actually a pretty easy way to set WB. Once you do it a couple of times its easy and it takes less than 10 seconds to accomplish.

I adjust WB this way all the time when I run into difficult light.
I've reviewed that section of the manual. I must say it will take some effort on my part to fully understand it. Thanks for the tip.
12-03-2013, 08:55 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by kerrowdown Quote
Shoot in raw and tweak in PP if things aren't to your liking.
I'm with KD on this. Even if he does have an odd accent.
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