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01-17-2015, 11:45 PM   #1
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WB "Gray Cards"

Any here have suggestions for "best" value/rendition(s) of a pure 18% "gray" WB card(s)? See allot advertised on Amazon, yet suggestions/selection/experience welcome..

01-18-2015, 12:10 AM   #2
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These are my suggestions:

Try to get a Teslin one rather than a PVC one, and other than that there's not a lot to look for. Teslin is more chemically stable, so has a longer useful life, and it is also more robust in day-to-day use. All of these cards have a limited life because as they are exposed to daylight, with the UV content it has, they will either fade or yellow, and sometimes they will do both. The no-name 2 in 1 card that also has colour patches is extremely good value, found on Amazon and eBay (slightly cheaper on eBay even though it's the identical item). Try to keep it away from light when it's not in use and this will prolong the life of the product. As long as the colour and grey values don't shift by more than about 5% no problems are caused, but as soon as that does happen it's time to replace it. The Color Checker Passport, about the most expensive form of these products, actually comes with an expiry date, though if you store it well it will last well enough to be used long past that date. It is an admission by the manufacturer of the truth, that they just can't make one of these reference cards that will last forever.

The grey card is occasionally useful as a focus target as well as for setting white balance, while the colour patches can be used with free software to develop custom colour profiles for your camera for use in Lightroom, PhotoShop etc. In addition the colour side of the card can be used to help printers match their printing process accurately to your camera's colour properties. Taking a photo and then adding another with identical camera settings containing the colour side of the card is a huge help sometimes to get accurate prints. It takes some specialist knowledge or software sometimes to use the colour side, but most printing houses will have both the knowledge and software so that card could be useful even if you have neither.

Edit to add: Often the really, really cheap cards are not precise enough in their colour to set the white balance as accurately as manually choosing the nearest camera preset from experience. In addition remember that if you shoot RAW all the time, or RAW and JPEG if you must, then you can always go back to the original RAW file and process it again using Lightroom, PhotoShop, Aperture etc. White balance can be changed on import and the file saved under another name to keep the original unaltered.

Last edited by Fire Angel; 01-19-2015 at 05:30 AM. Reason: Providing addiional information.
01-18-2015, 12:12 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by SKYGZR Quote
Any here have suggestions for "best" value/rendition(s) of a pure 18% "gray" WB card(s)? See allot advertised on Amazon, yet suggestions/selection/experience welcome..
There is a magazine published, I don't remember the name, that has white and grey cards on the last page. They are reasonably thick stock and work. They publish how to sort of issues. Check out a magazine kiosk.
01-18-2015, 04:19 AM   #4
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Don't forget that you can use the palm of your hand, or strangely, green grass, as a grey card substitute.

01-18-2015, 07:06 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Do not overlook Kodak grey/white color/exposure test cards ($25 @ B&H). Kodak has been making these from time out of memory, and for just as long they have been the benchmark for accuracy. They are on 8X10 card stock, two sheets per package, so are readily cut into eight 4X5 camera-bag sized copies (or twelve 3.3X4) with extras to replace worn, damaged, dirty cards. How many years would eight copies serve? I'd trust these over "permanent" cards on any kind of plastic.

ADDENDUM: The Kodak cards come with two 8X10 and one 4X5 card.

PHOOEY, HAVE TO CORRECT AGAIN. My ancient Kodak cards came with two 8X10's; a website said two 8X10 and one 4X5; but the "in the box" at B&H says one each 8X10 and 4X5. Whatever, these cards are the benchmark.

Last edited by WPRESTO; 01-18-2015 at 07:32 AM.
01-18-2015, 07:16 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by JohnX Quote
Don't forget that you can use the palm of your hand, or strangely, green grass, as a grey card substitute.
OP is asking for a white baloance grey card, not just for exposure.

---------- Post added 01-18-2015 at 06:17 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Do not overlook Kodak grey/white color/exposure test cards ($25 @ B&H). Kodak has been making these from time out of memory, and for just as long they have been the benchmark for accuracy. They are on 8X10 card stock, two sheets per package, so are readily cut into eight 4X5 camera-bag sized copies (or twelve 3.3X4) with extras to replace worn, damaged, dirty cards. How many years would eight copies serve? I'd trust these over "permanent" cards on any kind of plastic.
I have a set I use for portraits and find them reliable.
01-18-2015, 09:00 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
ADDENDUM: The Kodak cards come with two 8X10 and one 4X5 card.

PHOOEY, HAVE TO CORRECT AGAIN. My ancient Kodak cards came with two 8X10's; a website said two 8X10 and one 4X5; but the "in the box" at B&H says one each 8X10 and 4X5. Whatever, these cards are the benchmark.
Obviously they've changed the contents over time. I have a set that includes two 8x10 and one 4x5.
01-18-2015, 03:25 PM   #8
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I liked these DGK cards so much that I bought two types.


DGK Color Tools Web Store


I bought this one:


DGK Color Tools WDKK Waterproof 18% Gray Color Chart and Warm Card Tool Kit with Stand and Case - Waterproof


... and this as well:


DGK Color Tools Optek Premium Reference White Balance Card Set- 3 Card Digital Color Correction Tool - Waterproof


I recommend them to anyone. They are sturdy, convenient, and very well made.


obin

01-18-2015, 03:32 PM   #9
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I hear wonderful things about the Expodisc. I just bought myself a cheap knock-off version: http://www.amazon.com/JJC-White-Balance-Filter-WB-F1/dp/B005MWKKPG/ref=sr_1_...sin=B005MWKKPG
01-18-2015, 09:41 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by JibbaJab Quote
I hear wonderful things about the Expodisc. I just bought myself a cheap knock-off version: http://www.amazon.com/JJC-White-Balance-Filter-WB-F1/dp/B005MWKKPG/ref=sr_1_...sin=B005MWKKPG
I was looking at this. How is it?

One of the issues I see with the cards is that they will only work if the lighting of your subject is the same as the lighting at your seat. If you're shooting from distance (concerts, for example), this will not be the case and the cards won't do much for you. The filter, assume it works like I think it does, will solve that problem. Is that what you find?
01-18-2015, 10:05 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
I was looking at this. How is it?

One of the issues I see with the cards is that they will only work if the lighting of your subject is the same as the lighting at your seat. If you're shooting from distance (concerts, for example), this will not be the case and the cards won't do much for you. The filter, assume it works like I think it does, will solve that problem. Is that what you find?
You set WB with the filter by taking a photo of the light source(s) falling on the subject. You might be able to make it work by taking a shot of the stage lights from your seat, as long as you're positioned between the lights and stage. I haven't tried it yet, seeing as I just received the filter about an hour ago.

I like it! In tungsten light my images seem a bit cool, but that's easily corrected manually with a couple clicks toward the warmer side. I'll be doing my first client gig tomorrow in full sun, so we'll see what kind of results the filter gives.

Edit to include sample images (K-5IIs):
Attached Images
 

Last edited by JibbaJab; 01-18-2015 at 11:26 PM.
01-18-2015, 10:29 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by JibbaJab Quote
I hear wonderful things about the Expodisc. I just bought myself a cheap knock-off version: http://www.amazon.com/JJC-White-Balance-Filter-WB-F1/dp/B005MWKKPG/ref=sr_1_...sin=B005MWKKPG
Thank you. I just ordered that.
I'm so tired correcting WB with mixed lights indoor. Hopefully it will help.
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