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01-14-2007, 06:33 PM   #1
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Setting the WB

Maybe this is a dumb question, but that's my specialty!

I've read about people using a index card or a piece of copier paper in the
field to set the white balance. I guess this can be done out in the field??

Can someone explain to me how this works? Do you take a picture of the card
and then do something? Or is there a part of the menu system that I
haven't discovered yet?

Is a white card an indespensible part of a camera bag?

Thanks much!

01-14-2007, 06:55 PM   #2
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well on the k10, we can take wb previews......take a quick shot of the scene with out it saving, and we can adjust accordingly via the fn button and WB settings.

not sure how it works on other bodies, but i'm sure it should be very similar..
01-14-2007, 06:58 PM   #3
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Hi Spillway,

Some people like to have a custom WB because the pictures are friendlier to post process at times. When I am doing a video recording with a friend, we have two different makes of camera (I have a Sony and he has a Canon), so having a common white balance helps us during editting so that the audience will not realize what camera was taking a certain shot. It's also pretty disturbing when a white shirt is yellow in certain shots - lol.

I don't know what camera you have, but here is how to set the custom WB on a K100D/110D.

1. Set your camera to MF.
2. Tap Fn > Tap Left (White Balance settings) > Select the bottom option (WB Manual), and Tap Right (adjust).
3. The camera will instruct to push the shutter when ready.
4. Hold a blank white index card (some use a 25% gray card too) about 1-2" from the lens (careful, don't get your thumb in the frame).
5. Press the shutter button.

The camera will take a picture and adjust itself for the new white balance. In a few seconds, you are prompted to press OK, and when you do so, you are ready to shoot. Set your camera back to AF if you need AF

I keep a couple index cards in my bag for use when I have mixed lighting conditions that fool the camera. Some of the guys here and my buddies have begun using the expodisc. A couple tips for Custom WB.

1. Make sure you have enough light when you set your WB. (I have at least enough light to see a magazine article at an arms length through the lens.)

2. Be careful (review your shots) when using the flash while custom WB is set sometimes the flash will throw off your WB setting because the flash has more "blue" in it.

3. When going from indoors to outdoors (vice-versa) or if lighting changes dramatically, take a test shot to ensure your WB isn't thrown off and re-adjust if needed.

4. Changed lens? Take a test shot to check your WB. All lenses have different characteristics and may disturb the WB setting.

Happy Shooting!

Last edited by Alvin; 01-14-2007 at 07:58 PM. Reason: one last tip.
01-14-2007, 07:00 PM   #4
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Not dumb; but covered in the manual as to procedure.

You need a neutral colored reference-card, shirt, white wall--something you want as white (that's the tricky part, you can make any color white, ha) in the final image.

Set or locate this object in the scene, You then tap key fn and navigate to custom white balance and pop the shutter, You can use the whole screen or just part-position the green marque and 'OK' your way back to normal camera operation. 'Bingo', 'yahtze', or 'SCORE'! You're done until the light changes; which could be sooner or later.

01-14-2007, 11:18 PM   #5
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Also...

... it's good to be shooting in RAW so you can tweak your manual WB settings, but this procedure is absolutely necessary if you are shooting in JPEG and the shot is important to you.

... don't forget to turn off manual WB when you are done shooting at your present location. The custom WB at one location is certain to be wrong for another.
01-15-2007, 10:25 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies. Yep, it is in the manual. I'll give it a try.
I'm one of those nerdy types who downloaded and read the manual
while waiting for my camers....but haven't referenced it much since.
01-15-2007, 07:14 PM   #7
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QuoteQuote:
Thanks for the replies. Yep, it is in the manual. I'll give it a try.
I'm one of those nerdy types who downloaded and read the manual
while waiting for my camers....but haven't referenced it much since.
Keep the manual in the can for a while.
01-15-2007, 08:10 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by spillway Quote
Is a white card an indespensible part of a camera bag?

I'm one of those folks who's using ExpoDisc. It basically replaces the neutral color card and, in my opinion and that of many others who've tried it, it's superior to the use of a neutral card. ExpoDisc attaches to the end of the lens like a filter. You use the process for setting custom white balance, but when you're instructed to take a picture, you take a picture with the ExpoDisc on, instead of photographing a white/gray card. Save your white balance, take the ExpoDisc off the camera and shoot. I have not made extensive use of it yet, but in my few tests so far, the results have been pretty good. It seems to me that it's advantageous to get the white balance right when you're shooting if you can, even if you are shooting Raw.

The only problem with ExpoDisc is that it's expensive. The ExpoCap (which seems to be an earlier version of the product) cost me about $55 for my 52mm lenses. I just ordered a larger ExpoDisc and it was over $100. Might be worth seeing how well you do with a blank white card for a while.

Will

01-16-2007, 07:53 AM   #9
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Thanks Will,

I have looked at the ExpoDisc information online. Not cheap, but
if you can get the white balance right, it's probably worth it.

We live in (and are currently renovating) an old farmhouse. It
has plenty of 40 watt max light fixtures. Lots of low incandescent
light, lots of shadows, etc.

I was playing around with WB and a sheet of copier paper last night.
In some places, I got pretty good manual WB by just taking the shot,
in some cases, I had to tweek it on the grid, and there was a couple
places that I just wasn't happy with the WB.
01-16-2007, 08:22 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by spillway Quote
I have looked at the ExpoDisc information online. Not cheap, but if you can get the white balance right, it's probably worth it.

We live in (and are currently renovating) an old farmhouse. It has plenty of 40 watt max light fixtures. Lots of low incandescent light, lots of shadows, etc.

I was playing around with WB and a sheet of copier paper last night. In some places, I got pretty good manual WB by just taking the shot, in some cases, I had to tweek it on the grid, and there was a couple places that I just wasn't happy with the WB.
The folks at Expo Imaging who make ExpoDisc are aware that you can set your custom white balance with a card. They claim that ExpoDisc is better because it measures the light correctly when you point it directly at your subject, while with a card, you have to worry about the angle at which you shoot and it's not always convenient to place the card right where you're shooting. That's what they claim.

Still, I agree, it is expensive and I'm not yet completely sure it's worth it. I will do a few more tests with ExpoDisc in the next day or so and post my results, so you can see for yourself.

Will
01-16-2007, 08:38 AM   #11
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Of course, there's always the (once mandatory) gray card!
01-16-2007, 08:45 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alvin Quote
Hold a blank white index card (some use a 25% gray card too) about 1-2" from the lens
QuoteOriginally posted by jfdavis58 Quote
You need a neutral colored reference-card, shirt, white wall--something you want as white
This is the part that has mystified me about WB - setting WB using a grey card. That doesn't make sense to me. You want to tell the camera what's white. Why on earth would you give it 25% grey and tell it it's white? Am I missing something fundamental here?

Julie
01-16-2007, 09:37 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by foxglove Quote
This is the part that has mystified me about WB - setting WB using a grey card. That doesn't make sense to me. You want to tell the camera what's white. Why on earth would you give it 25% grey and tell it it's white? Am I missing something fundamental here?

I've wondered about that myself. I've sometimes heard it said that you're looking for a "neutral" color - white, medium gray, or black. Never quite made sense to me, but I just let it slide.

Anyway, according to this article in Luminous Landscape, you use the white side of the Kodak Gray Card to set the white point, then you use the gray card to confirm the exposure. That makes rather more sense. It also makes me feel better about using the ExpoDisc. :-)

This article at Photographer Mike McElhatton Digital Arts Photography Lewiston, Clarkston, Moscow, Pullman, Orofino, Kamiah, Pomeroy, Idaho and Washington shows how to set a photo up for WB correction in post-processing. It also explains the "neutral" color idea: it's a color where the red, green and blue values are equal. That also makes sense.

Will
01-16-2007, 09:02 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by foxglove Quote
This is the part that has mystified me about WB - setting WB using a grey card. That doesn't make sense to me. You want to tell the camera what's white. Why on earth would you give it 25% grey and tell it it's white? Am I missing something fundamental here?
Forgive me, everyone. Will is right - the grey card is for exposure checking, but according to the Pentax K100D manual, it says you may use a gray card to adjust the white balance...very odd.
01-17-2007, 12:54 AM   #15
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Very interesting thread, as I had wondered about this myself. But let me ask a question: can the white lens cap, which came with my Tamron 18-200mm lens, be effectively used for the WB setting purposes? I will give it a shot, sometime tomorrow, but just wanted to ask this while I was browsing around here.
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