Digital SLR Cameras Forum

Digital SLRs Forum Discuss digital SLRs, lenses, RAW conversion, or anything else related to digital SLRs. You may also want to see the Nikon, Canon, and Sony camera forums.
Digital Camera Pro Reviews >>
Read and Write Digital SLR Reviews >>
Digital SLR Buyer's Guide >>
Results 1 to 21 of 21
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    95

    White Balance - an Honest Answer

    I am just starting to learn to use my new Nikon D70. I have been reading about white balance, and I have a question. Now be honest, how many of you adjust the white balance before you shoot? I realize it would be necessary if shooting under florescent lights, mercury vapor lights, etc. But my question is how many of you change the white balance from the bright sunlight setting to the cloudy setting? Is it really necessary? Has anyone had any experience with this?

  2. #2
    Budding Beginner
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lexington, Kentucky, USA, Earth
    Posts
    40
    I've had my Canon dRebel now for about a week, and I've already shot well over 4 or 5 hundred shots, and from what little experience I've been able to add up, it pays for me to adjust my white balance according to the lighting, particularly indoors in lowlight rooms. For example, in the apartment here, it's a MUST for me to customize my white balance. The light from the incandescent (spelling?) lamps gives everything a yellowish/orangish tint in every shot.

    I have, however, found that outside under normal lighting conditions (daytime), I can usually just let the camera automatically choose the white balance. It does a pretty good job normally, but again not always.

    Keep in mind...I'm a complete newb. How long have you had the D70? And were you completely new to photography beforehand? Anyway, wanna share some of your early pics with it? I wanted a D70, actually...but I just felt for my own personal needs...the 300 or 400 bucks extra (over the Digital Rebel) just wasn't really all that neccassary (again, for what I'm doing currently).

    PS to Liz: If you see this, Liz, I know what you mean now. I've been like a kid with a brand-new bicycle ever since I took my drebel out of the box. I think my girlfriend is jealous because she's no longer getting any attention. LoL

  3. #3
    Sitting in a Leaky Dingy Michael Fanelli's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Perryville, MD
    Posts
    926
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul in OKC
    I am just starting to learn to use my new Nikon D70. I have been reading about white balance, and I have a question. Now be honest, how many of you adjust the white balance before you shoot? I realize it would be necessary if shooting under florescent lights, mercury vapor lights, etc. But my question is how many of you change the white balance from the bright sunlight setting to the cloudy setting? Is it really necessary? Has anyone had any experience with this?
    I use manual white balance (measuring rather than choosing a mode) almost all the time when not using RAW. Color temperture changes during the day as well in shade and sun. If you shoot RAW, its no big deal to change. Anything other than RAW can be a pain.
    "Every great decision creates ripples--like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge and rebound off the banks in unforseeable ways.

  4. #4
    Photo Squire gmen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Essex
    Posts
    185
    I think the simple answer is:

    1. Shoot RAW at all times - make any adjustments afterwards
    or 2. If you must shoot jpg AND you are have concerns about the end result you may get, then try (if time allows) to shoot 2-3 pictures of the subject using different WB settings.
    Sport in Essex in Pictures
    <a href="http://www.tgsphoto.co.uk"><strong>www.tgsphoto.co.uk</strong></a>

  5. #5
    has-been... another view's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Rockford, IL
    Posts
    7,649
    I agree with Michael Fanelli. You know, I probably have never said that before !!!

    Actually, most of the time I shoot Auto WB. If I'm in jpeg, then the camera does a pretty good job. You'll figure out the situations where you need either a custom WB or shoot RAW and sort it out later. The presets don't get used often, especially the ones for artificial lighting (shooting a Fuji S2).

    It only takes a second to shoot a custom WB and the results are so much better especially under fluorescent or metal halide (similar to mercury) lighting than you could ever get in Auto or with one of the presets. I use the "Pringles Cap Method" for the custom WB - hold the cap in front of the lens like a filter and shoot the scene that you'll photograph. For some reason it works and I can't tell you why. If you need anything more critical you'll have to use RAW and a calibrated monitor.

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    95

    How Do You Measure White Balance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Fanelli
    I use manual white balance (measuring rather than choosing a mode) almost all the time when not using RAW. Color temperture changes during the day as well in shade and sun. If you shoot RAW, its no big deal to change. Anything other than RAW can be a pain.
    Don't understand. How do you measure white balance? How do you go about doing that? Do you use a light meter?

  7. #7
    Sitting in a Leaky Dingy Michael Fanelli's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Perryville, MD
    Posts
    926
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul in OKC
    Don't understand. How do you measure white balance? How do you go about doing that? Do you use a light meter?
    Your white balance menu includes all the presets as well as a custom setting. Switch to custom mode, point it at something white in the scene, and press the button. This tells the camera what is white. As long as the light doesn't change that much, you just leave it there untill you are done. The manual gives you all the details.

    As I and others have indicated, shotting RAW is much better but slower. The WB is not really relevent with RAW. You load the RAW file into software and set the WB to any value down to single digits in the last place.
    "Every great decision creates ripples--like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge and rebound off the banks in unforseeable ways.

  8. #8
    has-been... another view's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Rockford, IL
    Posts
    7,649
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul in OKC
    Don't understand. How do you measure white balance? How do you go about doing that? Do you use a light meter?
    A light meter only measures the quantity of light, not the color temperature. There are (very expensive) color temperature meters made to do this, but I doubt you need one. They were used by commercial photographers who used transparency film (like slide film) on shoots when exact color was critical. For example, you know the film is 5500 deg K and your meter reads 5200K, so you use CC filters to cool it that 300K difference.

    If it's that critical with digital, shoot it in RAW and adjust later with a calibrated monitor. Maybe shoot the first one of the series with a white/grey/black card (like the one that comes with Scott Kelby's books) so you can set those levels in Photoshop with the RAW converter. His book Photoshop CS for Digital Photographers is a good reference here - as long as that's what you're using.

    As far as shooting a custom white balance with your camera, check the manual - I don't have a D70 so I'm not sure how to do it on that one. On mine, you go thru a menu function, release the shutter and confirm that it read correctly. The manual will tell you to read a white piece of paper (regular white piece of printer paper you'd use for letters, etc) but I've been using the method I described in the previous post. It's quick, easy and pretty accurate. Once again, if it needs to be more accurate or the conditions are really wierd then I'll use RAW.

  9. #9
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Chicago Suburbs
    Posts
    3,149
    Yes, I do use custom white balance. Most of my paying gigs don't allow for the use of RAW files for several reasons, most important being speed. If something in the scene is true white I WB off of that, otherwise I carry a small grey card. However, I don't run into the need for it often, as the presets are pretty close for the most part. And yes, I change the WB presets OFTEN, as well as ISO. Those are probably the two most used functions on my camera, next to the shutter button.
    -Seb

    My website

    (Please don't edit and repost my images without my permission. Thank you)

    How to tell the most experienced shooter in a group? They have the least amount of toys on them.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    LAFAYETTE,LA
    Posts
    113
    on d70 to measure white balance,press wb button briefly,then press the button until the PRE iconin the control panel starts to flash. a blinking PRE willalso appear inthe control panel and the viewfinder.

    Frame the reference object/white card/ so that it fills the viewfinder and press the shutter-release button all the way down.the camera will measure a value for white balance and use this balance when preset white balance is selected.no photo will be recorded,white balance can be measured accurately when the camers is not in focus.

    if the camera was able to measure a value for white balance,GOOD will flash in control panel,the viewfinder will show Gd. .to return to shooting mode,press shutter-release half way,or wait until exposure meters off.

    if lighting is too dark or too bright,the camera will flash no Gd.


    repeat each time you want to set custom,i carry a whiti card at all times.i change it as much as i change my shutter speed.

    this is how i do it,

    freelance2004
    WHY CANT WE ALL ,JUST GET ALONG!!

  11. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    LAFAYETTE,LA
    Posts
    113
    white balance presets on d70
    A 3500-8000 k
    incand 3000 k
    flour 4200 k
    dir sun 5200 k
    flash 5400k
    cloudy 6000 k
    shade 8000 k
    preset
    WHY CANT WE ALL ,JUST GET ALONG!!

  12. #12
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Posts
    1,505
    @ uni we were taught to always use manual white balance (although @ uni i was using video cameras) but i have come to appreciate the benefits of manual white balance and use that in preference to auto or preset for paying gigs or special shots..... most of the time. however there are times when you want the colour cast effect that would be lost from a manual white balance, late afternoon for example a manual white balance will remove some of the natural warmth from the light. so then i will resort to a preset mode. for happy snaps (taking much more of these since i have gone digital) i generally use awb but bear in mind that all these options are taken for asthetic reasons and it pays to familiarise yourself with the different results the camera will provide under different white balance settings for given lighting conditions. integral to this are the cameras contrast colour balance and saturation settings. also a trick i learnt at uni is if you want a warm colour cast in a shot white balance off a slightly blue sheet of paper and for a cool shot a slightly yellow/orange peice of paper. also white balance should be done before placing a filter (any filter except maybe a neutral density filter) on the lens. At the end of the day if you are getting results you are happy with then whatever setting you use is fine but you may get a better result if you experiment.

  13. #13
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Houston, TX, USA
    Posts
    6

    White balance / grey balance ?

    When I remember, I adjust the white balance on my 300D, and I'm very happy when I do. Setting to tungsten / fluoro etc. at the right times really improves the shots. I've also experimented with Custom WB, and found it works very well too. The trick with all of this is remembering to make the change. I sometimes find I think so much about exposure, composition and DoF, that it is only afterwards that I think "Oh, the WB !"

    Anyway, my question is this. When setting custom WB, some people talk about shooting a white object or a pringles lid, while others talk about shooting a grey card. Surely this will give different results ? Telling the camera that a white object is "white" vs. telling the camera that a grey object is "white" must be interpretted quite differently. I have thus far assumed that setting Custom WB is defining what is "white", and not what is "grey", and therefore shooting a white object to set Custom CF is the correct process. Can anyone clarify this for me.

  14. #14
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Chicago Suburbs
    Posts
    3,149

    White vs. grey

    Quote Originally Posted by lukechip
    When I remember, I adjust the white balance on my 300D, and I'm very happy when I do. Setting to tungsten / fluoro etc. at the right times really improves the shots. I've also experimented with Custom WB, and found it works very well too. The trick with all of this is remembering to make the change. I sometimes find I think so much about exposure, composition and DoF, that it is only afterwards that I think "Oh, the WB !"

    Anyway, my question is this. When setting custom WB, some people talk about shooting a white object or a pringles lid, while others talk about shooting a grey card. Surely this will give different results ? Telling the camera that a white object is "white" vs. telling the camera that a grey object is "white" must be interpretted quite differently. I have thus far assumed that setting Custom WB is defining what is "white", and not what is "grey", and therefore shooting a white object to set Custom CF is the correct process. Can anyone clarify this for me.
    White or grey, it makes no difference, the meter will expose both to be the same value of grey.

    [EDIT] Let me elaborate. The camera meter is designed to expose for the middle value, grey. Anytime you point it at something, the "correct" meter reading is giving you the setting to make the subject middle grey. So the only time the readig is correct is if the subject truely is middle grey. Otherwise the reading will skew the exposure, if you point it at a black subject, the meter will overexpose to make the black grey, and it will underexpose white to make it grey. Hence, no difference between using grey and white cards. The only matter of importance when it comes to white balance is that cards be neutral in color. Unless of course you want creative effects like Skyman suggests.

    Hope that answers your question.
    -Seb

    My website

    (Please don't edit and repost my images without my permission. Thank you)

    How to tell the most experienced shooter in a group? They have the least amount of toys on them.

  15. #15
    MJS
    MJS is offline
    Digital Video Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Miami, FL
    Posts
    1,390

    I look at it this way...

    If you treat each shoot like a paying job, you won't have the luxury of a screw up. I always teach my students to adjust the white balance manually.

    MJS

  16. #16
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    3,367

    Film man question

    OK I've read all this and it's been very interesting (not having yet invested in a digital SLR). Let me check my understanding:

    Last week I was at a wedding and I shot 300+ photos, dropped the films off at the lab and presented the prints the next day. Now I'm scanning the negatives to do a souvenir CD.

    If I want to do that on digital I'm going to have to shoot JPG because the lab is not going to be able to print RAW images and make the prints, so I'd better fine-tune the white balance myself to make sure its as close as possible.

    If I'm being really difficult then I will also want to have the images as RAW and fine-tune them myself (like I do with my scanned images). So I'm looking at a D2X or a 1D Mark2 and gigabytes of cards plus a portable PC with a CD writer to burn the JPG's etc. I'll probably wind up not being too difficult.

    Does that sum up the situation?

    Charles

  17. #17
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Chicago Suburbs
    Posts
    3,149
    If I want to do that on digital I'm going to have to shoot JPG because the lab is not going to be able to print RAW images and make the prints,

    No, you can shoot RAW for highest quality and then convert to JPG and give the lab the files.

    so I'd better fine-tune the white balance myself to make sure its as close as possible.

    You should always do this for best quality, whether its RAW or not. Sometimes a scene won't have anything in it that should be perfectly neutral, and then you won't be able to get the white balance. If you can, ALWAYS custom white balance.

    If I'm being really difficult then I will also want to have the images as RAW and fine-tune them myself (like I do with my scanned images).

    For best control you could do that, yes. But a properly exposed/white balanced RAW file many times needs no adjusting, just conversion. So it behaves just like a JPG, but it gives you theoption of modifying it with the added data from the RAW file.

    So I'm looking at a D2X or a 1D Mark2 and gigabytes of cards plus a portable PC with a CD writer to burn the JPG's etc. I'll probably wind up not being too difficult.

    I guess, if you want to burn CDs on the spot. Most new cameras store JPGs with the RAW files now, and extracting them takes much less time than converting. So you could quickly provide JPG files while still having RAW files to tweak later on for best quality.

    Hope that clears some of it up.
    -Seb

    My website

    (Please don't edit and repost my images without my permission. Thank you)

    How to tell the most experienced shooter in a group? They have the least amount of toys on them.

  18. #18
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    95

    Pringles Lid

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul in OKC
    I am just starting to learn to use my new Nikon D70. I have been reading about white balance, and I have a question. Now be honest, how many of you adjust the white balance before you shoot? I realize it would be necessary if shooting under florescent lights, mercury vapor lights, etc. But my question is how many of you change the white balance from the bright sunlight setting to the cloudy setting? Is it really necessary? Has anyone had any experience with this?
    Thanks to all of you for taking the time to answer my question. I am now experimenting with the techniques suggested. I now have my pringles lid, so I am all set. Again, thanks for your help.

  19. #19
    Member ustein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Posts
    110
    I don't really think that custom WB works that well in nature. Also in nature correct WB is secondary to subjective true WB (try to white balance a sunset :-) )

    Her is what I do:

    1. Only use RAW
    2. set camera to auto to give the camera a chance to do it it right
    3. In cloudy and overcast I use a gray card or color checker

    http://www.outbackphoto.com/workflow/wf_46/essay.html

    4. Then I start with the auto WB or the color checker an drive the colors to a region I like.

    FYI use mostly Canon 1Ds and 1D2.

    Some samples:

    http://www.californiaplaces.com/

    Uwe
    www.outbackphoto.com
    www.colors-by-nature.com

  20. #20
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Leicestershire, England
    Posts
    3

    RAW and camera parameters

    I was under the impression the when shooting in raw, no camera processing takes place, so not white balance is aplied, no contrast, sharpening, so setting the white balance to any setting will not have an effect, correct me if i'm wrong!

  21. #21
    Member ustein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Posts
    110
    that is right (except Nikon D1 where the WB is part of the raw data.

    But the WB settings are recorded in the metadata and these data are used by the raw converter. If the auto WB is good you get a good start with your raw converter.

    Uwe
    www.outbackphoto.com
    www.colors-by-nature.com

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Custom white balance
    By kkraczek in forum Digital SLRs
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 07-11-2004, 03:51 AM
  2. Press release: Nikon D70 Digital SLR
    By Photo-John in forum Camera News & Rumors
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 07-07-2004, 07:20 PM
  3. Doing Raw-style white balance changes with JPG's
    By Sean Dempsey in forum Photo Printers, Drives, Computers & Other Hardware
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 06-30-2004, 11:04 AM
  4. white balance test
    By schrackman in forum ViewFinder
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 06-04-2004, 12:37 PM
  5. White Balance in Mixed Lighting
    By shutterman in forum Digital SLRs
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-03-2004, 11:12 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •