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White Balance Question
Old 10-21-2005, 03:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm doing my first studio shoot with my 20D tomorrow and have a question re: Setting Custom white balance. The manual says I can shoot either a white card or an 18% gray card. I have both. Which is preferable? Why?

Also, I assume that I'll need to do a CWB for each lighting situation. some will be flash, some just modeling lights, perhaps some with hot lights. Can I do that once and use the Parameters 1,2,3 settings?

Thanks
Doug Earle
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Re: White Balance Question
Old 10-21-2005, 04:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You have a lot of really good questions. Let me start off by saying this is what works for me. I use a white card. Photograph the only the card, nothing else and make sure the histogram gives you a sliver of a line at the right close to the edge showing just a little bit of blue.

Shoot a white card in each set up . But here is a trick. Photograph the white cards on a seprate card. Then everytime you switch from incondesent or flash or modeling lights, put in the card and white balance to the image already taken. If you don't understand call me 712-737-2020
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Re: White Balance Question
Old 10-21-2005, 04:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Many thanks. this is very clear. I'll give it a try.

Hopefully before the next shoot I'll be able to do a test, but I've got no time for that on this occasion.

Doug Earle
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Consider RAW and other White Balance info
Old 10-21-2005, 05:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You can do the custom white balance with either white or gray card. But if you are putting a reference card into a shot (when light changes), then use Gray not White as the white card will not work nearly as well for reference purposes.

Here are two examples of a Color chart with the Custom WB made with a while card for one, and a gray card for the other. As you can see there is no difference.

White card



Gray card



The best reference card to put in a shot is one with white/gray/black. Here is an example of one of these:



If you have one of these, then you can zero in exactly for white balance in post processing using curves and the three eyedroppers.

But for the 20D, you should be shooting RAW. If you shoot RAW, then you'll be able to change the WB anyway you want after the fact. If you shoot JPG only, then you are going to be locked in to your White Balance choice to a large degree. I shoot everything RAW and I am always able to get the precise results I want. But I still set the Custom WB and zero in my exposures using a Black/Gray/White card and the cameras histogram.

Cheers,
rfs
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Re: White Balance Question
Old 10-21-2005, 05:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You can use either the white or gray card, if your manual says so. When you shoot the white card, make sure you aren't over exposing. If all the camera sees is 255/255/255 RGB, it won't be able to get an accurate balance.

I typically shoot a white card that I underexpose by 1 stop. Works perfectly for me on a Canon D60. YMMV Putting the WB frames on another card is a cool idea. I usually just "protect" that frame so that it stays on the card as I remove images.

You may also find that this is pointless. For example, I've found that with my lights and camera, I can just use the "flash" white balance. It's a bit warmer than neutral, but since I'm shooting people that usually works fine. But if I'm concerned with absolute accuracy, I go to the trouble of a custom WB.
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Re: White Balance Question
Old 10-21-2005, 07:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The reason is that all of the "grey" colors from white to black all have one thing in common: an equal amount of red, green, and blue. All the software is doing is looking to equalize the balance between those colors. So really, the color of your card could be anywhere from white to black.

I use a grey card, but white works just as well as long as it's not overexposed. If you blow out your card, the balance won't be accurate.

Maybe more than you wanted to know, but that's what the deal is.
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Re: White Balance Question
Old 10-22-2005, 12:42 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Well, I always used to use a gray card and was generally happy with the results, but I now set the Custom White Balance to 6000K and get more healthy warm skin tones, try it once you may like it

And you'll never...hear surf music agin...

Opps, I mean you may never use your gray card again...
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Re: White Balance Question
Old 10-22-2005, 06:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Doug:

I think either will work well for you. I custom white balance for each light set up. I would recommend do a CWB after you change your light set up, because lights change color as they are used (albeit minor). It doesn't take a lot of time and insures you have the right balance when you need it.

Once you get used to doing it it become second nature (just like light metering). I can also be a great way to double-check your metering.

I do almost no color correction to images when I CWB.

Good luck,

Mark Oehler
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Re: White Balance Question
Old 10-22-2005, 11:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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PhotoVision has the White/Gray/Black Digital Calibration Targets and a few video tutorials on White Balancing, Digital Calibration Targets, histograms and exposure. They sell the Targets with an instructional DVD that goes over white balancing pretty good. They also have a good DVD on Digital Workflow that's pretty good.
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