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Thread: White balance problem, advice needed

  1. #1

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    White balance problem, advice needed

    Hi, a problem that has been concerning me for some time, I have a Canon 50D which I realy enjoy except for taking photos in incandesent light. They invariably have a yellow tinge. Okay so use my flash and all OK, or revert to manual white balance of around 2500 and again all OK. I see the camera is set to about 3500, obviously not low enough.
    Any suggestion or am I stuck with what I have got
    I also have a 450D which works beautifully, on AWB under all lights.

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    re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Incandescant light will give you a yellow/orange tinge. If you have a white balance setting for incandescant on the camera then switch to that. That's pretty normal, same for flourescant lighting and the natural light at different times of the day which will also give you a strong colour cast - let the camera know the temperature of the light source and all will be well. Alternatively shoot RAW and tweak the white balance.
    Impressed that your 450D adapts, I've actually never tried AWB on my Nikon, I always set the white balance as appropriate and adjust a little in RAW if needed.

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    Snarkbyte's Avatar
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    re: White balance problem, advice needed

    You didn't say anything what, if any, post-processing you're doing, or if you're shooting RAW or JPEG. Either way, there are fairly simple solutions.

    Use a gray card like WhiBal (seen here), or just take a shot of something gray, like the bottom of a can of potato chips in the same light, and use that shot for the "custom white balance" setting in your camera. The camera manual will explain how to do this.

    Practically all post-processing packages allow for white balance adjustment, and synchronizing white balance for an entire set of photos. Again, use a photo of a gray card under incandescent light to set the white balance and then synchronize the other photos to that setting.

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    re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Can't be bothered. Just shoot everything in RAW and do the WB thing in ACR.

    If I've got loads of time (waiting for the sun to go down etc.) I might do a bit of WB adjustment in camera, but more often that will be to warm up or cool down a particular image for a specific purpose rather than rendering colour 'as seen'

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    re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Thanks for your reply Al, fair comment , I didn't explain the problem very well. Yep I shoot in JPEG and I have used the cameras various W/B settings. Its the setting for i ncandescent light ie 3500K that I see as the problem, its to high. [I]f I change to manual W/B of 2500, all is well. I wonder if this is a common problem with digital cameras or Canon in particular.

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    re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Hi Gazza, perhaps the following quote from http://photo.net/equipment/canon/50D/review/ will help explain what you are experiencing.

    "White Balance

    The EOS 50D has the same white balance settings as the EOS 40D, namely Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White Fluorescent Light, Flash, Custom WB Setting and User-Set Color Temperature (2,500~10,000K).

    Most of the white balance modes do a good job, but images shot under domestic tungsten lighting are noticeably warm, even when using the tungsten setting. This is a common trait of all Canon EOS DLSRs and it’s because Canon uses a color temperature of 3200K for the tungsten setting. This is about right for professional photographic tungsten lighting, but too “hot” for domestic lighting. It’s also the color temperature for which “tungsten” balanced film is designed. A typical 100W domestic tungsten light bulb has a color temperature closer to 2900K and a 40W bulb is usually around 2500K. I’ve found the tungsten WB setting on the 40D and 50D to be about right for 500W tungsten halogen lights, but they’re typically not what you would use to light your living room. If you want neutral colors under domestic tungsten lighting you need to either do a custom white balance, or set a color temperature appropriate to the lighting."

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    re: White balance problem, advice needed

    If you shoot raw and include a white or gray balance card (or other area) in the image, you can use the Camera Raw Eyedropper White Balance Tool to balance out your color temperature.

    If you are using Photoshop and shoot in JPEG or if you are working with a RAW image that has been converted to JPEG, create a new fill or adjustment layer by clicking on the fourth icon from the left at the bottom of your Layers Menu. This icon is a circle of which half is colored dark and the other half colored white. Then select Curves from the drop down menu. This works in Photoshop. If you are using another editing program, I am sure that they have a way to balance the image color temperature. That is one of the basic steps of any editing.

    This brings you to the curves menu. You can do lots of great stuff with the curves menu but what you are interested in is the eye droppers to the left of the menu. The second eyedropper from the top is the gray point and the third eyedropper from the top is the white point. Select any part of your image that has a gray or a white area and click on it. This will balance your image.

    Of course, when shooting with flash, the light from the flash is close to daylight in color (5500K or so) while the incandescent lights are around 2900K. If the background is lit with flourescent lights, the coloring is a sort of green. Using flash, you are introducing two different colors of light and sometimes there is a problem balancing it.

    I don't usually worry about incandescent light because I don't mind the the background being a bit warmer than my subject. However, I don't like the background going green from the flourescent lighting.

    The way to solve this is to filter your flash either with an amber filter when working with tungsten ambient light or a greenish filter when working with flourescent ambient light. That way all the light is pretty well even and you can then balence the entire image using your editing program.

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    speedneeder's Avatar
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    re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    ...because Canon uses a color temperature of 3200K for the tungsten setting. This is about right for professional photographic tungsten lighting, but too “hot” for domestic lighting.
    I didn't know that, thanks for sharing.

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    Re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Many thanks guys for the effort put into this one, much appreciated.

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    Re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Here is a wikipedia listing of the color temperatures for various light sources.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_temperature

    In the days of film, some professional or very advanced amateurs used "color temperature meters" since it was very important to match the color temperature of the light source with the film you were using. These meters are no longer used very often since it is so easy to balance digital images regarding color temperature.

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    Re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Hi Gazza,

    Assuming you have your reasons for shooting in jpg and not doing PP - and given the above info on the Tungsten WB temperature, it sounds like Auto WB would provide a better success rate, is there a reason not to?
    Or now you know why, just use your manually set 2,500K?

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by krispix View Post
    Can't be bothered. Just shoot everything in RAW and do the WB thing in ACR.

    If I've got loads of time (waiting for the sun to go down etc.) I might do a bit of WB adjustment in camera, but more often that will be to warm up or cool down a particular image for a specific purpose rather than rendering colour 'as seen'
    Chris:

    I'm in your camp on this one. Shooting RAW means that I don't worry about settings any longer because RAW captures the image without any post processing. I believe that any JPEG will have been processed by the camera to some extent - meaning that there is less control available during processing. RAW has many advantages - this is only one of them.

    I used to carry and faithfully use a grey target, but soon realized that there are many instances when a change in the WB from "normal" is more appealing or aesthetic. Examples: a shot taken around a campfire should not be corrected because to our naked eye, the colour cast IS warmer; Sunsets that are "so-so"; a little WB adjustment can bring them to life.

    I prefer to call this creativity. In my mind, the WB is over-rated (perhaps by some professional photographers that sell a WB card?)

    Glenn

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    Re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn NK View Post
    I used to carry and faithfully use a grey target, but soon realized that there are many instances when a change in the WB from "normal" is more appealing or aesthetic. Examples: a shot taken around a campfire should not be corrected because to our naked eye, the colour cast IS warmer; Sunsets that are "so-so"; a little WB adjustment can bring them to life.

    I prefer to call this creativity. In my mind, the WB is over-rated (perhaps by some professional photographers that sell a WB card?)
    Hi Glenn,

    Using a gray card doesn't mean that you're "stuck" with a correctly white-balanced shot ... it just means that you're starting from a consistant starting point (I typically warm my portraiture 150 to 200 Kelvin). For the likes of landscape it usually doesn't make a lot of difference, but for the likes of professional portraiture, results have to be VERY consistent (to the point where we're even producing custom camera profiles because even white-balancing alone just doesn't cut it).

    I think using a gray card for white balancing is under-rated! (well judging by the number of colour-casts I see in images, I think a lot of people would improve their results considerably by using one)

  14. #14
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: White balance problem, advice needed

    I agree with Colin - for portraiture WB cards are a good tool.

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Glenn,

    Using a gray card doesn't mean that you're "stuck" with a correctly white-balanced shot ... it just means that you're starting from a consistent starting point (I typically warm my portraiture 150 to 200 Kelvin). For the likes of landscape it usually doesn't make a lot of difference, but for the likes of professional portraiture, results have to be VERY consistent (to the point where we're even producing custom camera profiles because even white-balancing alone just doesn't cut it).
    First off, I'm not a professional by any means.

    And I certainly wouldn't suggest that anyone is "stuck" with a WB shot. It does have its merits in portraiture - which I've never done, and won't likely ever do, so I should have qualified my comments.

    I found that using a WB for flower work was of little or no use as I often use a gold reflector when the sun is just below the horizon to cast some soft warm light onto the subject (a coral coloured rose for example). The WB target would counter the effect I'm trying to achieve with the reflector. At other times, I alter the colour balance to achieve a particular effect rather than colour accuracy.

    In five years with digital, I'd estimate that 75 percent of my images are botanical subjects, 20 percent landscapes, with the remainder family shots (but definitely not portraiture).

    For my purposes, a calibrated monitor tends to be more useful.

    Glenn

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    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Glenn, considering where you live, I can definitely understand shooting landscapes! Years ago I had the pleasure of driving through Fraser valley from one end of BC to the other and it was wonderful
    Can't imagine living there in the winter though!

  17. #17
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: White balance problem, advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Glenn, considering where you live, I can definitely understand shooting landscapes! Years ago I had the pleasure of driving through Fraser valley from one end of BC to the other and it was wonderful
    Can't imagine living there in the winter though!
    Yes, the Fraser Valley is quite scenic, and it's not far from some greatly varying scenery. However on Vancouver Island (south) there isn't nearly the variety of scenery. Fortunately, the flowers more than make up for it.

    Winters however, are fortunately quite mild with 1/2 the rain of Vancouver and about 1/3 the rain of Seattle for example. We're in the "rain shadow" of the Olympic Mountains of NW WA state which keeps us drier than most of the Pacific Northwest. The Strait of Juan de Fuca separates us from Port Angeles WA by about 13 miles - can see PA when it's clear.

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