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Thread: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-cmaera' which is right?

  1. #1

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    White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Perhaps someone could clarify my understanding of White Balance.

    In camera I set it to 'Cloudy' and the camera sets it to 5800 kelvin. In Lightroom if I set it to cloudy its at 6500 kelvin. Quite a difference.

    When I checked this info. out the numbers I got were 5000-6500 kelvin for daylight (clear sky), 6500-8000 for moderately overcast sky (cloudy?). Hence my confusion?

    Although my camera setting was cloudy the numbers suggest that that should be for daylight clear sky. That's why I change my settings in Lightroom. Confused, I am? Or just mis-understanding the whole thing!

    See this post Spectators going home after Tour of Britain comes to town! for example, its the second and third images. 2nd = Lightroom WB Cloudy. 3rd = In-camera WB Cloudy.
    Cheers for now

    Gary
    Last edited by oldgreygary; 17th September 2012 at 03:29 PM.

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Gary, a way round this would be to set the WB manually at the scene. Using the camera manual and a white card. Looking at the images the LR one appears more accurate - I copied both images ans applied a spot WB using a couple of processors.

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Thanks for your reply Tony. Do you mean creating a custom white balance? Using the grey card? Perhaps you can clarify?

    Cheers for now

    Gary

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    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Hi Gary.

    White/Grey card: You can buy a collapsible one, or you can just buy the super-cheap ones that are actually a piece of cardboard. You just shoot the white card one time while it is in the same light you will be shooting in. (If you go into different light you have to do it once more). You can then "set a custom WB" in your camera menu OR you can just go back in Lightroom and select the white card as the WB for all the shots you took in that same light. In camera, you just go to WB, select custom WB, and then tell it which image is the card.
    Shooting in RAW instead of JPG. One huge advantage of RAW is that you can basically change it however you like in post. In JPG, the camera has discarded a lot of the raw data, so you can only change the WB a little bit.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    The problem with using one of the camera presets, especially for outdoor photography is that you really don't know what the true colour temperature is, and depending on how overcast the sky is, time of year, time of day, etc. the actual conditions may not bear any resemblance to the preset. I never use them because they are so unreliable.

    Obviously, Lightroom uses a whole different set of parameters.

    In general, auto white balance works well most of the time if you are shooting jpgs. If you want to get really fancy, shoot a white or grey card and do a custom white balance. A trick I picked up from a professional photographer is to set my custom white balance based on the scene. If it is average lighting, the white balance is actually pretty close most of the time.

    I think the only time I don't either use auto white balance or a custom white balance is during sunrise or sunset shots, just to see how the light works out.

    Of course, if you shoot RAW, you can avoid the question entirely.

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Hi Gary, you have likely seen the CiC Tutorial on White Balance (http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...te-balance.htm) but if you need to understand why a White Balance reference card should be photographed under the same lighting conditions as the image you want to have corrected, here is a link to a series of videos produced by WhiBal.

    Obviously they want to sell their product, but I have found this the be the clearest source of what makes for an accurate White Balance and why that I have found. http://www.whibalhost.com/_Tutorials.../01/index.html.
    Last edited by FrankMi; 18th September 2012 at 01:32 AM.

  7. #7

    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    +1 for Whibal card.

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Scott, thanks for your clear explanation. It seems worth getting a grey card to experiment with.

    Manfred, I agree about the AWB settings as it seems on my camera anyway they are not reliable. It's interesting that you say if you shoot RAW you can avoid the question entirely. I do shoot in RAW but the question constantly seems to crop up when I do PP. Ideally, my preference would be to not rely on PP but to be able to get things 'right' in camera. As at the moment I get into a very confused train of thought when I try to correct after the event.

    Frank, the video(s) are very interesting with the tips following on in a similar pattern to Scott's comments. There seems to be extreme's suggested as the CIC tutorial suggests that a 'Common household neutral references are the underside of a lid to a coffee or pringles container'. While the Whibal card in the video is said to be calibrated to an exacting standard. Or perhaps, I am just making the proverbial mountain out of a mole hill!?

    I can't quite put my finger on it but there is something that is not quite 'clicking' with me at the moment with WB. I think it might be described as matching the WB to the subject/scene that I have taken. Maybe I just need to go out in the field and try different setting options to get a better feel for the result that I want.

    Any further thoughts comments welcomed.

    Cheers for now

    Gary

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldgreygary View Post
    Maybe I just need to go out in the field and try different setting options to get a better feel for the result that I want.
    Considering that you're not happy with the results of your camera's auto white balance setting, that's a good idea. Also be sure to learn how to get the results you want when shooting indoors. When beginning with this process, be very careful to ensure that you're dealing with only one kind of light source. Adjusting white balance and color balance can be especially difficult when you're dealing with two or three light sources of varying temperatures.

    If this remains a huge problem for you, you might consider trying out a later generation camera. When I upgraded from a Nikon D80 to a D7000, which is two generations later, I couldn't believe how much better the auto white balance is in the later model.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Gary - I agree with you AWB is not 100% foolproof, but, unless you are shooting in a controlled environment, neither is setting a custom white balance. The presets are even more hit and miss, which is why I almost never use them.

    The way AWB works is fairly simple. Blend all of the pixels in your image together and look for a colour cast; remove the cast. In camera algorithms are likely a bit more sophisticated than this. The problem is that if you are standing in front of a red building; the camera is likely to overcorrect and the building colours are going to be muted and not look right.

    The problem with a custom white balance is that it has to be done in the light you are shooting in, and if you get that wrong, or the light changes (for instance, a cloud moves in), your colour balance is going to be off. Custom balances are great for studio shots, where you control the light's colour temperature. If the colour really counts, including a colour card in your first shot really helps there.

    Now for all the discussion on the Whibal card. If I were doing a commercial shoot with the customer's logo in it; you can be sure that I would be adjusting my white balance using a target like that and shooting with a colour swatch. I would also find out what the "true" colours in the logo are so I could balance to that in PP.

    In real world shooting I do wing it because I am looking for an image that is pleasing looking, not necesarily what my measuring instruments say is correct. Look at just about any sunset shot; WB is almost certainly off, but people don't care; they just like the way it looks.

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldgreygary View Post
    Frank, the video(s) are very interesting with the tips following on in a similar pattern to Scott's comments. There seems to be extreme's suggested as the CIC tutorial suggests that a 'Common household neutral references are the underside of a lid to a coffee or pringles container'. While the Whibal card in the video is said to be calibrated to an exacting standard. Or perhaps, I am just making the proverbial mountain out of a mole hill!?
    I have wrestled with the White Balance in specific images with no small amount of frustration. Setting the White Balance in Post Processing

    Usually WB is NOT an issue BUT when it is obvious that the White Balance is off, about the only accurate way to get the L-A-B settings correct is by having an image of a reference taken with the same lighting as the final image to be shot.

    Could you use a lid off a Pringles Container? Certainly. But I figure if I'm going to go through the bother of shooting and processing a reference card image, I might as well use one that is accurate as opposed to using something that is better than nothing. In that respect, it is a bit like making a mountain out of a mole hill but if you need to make the mole hill anyway...!

    One of my frustrations is that it is almost impossible for me to tell when the in-camera Auto White Balance is going to be fooled by the lighting conditions. I guess I really need to make shooting a WB reference part of my shooting workflow so that I have it when I need it.

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl in Louisiana View Post
    +1 for Whibal card.
    Me too!

    I had been reluctant to purchase the WhiBal card because I considered it too expensive for what I was getting. However, at Donald's advice, I bit the bullet and purchased one. I am quite happy with it.

    Using camera or Lightroom or any presets such as cloudy, bright sun etc., only allow one color temperatur to be chosen for what can be a large variance in color temperature. The term "cloudy" can run a wide Kelvin gamut.

    eBay U.K. lists a wide variety of color balance cards for various prices...
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_tr...ard&_sacat=625

    Shooting in RAW (if your camera supports RAW) you can shoot the card in the same light as your subject and adjust the color balance for any number of images shot in the same light as the card.

    You can select a eye dropper in Photoshop Elements when working with JPEGS and click on an area which should be white and the program will get you in the ballpark. I would expect that any other "decent" editing program has a way to adjust the white balance.

    The white balance "card" that I use when I am working with Maltese dogs is not the WhiBal but, the white coat of the dog. As long as the dog is white as possible within my image, I could care a whit less if the rest of the image's color balance is accurate. I get a lot of crazy white balanced images sent from people who are fostering the Maltese all over the USA and I need to get them reasonably decent looking for posting on www.petfinder.com.

    White balance not only needs to be accurate... IMO, it needs to be pleasing. Esprcially when skin tones are involved, my eye will usually forgive a color balance leaning more to the reddish than leaning towards blue or green.

    One caveat: when adjusting color temperatures, especially when balancing by eye, it is quite important to work with an accurate monitor.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    I quite agree Richard. I've seen enough shots where the white balance is bang on, but the image still does not look right. I generally warm up the images by a tiny bit, especially if there are people in it; this may just be my taste, but neutral to cool tone skin generally does not work for me. Sunset shots usually look terrible with correct WB as well; this is another place where warm tones work better for me.

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    A diverse, thoughtful and interesting set of replies from everybody. That have expanded my knowledge and have given me plenty of options to look at. Thanks for taking the time to respond and share your knowledge.

    Incidentally, I found this http://ronbigelow.com/articles/white/white_balance.htm link which contains an interesting article about white balance.

    Cheers for now

    Gary

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldgreygary View Post
    Incidentally, I found this http://ronbigelow.com/articles/white/white_balance.htm link which contains an interesting article about white balance.
    An excellent article that clearly demonstrates the advantages and shortcomings of each of the White Balance options available. Thank you for sharing the link!

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    I quite agree Richard. I've seen enough shots where the white balance is bang on, but the image still does not look right. I generally warm up the images by a tiny bit, especially if there are people in it; this may just be my taste, but neutral to cool tone skin generally does not work for me. Sunset shots usually look terrible with correct WB as well; this is another place where warm tones work better for me.
    Which is pretty well why I quit using a WB target.

    I trust my eye and calibrated monitor, and shoot RAW which gives me the flexibility to change the WB so that it looks as I want it to look.

    Glenn

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    There is a question/answer on today's Tim Grey posting about the use of white/grey cards/targets.

    I subscribe to his daily postings dealing with photographers' questions. I find it quite useful.

    http://www.asktimgrey.com/

    A link to the pdf of the discussion is below - I'm sure it will be interesting:

    https://www.box.com/s/g5bb8kz5a9oddsqupu3o


    Glenn
    Last edited by Glenn NK; 22nd October 2012 at 10:59 PM.

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldgreygary View Post
    When I checked this info. out the numbers I got were 5000-6500 kelvin for daylight (clear sky), 6500-8000 for moderately overcast sky (cloudy?). Hence my confusion?

    Gary
    When I checked my source, Bomback [Focal Press], he says blue sky [ no sun] goes up to 27,000K. Doesn't give a figure for cloudy.
    I guess it is the difference between an arbitory figure and what you get when you read the temperature at your place at your time. Neither camera or lightroom is correct only what you get when you measure it properly?

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Philosophical musing. The "temperature" of light is related to the wavelength of light emitted by a black body of that temperature. The sun is around 5780 deg K (although the sun isn't a pure black body). So when we talk of a WB higher than this we are talking about light of a temperature higher than the body that emitted it. I understand about the atmosphere filtering out wavelenghts, but it is still a slightly odd concept!

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    Re: White Balance Lightroom vs 'in-camera' which is right?

    Quote Originally Posted by davidedric View Post
    Philosophical musing. The "temperature" of light is related to the wavelength of light emitted by a black body of that temperature. The sun is around 5780 deg K (although the sun isn't a pure black body). So when we talk of a WB higher than this we are talking about light of a temperature higher than the body that emitted it. I understand about the atmosphere filtering out wavelenghts, but it is still a slightly odd concept!
    The temperature you are quoting is that found at the surface of the sun. The core is 15.7 million K. So its black body temperature is far higher than the surface temperature.

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