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Thread: White Balance Menu Settings

  1. #1

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    White Balance Menu Settings

    Hi,
    It was recently said by a supposedly advanced photographer that if one sets the white balance using the camera's menu, that their RAW pictures would improve. This doesn't make sense...does it???

    Doesn't the camera record everything hitting the sensor when shooting RAW files? If true, then the only change would be the image seen using live view.

    Do I have this right?

    Barry

  2. #2

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    Re: White Balance Menu Settings

    Quote Originally Posted by bmpress View Post
    Hi,
    It was recently said by a supposedly advanced photographer that if one sets the white balance using the camera's menu, that their RAW pictures would improve. This doesn't make sense...does it???

    Doesn't the camera record everything hitting the sensor when shooting RAW files? If true, then the only change would be the image seen using live view.

    Do I have this right?

    Barry
    Hi Barry,

    The raw data is influenced by the white balance setting, at least it certainly is on my 5D Mk2. The parameters you set before taking a shot such as white balance, focus point, exposure mode, exposure compensation, aperture, shutter speed are all used whether you are shooting raw or JPEG. The parameters that are applied when producing the JPEG from the raw data in camera such as picture mode are ignored.

    Peter
    Last edited by peterb533; 12th May 2010 at 02:00 PM. Reason: Added more points

  3. #3

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    Re: White Balance Menu Settings

    Quote Originally Posted by bmpress View Post
    Hi,
    It was recently said by a supposedly advanced photographer that if one sets the white balance using the camera's menu, that their RAW pictures would improve. This doesn't make sense...does it???
    White balance (or any of the picture styles) isn't applied to RAW data. It is however applied to the in-camera JPEG that you view on the review screen and it is saved as a metadata tag. During RAW conversion all of the metadata is available to the converter, but only some choose to act on it; Adobe Camera RAW uses the white balance metadata tag for the "as shot" starting point, but ignores pretty much everything else (eg take a shot with the camera set to B&W - it'll show as B&W on the review screen, but ACR will show it in colour). Canon's DPP uses all the tags though.

    Doesn't the camera record everything hitting the sensor when shooting RAW files? If true, then the only change would be the image seen using live view.
    Yes.

    Do I have this right?
    Yes.

  4. #4

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    Re: White Balance Menu Settings

    Thanks, Colin for clearing this up. I wonder if any photographers use white balance adjustments to take RAW shots for the purpose of refining the "as shot conversion" to save time tweaking up their images.

  5. #5

    Re: White Balance Menu Settings

    Remember your in camera histogram is generated from the JPEG embedded into each RAW file so when you review a shot using the histogram you are looking at the JPEG that is affected by in camera editing settings. This is important as it means that whilst you can change any of these settings when you process the RAW you make your initial judgement of exposure on that JPEG in the camera *using the histogram*. For this reason using neutral in camera editing as well as an appropriate white balance can be important as it helps to ensure that when you review you are getting the most faithfull view of the histogram as possible.

    Also if you are taking shots where you want perfect colour accuracy in the shot then (as well as ensuring that you have a single colour temperature of light as the dominant lighting for the shot) using custom white balance can allow you to achive this when in the field. This is superior to gussing the correct whitebalance (based on appearance) in editing later - the latter is perfect for creating an image as a work of art, but not for creating an indentification image.

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    Re: White Balance Menu Settings

    Very interesting point....Thanks, Overread.

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    Re: White Balance Menu Settings

    I am using a Canon 450D. Shoot exclusively in RAW mode. I strive to expose-to-the-right. I have read (here) that the in-camera contrast setting should be set to minimum to get a more accurate indication of the dynamic range of the captured image. I am beginning to favor the RGB histogram as it indicates when a particular channel is being clipped.

    What are your thoughts on this?


    Gary

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    Re: White Balance Menu Settings

    Quote Originally Posted by didymus View Post
    I am using a Canon 450D. Shoot exclusively in RAW mode. I strive to expose-to-the-right. I have read (here) that the in-camera contrast setting should be set to minimum to get a more accurate indication of the dynamic range of the captured image. I am beginning to favor the RGB histogram as it indicates when a particular channel is being clipped.

    What are your thoughts on this?


    Gary
    Hi Gary,

    In theory, that's fine, but in practice it depends on the dynamic range of the scene that you're capturing. If it's a very contrasty scene then this works well, but if its just a normal reflective scene then it can cause problems because the tones captured may be up-shifted by a couple of stops and this can make them tricky to get back in exactly the right place (I have a theory that this may be because of some compression occuring around the top-end of the sensor response curve, which may be made worse by the fact that it may be different for each channel) But as I say, that's just a theory; all I know is that in practice if I "over-expose", say, a subdued forrest scene it can be very difficult to ajust the result so that it looks natural.

    So for "shooting into the light" landscape, ETTR for sure, but not needed for less contrasty stuff. ETTR is fine in theory, but in practice I think it's a bit over-rated.

  9. #9

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    Re: White Balance Menu Settings

    So how about a couple of examples.

    Shot Raw but WB incorrect.

    White Balance Menu Settings

    Shot Raw with Custom WB.

    White Balance Menu Settings

    Both images converted to Jpeg and resized without any adjustments except basic sharpening.

    The incorrect WB can be reset during conversion but adjusting the Colour Temperature can be a bit fiddly and time consuming. And my corrections never look as good as getting it correct to start with.

    As others have mentioned, different converters have different alternatives. Some have preset basic settings, like Daylight, Shade, etc, while others rely solely on Temperature or doing a Custom Balance during conversion; which rarely works well for me.

    So yes, all Raw settings are variable but if your converter defaults to As Shot it is easiest to get As Shot approximately correct at the time of shooting.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 9th September 2010 at 08:46 PM. Reason: extra photo added

  10. #10

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    Re: White Balance Menu Settings

    #9 It is true, that when you don't have a grey card shot, it is easier to get it right if your camera setting is correct for the present light colour. But nevertheless, the raw data will be the same except for the embedded metadata.

    If there is a suitable neutral colour within the picture, most raw converters can use it directly to display the image with correct white balance and save it into an image format with near true colours.

    Often there may be clipping in one end or the other, which is not important for the image. For example there may be a blue channel missing in a mass of green leaves. The leaves will then be more yellowish than if they are "correctly exposed", but the impression of the image might not depend a lot on the rendition of those leaves. Therefore, "correct exposure" mostly is to keep the brightest channel to the right, with exception of specular highlights and light sources that may be washed out, but one of the colours might clip at the left side, without influencing the image a lot.

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    Re: White Balance Menu Settings

    Quote Originally Posted by Inkanyezi View Post
    #9 It is true, that when you don't have a grey card shot, it is easier to get it right if your camera setting is correct for the present light colour. But nevertheless, the raw data will be the same except for the embedded metadata.
    Just what I was going to say!

    A RAW capture doesn't have a white balance or even a colourspace ... it's basically just a sensor dump. Personally, If I'm doing a "walk-about" type of shoot then I'll just try to remember to include a gray card shot somewhere along the way ... if the shot is not early morning or late evening then the temperature of the light isn't going to change in a hurry. I might add that doing a custom white balance works just fine for shooting under normal daylight also ... but it's just when you start using a fill flash that things get "interesting", whereas with a gray card it works the same regardless.

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