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DSLR white balance-white card or grey card?

Henry D'Silva , Jun 09, 2004; 03:52 a.m.

I am new to digitai photography but not new to video. I am a video editor (non-linear editing) by profession. Yesterday, in my photography club meeting a member who owns a Fuji S2 claimed that he uses grey card for white balance and works better than a white card. I was surprised because in video its the white card and I thought that white balancing is a process where we tell the camera to see a white object as white for that particular lighting. I tried the search function but did not get any answer. Can any one explain the working of white balance or lead me to a link on the web?

Responses

Poul Costinsky , Jun 09, 2004; 05:23 a.m.

i used a grey card, and a sheet of white paper, with no visible difference.

Beau Hooker , Jun 09, 2004; 06:40 a.m.

Hi Henry, I've found that the best way for me to nail the white balance is to use a black/white/gray card in one of the shots for color balance. (all three "colors" on one card) That's because it corresponds with the 3 eyedroppers Photoshop uses in the Curves tool to set shadow, highlights and mid-points, respectively. A gray card works well to get rid of annoying color shifts. I just think using all three is a bit more comprehensive. Just my .02 cent's worth - good luck!

Jesper de Jong , Jun 09, 2004; 07:51 a.m.

It doesn't really matter if you use a grey or white card, as long as it has a neutral color. When you use a white card, you should be careful not to overexpose it, because if one or more of the color channels (R, G, B) is overexposed, you can't use the image to set the color balance accurately.

Joseph Wisniewski , Jun 09, 2004; 12:33 p.m.

Jesper's got it! Any neutral card is fine.

I've found white cards are more likely to be neutral. Lots of gray cards (even the infamous ExpoDisc) are manufactured for accurate exposure, first and foremost. Their gray is far from neutral (but it is 18%). Most white cards are manufactured solely for the purpose of setting white balance, and are therefore, quite neutral. (Aside from that, it's simply easier to make a neutral white than a neutral 18% gray).

Some newer gray cards, marketed specifically for white balance, are pretty good, though.

Helen Bach , Jun 09, 2004; 12:55 p.m.

... and of course you can also use a light blue card if you want a warm balance, just like with video cameras. No need for the 81A.

Best, Helen

Michael Bradtke , Jun 09, 2004; 01:48 p.m.

Hey Henry I shoot video for a living.Sometimes I will use a grey card to get a cooler white ballance.Hey sometimes I even put CTO or CTB in front of the lens when I white ballance. This will give a warmer or cooler look to the image. But you know with my D100 I shoot raw and very often just shoot it on the cloudy -2 setting and do finale tweeks in post. I find tweeking a single frame a lot more fun then when its running at 29.97 fps

Peter Phan , Jun 09, 2004; 02:53 p.m.

After trying a white card, a grey card, and an ExpoDisc, I find the ExpoDisc is the most effective, especially for mixed lighting coming from different angles, and it's the easiest to use. This is probably because the ExpoDisc is using transmitted light (passing through the ExpoDisc) rather than reflected light (off a card). It also helps that I can hang it from my camera, so it's always there ready to use.

The second best solution is to have a card that has white/grey/black on it, but that would be more for post-process correction of white balance.

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