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Author Topic: Camera White Balance and Post Processing  (Read 18491 times)
MBehrens
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« on: July 13, 2011, 07:52:22 PM »
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I've heard this suggestion from a few experts on White Balance and shooting RAW...

"By setting the White Balance in the camera to a selection other than Auto. You will streamline your post processing by having a static value assigned and not a different value possibly for each image. By having a static setting for all of the images in a shoot, you can simply apply a new value to all images and be on your way."

I think this is a myth and mis-information that does not help in the understanding of RAW capture and White Balance. My reasoning is that since ACR/LR (the subject by the experts and my choice) will apply a WB value when syncing that is not in anyway affected by the WB setting from the camera, whether WB is different for each image or the same makes no difference. The WB setting in the camera has no affect on the RAW capture so there isn't any change to the RAW data from the setting, if it did I can see how it would provide a more consistent set of RAW files - but it doesn't.

Frankly, I mostly shoot RAW and I always use Auto-WB when I do. I think I can sync my WB as easily as the rest. Are the "experts" correct and I'm fooling myself, or am I on the right track, or is there another point of view on this.

I apologize if this has been beaten to death in other threads, I did do a search and did not find anything substantive.

Thanks.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2011, 08:09:37 PM »
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Frankly, I mostly shoot RAW and I always use Auto-WB when I do.

Me too. Because:
1. It doesn’t affect the raw data, its just a suggestion (a guess).
2. The suggestion/guess is usually pretty OK and I usually season a bit to taste.
3. Its less work (I’m lazy).
4. Even if its just OK, its usually OK enough for quick viewing as I edit, then I’ll concentrate on tweaking as the need arises.
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Andrew Rodney
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MBehrens
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2011, 08:57:23 PM »
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3. Its less work (I’m lazy).

My primary driver as well. And it seemed when I did set a WB it was usually farther off than the Auto choice.

Not sure what these folks are thinking. One was at a color management web cast, made me question everything they told me.
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b2martin
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2011, 11:11:18 AM »
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I also shoot RAW with Auto White Balance, and sometimes shoot a gray card in the same light in case I want to use it for white balance values. 
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MBehrens
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2011, 01:41:05 PM »
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sometimes shoot a gray card in the same light

I find I'm shooting a gray card less and less. It's just another reference point en route to a final choice. Since it's seldom the final choice it ends up being an extra step.
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JeanMichel
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2011, 02:08:34 PM »
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Hi,
Same here, I shoot only in RAW, use auto white balance most of the time. For indoor exhibition documentation I will often shot a frame with my x-rite colour checker for each setup as the light illuminating the works can be a mish-mash of different age galley lights and most often supplemented by my own hot lights. Using the colour checker lets me reproduce the correct ochre or whatever else is in the original works. Still, far easier than calibrating the same in a chemical darkroom.

Jean-Michel
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bjanes
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2011, 06:05:57 PM »
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"By setting the White Balance in the camera to a selection other than Auto. You will streamline your post processing by having a static value assigned and not a different value possibly for each image. By having a static setting for all of the images in a shoot, you can simply apply a new value to all images and be on your way."

I think this is a myth and mis-information that does not help in the understanding of RAW capture and White Balance. My reasoning is that since ACR/LR (the subject by the experts and my choice) will apply a WB value when syncing that is not in anyway affected by the WB setting from the camera, whether WB is different for each image or the same makes no difference. The WB setting in the camera has no affect on the RAW capture so there isn't any change to the RAW data from the setting, if it did I can see how it would provide a more consistent set of RAW files - but it doesn't.

Frankly, I mostly shoot RAW and I always use Auto-WB when I do. I think I can sync my WB as easily as the rest. Are the "experts" correct and I'm fooling myself, or am I on the right track, or is there another point of view on this.

I apologize if this has been beaten to death in other threads, I did do a search and did not find anything substantive.

Thanks.

I also usually use auto WB on my Nikon D200 and D3, but one must remember that the camera looks at the image and not the color of the light. Some older Nikon DSRs did have a sensor to read the ambient light, but none that I know about do at the present.

If the subject has a strong color cast (for example a close up of a brightly colored flower) and no neutrals in the scene, auto WB may not work well. In such cases, it is a good idea to use a Whibal or similar reference to read the white balance. You can adjust the WB in post, but you will have to rely on memory to match the image to the original. This is most important for scientific documentation where you want the color to be as accurate as possible and not merely pleasing. You could merely use daylight, but the color of daylight varies with the time day, atmospheric conditions and other factors.

Regards,

Bill

See the Cambridge in Color tutorial on white balance for more information.
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louoates
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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2011, 09:54:54 PM »
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I always use the auto setting and sometimes adjust the wb in RAW.  But I always use a Wibal or similar card when shooting color critical work such as an artist's canvas to make prints for resale. Then one touch of the eyedropper on the card in RAW and I've got it right 99% of the time.
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neile
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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2011, 10:06:41 PM »
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The only place I don't shoot auto white balance is at basketball games. I have known consistent lighting conditions there and set up a custom white balance that gets JPEGs (written to an SD card) "close enough" for quick edits by the team at halftime. All the final images are RAWs that are processed in LR with custom presets that do white balance and whatnot.

Neil
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MBehrens
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« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2011, 10:28:51 PM »
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Thanks folks. My assumptions are confirmed, and of course for color critical work a gray card or color checker is a must.
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AFairley
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2011, 02:14:16 PM »
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I generally shot in AWB, the exception is when I am shooting studio strobes and the modeling lights will throw off the white balance; in that case is set the WB using a grey card.  But the only reason to do that is so that the intitial view in Bridge/ACR is not way off color wise; I could of course just apply a batch adjustment to all images.

Since I what I shoot otherwise is urban landscapes and not products or art, proper WB for me I how I want the print to look; so precise matching is never an issue anyway. 
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Justan
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2011, 02:20:02 PM »
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Shoot a multi-image pano during sunrise or sunset with the WB set to auto and after you try to fix it in ACR, you will probably be cured of setting the WB to auto.   Smiley
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MBehrens
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2011, 02:29:42 PM »
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Justan, I'm not clear how having the camera record a WB suggestion/default of say 5K and this be the initial rendering of the RAW data in ACR. And applying a WB of 5K or any other value, in ACR is going to make a difference. The RAW data is the same irrespective of what the initial WB suggestion from the camera is. Please explain.
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Guillermo Luijk
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2011, 04:18:02 PM »
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Unlike most people (as seen in this thread) I never use Auto WB because it doesn't mean any advantage to me. You can always set Auto WB in your RAW developer, and OK, maybe the camera's Auto WB performs better than the RAW developer's Auto WB for a particular scene, but who cares?. After all Auto WB is ALWAYS a best effort approximation, it will never be exactly the best possible WB.

On the other hand, other WB options really mean advantages:
  • Preset WB according to the scene: will guarantee the same WB in a series of pictures. Auto WB will vary from picture to picture.
  • Custom WB over a gray card: will certainly eliminate light casts revealing the real colour of subjects in the scene, and will also guarantee uniform WB in a series.
  • UniWB: will provide a much more accurate camera histogram and clipping warning.

Auto WB is an easy option and maybe a good start point for a more accurate WB setting, but the only one without any real advantage.

Regards
« Last Edit: July 15, 2011, 04:50:12 PM by Guillermo Luijk » Logged

Justan
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2011, 04:20:40 PM »
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Justan, I'm not clear how having the camera record a WB suggestion/default of say 5K and this be the initial rendering of the RAW data in ACR. And applying a WB of 5K or any other value, in ACR is going to make a difference. The RAW data is the same irrespective of what the initial WB suggestion from the camera is. Please explain.


If a camera is set to auto wb and one captures multiple frames near twilight  -when the light color changes very quickly - each image will have a different wb due to the way the sensor interprets the changes of light.

When stitched together, smooth tonal gradients from image to image are trashed. One can try to re-set the WB for each image in ACR, or one can use ACR’s synchronize function, but the results won’t be as desired without a fair amount of work.

The solution that worked for me was to lock the WB in the camera. Once I did that, the anomalies mentioned above ended. Try it for yourself. If one never does stitches or stacks, then it’s not much of an issue.

ACR, PS, or their equivalents can fix nearly anything, but its way quicker to get it right in the camera.
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David Good
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« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2011, 06:09:50 PM »
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I used to use Auto WB but more recently have been using a grey card for Custom WB, both in the studio and in the field, then tweak to taste if necessary. I know it's just a suggestion but, also being lazy, I find it gets me there quicker (I had a girlfriend like that once!) I may shoot the card a couple of times if shooting outside all day long though.....
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louoates
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« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2011, 08:43:14 AM »
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I checked the total time needed for my last few panorama shots (in auto WB) and found an elapsed time of just 5-10 seconds over 3-5 exposures. I've never had a problem with light changing that quickly.
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Guillermo Luijk
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« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2011, 02:39:52 PM »
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I checked the total time needed for my last few panorama shots (in auto WB) and found an elapsed time of just 5-10 seconds over 3-5 exposures. I've never had a problem with light changing that quickly.

The problem is not light changing with time, but changing with the angle of vision. Each of your panorama shots obtained a (probably slightly) different Auto WB calculation because each of them had a different content from which the camera software made its calculations.
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louoates
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« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2011, 04:06:28 PM »
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The problem is not light changing with time, but changing with the angle of vision. Each of your panorama shots obtained a (probably slightly) different Auto WB calculation because each of them had a different content from which the camera software made its calculations.


Good point. But I'm afraid my 70+ year old eyes couldn't tell that fine a difference. Still, I'll try a few tests (auto wb vs locked wb) next time I'm shooting, probably tomorrow. I'm thinking if I eye-dropper the same spot in each shot (say, in the overlapping area) I may get a different r g b reading. Huh Just thinking out loud.
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Jack Varney
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« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2011, 09:25:01 PM »
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I nearly always keep the back in Daylight and adjust in C1 as needed. When the light is questionable a WhiBal shot provides a guideline.
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Jack Varney
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