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Old May 12, 2010, 8:51 AM   #1
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Default Flash turns picture yellow

I am using a Sony HX5V, and I prefer to just put it in Program Auto mode and shoot. Occasionally, I might adjust it, but for the most part, when snapping pics of kids, there isn't time for me to figure out how to adjust it.

I was taking a picture in our school gymnasium last night. The first is taken without flash (as the distance shots I was taking previously were obviously better without the flash).

When I took this first, no flash picture, the shutter speed seemed very long so I turned on the flash. The second is taken with flash. The color in the first is accurate, but her eyes/face are dark. The color in the second, with flash, is very yellow.

I'm guessing that I could get this yellow out by increasing the ISO if I had time? But...which of these methods make a better picture? I can do a minimal post-processing for a special picture, but I would rather not do this to all of them.

Details:
Pic 1: iso800, 1/80s, f3.5, flash off, Program Auto, AWB, EV0
Pic 2: iso160, 1/30s, f3.5, flash on, Program Auto, AWB, EV0


Thanks for your help!
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Old May 12, 2010, 9:06 AM   #2
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The reason is easy, the solution isn't quite so.

This is caused by the white balance in the camera. Gym lighting is pretty orange, the camera in the first has corrected for this (very well I might add, far better than Canon dSLRs manage to do). In the 2nd shot you are using the flash, so the camera has selected a white balance for the flash. However, the flash is a much more normal colour light which is cooler (bluer) than the gym so this means that you are now seeing your subject illuminated by the flash with the correct white balance for that, bu the background now can't be corrected so you have the yellow cast.

The only way around this (apart from not using flash and getting the gym to change all its lighting) is to use a warming filter over the flash and not using AWB as the camera won't know you have this filter and everything will be the wrong colour. So set the white balance when using the filter for the lighting in the gym and that will pretty much solve it...... or do what most of us do and not worry as it is part of life with digital and the various lighting sources we encounter.

Oh, the reason the first is probably underexposed as some of the metering is from the white shirt and the camera things it is exposed correctly, so a little positive exposure balance would fix this.
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Old May 12, 2010, 9:10 AM   #3
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The lighting temperature of a camera's built in flash is very close to daylight. So, when using a flash with Auto WB, most cameras are going to set the White Balance to match the light from the flash.

That can cause subjects that are lit mostly by the light from a flash to have more correct colors, and subjects that are lit from ambient light (other artificial light sources in a room) to have incorrect colors.

There's no good way around it unless you have a flash powerful enough to eliminate an entire room by bouncing it. You can't just increase flash strength with a direct flash, because then your closer subjects would end up overexposed in an attempt to light up more distant subjects.
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Old May 12, 2010, 9:11 AM   #4
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I took too long typing my response. Mark beat me to it. ;-)

He also had a good suggestion. You can buy diffusers that have different colored domes/filters for a flash that can let the light from the flash more closely match the temperature of the light you're shooting in.
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Old May 12, 2010, 9:19 AM   #5
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LOL, Jim, it makes a change for me to beat you on a post so don't feel too down

I have the filters for my external flash but they are specific to each one, so I'm looking at another method for doing this using lighting gels, I'm going to have a play when back in the UK to find the best/cheapest solution to these fun situations.
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Old May 12, 2010, 9:46 AM   #6
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Most of those types of items are specific to a flash model (unless you want to order the bare colored gel sheets).

Gadget Infinity (a very reputable Hong Kong based vendor) has some options you may want to look at.

Look at the Prokit lineup for one example of system they have with colored gels available (you'll see two pages of listings related to this system):

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/home.php?cat=299

Look in the diffusers section, too (and you'll see some options that have colored domes and gel available). There are 3 pages in this section:

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/home.php?cat=273

They used to carry "knock offs" of Gary Fong's Lightsphere system with "inverted domes" that came in different colors. But, they don't have them anymore. You can still find some third party makers of similar setups though. Here's one example (but, it's only got one extra color, and some kits have 3 or more different colors available).

http://www.amazon.com/Prolight-Inver.../dp/B001L14Y7W

Or, go to Gary Fong's site and see what they offer:

http://www.garyfongestore.com/index....cessories.html
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Old May 12, 2010, 10:00 AM   #7
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Jan-

As you are using a Sony HX5 all you have to do is:

When shooting without flash in a lighted room, hall or gym:


Set the WB to Custom WB

When shooting with flash use in a lighted room, hall, or gym:

Set Flash WB.

The gym photo with flash shows your result with mixed lighting. Your flash is not strong enough to light the whole gym, therefore your subject will be in the correct WB, and you cannot correct the background. The flash did not turn your photo yellow. It was the lighting in the gym that made the difference, and that is something that you cannot control.

Sarah Joyce

Last edited by mtclimber; May 12, 2010 at 10:03 AM.
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Old May 12, 2010, 3:56 PM   #8
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Thank you all for the responses. These forums are VERY helpful.

I definitely see what you mean about the subject being in pretty good light from the flash and the background more yellow from the gym lights. That makes more sense to me.

I have previously tried the different WB settings, especially the WB Flash and it doesn't seem to help. With rare exception, the WB preset that I choose for the setting seems to be the one the AWB also chooses (which is good!) I just wish there were more choices. I have not had much success with the Custom WB, but it's probably operator error. I'll try to refine that technique for the non-flash pics.

So, it seems that I need to wait for Sony to invent a WB Flash Gym setting?! I can't change the shutter speed, but I can change the ISO, which helps a little in color, but degrades the picture quality. I suppose I would rather have the quality take precedence and adjust color post.

If you were taking this picture, which would you choose (other than the WB you stated)...flash/no flash/adjust iso/no adjustment?

One other question out of curiousity...would a dSLR (like a Nikon D5000) do any better when set on Auto?

Thanks!!!!!!
Jan

Last edited by Jan851; May 12, 2010 at 4:35 PM.
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Old May 12, 2010, 5:06 PM   #9
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Glad it helped. I would personally just leave it in AWB as it really does do a good job and like you say, it knows when using flash so changes automatically.

Regarding the dSLR, yes it would help, as you would have less noise (less picture degradation) at the higher ISO settings, also you have the ability to use lenses which allow in more light so you can get fast shutter speeds in the same conditions. However what they won't help with is the colour problem.

I honestly think the camera did a great job in the first and as you had 1/80s you could have managed with changing the exposure compensation (going back to the white shirt as I mentioned) and still just had enough shutter speed for a sharp photo.

It depends what you want to get out of a camera and where you want to shoot. I'm greedy, I have 6 dSLRs (4 of which are used quite regularly for different tasks) as well as 2 point and shoots and an underwater camera about to arrive with my parents when they visit from the UK. So I'm spoiled and it means I can take the best option for my needs. When I want small I use my little Panasonic, then for walk around use without weight I use my Canon SX1 due to the great lens coverage. After this we do take a big jump up in quality, apart from daylight where most cameras perform OK, but add creative control and more shooting options by taking one of the dSLRs. They are not as convenient as I like to use lenses with limited zoom ranges to keep the quality high, but this means more lenses. So it is down to using the right kit for the right job at the right time.

OK, so has that totally confused you?? I'm not sure it really answered your question. So in short, I would see if you are really missing lots of photos or if they are not the quality you desire, then look at the other options. If you are not printing, just sharing on the web, or even if you are printing small, then generally you will do fine with your Sony.
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Old May 13, 2010, 4:49 AM   #10
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The problem of differing light sources is not limited to flash photography. The other day, I took a picture of my son in our dining room. It was overcast, so the kitchen light was switched on and shining into the dining room over the open counter-top. We have compact flourescent light bulbs, called "warm white", but in fact, they are a slightly greenish-yellow tone. Normally, my Panasonic compensates quite well for this if I leave it in AWB. But in this case, the dining room was also illuminated by overcast daylight (very bluish) from the other side.

The end-result was a horrible picture, with a cold white on the left and a sickly neon-green on the right. I'll see whether I can find it and post it here...

The human brain and eye somehow ignore this, but a digital camera doesn't.

Regards,
Mark
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