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Old Jul 11, 2011, 3:14 PM   #1
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Default Setting the "White Balance".....

I've fooled around with the white balance on my D80 all the time. In the past I have just used a piece of white paper. One problem is, if it's not perfectly up and down, I will get shadows on it and then the white balance is messed up. So I was looking around and was considering getting one of these: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...costumerReview

Ok, experts, give me your thoughs and let me know what ya'll think. If you know of another one that might be better, please let me know. I value ya'lls opinion and look forward to your responces. As always, Thank you in advance.

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Old Jul 11, 2011, 3:49 PM   #2
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Actually, shadows shouldn't affect the white balance. White balance is an indication of how blue, green or red the ambient light is. Unfortunately, plain white paper is rarely pure white. Even photo paper varies from white to varrying degrees. If you're going to use paper, the best paper to use is a sheet of the photo paper you'll print on. That way, if the white is off, at least the rest of the colors will be correct.

Anything that is neutral in color will work. I use a lens cleaning cloth that happens to be 18% gray.
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Old Jul 11, 2011, 8:37 PM   #3
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First, understand that the “white” in “white-balance” refers to the white in your image...not the target used to set white-balance. White-balance is also called color-balance and gray-balance. They all refer to the same process...shifting the captured colors to remove any color that was in the lights. Household light bulbs have lots of red...open shade has lots of blue. Those color casts must be removed to show the colors of the scene as we remember seeing them. And the reason we remember seeing the colors correctly is because our own eyes are performing a white-balance correction on everything we look at. The camera is just trying to match what our eyes are doing naturally.

A white-balance target is spectrally neutral. This means that it reflects all wavelengths of light equally. So if the light has a little bit of red in it, then the WB target looks slightly red. When you set a custom white-balance you’re basically telling the camera that this WB target, which looks slightly red, shouldn’t look slightly red. The camera then does what’s necessary to balance the color and make the WB target look neutral (no color.)

Your shooting style will really dictate the type of WB target you use. Are you shooting in a studio? The street? In the studio you can have your subject hold the WB target. It’s a little harder to get your WB target next to the lion at the zoo, though. A target also has to be easy to use or you won’t use it.

I use a pocket-sized card. There are several available, such the WhiBal, Digital Grey Kard, Digital Gray Card (yes there are two,) Opteka, and others. To set white balance I hold the card directly in front of the lens, angled to catch the light (I’ll also lock in exposure at the same time using AE Lock.) The pocket card is easy to use and easy to carry, which means you’ll always have it.

Lens-cap style targets attach to the front of the lens and look like white lens caps. Some are the size of lens caps and others are the size of globe light bulbs. The best is the ExpoDisc. This WB target can be used to set white balance and also set exposure. The ExpoDisc and the other low-profile designs are fairly easy to carry. The larger globular designs are so bulky you’ll never take them out with you. With the lens-cap style you have to point your camera at the light source to set white balance (and exposure, if using an ExpoDisc.) That means you have to make a decision on which way to point the camera, so you might miss a light source or strong reflection. The globular designs are supposed to obviate that need, but remember that you left it home because it was so darn bulky!

The fold-up targets are great for the studio, but impractical elsewhere. They’re large (even folded,) they need two hands to manipulate, and are more fragile than a piece of PVC plastic. Unless your camera is bolted to the tripod (which is bolted to the floor) there’s nothing a fold-up target can do that a pocket target can’t. So I don’t recommend them.

The fold-up target that you’re asking about is also a sort of digital exposure target, which is supposed to produce three spikes on the histogram. Those are supposed to allow you to adjust your exposure in software. You use the three spikes to set your black, white, and gray points. Then you apply that same adjustment to any images taken under the same light (along with white balance, of course.) And it even has a silver reflector on the other side. Nice.

When it works, it works well. But it only works if you can properly situate and properly frame the target. Also, I don’t know the quality of the target you’re asking about, and so I don’t know if the black and white areas are as black and as white as they’re supposed to be. If they’re not then you’ll be cutting your dynamic range short. It may be fine...I don’t know.

If you’re just worried about white balance, I would say start with a 4x6 pocket-size Digital Gray Card for 15 bucks and see how that works out. You can always spend 80 bucks on an ExpoDisc later. Just search for "Digital Gray Card" (keep the quotes.)
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Old Jul 18, 2011, 9:04 PM   #4
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I'm also a D80 shooter.
I bought on expodisc and found it well worth the price if you want to be precise and it fits your budget (does seem expensive for what it is - there are other brands that are similar - but can't speak for them - I know expodisc is used by some pro's). Someone suggested I buy TWO expodiscs - they make one that is neutral and another for portraits which provides a bit more warming (but I figured the latter can be a simple tweak to a raw file in post-production and I didn't want to buy 2). ExpoDisc comes in various thread sizes as it snaps on the front of you lens but you can buy the one that fits with your largest lens (and hold it over the others).
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