Custom white balance when using external flash

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Dave, Dec 22, 2007.

  1. Dave

    Dave Guest

    I own a Canon 30D, and I've found it to be weak with white balance. I
    started experimenting with custom white balance / grey card and have
    been getting good results.

    When I threw flash photography into the mix, my custom white balance
    shots coloring were off again. I've tried taking reference shots with
    and without flash then taking my custom white balance shots with flash
    and ugliness ensues.

    If I could get some helpful hints and a few how-to's I would be most

    If I'm missing some info just let me know and I'd be glad to

    thanks, dave
    Dave, Dec 22, 2007
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  2. Dave

    Mr. Strat Guest

    Mr. Strat, Dec 22, 2007
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  3. Dave

    Dave Guest

    I was hoping for a little more than this. 8)

    I'll try raw format out but i was wondering how to achieve what I'm
    after with JPG and minimizing post work. I'm sure there are several
    techniques that I'm missing...
    Dave, Dec 23, 2007
  4. Dave

    Mr. Strat Guest

    Shooting straight JPGs is too limiting and a pain in the ass when you
    have color balance problems.
    Mr. Strat, Dec 23, 2007
  5. Dave

    Not4wood Guest

    Flash is supposed to be white like sunlight. Normal bright sunny days, the
    normal WB is close to 5500 so start with that. Shooting Raw will give you
    the latitude to be able to correct for the WB in Digital Darkroom. Is your
    external Flash TTL?? If your shooting in JPG you can either go auto WB and
    let your camera make this decision. But, Strat is right, shooting in Raw
    you can correct the shot later. Setting the camera for a normal sunny day
    for the white for Flash might bring you back into the correct WB.

    Test, test and more testing, then shoot in Raw and test again to see what

    Not4wood, Dec 23, 2007
  6. Dave

    Dave Guest

    My flash is Canon 430EX Speedlite E-TTL. I've used auto WB with the
    flash in TTL mode but Canon is often no so good at WB, especially when
    taking indoor shots / varying light sources. I've used all the preset
    WB settings and they sometimes help. I was super happy with Custom
    WB / grey card in the absense of flash so I'm a bit disapointed that
    there is apparently nothing I can do except work with RAW / do post

    So am I to believe the custom WB / grey card techniques do not work
    when external flash gets involved?

    I'll experiment with your advice, including working with RAW - but i
    would like to know all my JPG WB options also.

    thanks a lot, dave
    Dave, Dec 23, 2007
  7. Dave

    Mr. Strat Guest

    My experience with studio strobes is that they can vary quite a bit
    from model to model, let alone brand to brand. And if an expensive
    studio light can't do 5600K, then some little hot shoe do-dad isn't
    going to be even close to consistent.
    Mr. Strat, Dec 23, 2007
  8. Dave

    Scott W Guest

    I will echo the suggestion of working in raw. You should be able to
    find a color temperature and tint that works for one photo and use
    that setting for all of them.

    I really don't like using auto white balance, too much chance of
    variation from shot to shot.

    If you do get a variation from shot to shot, raw is by far the easiest
    format to adjust the color from shot to shot.

    Raw is also useful if it turns out your monitor is not currently
    calibrated perfectly, you have the choice of reconverting the shots at
    a later date and getting the color right. You might also decide at
    sometime to print from a wider color gamut then sRGB, kind of nice to
    have the raw file so you can do that, with jpeg you are stuck with
    whatever color space you have the jpeg in.

    Scott W, Dec 23, 2007
  9. Dave

    Annika1980 Guest

    Annika1980, Dec 23, 2007
  10. Dave

    Ali Guest

    As others have mentioned, RAW will give you much more flexibility, however
    interesting post regarding getting it right in-camera.

    Normally, with ambient light you would fill most of the frame with a grey
    card, but with flash this is obviously not so easy. So, just out of
    interest, how are you using flash with a grey card to determine in-camera
    white balance?

    After shooting the grey card with flash, where is the spike on the
    histogram? Is it in the middle?

    What happens if you use the in-camera white balance setting for flash? Are
    the results OK?
    Ali, Dec 23, 2007
  11. Your problem is that your flash is not "true" daylight balanced. Most
    portable flashes (not all) have uncorrected and unfiltered for UV flash
    tubes. (They are clear. Corrected tubes have a yellowish tinge.) Their
    true color temperature is usually anywhere from 5800K to 6500k. Too Blue.

    I use Rosco Cinegel filters to correct or adjust the color temp of my

    Click on "Filter Facts" lower right corner of page. Get a sample book of
    all the filters. The filters will just cover the flash lens of your
    average portable flash. And the book is usually free! Run tests until
    the the flash light matches your Custom balance.

    Stefan Patric, Dec 23, 2007
  12. Dave

    Scott W Guest

    In the days of film this might be been a problem, but with digital it
    would seem to be much less of one.

    Scott W, Dec 24, 2007
  13. Dave

    Dave Guest

    I've tried taking reference shots of my WhiBal card both with flash on
    and off. then when taking the actual exposures based on the custom
    setting they are both off. When taking the reference shots of the
    grey card I suspect when shooting with flash on, the flash is not
    hitting the card properly as its too close to the camera, and shooting
    without flash is wrong for setting custom WB as I'm taking the actual
    shots with flash on.
    My last experiment of shooting the grey card was without flash and its
    histogram spike was on the left. I'll try shooting the grey card with
    flash again and see where the histogram spike ends up...
    Using in camera flash WB setting often produces best results for me of
    in-camera settings. However I've noticed that if the room has a
    powerful lighting (halogen for example) then the WB is off with the
    flash WB setting.

    So I certainly will experiment with RAW, but I sure am surprised that
    getting it right in-camera is possibly not readily achievable.

    (I have thousands of pictures that need touching up right now from
    recent extended travels, so i'm very interested in minimizing my post
    work in the future.)

    thanks, dave
    Dave, Dec 24, 2007
  14. Dave

    Don Guest

    I note you talk of mixed lighting in one of your posts and when this
    occurred you had the WB set to "flash". If you are shooting in a mixed
    lighting environment even using flash and having to shoot jpg, I would let
    the camera set the whit balance by setting Auto. This seems to work with my
    20D. I also use a 1D and always shoot raw for all the reasons you are
    experiencing. If you have "thousands" of shots as one of your posts
    implies, then it must be an important hobby and raw is the way to go. I use
    breeze browser for my conversions and the whole workflow isn't that time
    consuming as it would be to get the right colour balance with a JPG.



    In the days of film this might be been a problem, but with digital it
    would seem to be much less of one.

    Don, Dec 24, 2007
  15. When the lighting comes from sources of two different colours, as it
    will with indoor lighting plus flash, then where the grey card
    histogram spike occurs will depend on where in space you put the card
    and how it gets lit. There is no single correct white balance in such
    circumstances, it's a question of taste. And because the eye adapts
    its own white balance to the ambient, you'll never get a photograph to
    look quite like how it was at the time when you were there. You have
    to select a pleasing representation.

    Depending on the complexity of the resultant mix of lighting and your
    camera's adjustment flexibility, your in camera WB adjustments may not
    be able to cover what you want.
    Chris Malcolm, Dec 24, 2007
  16. Dave

    Andrew Haley Guest

    I'm not sure about Canon, but the Nikon story goes like this: the
    direct sun setting is 5200K, and flash 5400K. This is a bit lower
    than daylight film, which is usually balanced to around 5500K. Using
    these settings gets you pretty close, and there's a control (on the
    D2x) to fine-tune the white balance in 200K increments. I'd be
    surprised if the Canon white balance is vastly different from this.

    So, if you set the white balance to flash and shoot a white card, is
    the result madly wrong?

    Andrew Haley, Dec 24, 2007
  17. Dave

    Mr. Strat Guest

    If you get it right "on the negative," post-processing will be an
    absolute minimum.
    Mr. Strat, Dec 24, 2007
  18. Since white balance is not done "on the negative", which
    is to say to the raw data from the sensor saved as a RAW
    file, that statement has no signficance. White balance
    only happens when RAW is converted to JPG, and getting that
    right in the camera may not even be possible, due to the
    limited range of and incremental adjustments available for
    in camera processing.
    Floyd L. Davidson, Dec 24, 2007
  19. You need to WB under identical light situations, this
    _includes_ flash, and the distance the light has to travel
    from the flash to the object --- which can change if you move
    the flash unit(s).
    Mixed lights are hell for any kind of white balancing.
    If possible, avoid that situation:
    - choose apertures and exposure times that reduce the influence of
    non-flash light to at least 3 stops below the flash influence.
    Slave flashes can be very helpful there.
    - Change the non-flash light to be similar to the flash light.
    - Change the flash light to be similar to the non-flash light.

    The latter two can be archived by "gelling" the non-flash
    respective flash lights, i.e. putting correction filters in
    front of the flashes (quite easy) and/or windows, lightbulbs,
    etc. (can be quite hard, material and time eating --- and you
    may need permission).

    These filters will eat a bit light, as they block out e.g. the
    blue parts of the flash to a certain extent to make the flash
    match tungsten lighting. Here's one way to do it:

    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Dec 24, 2007
  20. Dave

    Mr. Strat Guest

    I know that. But the OP was complaining about the cumbersome workflow.
    If you get it right the first time, your workflow will be significantly
    Mr. Strat, Dec 24, 2007
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