Is camera light metering sensitive to colour temperature?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Cockpit Colin, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. (Talking 350D with kit lens)

    The recent discussion on RAW files prompted me to give them a go (and by the
    way - having done so I'll NEVER be going back to just High-quality JPEGs if
    it's something that has to look top-notch - but I digress).

    I made an interesting observation ...

    Whenever I setup my "studio quality" halogen work lights (diffused with
    "studio quality" oven baking paper) and take a photo or two I used to find
    two things of interest ...

    First up, as expected, the colour temperature was always way off (very
    cold) - so I did a custom white balance correction and got that bit pretty
    close ...

    Second up, (even) regardless of the white balance setting I always seemed to
    end up with all shots being under exposed by a full stop (or even a little
    more) - very consistent.

    When I looked at the pre-processing suggestions for a RAW file for the first
    time it was always suggesting a number of fairly heavy corrections (I'm
    assuming that it gets this from the parameters that would have been passed
    through to the Digic processor for a JPEG). If I tell PS NOT to use these
    parameters HEY PRESTO almost immediately I get an almost perfect exposure
    (in fact my uncorrected RAWs look better than the JPEGs have even after I've
    spend 1/2 hour on PS tweaking the JPEGS.

    It's almost like the camera has been taking a correct exposure all along,
    but passing incorrect compensation parameters to the Digic processor.

    Has anyone had any experience with this?

    The only thing I could think of was "could the fact that the colour
    temperature is so low be affecting the light metering"?


    Cockpit Colin, Aug 4, 2005
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  2. Cockpit Colin

    Mike Warren Guest

    Yes, RAW is definatly the way to go if you want any degree of control.
    Just like a darkroom without the mess. :)
    No. I would like to look at this. Are you able to email me a RAW file?
    (Remove NOSPAM from my reply address)

    Mike Warren, Aug 4, 2005
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  3. Cockpit Colin

    Deedee Tee Guest


    You probably mean "could the fact that the colour temperature is so
    high", compared with normal incandescent light - or "so low" compared
    with daylight? In either case, not a colour temperature the camera is
    calibrated for.

    I don't know about your camera model specifically, but I have read
    that many digital cameras (including DSLRs) use the green luminance
    channel only, not an average of the RGB channels, to compute and
    display the exposure histogram. If that data is then used to compute
    exposure compensation values to store in a RAW file, then the answer
    is yes. A high-Kelvin light source (containing a lot of blue and
    green) might cause the camera to think it has overexposed and try to
    compensate by reducing the exposure factor after taking the shot. I
    don't know if the sensors used to compute the exposure value _before_
    taking the picture have a flat spectral response and/or if they
    compensate for different light temperatures (I would expect they do).
    If so, they also can give a biased exposure with light of a
    temperature they are not calibrated for.
    Deedee Tee, Aug 4, 2005
  4. I might be getting myself confused here, but I was under the impression that
    halogen lights would be best suited to a white balance setting of
    "tungsten" - the same as incandescent lights? The halogen lights appear to
    have a spiralled tungsten coil in the bulb which starts off glowing red and
    slowly turns "white" as I crank up the voltage on my variac. In any case,
    regardless of which white balance setting I used I always ended up with
    quite a severe red colour cast - which I understand means "low colour
    temperature" - it appears to be considerably lower than any other light

    Only the custom correction totally compensated - the trial shot of a sheet
    of A4 paper was done on a tungsten setting and it came out with a very
    distinct colour cast - a follow up shot with the custom white balance came
    out (more or less white) - different as chalk and cheese.
    Cockpit Colin, Aug 4, 2005
  5. I've been doing some more testing - and I think I made a wrong assumption.
    When I imported the RAW file into PS I assumed that the parameters entered
    by the system into the "pre-processing" dialog boxes were recovered from the
    RAW file as specific values - but on closer examination it appears as though
    PS is simply "looking at" the histogram and making recommendations based on
    that (unfortunately they're waaaaaay out).

    I've still got an exposure issue to sus out, but I'll do some more
    experiments with AEB and metering first.

    Thanks for your help.

    Cockpit Colin, Aug 4, 2005
  6. Cockpit Colin

    Deedee Tee Guest

    I am under the impression that halogen photoflood lamps for
    photography use have a higher temperature (i.e. a bluer cast) than
    normal incandescent bulbs. However, if you use a different type of
    halogen lamp, anything is possible. Using a variac to change the lamp
    voltage does affect the temperature of the lamp and its colour cast,
    so you have to recalibrate the white balance every time you adjust the
    voltage. Darkroom enlargers for colour prints used to have a
    stabilized voltage/current source because even a tiny change in the
    lamp voltage would throw the white balance off.
    Deedee Tee, Aug 4, 2005
  7. Cockpit Colin

    McLeod Guest

    Yes, exactly. I have a set of older studio lights with a calibrated
    transformer so I can change them from 3200K (tungsten) to 3400K (type
    A photoflood). Any time you change the voltage you change the colour
    temperature. Genuine photo type bulbs burn at approximately the same
    colour temperature throughout their life but there can be quite a
    range of colour temperatures for bulbs not specifically designed for
    McLeod, Aug 4, 2005
  8. I'm wondering if it's possible to get bulbs for the work lamps that are the
    right colour temperature? These ones are definately red red red. I don't
    actually use the variac for my main lights - saving it instead for a
    backlight, so the main ones are always run at full voltage (which in all
    fairness probably varies a little).

    I'm wondering if, in our modern days of digital photography and tools like
    photoshop if things like white balance aren't anywhere near as critical -
    I'm thinking of including a black and white card in the corner of each shot
    to provide a reference for photoshop when removing a colour cast, then
    simply crop it out for the final "print".
    Cockpit Colin, Aug 5, 2005
  9. Cockpit Colin

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    Set up the lights, then take a shot of a Macbeth Color Checker, or, on the
    cheap, a gray card or white piece of paper or something at the subject
    position. Then just shoot. Do your adjustments on the test shot, then
    apply them to the entire series shot under the same light.
    Jeremy Nixon, Aug 5, 2005
  10. Thanks for that.

    What's the basic technique from within photoshop for applying the same
    correction to a series of photos?
    Cockpit Colin, Aug 5, 2005
  11. Cockpit Colin

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    In CS2, there are a couple of ways. The first is to make your adjustments
    on your test shot in Camera Raw, and then go into Bridge, do "copy Camera
    Raw settings" on that image, and then "paste Camera Raw settings" onto all
    the other images; it will give you a chance to tell it which settings you
    want to apply.

    The second would be to load up all of the images at once into Camera Raw,
    make the adjustments on the first, then click "select all" and then
    "synchronize". This, too, will let you choose which settings to apply.
    Obviously this probably isn't the best choice if there are a large number
    of images.

    In CS2 as well as previous versions, you can do them one at a time as you
    load them; first do your adjustments on the test image. Then, load up
    one of the other images and choose "previous conversion" from the drop-down
    menu, which will apply the settings from the last picture you did. If you
    do that every time, you can easily do some small number of pictures.

    You can also save the Camera Raw settings from the test image, from within
    Camera Raw. The little pop-up on the right side above the adjustment
    controls has two functions for this, "save settings" and "save settings
    subset". The latter will let you save only some of the settings. You
    can then do "load settings" with your other images to apply those settings
    to those images.
    Jeremy Nixon, Aug 5, 2005
  12. Cockpit Colin

    JPS Guest

    In message <>,
    I doubt that the weighting for the histogram is used for anything but
    the histogram. In fact, if you shoot flat, evenly illuminated colored
    surfaces with AE, on my Canons, different colors wind up at different
    parts of the histogram, so the weighting is clearly independent of the
    metering sensitivity by color.
    JPS, Aug 5, 2005
  13. Cockpit Colin

    JPS Guest

    In message <mcxIe.322$>,
    Right for what? If you want lighting that renders grey objects such
    that the RAW values for red, green, and blue are the same, that would be
    magenta for many cameras, and the only way to get magenta light is with
    filters, as magenta is not a color temperature.

    I use magenta filters over my flashed when I am using all or mostly
    flash, and the shadows are much better than I get with any normal light

    Daylight and tungsten are both arbitrary, non-natural light sources for
    RAW data.
    JPS, Aug 5, 2005
  14. Cockpit Colin

    JPS Guest

    In message <mcxIe.322$>,
    It's actually very critical, if you care about the qulaity of shadows,
    but as I said in another post, the best light is usually magenta with
    some (maybe most?) RGB Bayer cameras.
    JPS, Aug 5, 2005
  15. Cockpit Colin

    Deedee Tee Guest

    Black does not help you to get a white balance (does "all cats are
    black at night" suggest anything?). Gray does, of course. White is not
    usable if overexposed. Gray also allows you to calibrate the exposure.
    You don't need to have the card in every shot, just set the camera's
    white balance on manual, put the card in a first calibration shot,
    then continue shooting without card until you change something in the
    lighting setup that might affect the white balance (primarily the lamp
    type/voltage and the positions of reflectors/diffusers if they are not
    white/silver). A calibrated neutral gray card is far preferable to a
    homemade one, which could have all sorts of strange colour tinges that
    might even change depending on the angle of illumination.
    Deedee Tee, Aug 5, 2005
  16. Cockpit Colin

    JPS Guest

    In message <mcxIe.322$>,
    B&H carries these little pads of papers with a white, 18% grey, and
    black on each. Don't know how accurate the grey is, though. Next time
    I'm at B&H, I'll buy a pad and test them against the Gretag-Macbeth
    color checker.
    JPS, Aug 5, 2005
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