Most 'inexpensive grey cards' are designed for exposure, not white balance..
Take some time and watch a few of these videos............http://www.whibalhost.com/_Tutorials/WhiBal/01/index.html..
It is funny that all the example of their brand has a grayed out white board. While the mini card that is black and white has a much brighter white..
Is that just a camera problem? Or is the white supposed to be neutral, rather than a bright white? The first video made sense, now I am off to watch the series:).
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It really doesn't matter too much about the white. You'll be using the grey to do WB..
White balance is all about the 3 primary colors BEING EQUAL to each other, not how white is white. A light grey is fine as long as it is spectrally pure (ie. no color difference between RG & B)..
My Sony DSC H9 P&S has a custom white balance setting. You point thecamera at something white and press the shutter button. I know waytoo much about paint and light to believe this really works. Is therea standard white for setting a white balance?.
You must first understand that like all craftsmen, photographers are prone to devising strange, inaccurate words and phrases. "White Balance" is one of them. It should be called "Color Balance" or something like that. It just needs a target that has equal amounts of RGB. It can be white or any shade of gray..
There are too manydifferent shades of white out there. I bought an inexpensive 18% greycard recently. When I set the white balance using this grey card,then look at this grey card in the lcd view finder the grey turnsinto a much warmer shade of grey than how it looks to the naked eye..
The operative words are "inexpensive", "H9", and "LCD". You can't expect an LCD on a cheap camera to reproduce colors accurately. The proper use of an 18% gray card is to set EXPOSURE, not balance the colors...and an "inexpensive" card will set it so-so...but perhaps better than grass or human skin..
Put the 18% gray card away for the time being and get a sheet of white paper (you can print "The Zone System of White Balance" on the back)....
Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..
Yes, a sheet of white paper will do just fine. Your 18% gray card should work, too, but if the results look warm when you view them on a calibrated monitor, it's not perfectly gray and won't work. If you really want to spend money on something, you could get one of these:.
Also of note, in the video field, where post-processing takes longer and shooting RAW isn't an option, people sometimes use blue cards like these:.
You use them just like a white-balance card. In compensating for the blue, the camera will make everything a bit warmer, which can be very helpful for flesh tones..
In your case, just get the white balance close and fine-tune it later on the computer...
The gray card you bought is most likely just fine for setting white balance, and despite all you know about paint and light, just about any reasonably white surface will also provide a pretty good white balance reading. It doesnt need to be perfect for a couple of reasons..
First, the cameras ability to apply a white balance correction is far greater than the ability of our eyes. That is to say, that a camera can completely remove the colorcast of, say, a light bulb while our eyes will only remove most of it. In this case, a perfect white balance will result in a somewhat unnatural perfect-color view of the scene..
Second, there are times when you actually want a colorcast in your image, such as sunsets or portraits where you want a warm cast. Also, you cant really know if your color is off unless you take a picture and print it. I wouldnt trust making a fine distinction of shades on a tiny LCD..
I dont own an H9 so I cant give specifics, but cameras must apply their exposure setting when checking white balance. That is to say, if your exposure isnt set correctly before you take a white balance measurement then your white balance may be off. Usually, the easiest way to avoid any exposure issues is to set your camera to P and then set the white balance. So if your camera is set to manual and it still has the exposure settings from last nights cityscape shots, and you then try to perform a white balance then theres a very good chance that the white balance will be wrong. Canon manuals suggest setting to P mode before a white balance setting but the Sony H9 manual doesnt mention exposure at all it in relation to white balance..
If you want to test and see if improper exposure affects white balance then set the camera to manual and grossly over-expose so that the LCD is nearly white. Then perform a manual white balance in incandescent light. If the exposure setting is a factor, then everything in your LCD will now be green. If its green then you know that you must set exposure properly before setting white balance...
After watching a few whibal videos I came to the conclusion that white balance has nothing to do with the shade of white or gray. It has all to do with how nuetral the gray is. My 18% gray card didn't look perfectly nuetral. A warm shade of gray might have to much yellow or red toner in it, or pigment. While a cool shade might have to much blue pigment..
Whibal really comunicated to me that it's main purpose is to have their whibal card in the shot for color referencing after the shot was taken. They didn't go into many specifics about adjusting the camera's white balance. They did mention however that Nikon requires that the whole shot should be taken up by the larger card, while the cannon only needs to be centered on the card..
I am on the 5th video now...