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Old June 27th, 2012, 02:59 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Cincinnati, OH
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white balancing in dim light

So here's a shooting situation I frequently find myself in--dim tungsten light. As I understand it, and please correct me if I'm wrong, as tungsten light sources are dimmed, they shift more and more to the red side of the spectrum.

When I shoot in dim light, if I set my white balance to tungsten, the image is too warm to my eyes. On the other hand, I find that if I manually white balance on a white paper in such a situation, the resulting image doesn't look natural to my eyes. There's no warmth in the image.

How do you guys handle white balance in this situation?
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Old June 27th, 2012, 03:59 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2009
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Re: white balancing in dim light


What you are describing makes perfect sense. If you use a 3200/tungsten Preset your color temperature will almost always be wrong because the color temperature of most lights is almost never 3200. Sometimes a little warmer, or cooler, but close enough you can sometimes get away with it. In this case however, with a lot of dimming being done, the light is no where near 3200 anymore (could be as low as 2000) and so the problem is a lot more noticeable. This is why I NEVER use Preset, or dial-in manually a white balance under man-made lighting. Never, because you have no idea what the actual color temperature really is.

On the other hand, if you do a manual white balance on the dimmed light, then you are telling the camera to compensate for that color temperature, and then that causes the camera to remove all the warmth. Sounds like you want to keep some of that warmth but not all of it? The camera is doing exactly what it is supposed to do -- but that is not what you want.

That is the whole concept behind WarmCards. You white balance on one of the WarmCards so the camera gets the color in the right ballpark -- but then the card tricks the camera into keeping some of the warmth. Over 30,000 cameramen know it's the easiest and most conistent way to take creative control over the white balance.

WarmCards - White Balance Reference System
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