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Old November 11th, 2006, 03:22 PM   #1
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Fun with white balance on the Z1 ( and FX1, A1, etc)

Most of you probably already know about the handy ASSIGN button feature of shifting outdoor white balance up and down (see p27 and p58 in the Z1 manual). Have you ever wished you could do this with indoor white balance? I have, and today I realized it's easily done. Set WB Preset to outdoors using the camera set menu for starters. Now go into the picture profile and set WB shift to -5. This will alter the default outdoor WB to about 3300K (the standard outdoor WB is 5800K, and each click shifts about 500K, so 5800 - 2500 = 3300).

Now your default white balance will be pretty close to tungsten, and each click of the up and down assign buttons will shift another 500K, giving you a range of about 6800K to -200K (is that possible? :-)

This is going to come in handy for a few shoots I have coming up where we have both halogen and HMI stage lighting fixtures. I can start with the 3300K default and shift up a bit until I find a happy medium between the two color temperatures.
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Old November 11th, 2006, 05:44 PM   #2
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Hey Boyd,

Can you tell me why this function is so useful? I've seen people post about it before but don't really get the application.

Is it because you might not be happy with the look of the preset so you adjust on the fly? Are you able to see colour well enough in the LCD to make the small adjustments useful, or is it more for shoots when you are hooked up to an external monitor?

I usually do manual white balance when I change locale, but perhaps I'll try this trick.

Thanks a million,
Vito
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Old November 11th, 2006, 05:51 PM   #3
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I guess it is only useful if you find it useful... which I do :-) I have used it both with a monitor and with the builtin LCD screen. Of course the builtin screen isn't a calibrated monitor, but in my experience it's still very useful if you know what to expect from the camera. Personally I dislike setting custom white balance unless absolutely necessary - I'm sure others have their own opinions on this however.

By punching the white balance up and down you get very helpful feedback, especially in situations where there are lights of different color temperature being used (sunlight from a window, tungsten lights, flourescent, etc). It's also very helpful outdoors for landscape shots. I find that warming the WB helps make more dramatic cloudy skies sometimes.

You might think of this function as sort of a "virtual warm cards" system. But if you don't see the need for it then don't use it!
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Old November 11th, 2006, 06:33 PM   #4
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Hi Boyd,

Thanks very much for the suggestions.

I just tried to set your trick up in my camera, but the white balance seems way off. I put preset to outdoor as you say, then adjust -5 in Picture Profile. To compare, I did a manual white balance as well. When I switch back and forth between the two, the 'tricked' version seems much warmer. Even after assigning the up and down to buttons, I can't get it anywhere near.

Perhaps I'm not understanding your instructions very well?

I'm going to try it outside anyway for a daylight shoot.

Thanks again,
Vito

PS. I see you work in opera. I actually did my university training in voice. I have a masters in performance, and at one time wanted to be an opera singer. Small world...
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Old November 11th, 2006, 10:00 PM   #5
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Yes, after trying this technique at a shoot I think the -5 position (~3300K) might look a bit warmer than the default tungsten setting. But it's easy to bump it up and down as desired. As I said, I find this technique very useful but everyone has their own style. If you're happy with custom white balancing then stay with it.

Glad to see that you studied opera. Right about now I'm pretty fried from shooting a performance of La Boheme in the back of a full house! :-)
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Old November 11th, 2006, 10:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
As I said, I find this technique very useful but everyone has their own style. If you're happy with custom white balancing then stay with it.
I'm not sure I AM happy with manual white balancing because I do a lot of event work, and we're running in and out through different light sources all the time. That's why I'm interested in the technique you describe.

Quote:
Glad to see that you studied opera. Right about now I'm pretty fried from shooting a performance of La Boheme in the back of a full house! :-)
That was probably my favourite opera when I was in to it (seems like another life now). I spent a few months in Vienna several years back, and went to see Boheme 5 times. You could get standing room tickets for a couple of bucks. I think I went to the opera maybe 50 times in that few months. It was great.

Anyway, thanks for all the replies and suggestions. I appreciate the help and I'll give your tips a try. Sounds very usefull.
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Old November 11th, 2006, 11:19 PM   #7
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I like using the preset and if I'm outside and the sun is in a weird position where it seems like it's either a bit too blue or orange, I'll assign buttons 5 and 6 (for me, that's the easiest) to either amp up the blue or orange (you can do this in the menu, but I love the shortcut option) to make the shot look natural.

Eventually, I'd like to use colored glass filters, which is what many DPs use with both HD/HDV/DV cameras and film cameras, too (you can't white balance film, esp. if you have only indoor- or daylight-balanced film). But that's my personal preference. It's cool we have the option of using that preset with adjustments of blues and oranges.

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Old November 12th, 2006, 05:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heath McKnight
Eventually, I'd like to use colored glass filters, which is what many DPs use with both HD/HDV/DV cameras and film cameras, too (you can't white balance film, esp. if you have only indoor- or daylight-balanced film). But that's my personal preference. It's cool we have the option of using that preset with adjustments of blues and oranges.
Editing and white balance adjust are the two best things video had over film. At least to counterbalance the image quality you can get with the latter. :)

In film you have to correct a great deal during shooting, using color filters. But in video you can do different, using colored white cards that will cheat the WB corrector and get almost any color you want on your image. This is better than putting a filter up front.

Some colored white cards can be found ready made, but you can make your own too.
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Old November 12th, 2006, 05:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vito DeFilippo
I do a lot of event work, and we're running in and out through different light sources all the time. That's why I'm interested in the technique you describe.
This technique is ideal for event videography. Often, stage lighting is dimmed, making it even warmer. If filming action in a range of spots on stage, you can't manually white balance between shots, so you can dip from Daylight -5 (about Tungsten) to Daylight -7, which will do nice things to candle-light (with 18dB of gain and 25fps).

Conversely, when shooting outside in shadows, a bit of Daylight +2 will warm things up nicely, and on an overcast day (a lot of that in the UK) +3 or +4 will give a nice Golden Hour or Fujicolor neg stock look.

In mixed lighting (daylight and tungsten), it's easy and REPEATABLE to get a good white balance, but I would strongly recommend doing some practice with a good CRT monitor attached to your Z1 so you can learn what images will look like based on the LCD screen.
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Old November 12th, 2006, 11:07 AM   #10
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I also like to white balance on slightly orange or blue color cards, too--the warmths and cools are great. Esp. if you can't afford a matte box and 4x4 filters, like me. I also teach my students how to white balance on solid colors to get strange results (pink=sickly green, which is great).

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Old November 12th, 2006, 08:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heath McKnight
I also like to white balance on slightly orange or blue color cards, too--the warmths and cools are great.
Way back on a training course, I did some WB tests using a white wall, a bit of photocopier paper and a proper white balance card from DSC Labs (http://www.dsclabs.com/whitenwarm.htm). There were a few other random white things too.

Bottom line was that the rather expensive white card from DSC actually delivered the results - it really was noticably better than the paper and head and shoulders above anything else. The DSC also has blueish cards as part of the package and these also deliver great results.

I ended up purchasing the DSC set, but www.warmcards.com are more reasonably priced.

The trouble is that the Daylight +/- trick is so great and instant, one can sometimes 'forget' to do the proper thing and do a white balance. I use the DSC cards in lit interviews and whenever I can in day to day shoots, but it has to be said that if matching two or more Z1s, even WB off a DSC chart isn't as close as using the +/- trick.
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