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Old April 6th, 2004, 03:18 AM   #1
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pdx10 white balance/color shifts

Hello,

I recently purchased a pdx-10 and shoot mostly nature photography/videography.

A few basic questions:

If shooting nature type scenes or even people outdoors does it make sense to use auto or outdoor white balance? For some reason, outdoor white balance seems to me to generally yield better color saturation. Further, when would one typically use one-push white balance?

Also, I have noticed that when shooting a subject that has colors bordering on reddish (ie. tan sandstone or reddish brown tree) that the camcorder often casts not only the subject unrealistically reddish but often the whole scene reddish (even surrounding subject matter of an entirely different color ie. green foliage).
I am wondering if this is typical of the pdx10 or sony camcorders in general and is the only way to remedy it to decrease saturation for the whole scene. Often it is difficult to tell when filming on the lcd and it is not until one views it on a tv monitor that you see the off color casting.

Thanks for any input.

Brian
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Old April 6th, 2004, 04:06 AM   #2
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To quickly answer your second question,

you can actually use the custom presets to decrease the amount of red in the picture.
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Old April 6th, 2004, 02:40 PM   #3
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manual whitebalancing will help to!
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Old April 6th, 2004, 06:42 PM   #4
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True, manual whitebalancing (I think this is what Sony calls "one push white balance") helps. But I also get pretty good results with the outdoor setting which I tweak using the WB SHIFT custom preset item.

To get familiar with your camera I suggest you hook it up to some sort of decent monitor, set it on a tripod and then experiment with a whole variety of custom preset and white balance settings. This will start to give you a feeling of what each item does and what range of adjustment is possible.

Have a look at these threads for further discussion:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=16952
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=16186
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Old April 6th, 2004, 07:56 PM   #5
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What they said. Experiment with WB AND color levels. I generally have color dialed all the way down, particularly in lower levels of light.
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Old April 7th, 2004, 07:37 AM   #6
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Also note that I think you had a bit of confusion in what White Balancing does. You mentioned it not only made the subject off color but the whole scene.

When you white balance, you are adjusting the entire scene, not just one part of it. your camera searches for the thing with the highest luminance value and color temperature in a given range and tells the rest of the electronics to make that the "white" mark and set all other colors according to that standard.

The great thing about auto white balance or AWB is that you can have varying lighting conditions, like walking outdoors from inside a building and it should track pretty seemlessly. The bad thing about AWB is it isn't accurate. One should always use the best practices, like the pros, and manually white balance every scene. If outdoors on cloudy or overcast days where the lighting varries, re-balance every shot.

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Old April 7th, 2004, 06:51 PM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Sean McHenry : If outdoors on cloudy or overcast days where the lighting varries, re-balance every shot. -->>>

Sean, I think this may depend on what you're trying to accomplish. Often I've set white balance in full sunlight then left it alone as the sun was setting. This heightens the effect of the sunset colors. Same thing might be true during other changing conditions, like clouds rolling in. It might be appropriate to see the color shift as this happens. Personally I find white balance a very subjective thing. There really isn't any "correct" setting that will render all the colors of a scene as they appear. I generally play with the 3 way color corrector in Final Cut Pro until I find a reasonable compromise. As someone who designs stage scenery and lighting I find it very frustrating that it just isn't possible to accurately depict colors as the naked eye perceives them under different lighting conditions.

More often than not I just use the builtin indoor and outdoor settings since I know I'll be tweaking the colors in post. However a couple weeks ago I was shooting some digital still photos near the ocean. Just for fun I did a manual white balance to a patch of rather neutral looking whitish sand in full sunlight. For some reason this set a really perfect color pallete for the scene. Probably just blind luck, but it worked really well! http://www.greenmist.com/inspiration/island.JPG
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Old April 7th, 2004, 09:10 PM   #8
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We meet again. Seems we are all over the place on the site.

I agree with you in that if you like the effect, use it. That's the reason they are now making "warm" cards that are slightly off color to give a warmer look by fooling the white balance settings. Pretty slick idea actually. All these years of video and they are just now thinking of this sort of thing.

On the other hand, to create accurate colors, you should white balance if conditions change. If you want to color the footage after the fact, that's probably better than trying to correct footage that was intentionally shot off color. What if you needed a clean version to work with for some other reason. In what Boyd does, there may be no need but in photojournalism, you should do any processing after the fact.

It's the same reason professional shooters never use in camera effects. They are hard if not impossible to reverse. I doubt a news producer would appreciate the artistic intent of warm coloring on that shooting coverage. same for the cheesy in camera wipes and so on.

Anyway, I would caution folks to shoot it clean and process it "in post".

See next round Boyd.

Sean
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Old April 7th, 2004, 09:27 PM   #9
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I guess maybe some of this comes down to philosophy instead of technique. When a dark cloud passes over the sun do the whites still look white to your eyes? If the orange setting sun shines on a white sheet does it look white?

I think your point is well taken about photojournalism though. In this case I suppose you want to show everything as brightly and clearly as possible. But in reality, things are actually dark at night and they vanish into the shadows.

Why isn't it "clean" to set white balance such that it portrays lighting conditions as your eyes see them, and what does that have to do with "cheesy in camera wipes"? If I can't use a monitor on location then before I leave I try to set the camera's LCD screen with some color bars to match my monitor at home. Then I use my judgement in setting white balance and WB shift such that it brings out the quality I'm looking for in a scene.

But we all have our own approach, and I'll admit that mine is not very scientific!
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Old April 8th, 2004, 08:09 AM   #10
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You have to remember I come from a broadcast background. The intention of all that expensive R&D and design work is to accuratly represent the scene as it really is, not what our eyes percieve or what looks nice. The electronics can be fooled but they don't lie either. White is white, not slightly orange because that's the way the susnset colors them.

Yes, if you hold a white card out and look at it in a great susnset, it will look orange. However the truth is, it is white. To show it as it's true color, you would white balance to make it white and take out the artifical (or natural - depends on the point of view) coloring of the scattered sun rays through the dust in the atmosphere.

To accuratly represent the colors in this situation is a bit of a void. You are quite correct in that if you want to show it as you actually see it, you would want the balance to drift with the sunset. In journalism, you avoid coloring, visually or verbally of the facts. That's the issue we are on somewhat differing sides on here. The "percieved" color of a subject versus a true representation of the subject under an ideal 5600K or whatever balancing mark you use, lighting situation.

I suppose we could look at it this way. If you are doing a documentary, you shoot it as it should be, accuratly represented true colors in a normal situation. You would white balance all the time. In a feature film, all bets are off. Like the movie "Traffic". One half of the story was shot intentionally with a blue cast. The other half with an orange cast. This was a conscious decision by the creative people behind the movie. In a true documentary situation, there are no "Creative" people. Only a factual representation. Any sort of coloring would show bias.

Now we would have to debate the psychology of color and how it effects people viewing the footage. With a blue cast, you get a meloncholy slow paced "bluesy" feeling subconsciously. A warm cast is normally a bit more friendly and, well, warm.

Those are the issues I am talking about. Broadcast practices would dictate you white balance every chance you can get to keep the talent or the scene objectivity in check.

Most of this is academic and can, and perhaps should, be ignored when doing weddings and other "feel good" videos. I would not want to be the guy who gets out of the white balancing habit and starts shooting corporate video in differing locations.

See Boyd,

Sean
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Old April 8th, 2004, 07:54 PM   #11
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Oh I completely see where you're coming from, and of course your points are well taken. You have to remember that I come from a background of theatrical lighting where we use all sorts of color filters on multiple sources (the show I'm working on now uses 400 lighting instruments and all of them are gelled, with about 60 that have color scrollers and another 12 with dichroic filters that offer infinite color combinations). So the whole issue of color mixing and the perception of color interests me a lot.

White balancing as a compromise at best. For example, how do you handle the situation where there are two sources of very different color temperature present? Imagine a room with sunlight or skylight coming in through the window and incandescent light of on the other side? You will have a bit of a problem here no matter which way you go, right? And you eyes can clearly perceive how much yellower a white sheet of paper looks under the desk lamp as compared to an identical piece of paper in front of the window.

I guess one way that people handle such a situation is to cover the window with a color correction gel, or maybe put a higher color temperature lamp in the incandescent fixture. But now you've introduced something completely artificial into the scene and changed the whole atmosphere.

The relationship between the eye and brain is really fascinating. If we know that piece of paper is white then our brain will tend to "color balance" everything to that standard, regardless of the color of the light. But if you force yourself to look at that sheet of paper objectively you'll notice how far from white it really is.

Fun topic (although I guess we're straying pretty far from the main focus of this forum :-)
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Old April 9th, 2004, 02:17 AM   #12
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Boyd, that still with the sky, clouds, and horizon looks breathless!!!

I like the shots you've posted, but I want to see some city / in-city shots of yours. Everything you've posted is nature and landscape, or fantasy...

I would love to see what you can do in cities, with buildings and people and light.


And Sean, those warm color cards you speak off. You mean these are actually sold? Can you give us a link to where? Actually, haven't we all been tinting our shoots be intentionally white balancing of blue or orange cards?

Thanks
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Old April 9th, 2004, 08:01 PM   #13
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Thanks Ronald! Maybe I'll wander around Philadelphia one day with my camera(s)... usually when I go there I'm busy at work and afterwards I'm just anxious to get out of town and off to one of those natural landscapes! :-)
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Old April 9th, 2004, 08:05 PM   #14
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Boyd you wouldn't happen to know what your custom presets were for this beach shot would you?
I always seem to boost the colour and the WB up because it looks good in the lcd. When I get home I realise I'm not a huge fan. Also do you know how many clicks you have your lcd brightness and colour as well?

Thanks

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Old April 9th, 2004, 09:56 PM   #15
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Sorry, maybe I didn't make it clear... I shot that photo with a Nikon 5700 digital still camera. I was just trying to show an example where I white balanced the camera to a neutral color in the scene itself. But I suspect the PDX-10 could have delivered something comparable.

The settings on the Nikon would probably also translate pretty well to the PDX-10. I lowered color saturation by two clicks (comparable to COLOR LVL custom preset) and I turned off image sharpening (analagous to the SHARPNESS custom preset all the way to the left). I also used a wide angle lens, which is something that is also helpful on the PDX-10 for shots like this. The real tip-off that this wasn't shot on my PDX-10 is that it's a 4:3 image and I never switch out of 16:9 mode on the PDX-10 :-)

At the moment my PDX-10 has the LCD color set to the middle and the brightness +1 click. Here's an idea though, read Color Bars and How To Use 'em, then use your NLE to send some standard bars to your camera via firewire (the builtin ones don't have the needed pluge bars). Then try setting the LCD brightness under ambient lighting. This won't really be very scientific, but will put you somewhere in the right ballpark as far as brightness. I use a Petrol hood on my LCD screen when shooting under bright ambient light.
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