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Old November 15th, 2009, 04:04 AM   #1
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Serious White Balance issue with EX3

Hello,
in December 2008 I bought my EX3 in Germany from an authorized reseller.
During filming of a 90 minute documentary in New Zealand in February 2009 I realized, that the camera had a serious problem with the manuel White Balance at daylight/sunlight.
If I am doing the White Balance under these conditions, the result is 3000 - 5000 Kelvin over the result, as if it is done in automatic mode.
So for example, instead of 5600 k for daylight (confirmed with automatic mode and other cameras), the EX3 gave me 11.000 k (!).
I contacted Sony Prime Support, the camera went there in Spring 2009 two times, but they did not see the problem. Finally, in Summer, Sony Headquarter in Cologne (Köln), Germany, received the camera and they acknowledged, that there seems to be a Software issue in this regard, where they have no solution for.
My dealer meanwhile figured out, that all his EX3 cameras have the same problem, a pro rental store in Germany confirmed this with two EX3's.

My EX3 is now in Japan, but so far, Sony can not find a solution. Latest news, they are offering me money back. It seems to be very serious, if they take this kind of step.
But I already had for now 8 months the hazzle and lost money on this.

I hope for all EX3 users (also EX1?), that this is only an issue for a part of the production but I would urge everyone, to test their EX3 with manuel White Balance under daylight/sunlight conditions.

Best regards,
Jürgen
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Old November 15th, 2009, 04:38 AM   #2
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We have 2 EX3s and 3 EX1s in rental and no one has complained of this problem.
I have noticed that my EX1 can return quite high values for WB CT in the Sydney sunlight. This has never bothered me as CT is a very poor way to describe light. All I care about is that the WB balance is correct.
All our EX cameras are fitted with the B&W 486 filter which also cuts UV. I can imagine that at high altitudes and/or reflections from snow the extra UV hitting the blue sensor could lead to some over the top numbers for CT.

Do you have the 486 filter on your camera and apart from the silly numbers is there anything actually wrong with the WB under daylight.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 06:56 AM   #3
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I recall a shoot in China in March when I manually set the WB outside from a white card and the WB zoomed up to 8000 and stayed there no matter what I did.
It never happened again though but mostly I never use the WB button but use preset WB now and just dial the number in.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 07:26 AM   #4
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If I white balance in direct sunlight, in the middle of the day, I usually get a reading in the 6000K to 8000K range. If the white card is in the shade, and the sky is very blue, I will often see a reading of 10,000K or so.

So I make it a point to always have the WB card in the sun or your shot will be very warm. I realize this may not be the problem with your camera. But I thought I would mention it here.

This is with any camera including Betacams and my EX3. I also always have a UV, Polarizer or graduated UV filter on the lenses.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 08:53 AM   #5
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I use an 18% gray card and set the camera iris to 50%. The color balance is always
right on the money, unless lighting conditions change over time.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 12:59 PM   #6
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Depends where in the world you white balance and with what camera. Every camera produces different kelvin readings. Here in NZ I have hardy ever had a 5600 reading. 6300 + is the usual for me. 11000 sometimes...

Different light in different places at different times of the day....

There is a color viewfinder. Use that. Does the picture look okay? If so, who cares what the numbers are saying.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 01:22 PM   #7
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I prefer to tweak the colour temp manually in the PP settings - I have a number set for different lighting conditions and the manual adjustment lets you get it exactly where you need it (for the preset white). Use the colour viewfinder as a guide.

Martin.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 01:28 PM   #8
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Hi,
thanks for your comments.
Just for the record - all that is not only my personal observation, but this major issue has been confirmed by Sony Germany as a Software default which they do not have a solution for at the moment.
By the way, with another camera I always had proper White Balance results in manuel mode at daylight at the same time. And the EX3 results looked really awful, in the viewfinder and in the editing.
I am not new to the business (20 years experience) - so believe me, I know many tricks and treats - but this is actually a Sony problem which they do have to address.
It seems, that it is a problem for some EX3's. In Germany I received confirmation from my authorized Sony dealer, that they do have the same problem with all their EX3's and the same from a pro rental company in Germany with their EX3's.
Fortunately, other EX3 users can not confirm this - this gives some hope.
I am addressing this issue, to make other EX3 users aware, that there might be an issue.
Best regards,
Jürgen
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Old November 15th, 2009, 03:23 PM   #9
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Juergen,

The issue of color temperature readings has come up before to only confusing conversations.
I ( and many others ) place no faith in the color temp read numbers in the viewfinder so a weird number by itself doesn't faze me. However if its accompanied by real images that look bad that is something that indicates bad color balance. It sounds like you actually have bad images here though and that you have plenty of experience to know the difference. It would be helpful just it confirm that though, that you are talking about bad color balanced images not just numbers that are out of whack.
It would be interesting to know if the numbers correspond to the balances that you're getting BTW.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 03:53 PM   #10
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It would also be really nice to compare on a evaluation monitor live when you set WB.

I have found with many cameras hooked up to an evaluation monitor SDI or component, that two WB settings in a row can look really different, due to slight changes in the angle of the card etc.

Now back in the days of film we only had a couple choices of film stock and then some filters to get CB right.

It may be that we are getting lazy here with all the digital conveniences at our finger tips.

For example when I shoot live theatre or shows, there is no way to do a WB so I just use 3200K and fix in post if I have to. Kind of like shooting tungsten film stock.

I am not making excuses for Sony, but I have shot a lot with many of their Cams and I don't have a worse experience with EX3 or EX1 cameras than any other Sony or Panasonic cams, maybe I am just lucky.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 04:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Daigon View Post
I use an 18% gray card and set the camera iris to 50%. The color balance is always
right on the money, unless lighting conditions change over time.
When I set exposure using a kodak 18% gray card I find 18% falls at 35 tp 40 IRE not 50.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 06:46 PM   #12
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I based my use of middle gray on the Ansel Adams Zone system, relatively speaking.
The gray card represents the middle of the tonal range, middle gray. Since the metering
"expects" to see middle gray...I set the iris to 50%. 100% would work for a white card, but
I like to standardize to the gray card.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 11:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hayes View Post
When I set exposure using a kodak 18% gray card I find 18% falls at 35 tp 40 IRE not 50.
Bob, when you say "35 to 40 IRE..." are you referring to the percentage reading in the middle of the screen? If so, are you sure this is reading out an IRE value and not a simple reflectance value? Just curious as I've always wondered how to use the info it's displaying.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 12:27 AM   #14
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I'm talking about 35% on a waveform scope. Not the histogram that is in the EX1 menu. I find histograms completely useless.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 01:49 AM   #15
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The camera really doesn't care what level the white or grey is at, so long as it's not over around 90% (or less than the knee) or under 40%. All the camera does is adjust the R, G and B levels so that the amount of chroma is reduced to the lowest possible level, which with a white or grey card should be zero when the white balance is correct. If you watch the RGB parade on a scope you'll see what happens quite clearly.

Underexposing will lead to bigger errors as a 10% white balance offset error with only 40% exposure equates to a white shift of 4%, while the same 10% offset error at 80% exposure equates to a white shift of 8%. The camera will have an easier time correcting for an 8% error than a 4% error. Grey cards are a hold over from film where the processing times changed white balance which is most obvious to the eye in mid tones. Video cameras white balance electronically using differences in R, G and B peak levels, not mid levels.
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