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Old June 18th, 2006, 03:00 PM   #1
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Help:white balancing under fluorescent lights

Not sure if this is the right forum for posting an inquiry about older Sony models, in this case a DCR-PC115E, but I can’t find another one.

I've been using a DCR-PC115E for 3 years. It’s served me pretty well apart from a rather protracted period of inactivity whilst awaiting its return from Sony Service for a CCD replacement. Most of my indoor shooting has been under incandescent lighting with which the automatic White Balance, assisted by a 35Watt video light, has coped quite well. Recently, however, I moved into an apartment entirely lit with fluorescent spot lights and I'm now having real problems with the classic 'green cast' phenomenon. The video light helps to offset this, as also does UV light protector filter that I normally reserve for outdoor shooting, but the 'green cast' is still annoyingly apparent around the diffuse edge of the beam and to avoid this means near blinding the subject matter. In desperation I purchased a Tiffen 35mm FLD filter thinking that would solve it, only to find that it overcompensates with a rosy-pink cast, not as distasteful as the green, but not exactly the desired effect.

Green (pun partially intentional) with envy that more recent models reportedly allow the white balance to be manually set with a ‘one push’ function, I pulled out the User Manual for the DCR-PC115/120 to find, low and behold, so called Manual modes for ‘Indoors’, ‘Outdoors’ and ‘Hold’, a mysterious option for which the only instruction was ‘Recording a single colored subject or background’. Thinking this might be the answer I spent some time (much to my wife’s amusement) pointing the camera at walls and sheets of white paper, waiting for the ‘green cast’ to magically adjust to white. But of course it didn’t and I came to the conclusion that the ‘Hold’ function merely allows one to freeze the white balance set by the Auto mode under a particular lighting condition, which, as far as I can see, has little practical value.

I’m thinking now might be the time for moving up to a higher end camcorder but this experience leaves me wondering if there are any models in the consumer-prosumer category with true manual white balance functionality that can effectively correct for such problems.

Would appreciate any advice on this and whether there are any tricks that I could apply to get a better result with the DCR-PC115. Of course, I could go out and purchase a few cheapo 500 Watt halogen lights, but such a set-up is quite impractical for the spontaneous activity that is home video...the kids never sit still long enough. I've also had some measure of success in reducing the 'green cast' from captured DV footage using AVISynth color correction filters, but not so well that a better solution would not be welcome.

Bryan Worsley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 21st, 2006, 06:01 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2005
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Hey Bryan,
I'm not familiar with your camera. I shoot with a Sony VX2100 and Canon GL1. The color differences are horrific in low light even when I try to get them both white balanced together.

Sure, if you went higher up (like VX2100), you'd have less problems.

I'm thinking about two more things though. I used to get an undesirable tint on my Sony inside. It turns out the problem was that I was using UV "Haze" filter instead of a regular UV "Protector" filter. This might not be your problem since you mentioned using another filter, but I'm wondering if you might have stacked that rosy filter onto something like a "Haze" that wasn't just a protector.

The other thing is that you didn't mention editing your tape. I shoot a lot of stage productions and the lights can be outrageous. Adjusting the RGB levels in your editing program should take care of it.

Scott Routt is offline   Reply

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