H4D-40 (H4D-50) and custom white balance

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by kevinbriggs, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. In considering the possibility of purchasing the Hasselblad H4D-40, I was surprised to learn (by downloading the manual) that it is NOT possible to create a custom white balance setting by taking a test exposure (by using a third-party white balance device such as the ExpoDisc).

    For those out there who do have this H4D-40 model, I just wanted to confirm that this was indeed the reality of the situation...?

    I certainly understand that when shooting in RAW mode (as I always do), the custom white balance setting does not affect the underlying RAW digital data of the photo file.

    However, as a landscape photographer, I find it invaluable to have the "perfectly calibrated," if you will, color temperature by using the ExpoDisc because of what it will display (in each photo) on the digital back. As I take each shot and look at what is produced by such a perfectly calibrated color temperature setting -- by viewing each individual photo on the digital back -- it is much easier to gauge what I need to do with each individual photo file in relation to the subtle tones and hues of each landscape photograph.

    Or stated more succinctly, when I drop the photo into Photoshop, I don't want to have to guess at the color temperature at the time I took the shot (maybe several days previously). I absolutely love the ExpoDisc's ability to gauge/calibrate the color temperature for me respective to each individual RAW photo file.

    I'm just sorry to learn (possibly) that if I did indeed end up purchasing the H4D-40, I would not be able to rely upon the ExpoDisc method.
  2. You're right.
  3. Why is Hasselblad so far behind the curve on the technology (at least seemingly)...?
  4. You're NOT right.
    Have a look at the manual on page 62 'To make a manual white balance setting'.
  5. You can select a colour temperature, either out of a limited choice of pre-selects, or (and that's the "manual" bit) by setting whatever one you want.
    But neither method will work like Kevin likes it to work.
    And that, because of the thing Kevin mentioned: it doesn't affect the raw files anyway. The raw files contain all data and all opportunity to set and reset white and grey balance in post processing.
  6. Hi Kevin,
    The Hasselblad backs record raw data from the sensor array. There is no concept of "white balance" in that data. I expect the H4D works the same way since it works with the same computer program.
    All color manipulation is done in the computer program called Phocus, which is downloadable for free for both windoze and Mac computers. Color adjustment is more than "white balance", which only involves the red and blue channels. Full adjustment also controls the green channel.
    It certainly IS possible to do custom white balance in Phocus. In fact it's trivially easy.
    There's a tool with an icon that resembles a fountain pen. You enable that, place the cursor over an area which is supposed to be gray (your gray card), and click the mouse button. The red, green, and blue channels are all adjusted such that you get a neutral gray.
    In addition to that one-click automation, Phocus has a full set of manual color controls. You can enter color temperature in degrees Kelvin, or you can use a slider for setting red/blue balance. There's an additional slider for the green/magenta channel.
    All you have to do is put a gray card in one image frame, then shoot as many images as you want. Download the data into the computer and adjust the settings in Phocus as described above. As long as the lighting is unchanged you can use that one gray setting for all frames.
    - Leigh
    You can download Phocus 2.5 (the current release) for windoze or Mac here:
    The Phocus 2.5 User's Manual can be downloaded here as a PDF:
  7. It occurs to me that it may be possible to enter color balance information in the camera itself.
    If so, that information is included in the raw data file and used to preset the controls in Phocus.
    Seems like a reasonable thing to do, but I don't have an H*D camera to try it.
    - Leigh
  8. In another forum you can read a post http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?p=204607 from the long time Hasselblad shooter Marc Williams.
    He wrote:
    "I have the much used Manual White Balance function assigned to the stop-down button on the grip (I rarely use stop down). It is very fast to just click off a MWB shot of the Bride's dress and get to shooting. No menu stuff to deal with at all."
    It seems to me, that this is the Manual White Balance function, Kevin is looking for.
    I own a H3DII-31 and it works well.
  9. I decided to finally contact the company directly; here's the response I got yesterday:
    Hi Kevin:

    In fact that is not true....

    You are able to either set a manual color temperature or manually adjust to a grey card (or ExpoDisk).

    Are you ever in the Seattle area? We might be able to arrange a demonstration.​
    He, of course, just doesn't how this is accomplished with either of these models. It will be interesting to learn how this is done.
  10. I'm sure there's a good reason why you didn't just read the manual, instead of bothering us with this question.
    There are appropriate instructions in the manual for making this setting.
    However, the camera's White Balance setting only affects the camera's display. It has nothing to do with the scene rendered by the computer software.
    This is exactly the same as the operation of my CFV-39, as I expected.
    - Leigh
    ref: H4D 40 & 50 manual, particularly the note at the bottom of page 37.
  11. I'm sure there's a good reason why you didn't just read the manual, instead of bothering us with this question.​
    Hello Leigh,

    I appreciate your taking the time to respond to this question, but I must say, I do NOT appreciate your haughty, schoolmaster tone. That is most definitely NOT appreciated.

    Although the answer to this question may seem straightforward to you, it did not seem so to a member of the ExpoDisc staff, nor did it appear straightforward to the Hasselblad representative himself.


    The answer can be found on page 37 -- the one you keep referring to:

    To make a Manual White Balance setting (not a White balance test exposure), press the Man. (AF) button and then turn the rear control wheel to choose a color temperature: 2000 - 10000 K.

    The phrase "not a White balance test exposure" is exactly what is required in order to use the ExpoDisc -- you have to take a test exposure. This is why the member of the ExpoDisc staff -- who downloaded the manual himself -- was also puzzled.

    Similarly, the representative from Hasselblad admitted that it was somewhat confusing, i.e. the way the manual was giving the impression that utilization of a test exposure (ExpoDisc) was not a possibility.

    After downloading the Leica S2 manual, for example, it clearly talks about setting a manual white balance and exposure by taking a test exposure. It's in my Canon manual as well. It's also in several other manuals I downloaded.

    It is NOT a part of the Hasselblad manual (which is clearly noted above).

    Thus, the reason for my question in the first place.

    I have set up a tentative arrangement in Anchorage to meet with a representative of Hasselblad (who just happens to be in Alaska for the next couple of weeks, by some miracle), so I will have the opportunity to find out exactly how this alternative test exposure is supposed to take place.

    I'm sorry if I have wasted your time, but it was certainly not my intention.
  12. Apologies for misunderstanding the focus of your original question. ;-)
    Perhaps there's a problem with what the white balance adjustment in the H4D does (and does not do). As mentioned above, this adjustment only controls the on-camera LCD display. I thought the information might be carried forward in the raw data file and used by the Phocus software, but perhaps not.
    I use Phocus here rather than Photoshop, so I'm not familiar with the balance adjustments in the latter. I expect they're pretty similar since it's a well-defined function.
    Since the ExpoDisc integrates the ambient light and renders a uniform gray image, the results of a test exposure would be the same as shooting a gray card in the scene. You can use the white balance function in Phocus (and a presumed similar function in Photoshop) to accomplish what you wish. Should work fine.
    One advantage of using the post-processing function is that it corrects all three channels. The color temperature commonly used to define white balance (degrees Kelvin) only involves the red and blue channels. It ignores green completely. The Phocus (and Photoshop?) functions include control of the green channel.
    Good luck with the trip. Hope you get some great shots.
    - Leigh
  13. Forgive my poor English, I am a Brazilian photographer who works with hasselblad, I'll try to answer your doubt. Yes there is a easy way to do a custom white balance on a H4D Hassel. You assign a button with the Gray Balance Exposure function, and you can have a gray card, expo disc or focus on any gray part from the scene, and just press the assigned button and you will have a instantaneous correction image to use as reference.
  14. Sorry - I'm about 4.5 years too late for this thread, BUT...for the sake of anyone wanting to create a custom white balance for the H*D cameras, THERE IS A WAY!!
    First, don't be confused with manual color balance adjustment, as some of the previous posts were.
    Here's how you do it -
    1. Select one of the programmable buttons on the grip, and go to Custom Functions.
    2. Use the front cog wheel to locate that button, for example the AE-L or maybe the Mirror up button.
    3. Then use the thumb wheel to rotate until you see Gray Bal Exp
    4. Hit the ISO/WB button to Save
    Now, each time you want to create a custom white balance -
    1. Aim the lens at a neutral subject, gray card, etc
    2. Click on the chosen button (AE-L, Mirror UP, or whatever)
    3. The camera will make an exposure, and if all is well, you'll see a GREEN rectangle appear on the digital back LCD screen.
    That's it. You've made a custom white balance. It will remain in place until you change it.

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