Which white balance setting?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by marvin, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. I'll shooting at a holiday party on Sunday with my 50D. Lighting at the affair will be primarily by incandescent bulbs
    but I'll be using my Canon 550 flash. Using the automatic white balance setting under such conditions gives a
    decidedly yellow cast which can be only partially removed from the JPEG images (I don't want to use RAW). So -
    can someone recommend a better white balance setting?
  2. RAW really is the way to go for mixed-light situations. But if you don't want to use that, personally I'd balance
    for the flash, which is likely to be the brightest light. You could also try shooting a gray card in the in the
    room you'll be working, with the rig you're using, and balancing off that. Whatever way you go, there will be
    some shots with color casts. In mixed light, shooting B&W is the only sure way to avoid it.
  3. Tape a 1/2 CTO gel over the flash to warm the flash output to look more like the incandescent ambient light. You
    can cover part or all of the flash, or use more than one gel layer, to vary the amount of warming effect from the

    Then take a custom WB reading from a white surface using the gelled flash, with little or no incandescent light
    on the white target. This will set the camera's white balance to match the output of the gelled flash. The result
    will be that (1) the color of the flash and ambient incandescent lights will be nearer one another, (2) the
    incandescent lights will be relatively less orange and (3) the camera will record the flash output as white.

    If the resulting JPG images are still less than color-perfect, they should be close enough for easy batch correction.

    In actual practice, you may want the flash to be a bit cooler (less orange) than the incandescents, as fully
    corrected incandescent light seems a bit artificial looking. Best to experiment a bit first.

    Good luck!
  4. "I don't want to use RAW"

    Then you are in trouble. RAW is the way to go when you can't be sure what white balance will give optimum results.
  5. [[Using the automatic white balance setting under such conditions gives a decidedly yellow cast which can be only partially removed from the JPEG images ]]

    There is no better white balance setting without changing your approach to the photos.

    The light from your flash is more blue than the light from the incandescent bulbs. The camera is choosing the WB for flash photography and you're allowing ambient light to build in the photo with your shutter speed choices.

    One solution would be to gel your flash to give you warmer light (to more closely match the incandescent bulbs) and then to manually set the WB at the holiday party.
  6. Why not do some testing where you can compare the different settings and different proportions of the different lighting
    including shoot raw as a control? Bob has it right, with mixed different light sources, you're stuck, even using AWB, and
    you'll find you're doing color adjustments post processing.
  7. Use Kelvin to set the color temperture, play around until you get the result you want or you can try the White Balance Correction.
  8. David and Rob nailed it. Put a gel on the flash, and shoot with a tungsten or custom WB. There's no other way to get the colors to look right. If you use bare flash to light your foreground and have tungsten in the background, the background will be an ugly brown. It's worse if you have fluorescent in the background (sickly green). If you have both tungsten and fluorescent in the room, see if you can turn off one or the other, so that you only have one color to match.
  9. From your post it sounds like you have been dong some form of post processing on the JPEGs. Have you been the 'white balance' dropper in either DPP or in Photoshop (or similar)? If so, you do have to have something in the picture that really is white and that may be your problem ('looks like white' is not enough) - I sometimes click on different things to see which one gives the best result.
    But if one of your family is in the foreground lit by your flash and you set the WB off their white T-shirt, this will still give strange colours in a background lit by tunsten. Or vice versa. Both of these will require some post-processing.

    What is is about RAW that you don't like? If it is about the complexity then RAW doesn't have to involve mega processing - you can just do a couple of simple things (like colour temperature). You could shoot RAW+JPEG and if there is a JPEG picture you really like but the balance is off you can edit just that one.

    Good luck.
  10. Hi,
    What I'd do is tape a gel over the flash so that it more closely matches the golden coloration of the incandescent lights, then I'd set a custom white balance. I'd still shoot RAW and might dial some of the warmth back into the images, during post processing. Often, interiors look best a little on the warm side (although I agree, Canon's incandescent setting is way too warm).
  11. Gel the flash. It's the only way.

    Just an FYI, the Nikon color gel pack specifically designed for the SB-600 fits perfectly on a Canon 430 EX. In fact, I think they fit better on my 430 EX than they did on my old SB-600. I'm not sure how they would work on the 550, but I don't think Canon makes a similar gel pack.
  12. Don't forget that you can open jpegs in camera raw using CS3 or CS4. I just shot a 50th wedding aniversary in similar lighting using my 580 ex II. Set the camera to AWB and corrected the jpeg photos using camera raw in CS3. Just right click on the photo in Bridge and select open in camera raw. You don't have the presets but you can still make adjustments manually.

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