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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 09 Jul 2016 (Saturday) 19:03
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WhiBal Card - Gray card or not?

 
Roxie2401
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Jul 09, 2016 19:03 |  #1

In the manufacture description they say that the WhiBal is a gray card. But then in one of the first tutorial videos they say the WhiBal cannot be used to set exposure/metering the scene, only white balance.

On other "Gray Card"products (say at B&H on-line) they describe their targets for both setting White Balance and Exposure. I'm guessing they are referring to using the white side for white balance and the gray side for exposure?

So, can I use the WhiBal for exposure or is it not a true 18% gray card?


As a secondary question, I'm using a Canon 5D MK III. Can I do an in camera custom White Balance using the small pocket size WhiBal, even though it's not filling the viewfinder if I use the center AF point and Spot Metering? I guess the same question applies to the larger target like the Lastolite white/gray target.

Thanks




  
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Wilt
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Post edited over 3 years ago by Wilt. (4 edits in all)
     
Jul 09, 2016 19:17 |  #2

WhiBal is 'neutral' so good for White Balance.
WhiBal is NOT 'midtone grey 18% reflectance', and using it for exposure metering would result in underexposure.

Custom white balance assumes that the neutral target fill most of the frame, trying to fill as much of the frame as possible.
The camera may warn, if the white chart is not covering a large enough percentage of the frame, it is possible that a dialog box will appear with the warning that “the correct White Balance may not be obtained with the selected image.”

There are 18% grey products that are both 'neutral' and also 'mid-tone 18% reflectance', so are usable with a single surface for both White Balance and exposure metering purposes.


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-Duck-
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Jul 09, 2016 19:43 |  #3

I wasn't familiar with the WhiBal card so I went and looked it up. Very interesting information on their site and I think I'll be picking one up soon for studio work.

This card is specifically designed to be color neutral therefore it is marketed as a white balance tool. If you watch their video "Measuring WhiBals (the numbers tell it all)" (WhiBal® White Balance Reference Video Tutorials by Michael Tapesl (external link)) he explains why it is white balance only and not for exposure. It's actually quite interesting.

For your second question, I find going through the process of attaining custom white balances out in the field too cumbersome. It's a process and after a while I found myself giving up. With this card it is so much easier to just whip it out, shoot it and move on. As Michael says, take your shots and if you feel you need to correct for some problematic lighting take a shot of the card before moving to the next location or subject. Specially if you keep it handy in your kit.

Hope this helps.


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Bassat
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Jul 09, 2016 22:06 |  #4
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Anything white will do for a custom WB. If you want to set metering/exposure, you'll need the 18% grey card. They are completely separate and unrelated settings. You can do WB off an 18% grey card. You can't meter (accurately) off a white card.




  
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PhotosGuy
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Jul 09, 2016 22:20 |  #5

IMO there's the "Correct" WB for a shot, & there's the "Right" WB which is up to me & the best look for the image. That means that I'm probably going to tweak it in PP. So I only need it to be close. What is important to me is that the WB for all the images is the same so that I can tweak all of them at the same time.

If you shoot white paper ON THE METER READING, it will photograph a shade of gray, just what the cam needs for Custom WB. It doesn't matter if it's a light gray, or a dark gray, as long as the white paper is not blown or totally underexposed. Use that exposure for the CWB set-up.

Gray Card…White Paper. What’s best?


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Post edited over 3 years ago by -Duck-. (2 edits in all)
     
Jul 09, 2016 23:12 |  #6

Using a piece of white paper for metering does not give consistent results and is unreliable at best. To start, exposure is shifted by using a white card since reflective meters are calibrated to 18%. By your own admission, you need to chimp and correct for that shift. This leaves the whole process of getting a more reliable exposure strictly to chance. I don't understand why you would use such a system or promote it.

This doesn't take into consideration the reflective properties of the white substrate. To our eyes, white is white and a third or even half stop difference in reflectance would go unnoticed off a white card. To me, white as a metering control is a bad choice. I would have better results metering off my palm than metering off a white piece of paper.

As for color balance. For most 'everyday' shots and 'artistic' shots, white balance is definitely an add salt to taste measure and the "Right" WB may definitely be different than the "Correct" WB. For commercial work where proper color rendition is more critical, however, a well calibrated white balance system is important. Random, uncalibrated systems are not adequate and a white piece of paper offers too many extraneous variables for me to be able to use reliably. That's why systems like the GretagMacbeth ColorChecker have become industry standards.


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PhotosGuy
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Jul 09, 2016 23:57 |  #7

-Duck- wrote in post #18062675 (external link)
To me, white as a metering control is a bad choice.

Has Kodak stopped putting white on the back of a gray card? They recommended using it for exposure in low light conditions.

I would have better results metering off my palm than metering off a white piece of paper.

Funny that you should say that: Need an exposure crutch?


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Post edited over 3 years ago by -Duck-.
     
Jul 09, 2016 23:59 |  #8

PhotosGuy wrote in post #18062703 (external link)
... Funny that you should say that: Need an exposure crutch?

:-D


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Aug 04, 2016 10:39 |  #9

Canon says to use a neutral white piece of paper for a Custom White Balance (not a Grey Card), pretty simple if needed!

Exposure is a bit different -- "18% Grey" will likely not work so well, you should learn to work with your gear, factoring in highlights and shadows! Along with Frank's "hand exposure" method, I suggest a couple things:

1) To get an overall idea, if you have a white/off-white wall in your home, take a fully-framed shot of it in different lighting, and you can get a "grasp" of needed adjustments. Then, put in a darker object and shoot, adjust, and you can get a grasp of what you need as far as "ETTR" (Expose To The Right" goes...

2) One thing I've stuck to for practical shooting outdoors on a sunny day is that I manually expose the sky to +1 EV so I get a light sky but the shadows get some details. If shooting Raw, you can do a good job of toning down highlights and boosting shadows as needed!

I will say, though, that internal and night-time shots can be tricky and challenging, due to relying on various lights with various "color shades" as well as the fact that indoor events tend to be lit by fluorescent lights that not only have a different "color caste" but that also have a weird cycle of on-and-off behavior...

I guess I've been lucky, 'cause I haven't had enough experience with such stuff to give good advice!


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Aug 04, 2016 11:19 |  #10

Just so other readers understand; the WhiBal card is for attaining correct white balance reference in the field or in the studio. It is not for exposure.

There will be mixed feelings about how and when to use a neutral gray card for color balance. In a lot of portrait and landscape work white balance is often shifted so the subject looks more pleasing to the eye. In commercial work (fashion, product, etc.) where color reproduction is a factor, this card can be a useful tool, just like the X-rite system or Pantone system are tools for color correction. It all depends on the level of control one needs.

The nice thing about this card is that it is calibrated, durable and very portable. It's also easier to use than the others mentioned. I can see this being a big help for wedding photographers and portrait photographers for controlling color casts in their images.

Bringing up exposure in this thread only confuses reader.


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Wilt
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Post edited over 3 years ago by Wilt. (2 edits in all)
     
Aug 04, 2016 14:58 |  #11

-Duck- wrote in post #18086383 (external link)
The nice thing about this card is that it is calibrated, durable and very portable. It's also easier to use than the others mentioned.


  1. I have a Kodak 18% grey card, not so durable
  2. I have a PhotoVision target, with white and 18% tone and black sections, which is very durable.
  3. I have a Douglas grey card, which is very durable vinyl.
  4. I have a MacBeth Color Checker, not so durable cardboard (from the days before the plastic version was introduced)



All result in the same values for 'neutral' WB if in the same shot toghether. I see little value from obtaining a 'calibrated' card, no advantange that is not already in one of the above mentioned products, except for small size (which itself can be a disadvantage!) -- all of the above listed alternatives ARE usable for setting exposure as well as for setting WB in camera or during postprocessing. All are similarly easy to use.

#1 has been with me for many decades
#2 folds up nicely into a 5.5" packet and can be thrown in a bag without worry
#3 is nice simply because I don't have to worry at all about water damage (same as #2) ...not sure why I bought it, too, although I admit its rigidity is nice under certain circumstances
#4 is used when I want to verify color reproduction faithfulness, not merely WB neutrality.

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Aug 04, 2016 16:13 |  #12

Wilt wrote in post #18086571 (external link)
All result in the same values for 'neutral' WB if in the same shot toghether.

Are you saying that all the cards in the same lighting produced the same values in Photoshop with the eye drop tool?




  
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Wilt
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Aug 04, 2016 17:14 |  #13

frugivore wrote in post #18086625 (external link)
Are you saying that all the cards in the same lighting produced the same values in Photoshop with the eye drop tool?

YUP!...the four that I listed. And far better consistency of results that randomly chosen 'white sheet of paper'.


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WhiBal Card - Gray card or not?
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