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Thread started 04 Jul 2009 (Saturday) 00:30
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Another RAW/Custom WB/JPEG question, but a different one..

 
Guts311
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Jul 04, 2009 00:30 |  #1

My question is, why is every person/website/forum so certain and definitive when they say to shoot RAW as it is supposedly the only way to set the correct (or any) WB after the shot has been taken (by post-processing on the computer)?

I just took an original (untouched on the PC) JPEG and threw it into Lightroom 2.0. I went to the develop tab to edit it. Right there at the top of the editing options is White Balance tweaking with the ability to use the dropper tool just like in DPP for RAW photos. It let me pick a neutral color in the picture itself (just like a RAW photo if you didn't use a separate white/gray card pic). It then corrected the WB seemingly the same way it would have with RAW.
I then continued my PP and got basically the same exact final pic (WB-wise and all) that I would've gotten using a RAW version of it.

So again, where in there is it any different/less capable than using RAW editing to do WB correction?

Sorry if I'm missing some big, obvious reason, I am just unsure.




  
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bohdank
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Jul 04, 2009 00:38 |  #2

Think of it this way. The RAW image has all the color information unaltered. You set the final WB.

In JPG, color information has already been thrown away in setting the WB, during the incamera processing. You are then altering it, once again, when you change it in PP.

Also when processing RAW. you are working on a 16 bit image, whereas JPG is 8....more color information thrown away.

Also, editing in RAW is non destructive. You always have the original, unaltered file. In JPG, you will be saving it again as a JPG..which will add artifacts.

When all is said and done, you may never notice the difference doing it using either image format.


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Saxi
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Jul 04, 2009 00:43 |  #3

You will also notice the sliders on the RAW image will go from like 2000-10000 where as the JPG is something like -100-+100 or something like that. Not only are you saving artifacts with JPG but you are also editing pixel data, where with raw you really are not.


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Guts311
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Jul 04, 2009 00:57 |  #4

I guess I understand both of you, thanks. But when it comes down to it, what boh said at the end of his post, is that most people, possibly anyone, will never see any difference in the final image (although maybe that's incorrect).

All I'm saying is that, the WB dropper seemed to do the same thing to the same degree that it would have done in the RAW version. While the data loss stuff in JPEG vs. RAW makes sense to me, I don't understand the significance of where boh said more color info is thrown away in a JPEG. I think I understand that, but does it really affect anything at all? Where does that come into play??


Also, one other thing: is using a white/gray card to set CWB in- or out-of camera practically going to give the same, correct WB results as using the WB eye dropper tool to simply pick a neutral/white area in the photos themselves to set their WB??




  
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Saxi
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Jul 04, 2009 01:36 |  #5

Guts311 wrote in post #8221179 (external link)
I guess I understand both of you, thanks. But when it comes down to it, what boh said at the end of his post, is that most people, possibly anyone, will never see any difference in the final image (although maybe that's incorrect).

All I'm saying is that, the WB dropper seemed to do the same thing to the same degree that it would have done in the RAW version. While the data loss stuff in JPEG vs. RAW makes sense to me, I don't understand the significance of where boh said more color info is thrown away in a JPEG. I think I understand that, but does it really affect anything at all? Where does that come into play??


Also, one other thing: is using a white/gray card to set CWB in- or out-of camera practically going to give the same, correct WB results as using the WB eye dropper tool to simply pick a neutral/white area in the photos themselves to set their WB??

While true, you won't see much of a difference between a JPG and a RAW taking out of the camera, you will have heaps more room to work with on the RAW image than the JPG. I also believe RAW will resize (up or down) much better than JPG. Finally many changes (white balance, exposure, and so on) can be done non-destructively with RAW.

The Eye Dropper tool is not precise, it is kind of a guessing game. The grey card will give you a very accurate landmark to use to measure from. It is also much easier and quicker in post processing, although more work during shooting. White balance is sometimes season to taste as well, you may creatively make the white balance warmer or cooler, but in my opinion, I think it is best to start with as accurate white balance as possible. That being said, I rarely use a grey card if not in a studio as I am under the worst conditions possible (low light, changing light, unpredictable moving subjects). In a studio I use a grey card or my color checker, but I only shoot in the studio once every month or two.


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Guts311
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Jul 04, 2009 01:50 |  #6

Thanks again. I agree as would most about the person not necessarily wanting the exactly correct WB...then every picture would be true to the real-life look. Not everyone wants that all the time! :)

I am just now delving into doing WB correctly using either CWB with a white card before shooting (and setting it ahead of time), shooting a white card and doing the WB after shooting (in RAW PP), or just using the dropper within the same photo to set its own WB (granted there are some neutral pixels to use). Although I don't see much difference so far between the 3 methods, it is nice to finally have learned each and I can now practice them.

To be honest, I never even thought of WB much, as the AWB on the cam always seemed to do the trick as far as I knew. But seeing some CWBs within the cam or in PP is making me now see what I could/should be shooting :)
I never realized how important WB was before..it's just as dire as correct exposure, right?

Anyone else have anymore input or tips relating to this stuff??

Actually, one other question, I've read many threads on how to correctly use the white card to get WB. I am a little confused over what I should be looking for with this. Should the white card's photo always have a brightness histogram with right-side spike, middle spike, or not necessarily either? It's tough because when shooting the card, the way it is angled in your hand may create shadow or different lighting on the surface and the histogram is constantly changing and sometimes it's hard to get a right-side spike (if that's what I should be looking for). Also, with certain lenses, it's hard to stretch the card far enough to even get it in focus (plus it's focusing on white, which is difficult).

Any tips??




  
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Saxi
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Jul 04, 2009 02:13 |  #7

Guts311 wrote in post #8221330 (external link)
Thanks again. I agree as would most about the person not necessarily wanting the exactly correct WB...then every picture would be true to the real-life look. Not everyone wants that all the time! :)

I am just now delving into doing WB correctly using either CWB with a white card before shooting (and setting it ahead of time), shooting a white card and doing the WB after shooting (in RAW PP), or just using the dropper within the same photo to set its own WB (granted there are some neutral pixels to use). Although I don't see much difference so far between the 3 methods, it is nice to finally have learned each and I can now practice them.

To be honest, I never even thought of WB much, as the AWB on the cam always seemed to do the trick as far as I knew. But seeing some CWBs within the cam or in PP is making me now see what I could/should be shooting :)
I never realized how important WB was before..it's just as dire as correct exposure, right?

Anyone else have anymore input or tips relating to this stuff??

Actually, one other question, I've read many threads on how to correctly use the white card to get WB. I am a little confused over what I should be looking for with this. Should the white card's photo always have a brightness histogram with right-side spike, middle spike, or not necessarily either? It's tough because when shooting the card, the way it is angled in your hand may create shadow or different lighting on the surface and the histogram is constantly changing and sometimes it's hard to get a right-side spike (if that's what I should be looking for). Also, with certain lenses, it's hard to stretch the card far enough to even get it in focus (plus it's focusing on white, which is difficult).

Any tips??

The eye dropper tool is very unreliable, in my experience is a complete roulette wheel. Even selecting something that is middle grey and click around you will find even in the middle grey the color cast can vary dramatically.

I use a white card for when I am using a custom white balance on the camera ahead of time, I use a grey card when I am going to use it as a guide in post production. I use hand adjustments of white balance/tint when I didn't do either. Very rarely will I use the white balance eye dropper, but I will a lot of the times use it to click around and get an idea what it my options are, 9 out of 10 times it is useless for me.

As for which method works best, it highly depends on how much time you have when you are shooting, that is the key factor, another is how often the light changes. If the light is changing frequently, then using a white/grey card is more difficult. I rarely find eye dropper gives anywhere near the same results, and even when the eye dropper does work, it is almost always a guesstimate. White/grey cards are near exact.

As for the histogram, it is irrelevant. You want the white/grey card to be evenly exposed in the light that is hitting your subject, so technically you can't adjust the exposure of the card without adjusting the exposure of your subject since they should be one and the same.

As for AWB, it is hit or miss, I would say 60% of the time the white balance is off with AWB, especially indoors. Sometimes dramatically. Outdoors AWB will usually provide great results, but don't count on it.


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Guts311
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Jul 04, 2009 02:41 |  #8

So for outdoor shots of any kind, should I still make the effort to do white card CWB? Or just use the AWB? If the lighting conditions aren't changing much outside at the time, I guess the card would still be worth using.

One thing I noticed, I tried several shots a few different times in my own bedroom at night with the normal lamp on. I used a white card made from posterboard to get the CWB info. I applied it to all photos ahead of time and shot RAW+JPEG.
Although the pics look better to me than the usual warm AWB coloring in here, it seems like the CWB from the card makes my photos in here a little cooler than they look to my naked eye. Is this still the right WB I should be getting?
Should the true WB always look exactly like it does to the shooter's own eyes, or not necessarily?




  
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Jul 04, 2009 02:48 |  #9

Guts311 wrote in post #8221409 (external link)
So for outdoor shots of any kind, should I still make the effort to do white card CWB? Or just use the AWB? If the lighting conditions aren't changing much outside at the time, I guess the card would still be worth using.

One thing I noticed, I tried several shots a few different times in my own bedroom at night with the normal lamp on. I used a white card made from posterboard to get the CWB info. I applied it to all photos ahead of time and shot RAW+JPEG.
Although the pics look better to me than the usual warm AWB coloring in here, it seems like the CWB from the card makes my photos in here a little cooler than they look to my naked eye. Is this still the right WB I should be getting?
Should the true WB always look exactly like it does to the shooter's own eyes, or not necessarily?

Your eyes are magic, they will adjust to almost any type of light. Is the posterboard pure white? Chances are it is not. Do you have an 18% grey card? If you do, try shooting AWB, CWB, and grey card using eye dropper to adjust after shooting. The white card and grey card should always give you better results, then you can season to taste.


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Guts311
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Jul 04, 2009 02:53 |  #10

So you're saying the photo's final WB really should look exactly like the scene does with my eyes? I can't imagine it will always be the same..
The posterboard is definitely white and I have tried the card photos with the card facing the light and not facing the light, to try different angles of lighting.




  
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Saxi
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Jul 04, 2009 02:57 |  #11

Guts311 wrote in post #8221432 (external link)
So you're saying the photo's final WB really should look exactly like the scene does with my eyes? I can't imagine it will always be the same..
The posterboard is definitely white and I have tried the card photos with the card facing the light and not facing the light, to try different angles of lighting.

It should look close, but I don't think it will ever be exact, your eyes naturally adjust the white point.

You have some bright white printing paper? Try that and see if the results are similar, but ideally I would try a grey card with white balance adjustment in post production and see how it compares. I've had excellent results with white/grey cards and very manual results using white balance/tint adjustments in Lightroom after the fact.


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Guts311
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Jul 04, 2009 03:00 |  #12

Yeah I think I'll get it down-pat. Maybe I'll order some real cards.
Although I did read that the white cards are usually more effective and also better for low-light, but I'm sure somehow the gray works better because it is more neutral? Not sure..
Any suggestions on card(s) from B&H? I see a few brands and few different kinds..




  
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Saxi
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Jul 04, 2009 03:05 |  #13

I got mine for free. I picked up two of black, white, grey from a store that does laminates. But the WhiBal cards are considered very good.

http://www.whibalhost.​com/_Tutorials/WhiBal/​01/ (external link)


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Jul 04, 2009 03:28 |  #14

YMMV...really...and probably does as no matter how much I try I can't get a JPG to equal a RAW image in IQ/CQ...so says my wife, a hair colorist for 25 years, who sees the diff right off...and my cousin, a videographer, says using the eyedropper on known white is so much simpler/accurate than trying to adjust JPEG color sliders...(I don't have the option of a WBing a JPEG though)


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Jul 04, 2009 05:18 |  #15

It is true that you can do color cast tweaks to a jpg just as you can tweak contrast or saturation, as long as they are only a few tweaks and not major shifts or many of them. However, pass the limit and the shallow bit depth will soon open gaps in the data. And the effect of edits is cumulative. When people point to the ability to defer white balance until later with RAW as an advantage, they are talking about a major change in WB from what was set in the camera and would have been applied to a jpg, preventing a mistake. Take a jpg outdoors with tungsten WB and then try to correct that blue cast in post. Even take a jpg in tungsten light with AWB and try to get rid of the orange cast. Watch your shadows, that's where problems soon appear - banding and noise.

Another factor: in the conversion from RAW data to color image, whether it is done in the camera or in a computer, the application of WB is done very early in the workflow before the data is gamma corrected, IOW while the data is in linear space. At that point WB is a simple process of linear multiplication and losses are minimal.
White balancing a gamma corrected jpg, OTOH, means operating on data that has already been expanded in the shadows and compressed in the highlights. The inevitable quantization errors are greater and obtaining a uniform color correction across the entire tonal range is very difficult.

In regard to the question above about how to expose a white card either for making a CWB or for use as an eye-dropper target; the one thing you have to avoid is a histogram that is spiked to the right. IOW, in the test photo the white object must appear grey, not white. When you shoot a white object without correcting the camera's exposure it will be medium grey. Let's say you are shooting in sunlight that is blue so without WB the camera would capture the white paper as 115/120/140. Increase exposure by two stops and that might become 215/220/240. Give another half stop and it would be 240/245/265, except that the blue value can't be 265 because 255 is the maximum. 240/245/255 would not correctly indicate the color of the light. Once data is clipped it is unreliable.


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Another RAW/Custom WB/JPEG question, but a different one..
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