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Why no easy WB function on today's cameras


Shirozina

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Shooting with a low bit rate and depth internal codec it is essential to nail the correct WB in camera so why don't any cameras have a simple function whereby you can assign a custom button to set WB by pointing it at grey card/expodisk etc? Sony A7 series being the worst as you have to change away from movie mode (still an ongoing WB bug in all their cameras in LOG) then dig deep into the menu structure to find the function which should (could with a simple firmware change) be just a custom button away. I seem to remember Canon being a bit easier and some cameras not even offering this at all. Seems like a basic control to me like being able to set your aperture, shutter and ISO etc.....

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Given that modern SLRs/SLMs and large sensor video/digital cinema cameras are digital attempts at mimicking the film cameras that came before - it makes absolute sense to me.

There was no 'custom white balancing' off a white card in the old film days. Such a process was reserved for a small subset of video cameras. You might shoot a grey card and/or colour chart on a roll of film, but the colour temperature was (and still is) 'baked in'.

To that end, the fact that you can dial in a custom WB temperature is significantly more advanced than what used to be. As custom WB off a card is more of a ENG/Doco/Corporate thing to do, it doesn't bother me that it's stashed away in a menu somewhere. I'd rather dial in the temp anyway.

You can't WB off a white card on an Alexa... 

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3 hours ago, Shirozina said:

Shooting with a low bit rate and depth internal codec it is essential to nail the correct WB in camera so why don't any cameras have a simple function whereby you can assign a custom button to set WB by pointing it at grey card/expodisk etc? Sony A7 series being the worst as you have to change away from movie mode (still an ongoing WB bug in all their cameras in LOG) then dig deep into the menu structure to find the function which should (could with a simple firmware change) be just a custom button away. I seem to remember Canon being a bit easier and some cameras not even offering this at all. Seems like a basic control to me like being able to set your aperture, shutter and ISO etc.....

Do you mean this? On Panasonic cameras, you can assign WB to any function button.

IMG_2416.jpg

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Everything I own has a custom WB button - even Nikon DSLRs do, but it's a little bit hidden.

Keep in mind that custom white balance is different than just setting a Kelvin color temp (orange-blue axis) - it also adjusts the tint axis (magenta-green) and is far more useful, though I tend to keep an old 82A filter handy and balance through that to push the look a bit warmer. You can use a scrap of 1/4 CTB as well.

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I meant a custom WB rather than just a button to access the WB selection menu.

4 hours ago, jax_rox said:

Given that modern SLRs/SLMs and large sensor video/digital cinema cameras are digital attempts at mimicking the film cameras that came before - it makes absolute sense to me.

There was no 'custom white balancing' off a white card in the old film days. Such a process was reserved for a small subset of video cameras. You might shoot a grey card and/or colour chart on a roll of film, but the colour temperature was (and still is) 'baked in'.

To that end, the fact that you can dial in a custom WB temperature is significantly more advanced than what used to be. As custom WB off a card is more of a ENG/Doco/Corporate thing to do, it doesn't bother me that it's stashed away in a menu somewhere. I'd rather dial in the temp anyway.

You can't WB off a white card on an Alexa... 

Back in the days of film you used a colour temperature meter and then added colour correction filters to the lens. If you shoot RAW video  you don't need to WB as you can fix it in post just like shooting RAW stills. With an 8 bit 4.2.0 codec you need to bake in the correct WB and it's a very easy to do this with a custom WB feature. When I have my external recorder hooked up I can get very close with the scopes and adjusting the K temp and Green / magenta axis.

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31 minutes ago, Shirozina said:

I meant a custom WB rather than just a button to access the WB selection menu.

Ahh that is a LOT different. Hmm, unless you are going to repeat over and over the same thing, Higher end cameras do have that option. My Panasonic AF100A has 6 "slots" you can use to do that. They call it Scene Files. It does come in handy. I guess on lower end cameras they are not going to offer everything but the kitchen sink. And there is a Hard switch on it to save 2 of the 3 WB presets. I pretty much Black Balance and WB just about every time I move the camera. There is no real Auto anything on it but AF, and it is not that great on it.

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My jvc ls300 also has that, press one physical button once on the front of the camera and it sets the whitebalance. That's the difference between a video oriented camera and one designed for photo/video. If you want easy video functionality buy a professional video camera that's geared towards video only.

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21 hours ago, Shirozina said:

Shooting with a low bit rate and depth internal codec it is essential to nail the correct WB in camera so why don't any cameras have a simple function whereby you can assign a custom button to set WB by pointing it at grey card/expodisk etc? Sony A7 series being the worst as you have to change away from movie mode

Still cameras have to be able to white balance from a captured still frame, otherwise, how would one get a custom white balance from a strobe?

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16 hours ago, Shirozina said:

I meant a custom WB rather than just a button to access the WB selection menu.

Back in the days of film you used a colour temperature meter and then added colour correction filters to the lens. If you shoot RAW video  you don't need to WB as you can fix it in post just like shooting RAW stills. With an 8 bit 4.2.0 codec you need to bake in the correct WB and it's a very easy to do this with a custom WB feature. 

Probably the WB of my camera is not correct anyway. I read somewhere it wasn't neutral, and people kept fiddling with WB shifts deep in the menu. Since it's Easter, let me cite he Bible: you shall know them by their fruits. What they present as the results of their deeds needs further corrections in post in order not to look weird, some scallop it with special luts. 

I use sun, shadow, clouds or bulb, which already is twice as precise as analog photography was with tungsten and daylight film (okay, some used glass conversion filters for in-between values, some welcomed minor casts because they captured the atmosphere of the place, some corrected in the darkroom, does that sound familiar?). People make all their colors look neutral with custom WB. Afterwards they complain that their colors look aseptic and digital and apply a look lut that mimics film. 

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On 17/04/2017 at 3:43 AM, Shirozina said:

Back in the days of film you used a colour temperature meter and then added colour correction filters to the lens.

You can still do this. You can also add gels to your lights to get them to the right temp (as I always do with green LEDs for example).

On 17/04/2017 at 3:43 AM, Shirozina said:

I meant a custom WB rather than just a button to access the WB selection menu.

With an 8 bit 4.2.0 codec you need to bake in the correct WB and it's a very easy to do this with a custom WB feature. When I have my external recorder hooked up I can get very close with the scopes and adjusting the K temp and Green / magenta axis.

Define 'correct' WB. Personally, I prefer to dial in my temp and green/magenta bias as I do on high-end cameras. I'm not particularly worried about getting it absolutely perfect. Don't you want to 'bake in' your desired look, rather than a 'perfect' white balance?

I assume we're talking about narrative shooting here? If you're talking events and/or news gathering, that's a different thing.

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56 minutes ago, jax_rox said:

You can still do this. You can also add gels to your lights to get them to the right temp (as I always do with green LEDs for example).

Define 'correct' WB. Personally, I prefer to dial in my temp and green/magenta bias as I do on high-end cameras. I'm not particularly worried about getting it absolutely perfect. Don't you want to 'bake in' your desired look, rather than a 'perfect' white balance?

I assume we're talking about narrative shooting here? If you're talking events and/or news gathering, that's a different thing.

'Correct' WB is where the highlights have the same RGB values - while this may be not your ultimate look it's a good place to start and currently not easy to get to without scopes or an auto WB button.

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