Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Auto white balance with tungsten lighting

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Today's question:

Hi David

I shoot a lot of low light event photography with a 5D and 5DII and have always had to dial out lots of red when the dominating light is tungsten (or candle) shooting auto white balance. The 'shot at' white balance when converting raws is always way out. Do you find this?



Hi Lloyd,

Yes, I do. Canon's auto white balance system struggles with tungsten lighting. This may be due to the range of colour temperatures and colour casts that occur with this type of lighting, and also the fact that rooms are typically lit by more than one light bulb, which means that there is more than one distinct light source. Even more problematic is the presence of fluorescent lighting in addition - this really adds to post-processing time.

I find Adobe Lightroom's ability to sync settings between shots very useful for post-processing - get the white balance right for one shot and then paste these settings into all the other shots taken under the same conditions. If a colour cast remains, I use Lightroom's hue, saturation and luminance sliders to try and neutralise it.



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James P said...

David, at weddings do you leave your camera on Auto White balance? Do you never switch to Tungsten etc when you gel?

Also - what are your thoughts on auto-ISO in AV mode...

Thank you

David said...

Hi James,

Yes, I always leave the camera on auto white balance, even when using flash gels. It's generally in the right ballpark and tweaking it in Lightroom only takes a second.

Auto ISO with aperture priority is of no use to me. I like to shoot wide but maintain a minimum shutter speed of around 1/50s, since movement of the subjects rather than camera shake is the limiting factor. The camera in auto ISO mode, however, likes to take ISO as low as it can by using a shutter speed of 1/focal length. I can't believe auto ISO does not come with a minimum setting for shutter speed - an unbelievable oversight!

I was really looking forward to this feature but don't use it all.



Ellie said...

David ,
For a wedding photographer what are the limitations of using AV mode with ETTL over Manual?
Is manual only really your better option when your ISO cranking is unable to give you the required shutter speed? - or is there another trick I'm missing.
Thank you

David said...

Hi Ellie,

If the incident light source is constant then so is the required exposure. Find the right exposure, set your manual mode to this, and then you don't have to worry about exposure compensating, which you need to do in aperture priority mode.

Search my blog for 'manual mode' for more information.