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Adjusting color balance in camera?

Michael1
Contributor

The camera I am considering on buying is the Canon 5d Mark IV.  I am looking for a high quality camera capable of low light and night shooting.  Does this camera allow the user to adjust the color balance or will this need to be done in post processing?  Is it possible to replicate the colors of some of the more popular slide films such as Fuji Velvia 50 or Kodak E100VS?

 

I am a dedicated film user, but looking to switch to digital due to the discontinuation of many of my favorite slide films.  I do not know much about the digital cameras so I hope this question doesn't sound stupid.  Certainly, this will be a huge learning curve for me when I make the change.

 

Thank you in advance

 

2 ACCEPTED SOLUTIONS

Waddizzle
Legend

Yes, you can set the camera to do a white balance adjustment.  However, it is much more flexible to do so in post-processing.  

 

DSLR's produce two types of files, JPEG and RAW.  A JPEG file is the format that is commonly used to share photos between users, displaying on the web, printing hard copies, etc.  A JPEG is the digital equivalent of an Polaroid Instantamatic that would spit out a print that took a couple minutes to develop.  Once those prints were made, your options to adjust the image were quite limited, and the same is true of JPEG files.

 

A RAW files is a digital negative.  You would use post processing software to convert the digital negative to a printable JPEG.  You can make a wide range of adjustments on a digital negatve in post processing, including, needless to say, white balance adjustments.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

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When things go right a jpg can be very usable but when things are far from perfect such as a dull day, shooting towards the sun or in varied light RAW will save the day. Besides all the control to the colours you have some control to the noise many tricky situations present. With a jpg you have a bit of latitude on exposure but RAW can go 3 stops over or under in most cases & a simple drag to a slide control corrects that. You have the option to save as TIF's in most good software & better yet you can re do the RAW file over & over in many variations & still have the RAW file for the future. In underwater photography RAW is even more useful as it can cancel the blue tint, and resurect the colours that you can't see below 80 feet. This was shot a week ago in pretty heavy rain (and just before the performance was stopped due to the conditions) and the jpg wasn't usable (nor were many that day) but thanks to the noise reduction the rain pretty much disappeared.

 

7D2_4615v1.jpg

 

And this is what can be done to an underwater photo that was a bit underexposed and below the depth where all of the light specktrum has been filtered out by water.

 

Camera Raw 9.1.1  -  Canon PowerShot G9 2212017 10503 PM.jpg

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

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8 REPLIES 8

Waddizzle
Legend

Yes, you can set the camera to do a white balance adjustment.  However, it is much more flexible to do so in post-processing.  

 

DSLR's produce two types of files, JPEG and RAW.  A JPEG file is the format that is commonly used to share photos between users, displaying on the web, printing hard copies, etc.  A JPEG is the digital equivalent of an Polaroid Instantamatic that would spit out a print that took a couple minutes to develop.  Once those prints were made, your options to adjust the image were quite limited, and the same is true of JPEG files.

 

A RAW files is a digital negative.  You would use post processing software to convert the digital negative to a printable JPEG.  You can make a wide range of adjustments on a digital negatve in post processing, including, needless to say, white balance adjustments.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

Did you do your own darkroom work? If so you will need to learn how to process RAW files but once you have you're going to like the change from the darkroom to a comfy chair in front of a good monitor. I highly recommend either taking free lessons via YouTube or pay for a 1 month subscription to Lynda Dot com to take some lessons on all the things you can do to a RAW file. Learning the camera & menues won't be as big a challenge as learning the software especially since you can see the shot you just took on the LCD.

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

I develop all of my own film, black & white and E6.  I used to make my own prints in the darkroom but have not done that in many years.  I do however scan my slides and negatives into a TIF format then convert to jpg for internet use.  As far as editing the pictures, I do very little to them after they are scanned.  I take that the RAW format in the camera would be similar to that of a TIF format from a film scanner? 

 

Yes, I do see the major benefit of shooting digital by having instant results and not waiting to get my film processed.  However, I do plan to continue to shoot film and I won't be giving that up; just will be doing less of it.         

 

Thank you for the tips... 

When things go right a jpg can be very usable but when things are far from perfect such as a dull day, shooting towards the sun or in varied light RAW will save the day. Besides all the control to the colours you have some control to the noise many tricky situations present. With a jpg you have a bit of latitude on exposure but RAW can go 3 stops over or under in most cases & a simple drag to a slide control corrects that. You have the option to save as TIF's in most good software & better yet you can re do the RAW file over & over in many variations & still have the RAW file for the future. In underwater photography RAW is even more useful as it can cancel the blue tint, and resurect the colours that you can't see below 80 feet. This was shot a week ago in pretty heavy rain (and just before the performance was stopped due to the conditions) and the jpg wasn't usable (nor were many that day) but thanks to the noise reduction the rain pretty much disappeared.

 

7D2_4615v1.jpg

 

And this is what can be done to an underwater photo that was a bit underexposed and below the depth where all of the light specktrum has been filtered out by water.

 

Camera Raw 9.1.1  -  Canon PowerShot G9 2212017 10503 PM.jpg

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

Thank you so much for this info.

TCampbell
Elite

As soon as I read the bit about the desire for "low light and night shooting" my immediate thought (on the color balance in camera) was:  Yes.... it does, but you wont use it.

 

The real reason has to do with the main difference between JPEG and RAW.

 

A JPEG photo is the digital equivalent of having your entire darkroom workflow happen automatically in your camera AT THE TIME you took the shot.  JPEG is a great "final output" format.  But if you wanted to make adjustments to the image then JPEG is a poor choice as it offers limited adjustment latitude.

 

RAW, on the other hand, is a bit closer to the idea of an unprocessed film negative.  It simply captures the data and writes it to a file -- but it does not in-camera adjustments (even adjustments that really should be done to almost every image.)

 

But the main sticking point regarding why RAW is highly adjustable and JPEG is ... not so much... is because JPEG also tries to heavily compress the image to save storage space.  The algorithm uses weaknesses of the human eye to decide when a subtle tonal difference between two pixels or a subtle hue difference between two pixels would be too slight to be noticed by the human eye.  When that happens, it "normalizes" the pixels (makes both pixels identical) because when you lots of identical pixels then you can more efficiently compress the file size.  

 

This is sometimes referred to as "lossy" compression.  "Lossy" meaning that the algorithm is willing to throw away data which is effectively lost forever (no way to get it back again) in order to save space.  However the algorithm is correct in that if the image did represent the "final" version of your image THEN a typical person would never have noticed the missing detail.    But as someone who has worked in a darkroom would know... you can manipulate the image to enhance details after the image.

 

JPEG's savings in disk space has a penalty when you want to adjust the image later.  If there's a moderately over-exposed region, in a RAW file you can bring the exposure down and recover detail.  If it were a JPEG then there's no longer any detail to be recovered -- it was normalized out of the image.

 

Canon's Digital Photo Professional software (comes with the camera - it's free) will give you the familiar dark-room type adjustments that you can perform on the images.  Adobe Lightroom is also extremely popular.  I find the workflow to be a bit faster and easier in Lightroom.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

Okay, so if I am understanding this right the best method for achieving the color balance would be in post processing.  I do not think that I would want to be shooting in JPG.  Thank you all for this information. 

 

 


@Michael1 wrote:

Okay, so if I am understanding this right the best method for achieving the color balance would be in post processing.  I do not think that I would want to be shooting in JPG.  Thank you all for this information. 


Yes.  If you want fairly accurate color balance, then you can pick up an inexpensive "gray card" and take a photo of the gray card in the same lighting that you plan to use for your subjects.  Since the gray card is a true neutral gray, the computer software can use any imbalance to infer the color temperature of your lighting and that can be used to correct the color balance on all other shots taken in that same light.

 

There can be other reasons why color is off... for example maybe a camera model is a bit more sensitive to reds and tends to saturate those more than it should.  A color checker (a small card with several color tiles) can be used like a gray card... but again, computer software knows what colors these tiles should be and can use those to calibrate the colors (which goes a bit beyond what a white balance correction would do.)

 

One other caution... is that both your monitor and your printer can skew color accuracy as well.  My monitors are calibrated via a calibration tool (I use an X-Rite ColorMunki.  The DataColor Spyders are also popular).   Printers also need calibration but with printers it's a bit more complicated because any variance in which inks you choose AND which paper you choose will skew the color accuracy.  So the printers need to be calibrated for the printer/ink/paper combination that you use.  

 

 

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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