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Sony FS100 white balance at depth

Sony FS100 Amphibico Genesis White Balance

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#1 mmccue

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 09:32 PM

I recently purchased the Amphibico Genesis housing for my Sony FS100, and I have really enjoyed filming with it so far. The light sensitivity of the camera coupled with easy access to all of the controls seems to make it a great choice. I have not been very succesful in finding a good method for white balancing at depth however. Manual white balance in shallow water works fine, but below about 15 meters, the camera just seems to choose a color temperature randomly and won't set to anything near what I consider a proper look. I've tried the custom preset function, but the highest temperature that will allow is 15,000k. Every manual setting I've ended up with (in shallow water) has been >15,000, so the custom setting isn't helping. I've tried on a white slate, grey slate, pointed at the sand, pointed at the reef, pointed at the sun, with lights, without lights, with color correction filters, and without filters, but I can't seem to find the right combination. Most of the footage that I've seen posted with this rig so far looks great shallow, but also washed out blue at depth, so I guess others must be having the same issue. Besides major color correction in post, is there anyone using this camera underwater who has found a good solution?

#2 Drew

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 04:13 AM

If you are using lights, why don't you just set the color temp to that of the light?

As for no lights, depending on the clarity of the water, 18m is probably the max depth where filters are of any use in getting warm colors back. It's best you post a frame of what you are talking about and with details on how you got that result. Then it's easier to help you with your issue. There are so many variables like how much of the frame did you fill the grey/white card with, how far away was it, what texture etc etc

You may also want to search older threads which deal with the filter issue like this one:
http://wetpixel.com/...522#entry320847

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#3 peterbkk

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 05:01 AM

Not sure what you are trying to do but I doubt if you want to get the WB up as high as 15,000k.

(all the below assumes ambient light only. if you add artificial light, the story changes)

Remember what the camera's white balance algorithm is trying to do. It is trying to make the subject white. But even if the subject is bright white (e.g. a slate) on the surface, it is never going to be white at depth. All the red and most of the yellow is gone. So it is naturally going to be blue-green. Trying to push it to white is impossible (without video lights).

Underwater, what we are trying to do is shoot nice video that is acceptable to the viewer. This usually means getting rid of any green, having the water a nice blue and, if possible, trying to get whatever red or yellow that is available in the subject to be emphasised.

Can you do presets on that camera?

If so, forget manual white balance while underwater. Set some "close enough" presets for different situations and just switch when necessary. Doesn't need to be too accurate. If you get it "close enough" you can do final tweaks in post.

I use the Canon XF100 underwater. One great XF100 feature is 4 preset WB settings. I just step through these until I get to the one closest to the situation.

1 = Daylight (close to the surface or when video lights dominate - night, cave, wreck)
2 = 6500 kelvin (5 meters to 15 meters - just warms up a little - no red filter required)
3 = 8000 - 9000 kelvin and set to reduce a little blue - for deep blue water
4 = 8000 - 9000 kelvin and set to reduce green - for deep water when there is a lot of green

Presets 1 and 2 are just set in the menu. Presets 3 and 4 are done by printing an A4 page from Photoshop, filled with either pale aqua blue or pale aqua green. I put the page in sunlight and shoot a manual white balance off the page. This gives me about 8,000 to 9,000K. I move the paper, relative to the sunlight, and camera distance until i get a K setting in the 8000 - 9000 range. I save them into the two MWB slots.

When diving, I just use the WB button on the housing to step through the 4 settings as appropriate to the situation. I don't touch the MWB button as it'll throw out one of my carefully prepared presets.

These days I rarely do anything other than the slightest tweaks in post.


Regards
Peter

#4 mmccue

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 03:34 PM

Thanks for the replies guys.

The color temperatures that you listed are very intersteing Peter. Like I mentioned, I can manually create a preset as high 15,000k. The reason I thought that wasn't sufficent is that when I do a manual WB in shallow water, the camera shows that it has picked a setting >15,000k, and that looks great. I was assuming that deeper would need to be an even warmer setting...right?

Other Sony cameras that I've worked with (small handicams, Z1, and EX1 for example), simply won't WB manually if conditions aren't right. The WB icon just continues to flash to show that it was unadle to complete a proper setting, and it holds the last setting. The FS100 operates differently, and instantly seems to pick a random setting. Each time I try (even under the same conditions) it has an annoying habit of jumping to a different setting, ranging greatly in the temperature, and never seems anywhere near proper. I understand how filters work, and I've had good success finding WB methods with my other cameras. I've been able to learn what methods work best in different conditions, using all of the tools avialable; filters, lights, different colored slates, etc. So my question is really specific to the FS100. So far, I just haven't figured out the right method at depth, so I was just wondering if anyone else has had more luck. I will give the lower presets that Peter stated a try, and let you know how it works.

Cheers,

Mike

#5 jonny shaw

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 04:01 PM

There are so many variables with WB underwater, there are a tonne of posts on this and different cameras behave very differently. Best advice is to try a variety of WB methods, use presets and worl out ways to trick the camera to get the best results. Also play with the footage in post to see how far you can push it. Are you capturing in AVCHD or via external HDMI? That will make a big difference to colour grading

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#6 mmccue

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 04:18 PM

Until Amphibico releases the Ninja Splash (and I come up with the cash to buy one), I'm still capturing AVCHD in camera. So I'm trying to get the best results straight out of the camera as possible. I have been able to tweak things in post to an acceptable look. I just know it can get better.

#7 peterbkk

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 04:58 PM

Part of your problem is that the AVCHD captured by the FS100 is 420 color. 444 is best. But, for UW, 422 is reasonable. 420 has a limited color gamut that means you miss some of the subtlety in the blues that dominate under the water. If you can get the Splash, you'll get better results.

The CX550, the last Sony, I owned, also has a terrible WB algorithm. It seemed to be trying to increase the gain on the red channel, causing dancing red fuzzies in blue backgrounds. I learned to do a MWB with some percentage of artificial light shining on something with some red content, just to trick the camera into not trying to push itself too far.

But, no camera's WB algorithm will work well underwater. Just not designed to do it. That's why I cam up with my preset model. Get it all done on the surface and just set it "close enough" when underwater.

Regards
Peter

#8 kkfok

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 06:20 PM

Thanks for the replies guys.

The color temperatures that you listed are very intersteing Peter. Like I mentioned, I can manually create a preset as high 15,000k. The reason I thought that wasn't sufficent is that when I do a manual WB in shallow water, the camera shows that it has picked a setting >15,000k, and that looks great. I was assuming that deeper would need to be an even warmer setting...right?

Other Sony cameras that I've worked with (small handicams, Z1, and EX1 for example), simply won't WB manually if conditions aren't right. The WB icon just continues to flash to show that it was unadle to complete a proper setting, and it holds the last setting. The FS100 operates differently, and instantly seems to pick a random setting. Each time I try (even under the same conditions) it has an annoying habit of jumping to a different setting, ranging greatly in the temperature, and never seems anywhere near proper. I understand how filters work, and I've had good success finding WB methods with my other cameras. I've been able to learn what methods work best in different conditions, using all of the tools avialable; filters, lights, different colored slates, etc. So my question is really specific to the FS100. So far, I just haven't figured out the right method at depth, so I was just wondering if anyone else has had more luck. I will give the lower presets that Peter stated a try, and let you know how it works.

Cheers,

Mike

I think the deeper you go the MWB result color temperature should be higher. 15,000k in shallow water sounds weird to me, it should be close to daylight.
I have never used my FS100 underwater but I have tried it in an aquarium. I think 15,000k is useless in practice, it just boosted the red channel too much, maybe you should try something pink in color to do the MWB.

#9 Drew

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:28 PM

Underwater, what we are trying to do is shoot nice video that is acceptable to the viewer. This usually means getting rid of any green, having the water a nice blue


Ummm what about if the water IS green or red hued etc? :D

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#10 peterbkk

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:55 PM

Ummm what about if the water IS green or red hued etc? :D


A very good question.

On a recent trip to South Andaman, we encountered a green algae bloom on every dive. The water was actually a lovely emerald green. So I chose to leave it quite green in the final edit and do a bit of an audience test. Most people didn't like it. So I went back to FCP and made all the green water into blue water, being careful not to get too much magenta on the subjects. Then the audience was happy.

Maybe we should start a "it's OK for the ocean to be green" movement...

#11 Nick Hope

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:57 PM

We had that unusually green water a few years back at Shark Cave, also in the Andaman. I flipped out the CC filter and went with my puny halogen lights and auto white balance and the result was well received (video here). In more normal conditions at that site I would shoot with sunlight + CC filter + MWB, but IIRC that method was producing horrible results with that green water.

#12 Drew

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:28 PM

So I chose to leave it quite green in the final edit and do a bit of an audience test. Most people didn't like it.

You ask a bunch of tourists who have paid money to see Azure blue water what they think of green water, probably what they can get at home? What did you think they'd say? :)

Going back to the Mike's issue with MWB and FS100. Have you tried doing a MWB every 6-9 ft going down? Are you using the lanc MWB on the housing? Is there any way to test MWB from the camera itself? I've only handled the housing once and can't remember.

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#13 SimonSpear

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 09:27 AM

I've also got the FS100/Genesis combo, but I've only been playing around in very green, very shallow murky water with it so far and I have not come across any issues with MWB (yet).

The light sensitivity on the FS100 is just insane but getting a decent MWB at depth was my biggest concern when purchasing a housing for the camera. In the past the Sony cameras that I've used have struggled even with filters much past 15m and when you compare that to getting a fantastic WB at 40m with NO filter from a 7D (which admittedly I've been getting way too comfortable with), well that's a huge difference.

What set up are you using? Lens / Filter combo?

Does your camera still have the v1.0 firmware? I updated mine to v2.0 and was shocked that the Gain controls are not accessible over Lanc with the v2.0 firmware. There is no way to roll back the firmware either so I need to get components changed inside the camera to get it fixed. Aarrrrrggghhhhh REALLY wish Amphibico had made me aware of this as I'd only updated only days before the housing arrived. Unfortunately I've been so busy filming that I've not had time to send the camera back yet, but putting the Gain into auto has not been anywhere near as bad as I'd imagined it would be. (For more details on the firmware issue, please go to this thread)

I'm not in blue water until Jan, so you can be my beta tester mmccue and I REALLY look forward to hearing the results!!! Posted Image

Cheers, Simon

Edited by Drew, 23 November 2012 - 02:16 AM.
Added forum link to issue mentioned


#14 mmccue

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 04:05 PM

I finally got in the water yesterday to try a few more WB techniques, and I had much better results thanks to all of your suggestions.

To answer your questions Simon, I have NOT done the version 2.0 firmware update. It didn't seem to have a lot to offer me, and I have had similar problems with updates before. Seems everytime that I update any hardware, or software, I run into new issues. So unless they offer something really enticing, I generally stick with what's working already. Sounds like I made the right choice to wait this time. I've been using the Sony 16mm 2.8 lens with a 6" dome port for my wide angle stuff and I have an extension ring for adding the fish eye converter, which has been a lot of fun to play with. I have also been using the stock 18-55mm with the autofocus flat port, and close up kit for macro. I plan to get some better lenses eventually, but I'm pretty happy with the options this set up gives me so far.

At first I had purchased a bigblue brand "flourodiving" threaded color correction filter. It's color is much more yellow than most underewater filters that I've seen underwater, and I think that's part of the reason that I was having trouble getting a proper white balance. Since then, I purchased a Fantasea brand "RedEye" filter through B and H, and that's what I used yesterday with much better results. Of course it would be ideal to have a flip down filter, but that's a small thing to give up in exchange for having interchangable lenses I guess.

The camera still has the irrating habit of choosing random, and really off, color temperatures when I tried manual white balancing below 30 feet yesterday, but I tried tried dialing in the temperatures that Peter suggested and (with the filter attached) things looked much better. The site I dove has a max depth of about 50 feet, so I didn't get to push the limits of the filter, but I'm really happy with the results that I achieved in that depth range anyway. So here's what ended up working best for me;

surface to 15' - Manual WB on white slate
15 to 30' - Manual WB on grey slate
30' to 40' - Preset WB setting dialing between 6,000 and 6,500k
40' to 50' - Preset WB between 6,500 and 7,000k

I'll attach some sceenshots. These are straight from the camera, no color correction at all. My picture profile is a little more saturated than some would suggest, but since I am still using the AVCHD format, I prefer things to look as close to the final product out of camera as possible.
30' Manual WB.jpg
40' Preset WB 6,200K.jpg
45' Preset WB 6,300k.jpg
50' Preset WB 6,700k.jpg

Simon, it would be great to share your experiences with this set up as you go. Feel free to pm me anytime.

Cheers,

Mike McCue

#15 peterbkk

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 04:33 PM

I finally got in the water yesterday to try a few more WB techniques, and I had much better results thanks to all of your suggestions.
Mike McCue


To me, those shots look a tiny bit too saturated and a bit too red. But, that's a personal choice. And you could always dial it back a bit in post. Have you tried shooting without the red filter?

Regards
Peter

#16 peterbkk

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 04:38 PM

To answer your questions Simon, I have NOT done the version 2.0 firmware update. It didn't seem to have a lot to offer me, and I have had similar problems with updates before. Seems everytime that I update any hardware, or software, I run into new issues.

Mike McCue


I once spent a couple hours upgrading a pair of video cameras from 1.0 to 1.01 firmware. Had to reset all the settings back to the way i liked them. After I had done that, I thought, "Great, what exciting new features do I now have?". Turned out that Korean language menus was the only new feature. I can't read Korean. I'd wasted at least 2 hours of my time. I consoled myself with the thought that, if I am ever in Korea and I don't quite understand what a menu item does, I can switch to Korean language and ask an local expert...

Edited by peterbkk, 23 November 2012 - 04:40 PM.


#17 mmccue

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 05:06 PM

I agree, definitely a little oversturated and red, but I've found that's what people seem to expect on coral reefs anyway. It would have been nice to remove the filter and jump back in, but I was diving from my little inflateable, and I'm just not willing to risk opening up the housing so close to the water. I'll head out again soon, and see what things look like without the filter. I'm just happy to have something acceptable that I can work with now. I'm sure with a little more testing; with and without filters, tweaking the temperature setting, and coming up with a good picture profile or two, etc., I can get everything looking just the way I like it.

Thanks again for all of the suggestions,

Mike

#18 SimonSpear

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 01:38 PM

I'd agree that those images are too saturated and some of the highlights are blown out but there is no way that they are too red. They are actually too Green (a common fault with nearly all Sony cameras) so the colours need to be moved towards Magenta/Red quite a bit more. In post try moving your whites to Magenta and reduce the gamma on the mids to give a nice deep blue water colour.

I've also been using the 16mm until now, but very interested in the new 10-18mm which looks a cracking lens. Also IMO there are no better filters for Sony cameras than the good old URPRO's. I've never had results anywhere near as good with any other filter.

Out of interest have you tried shooting with a flat profile like GLOG? The AVCHD on the FS100 is pretty robust in post and you can push it a lot further than the older MPEG2 codecs. Still admittedly it is not RAW so you can only do so much. Sure will be nice if/when the Ninja2 housing arrives.

Cheers, Simon

P.S. Peter I've never updated firmware to just get Korean menus. The FS100 v2.0 was a major upgrade if you shoot multi region.

#19 peterbkk

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 03:10 PM

I'd agree that those images are too saturated and some of the highlights are blown out but there is no way that they are too red. They are actually too Green (a common fault with nearly all Sony cameras) so the colours need to be moved towards Magenta/Red quite a bit more. In post try moving your whites to Magenta and reduce the gamma on the mids to give a nice deep blue water colour.


Color is a matter of personal taste. I'm "old school" and drive for realism. I like video to look like I saw it.

IMHO, already there is more red than the eye would see at that depth. Any more red and i think it'll become unreal. It is already border-line now. If I was editing the army tank clip, I'd shove the color towards magenta just a little bit to remove a touch of the green cast, drop the saturation a bit and see what I could do with the highlights by nudging them down a bit.

I look forward to hearing reviews of the Ninja2 on the FS100. That could be a game changer.

Regards
Peter



#20 mmccue

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:11 PM

Remeber those shots are straight out of the camera. I haven't had time to experiment any further, but I'm confident that with some minimal color correction, I can get them looking great. (At least what looks great to me haha). I agree with Peter and usually like things to look pretty close to what they looked like to me underwater. I use the red slime cyanobacteria that's on almost every reef as a gauge for the reds. I know it's almost a bright orangeunder proper lights, but I try to keep it more of a dep red. I'm just happy to be on the right path with a good white balance techinique for the FS100.

There's obviously a ton of opinions and different ways of doing things. The picture profile I've been using is definitely on the saturated side, and it's actually one that I have been using mostly topside. I defnitely want to find another (more toned down) profile or two for underwater, but I haven't gotten that far with this camera yet. The things that I shoot usually highlight island scenes, and everyone expects dreamy blue water and bright green hills. They are usually quick in and out projects, and spending another full day on color correcting just isn't worth it. So until I get the Ninja 2 and change my codec (which I am planning to do very soon), I'm happy with a slighlty over saturated AVCHD profile that needs only minimal grading. I'll play with some G-Log type profiles with the Ninja and see how that effect the cameras ability to white balance properly.

Thanks again for the pointers,

Mike McCue





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