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Best Way to WB Canon 5DIII for Video with Ambient Light?

Canon video 5D ambient

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#1 r4e

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 08:55 AM

I am extremely pleased when shooting stills in RAW and white-balancing the pictures afterwards. For this purpose a rough white balance for the live view preview is sufficient.

 

However, I am not so pleased about setting the white-balance for video shooting purposes on the Canon 5DIII. Apart from the possibility of using Magic Lantern and shooting RAW video, you need to tune the WB before shooting video. For wide angle scenery shots I prefer to shoot in ambient light only (except in darkness) instead of using artificial light. For example, at 25-30 meter blue water depth, it is possible to achieve good WB with stills (which proves that the camera sensor is capable of this), but I have been having difficulty in achieving similar quality in video.

 

I have tried the different WB modes as well as dialling in the Kelvins. I have also tried the custom white balance with a white bag or white-ish sand and further fine-tuning by the WB Shift underwater. It seems difficult to not lose the reds and yellows whilst keeping the water column blue. I am wondering if I am doing something wrong??

 

I also gave a try with the Canon picture style editor with the idea of creating personal presets for different depths. As reference pictures I used various (still) RAW pictures shot at 25-30 meters. Whilst these pictures were easy to WB adjust in the Canon Digital Photo Proferssional software, there was not sufficient latitude available in the picture style editor. I am now wondering whether there are similar limits for white-balancing video/the live view screen?

 

What have your experiences been in shooting video with ambient light only at different depths?

 

Or should I bite the bullet and go ML raw video with all the additional expenses?


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#2 r4e

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 12:04 PM

Here are some test pictures as pairs. The other one is a frame grab from HD video. The colors and white balance of which are affected by the manual white balance setting and picture style setting (neutral) of the camera. The second picture is a raw still picture.

 

My point here is that the camera can "see" a lot more of the depth dependent colors like red, yellows, browns (and greens). But the white balancing of the camera cannot (or atleast I cannot) sufficiently recover these tones.

 

The first pair was shot at 13 meter depth and the white balancing was done against light sand at the bottom. Notice how much there is/could be reds in the picture. Still the whites (in the raw picture) are correct,

 

 

 

Attached Images

  • ElCondesito13mFGwMWB_800.jpg
  • ElCondesito13m_RAW_800.jpg

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#3 r4e

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 12:06 PM

The second pair was shot at 18 meters depth. Notice how the yellow of Roncadores fish is lost.

 

 

Attached Images

  • LosCuchos18mFG_wMWB_800.jpg
  • LosCuchos18m_RAW_800.jpg

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#4 r4e

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 12:10 PM

The third pair was shot at 25 meters depth. The white balancing was done manually against a white balloon. But the video frame grab misses the dark reds and browns that are clearly visible in the raw still picture.

 

Attached Images

  • Champignones25m_FGwMWB_800.jpg
  • Champignones25m_RAW_800.jpg

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#5 kkfok

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 06:04 PM

I have also just bought a 5DIII for video, have you try the one push white balance of Magic Lantern?



#6 r4e

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 09:25 PM

kkfok, I have not yet tried the Magic Lantern, because I have been trying to find out which of the recent versions would be the best. The raw video is very tempting though.


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#7 Stuart Keasley

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 12:25 AM

I think you're either underestimating the power of raw..... It gives you latitude to complete change the colour balance and colour phase of an image without any degradation.

Once the image has been compressed into an jpg or movie file, all you can do is add to or remove from the colours that are shown in the image.

Try and process one of your raw stills as a jpg using the same white balance as your movie file and see how much you can push it, it won't provide much more than the movie.

If you want to add more colour in to a foreground subject then you need to either shoot raw or ideally take a video lamp with you and light it properly.
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#8 Drew

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 10:44 PM

One shouldn't confuse the WB of software RAW processing with the hardware WB of the camera.   The hardware WB isn't as powerful as the WB tools of software .  If you look at the settings, it's 2000-10000k, with software like Adobe, it can go up to 2000-50000k even (ACR for eg). So there's a lot more depth that software can add with gain etc.  Quite a bit of that is artificially regained since we all know that reds can be down to 5% by 20m (depending on turbidity).

As for ML builds, much of the problems are in the interface and minor issues.  As far as RAW goes, it's pretty much a stable beta now.  Do read the ML thread in the forum for info.


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#9 r4e

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 01:31 AM

Thanks for your advice guys.

 

Since my first post I have made further experiments. I have a hunch that the custom white balance of the Canon firmware can go further than the Kelvin adjustment. The point here is that the Kelvin adjustment works just in one dimension, whilst the custom white balance might be able to adjust the Basic color components separately.

 

My latest assumption is that one should try to take the sample picture (for white balancing) of something monotonously gray without any greens or reds in it. This would allow for white balancing exactly according to the ambient illumination without any interference of colorful items. If the sample picture contains any red or green flora (algae etc), it will slightly interfere with the white balancing adjustment and consequently the almost none-existent red and green colors will have even smaller color saturation in the white-balanced final picture or video. I have to make myself a mental note of this, because previously I was used to having a small amount of red (or my white/pinkish palm) whilst white-balancing my Sony MC50E which is prone to exagerrate reds underwater.

 

Question: is it better to trust the white-balance setting or should one attempt to fine-tune it underwater using the back display and the "WB Shift/Bkt" adjustment? I guess the problem with wysiwyg adjustments is that your eyes become accustomed with the ambient light.

 

Second question: Like Drew stated, the reds might be at e.g. 5% level. Considering that the colors are stored in the avchd video as max 8 bits per channel, would it make sense to oversaturate the (weaker) colors whilst recording and then in-post adjust the possibly oversaturated colors levels down?  This would be "expose to the right" filosophy but applied to colors. 


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#10 Drew

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 12:45 AM

Richard, the custom white balance just gives another 500K drop on the low end, making the range 2000-10000k, vs 2500k-10000k with AWB.  The White Balance Adjustment only gives about 45mireds adjustment each way, so don't expect miracles with the in-camera WB adjustment.  The G/M adjustment does help a bit in green/cyan water.

For example:

alex5D3RAWSAMPLE.jpg

 

This pic of Alex was totally cyan/green @ 17m in turbid water.  As you can see, I managed to recover some of the red but Alex's flesh tones are far from optimal.  Reds are pretty much below 10% at this point.  I did a quick and dirty correction with a preset in Resolve. Here is the original:

 

alex5D3RAWunproc.jpg

 

One thing you'll notice is that exposing to the right has blown even the highlights on Alex's skin and the housing.  This is the problem with using  higher ISO.  The dynamic range drops below 9 stops. @ ISO1600.  So ETTR works better in the wheelhouse  ISO range of 100-1600.  Any higher ISO and dynamic range suffers.  Amazingly the BMCC 2.5 has better DR @ ISO800.


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