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White balance (ing) underwater?


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#1 Andi Voeltz

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 10:55 AM

Hello everyone!

I'd like to start a count in this threat. Can everyone post a reply, who has used the white balancing control in his housing underwater? So please tell me if you are sucessfully using manual whitebalancing during the dive, try different settings, etc. - and if you use it regulary or just when entering the water. Is it too time consuming, or not? I'd like to figure out the importance of that feature, to see if it is worth investing in additional controls for our housing. Also it is of interest for our database at http://www.digideep.com .

Thanks in advance for your replies, Andi :P
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#2 james

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 11:01 AM

Coolpix5000:

Press a couple of buttons
Point the cam at your slate for about 2 seconds
White balance is manually set.

Does it make a difference? Yes.

Have I used it while diving yet? No.

Cheers
James
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#3 Andi Voeltz

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 11:11 AM

Originally posted by jamesw
Have I used it while diving yet? No.

Hi James,

(nice to read you again) I assume that
you will soon use it with your Coolpix
5000 :P but maybe you can als report
on your earlier use with the Coolpix 990?

Does it make a difference? Yes.

was this a "really good" difference? :D

read you soon .oOo. Andi
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#4 james

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 12:03 PM

Yes, especially in deeper water where it is "darker"

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#5 scubapearce

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 05:22 PM

I am using an Olympus C4040Z in a PT010 housing and I use white balance frequently. I set the autobutton to reset WB when I point the camera at a slate adn press the AE button.

This has proven neccessary when changing depths or photoing in dark areas of the reef. The resultant color is very accurate and the strobe power seems to more effective in bringing out the colors.

BTW, this is consistant with what one has to do with Digital Video as well.

#6 derway

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Posted 11 May 2002 - 09:49 PM

One of the really cool things about shooting in canon's raw mode, is that you can set the white balance, after the fact. You can either use one of the built in pre-sets, like "auto, sunny, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent, flash", or pick a spot in each image, and make it neutral, or you can shoot a white card, and use that as the preset for a batch of images.

I don't think any of it is much help!

If I do any sort of manual white balance adjustment, (to make a white spot on a fish white say), it generally makes the entire image look entirely not underwater at all. All the blue is balanced out, and the photo takes on a bizarre, sort of dry reef in air, look.

I put a couple of cleaner wrasse on the reef shots, with manual white balance, to show you what I mean.

So, for the most part, I've used auto. That way, it gets the blue backgrounds, and the flash fills in the subject colors.

I think it is arguable to use a fixed setting, rather than auto, so it doesn't shift around on you, and make a series of photos look different. Perhaps using sunny or cloudy.

Anyway, my 2 cents...
Don Erway
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#7 Andi Voeltz

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Posted 11 May 2002 - 11:19 PM

Hello Don,

I found you reply as well as the sample shots very comprehensible. You also described "the dry air reef shots" in a perfect way. I have seen similar demo photos on the Ikelite homepage. Before I just guessed that they played with the WB underwater, but now I am shure. For me this results in a simple decession: It is nice for QuickTime Movies if you don't want use a filter... For Photo shots it results in a too artificial picture. One last question: Did you shot with available light only, or man. WB + strobe?

.oOo. Andi :P
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#8 derway

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Posted 12 May 2002 - 02:30 AM

Hmm, I just posted a response, which never showed up. So maybe this will show up twice.

Anyway, those were ambient and strobe.

For the normal WB version of those shots, see here:

http://www.pbase.com/image/1037647

and click next a couple of times.
Don Erway
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#9 james

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Posted 12 May 2002 - 07:36 AM

Don,

I don't get it???? I looked at your manual white balance photos and I think they look very natural. For example, here is a manual whitebalanced pic of cleaner wrasses and a Koli tang:

image

In case Pbase doesn't allow images:

http://minali.image....ing01011226.jpg

Here is the "original" picture that you posted:
image

http://image2.pbase....ing01011226.jpg

OK, so which one looks more natural to you? :P

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#10 mark jones

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Posted 12 May 2002 - 01:10 PM

i've read the above , but when your using an externnal strobe and you set the white balance is the camera still taking into acount the strobe ????

#11 derway

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Posted 12 May 2002 - 06:28 PM

Hi James. Well, to me, they look way far away from what they look like underwater. And I didn't pick shots with further reaches of reef, or open water.

In my experience, doing a manual WB underwater will not leave you with blue water backgrounds.

Mark - if you do manual white balance preset, (i.e. at the time of shooting), then it will take it's balance from the shot, as it sees it, including whatever mix of flash and ambient you give it for that one shot... Which, of course, will not be the same mix in any subsequent shots.

I still claim that shooting daylight, or flash, WB, is probably the right way to go.
Don Erway
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#12 bobjarman

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Posted 15 May 2002 - 05:53 AM

I'm with don on this one. I use custom WB on my d30 when I am shooting indoors mainly.

I find that shooting raw and adjusting curves works the best for me. It seems to me that when I try custom WB outdoors, the lighting will change so quickly in many cases that I still have to fix in ps anyway.

#13 DigiSnap Mark

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Posted 20 May 2002 - 11:44 PM

I've only used auto-WB, and have seen a huge variation in the results, depending on location and lighting (duh). In most shots, there's enough dynamic range to drag it back into balance using post editing, but it would be nice to not have to rely on it, particulalr as it doesn't always work.

Time is so limited though that I don't much like the idea of doing manual WB on each shot... hmmm.

#14 derway

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Posted 21 May 2002 - 12:41 AM

Yours is the first report I've heard of actually seeing the auto-wb shifting around shot to shot.

Which camera are you using, saying that auto-wb is all over the place?

I've been thinking that using a fixed wb, like daylight, might be better, just so you get consistent results.

Eventually, I'd like to be able to get consistent enough results, that I can batch post process everything, and get really good images. Shifting due to auto-wb would be the end of that hope, right there.
Don Erway
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#15 DigiSnap Mark

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Posted 21 May 2002 - 09:19 AM

Actually the WB works, in that it assigns white to 'something' in the image, but there are time when the lighting is poor enough (generally my fault), or there is nothing in the scene that is actualy white, so that it shifts the color of the entire image way off of center, and in those cases, there usually isn't enough dynamic range in the pixel color depth to pull it back.

I don't think there's any problem with the WB on my 950, nor any particular shot to shot variation, but the scenery and lighting vary so strongly from shot to shot that it's sometimes pushed beyond it's capabiities.

#16 derway

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Posted 21 May 2002 - 09:25 AM

Yeah, exactly. I'm not saying any particular camera does it wrong. The scene and lighting can fool auto WB.

That is my argument for using daylight, or using "flash" WB.
Don Erway
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#17 james

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Posted 21 May 2002 - 09:47 AM

If I remember correctly (have to go back and look at my Exif info) all of my shots taken with the 5000 at the Flowergardens were taken using "Speedlite."

Speedlight makes sense especially for shooting macro, and it seemed to work well for wide angle as well.

After reading these posts, I'm thinking hard about NOT using whitebalance preset.

Cheers
James
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#18 tshepherd

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Posted 23 May 2002 - 05:12 PM

I've seen the white balance shift on auto when doing multi-level dives. I used manual white balance on my Sony DSC when diving in Truk a bit. I got the best results on the deeper dives I did, where the light and visibility were limited.

I set it against my slate, which was a bit awkward to actually accomplish, but it seemed to help out. I still ended up having to rebalance some of the photos in Paintshop though.

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#19 DigiSnap Mark

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Posted 23 May 2002 - 09:50 PM

I've got it!

We need to place a small 18% gray card in every scene, and then PS it out after using it to balance the image.

Wow, I see a new market opening up... a trained photographer's assistant fish, to swim into each scene wearing a gray plackard! :P One sold with each camera rig, possibly with a maintainance plan?

[Edited on 5-24-2002 by DigiSnap Mark]

#20 Marc Furth

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Posted 24 May 2002 - 10:42 PM

I shoot mainly in shallow water hear in
Lauderdale by the Sea FL.
"Shore Dive Capital of Florida"
I've housed my Nikon 950, 990 and now
my 5000.
I have tried every type of preset and auto
WB, and UR-PRO type filters.
My conclusion is manual white balancing
is far superior to all other WB methods.

But you must white balance often at deferent depths to maintain the balance.

Using the right type of reflective material for your white card can effect the color.

Example:
I tried just resently to use a PVC type
mirror for my white card.
The back of the mirror was gray so I covered it with a white vinyl material from a lettering company. The type you make letters for boats.
When I used it underwater everything was red in my balance.
I could not make the card look white.

The reason was it was to reflective and the camera saw to much blue in color
and over corrected .

I normally use a ruff matt finish type white
material or sand it ruff. This works much
better and does not over correct.

There is a difference in color when you angle your white card to catch the light
coming down vertically ( Best way I've found ) rather than placing the white
card parallel to the lens on a horizontal plane. To much reflective blue light and it will over correct making it to red.

Secondly most consumer cameras do a very poor job of white balancing in low
light.
But can be manually white balanced in the
same lighting conditions.

Overall I believe a white balance can be
far more effective in optaining a more
realistic color image in natural ambient
light when there is adequate light.

Stay Wet,
Marc
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