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RAW and white balance

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Question for clarification: If I'm shooting in RAW, do white balancing under water make a difference? I mean, if you can color correct in post production, is there an advantage? My guess is yes, that post production produces more noise...

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No. There is no advantage to doing a manual white balance. However, if you picture is underexposed and you fix it in RAW it will add noise because the SW will essentially increase the ISO.

 

Tom

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Question for clarification: If I'm shooting in RAW, do white balancing under water make a difference? I mean, if you can color correct in post production, is there an advantage? My guess is yes, that post production produces more noise...

 

White balancing doesn't affect the RAW files that a camera records. If you're only shooting in RAW, and not RAW+JPEG, manual white balancing under water is a waste of time.

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No. There is no advantage to doing a manual white balance. However, if you picture is underexposed and you fix it in RAW it will add noise because the SW will essentially increase the ISO.

 

Tom

 

Matt,

 

RAW rocks for this reason-I love the way I can adjust white balance on a PC after a shoot.

Mind you- part of me still like to get it right in camera at the time of shot.

Think Martin Edge recommends 'Cloudy' setting for underwater shoots.

 

Tom/Anyone,

Does image grain increase with saturation/brightness/darkness/vibrance settings on RAW?

 

Best

Dam

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Question for clarification: If I'm shooting in RAW, do white balancing under water make a difference? I mean, if you can color correct in post production, is there an advantage?

 

Generally speaking, I would say that you should not bother to do white balancing underwater. The white balance changes with depth and it would really increase task loading, so to speak, to continually do manual white balancing throughout the dive. That being said, I can see where it could be useful in a few situations. One of those situations was what I experienced while diving in Grand Cayman last week while at Alex Mustard's UW Photography Workshop. We were at Stingray City shooting the sting rays and Alex instructed us to do a manual white balance for that shoot. We were standing in very shallow water which was no more than waist or chest deep water. On my D300, I used the PRE setting to do this, which manually sets the white balance. Alex felt it was best to do a manual white balance setting in the specific situation in which we were shooting.

 

Ellen

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WB (as any other image setting) matters only if you´re doing jpeg processing to the photo. RAW gets unaffected. Any other setting (WB, gamma, sharpening, etc.) is done at the post stage.

As the sensor is daylight balanced, is perhaps a good idea to have a warm filter attached for UW shooting? So you don´t need to add so much red in post...

The only setting that will show in a RAW image is ISO setting (at least in my Nikon). Additional gain is applied to the sensor signal, wich increases noise when you set a higher ISO.

 

...And of course you have to hit your exposure right...

 

Best regards

Alejandro

Edited by Ale Reynoso

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WB (as any other image setting) matters only if you´re doing jpeg processing to the photo. RAW gets unaffected. Any other setting (WB, gamma, sharpening, etc.) is done at the post stage.

As the sensor is daylight balanced, is perhaps a good idea to have a warm filter attached for UW shooting? So you don´t need to add so much red in post...

The only setting that will show in a RAW image is ISO setting (at least in my Nikon). Additional gain is applied to the sensor signal, wich increases noise when you set a higher ISO.

 

...And of course you have to hit your exposure right...

 

Best regards

Alejandro

 

 

Although you can certainly set white balance in Post for a RAW photograph, this assumes you have something in the photo to use as a reference point; If there is some sand or white coral, you can do a fairly decent job. I had a situation shooting Manta Rays from above and to the right and couldn't get a good neutral spot in my photo. Tough to white balance that one for sure. Gray scuba tanks are "okay", but not ideal. You can white balance on your hand and that does a pretty decent job (that's an Alex Mustard tip from his Magic Filter video), probably better than a scuba tank. My wife has white fins, so I try to ensure to have her in at least one photo for every depth and reef position for Post processing. She's a good sport :)

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I'm not sure if this white-balancing business isn't over-rated. Why take an 18 percent gray card down with you (or a pair of white fins for that matter)? It's not a product shot that anyone is going to compare the original subject with.

I do all my adjustment of the RAW file by eye so that I get a pleasing-looking result. To those that argue that my pictures don't look real I say, I take white light down with me in the form of strobes so what is reality anyway? If it looks right to me, it is right. It's been working for artists since before the days of Leonardo da Vinci so why not now? Adjust your RAW files so they look good - that's all!

Edited by John Bantin

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Now that's brought some sense to the WB debate! Thanks John...

 

Photography is, after all, a subjective art. It always has been with (pre-digital) exponents selecting film emulsions and film speed and darkroom alchemy to manipulate (?) their images. So what's different about tweaking the WB slider in Camera RAW?

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Not sure if this makes sense or not, but for me ... I turn OFF auto WB on the camra and set it to a fixed value like flash, sun, cloudy day, etc. And use that value for the entire dive. Why so that as I post process I determine the WB balance for 1 pic and then apply it across other similiar shots. With the WB not changing as shot the pics should become somewhat relative to each other.

 

Also to get me in the ball park at the beginning of the dive will take a shot of a grey card so I have a test point to start my adjustments from.

 

Cheers

BC

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I do all my adjustment of the RAW file by eye so that I get a pleasing-looking result.

 

I could not agree more.

 

Ellen

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I'm not sure if this white-balancing business isn't over-rated. Why take an 18 percent gray card down with you (or a pair of white fins for that matter)? It's not a product shot that anyone is going to compare the original subject with.

I do all my adjustment of the RAW file by eye so that I get a pleasing-looking result. To those that argue that my pictures don't look real I say, I take white light down with me in the form of strobes so what is reality anyway? If it looks right to me, it is right. It's been working for artists since before the days of Leonardo da Vinci so why not now? Adjust your RAW files so they look good - that's all!

 

John, I agree with you saying it's whatever looks good to you, I'm just saying it's *easier* to get the colors looking the way you want if you have a neutral gray or white reference object to point that little eye-dropper thingie at. Maybe you are better than I am in Lightroom, I'll use all the help from the built-in whizbang stuff I can get :)

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If you're really serious about WB underwater, then you need to be doing continual adjustment every time there is a change in ambient light conditions. This means change in depth, direction of sunlight, clouds/ no clouds, change in visibility, etc. This can turn into a lot of work unless you're diving in a non-changing environment (not too likely). It's much easier to set WB to Auto & fine turn in Photoshop or whatever you're using for post. I'd much rather spend the majority of my time finding & shooting subjects than adjusting WB every few minutes.

Edited by jcclink

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If you're really serious about WB underwater, then you need to be doing continual adjustment every time there is a change in ambient light conditions. This means change in depth, direction of sunlight, clouds/ no clouds, change in visibility, etc. This can turn into a lot of work unless you're diving in a non-changing environment (not too likely). It's much easier to set WB to Auto & fine turn in Photoshop or whatever you're using for post. I'd much rather spend the majority of my time finding & shooting subjects than adjusting WB every few minutes.

 

There seems to be some confusion here between the need to white-balance with RAW files and with in-camera processing of jpegs.

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Changing white balance will have a (small) effect on exposure. However, how on earth do you define with absolute precision what it is that you want to be white to ensure an equally precise exposure? For the shifts involved its far more efficient use of time to use auto white balance and adjust during raw conversion later.

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Question for clarification: If I'm shooting in RAW, do white balancing under water make a difference? I mean, if you can color correct in post production, is there an advantage? My guess is yes, that post production produces more noise...

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I agree with john .. you only need to make things look right that people know.. the no1 thing people know is skin tone that's something that you cant change (this is the rule i use above water).. underwater maybe people expect skin colour to look a little different and they generally have no idea about everything else underwater so you can make it look what ever you thing looks "good" and it wont distract the viewer.

Having said that manual set of WB can help give you at least a starting point so you are only tweaking the WB small amounts on the PC and not starting from scratch for me that's the only advantage. But it will give you heaps more to do depending on your dive profile.. you will need to set the white balance at least every 1m of depth change.

 

I agree with john .. you only need to make things look right that people know.. the no1 thing people know is skin tone that's something that you cant change (this is the rule i use above water).. underwater maybe people expect skin colour to look a little different and they generally have no idea about everything else underwater so you can make it look what ever you thing looks "good" and it wont distract the viewer.

Having said that manual set of WB can help give you at least a starting point so you are only tweaking the WB small amounts on the PC and not starting from scratch for me that's the only advantage. But it will give you heaps more to do depending on your dive profile.. you will need to set the white balance at least every 1m of depth change.

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Which is better? WB done in the RAW converter. Printed size A1 for the walls of London International Dive Show. One of 25 pictures. I guess Alex saw them round the VIP lounge. Ask him if they were noisy.

post-4197-1270114085.jpg

post-4197-1270114094.jpg

Edited by John Bantin

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Does anyone use WhiBal cards underwater to assist in color correction in Photoshop?

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All setting the white balance will do for RAW is set the "as Shot" setting.

 

It is true that the dropper doesn't always work but a little practice with the slider will get it looking "right" as John says. "Right", of course, is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Shooting Raw, one needs to care about exposure. I tend to care more what the histogram says than the preview.

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This what I do shot RAW of course I do not bother with jpgs. I use WB AUTO then I use the white balance tool on a neutral gray portion of image. Well this could be a be subjective to your interpretation. It works fine. All the histrograms RGB Should be align on a closer to Gaussian bell curve. Ideal or closer. I am new to serious UW Photography but check my work http://tbarros.zenfolio.com

Good Luck

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Which is better? WB done in the RAW converter. Printed size A1 for the walls of London International Dive Show. One of 25 pictures. I guess Alex saw them round the VIP lounge. Ask him if they were noisy.

 

 

To me personally the one on the left looks better.

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Adobe Camera RAW has progressed steadily. My understanding is that you need the latest version (4.0.2.1), CS5, to get the latest camera RAW

 

Setting the white balance with only works some of the time. It is often necessary to set exposure, recovery, clarity, vibrance and saturation before setting the final white balance. I usually start with a correct exposure, then use the dropper tool to set a preliminary white balance, then adjust the above settings, changing the exposure, recovery and black sliders as I adjust clarity, vibrance and saturation. I then use the white balance sliders. It sounds like a lot of work but only takes a few miniutes.

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Just FYI

 

If you shoot RAW and use your back screen to visually confirm your photos the image on the back will use the WB setting as it's a representative JPG image and not a RAW image you're looking at.

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Generally I check the histogram on the back and not the actual picture. In addition I find that I can take another 3-4 shots in the time i can magnify the back image to check the sharpness of the image so I don't bother magnifying the image either.

 

Using a 105 I generally hunt at F/11 to f/13 1/125 to 1/250, both strobes level to the camera extended about 8-10" away from the housing. This allows me to take a decent shot of a medium sized fish from 24-36" away. For smaller stuff I try to start shooting at 18" without changing anything preferring to get the subject in multiple positions as opposed to changing settings. As I get to about 12" I will increase the F/stop towards f/22 and try to swim around the subject to get the best viewing angel. If, at 12" the subject is properly magnified ONLY then will I move the focus point from center and ONLY then will I start repositioning strobes to get superior lighting angles. If the subject is over exposed in the histogram I simply spread the strobes farther out. If it is underexposed I move them in.

 

Only after all this, if the subject is still around, do I stop and carefully setup the shot and possibly get closer to maximum magnification (about 7")

 

Now my process is based on a DSLR with essentially zero shutter lag. That gives the ability to get the subject in the exact right pose. I can also take many pictures very quickly. When I had a P&S I used a different process

 

My logic is that I have a repeatable process that I try to use every time clicking off many shots for later analysis and processing. The process has become second nature to me. I think that most novices should think out a process that fits their ability and equipment. RAW allows sufficient manipulation of exposure and color control that one should focus on viewing angel, focus, background, etc as opposed to those things that can be manipulated in RAW.

 

Tom

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