The importance of White Balance in the Digital Image Workflow is often overlooked. This is usually because of the lack of understanding of what White Balance is and how it affects the overall quality of your images, not just the color. Proper White Balance can add contrast, sharpness and detail to an image while proper color can make your images stand out from the rest.
Another misconception in the White Balance world is that since you shoot RAW, it’s not important because you can adjust White Balance and Color in Post Processing. Even though it may be true that you can adjust White Balance in Post Processing, but when you make adjustments without the proper tools, all you can do is make a Best Guess on the final White Balance and Color outcome. Best Guess as opposed to what the real or 'True' color is.
If you shoot in JPG, proper White Balance is even more crucial as any incorrect color captured in your image will result in much lower Dynamic Range, Lower Contrast and final un-balanced Color Correction in your images. Or worse, an incorrect in camera White Balance setting can render your images to be un-usable.
I am in the process of setting up a Workshop on White Balance, and X-Rite was kind enough to send me a new ColorChecker Passport. With this in hand and the fact that I always wanted to “Test” a bunch of White Balance products, I will be doing a full review of several products including the following:
In Camera Auto White Balance
In Camera Preset White Balance Settings
In Camera Custom White Balance
Photo White Card
18% Gray Card
RAW Workflow WhiBal G6 Pocket Kit
Expo Imaging ExpoDisc
X-Rite Color Checker Passport
If I can get my hands on a free or borrowed LallyCap, I will include that in the Review Roundup also. I do not own one of these as I find the $29.00 U.S. plus Shipping to be exorbitant for a piece cloth. They also charge a lot extra for shipping to Canada. I may change my mind later if it turns out to work really well, but for now I still will not buy one. (If you own one and don’t use it and would like to help out with this I would love to borrow it.)
I have several members of the Delta Photo Club that want to help out with this project and we will start working on defining our Testing Methodology and our Standard Testing Procedures. We will include testing in Studio with various lighting conditions and light sources and will also test outdoors under various lighting conditions.
Work will be performed on several Color Profiled (Calibrated) computer systems and Color Profiled printers. Final results will be evaluated by all members involved in the project but we will also report on the effectiveness of the products, ease of use, and cost.
If you would like to contribute a product to include in this test, please contact me.
© 2009 François Cleroux
(Version 1.03 - December 2009) - Update Notes: Added the Datacolor SpyderCube
Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.