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ExpoDisc: White Balance for Digital Cameras

By John Virata

Setting the white balance in your camera often involves pointing your lens at a white or gray card or other similarly colored structure and setting white balance from there. Oftentimes you would achieve questionable white balance at best, while other times your white balance is right on. It can be a hassle to get consistent results with the varying methods out there. A company called ExpoDisc has developed a device to help you set the white balance on your digital camera with a white balance filter that also acts as a lens cap.

Called the ExpoDisc, the device, which is the offspring of a similar device for traditional 35mm film cameras that was created in the early 1980s, is a combination of diffusion and color correction filters built into one product. When you shoot a frame of your subject with the ExpoDisc attached to the lens, it reads the filter as a neutral gray at more or less 18 percent. You then set your white balance, remove the ExpoDisc, and shoot the subject. The ExpoDisc is made of neutral plastic discs and compensation filters and is designed to replace the lens cap. It pops into the lens and includes a leash that you attach to your camera just like that of a lens cap so you can't lose it easily.


So How does it work?
Using the Incident light method
With the ExpoDisc attached and your camera set to manual settings, you stand next to the subject that you are going to shoot, point the camera toward the dominant light source, and adjust shutter speed and f/stop to attain the exposure you are shooting for through the lens metering. You then choose between JPEG or camera RAW. For JPEG push the camera's white balance button (On the Canon Digital Rebel, the button is the WB down arrow located to the right of the LCD panel. You then snap a shot and select it to set your white balance. For RAW, with your camera in manual mode, snap a shot with the ExpoDisc attached to get a gray frame image that will document your subject's lighting condition. You can then apply that captured image information later in Photoshop to all the images that you shoot in the same lighting conditions.

Using the Reflective Light Method
Attach the ExpoDisc to you lens. In manual focus, manual mode, aim toward the subject that you will shoot. Take a picture to record the gray frame and save it to set the white balance, remove the ExpoDisc and shoot your subject.

Click image for full view

In the images above, the image to the left was composed after setting the white Balance with the ExpoDisc using the reflective method. The image to the right was composed without the benefit of setting the White Balance using the ExpoDisc. In all, setting the white balance with the ExpoDisc and composing the shots took less than five minutes.

First Impressions
The ExpoDisc is a must have tool in your photo bag if you wish to spend more time shooting great photographs and less time tweaking photos in your image editor. You no longer have to fumble with cards to achieve perfect white balance. The ExpoDisc makes it so easy to set your camera's white balance, and it doubles as a lens cap, so you can have it with you every time you are shooting photographs with your camera. The ExpoDisc ranges in price from $79.95 for the 49mm unit, to $159.95 for the 182mm unit. The unit I tested, which attached to the lens that came standard with the Canon Digital Rebel, the 58mm Pro ExpoDisc unit, is priced at $99.95. For more information, visit www.expodisc.com.


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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com
Related Keywords:ExpoDisc, White Balance, digital photography, digital cameras, White balance tools

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