Have you ever tried to get good white balance from your camera, but the consistency was never good? I am sure that you tried some of those preset balance settings, but they did not always work as well as you expected them to. This is where the ExpoDisc comes in.
Sure you can always use a light meter to get your correct readings. Once you have learned how to use it, you can get very accurate readings. The downside is that it takes time to learn and time to set up to get everything correct. Also you don't always have time to get everything just right. With ExpoDisc, getting the proper exposure is as easy as snapping on the disc.
Just what is an ExpoDisc? Invented by George A. Wallace, the original ExpoDisc was an incident exposure and printing tool for use with the 35mm SLR cameras. Generally it comes as a disc although there is square/rectangular version available for large lenses and video mattebox systems. The disc snaps onto the lens of your camera and it allows you then use the camera to set a proper custom white balance that is accurate.
By using the ExpoDisc, you are able to eliminate the need, or certainly reduce the amount of post-processing color adjustment work that needs to be done to your RAW and/or JPEG files. It is much easier to use than a light meter or gray, white, or color calibration cards.
You use the ExpoDisc by snapping it over your camera lens. The ExpoDisc comes in different sizes for different lenses (available sizes are listed at the end of this article). If you have a lot of lenses of differing sizes, get one for the largest size and you can hold it over the smaller lenses when calibrating them.
Since the specific steps are different for each camera, I will just give an overview of the steps to calibrate. You first place the ExpoDisc over the lens. You then take a picture of the light source. For the image of the pony below, I was outside and so I took a shot of the sky behind me, the sun being the source of the light. If you were doing a portrait you would take it of the lighting system. For strobe flash, you would need to trigger your flash system. This shot to look at is nothing more than a gray image, like taking a shot of a gray card, for your camera to use to create a custom white balance.
Once you have your white balance shot, you need to set that image in your specific camera as the custom balance. Don't worry, this is very easy and the folks at ExpoImaging have supplied guides on disk to step you through this. Once complete, you change your camera to use the custom balance setting; this is as easy as setting the white balance for sunlight, or shadow modes on your camera. You can then remove the ExpoDisc and start shooting. As long as the lighting conditions stay the same, your white balance should be good as well.
For my example below, the first picture I shot, the one on the left was taken in auto-white balance setting on my camera. You can see the colors are washed out. The red is a salmon color and the green is creamy. The one on the right was done using the ExpoDisc. You can see the difference in the richness of color and vibrancy. Other than cropping, titling, and sizing, no other enhancement was done to the photos.
There are two types of ExpoDisc available. First is the Neutral filter which works by passing equal amounts of red, green, and blue light through to the camera's sensor. This allows you to set balanced color. The second version is the Portrait filter. This is designed for portrait photographers and it enhances for more healthy skin tones. This filter first neutralizes, then enhances with a warming effect.
Personally, I found the ExpoDisc was very easy to use and provided excellent results. Considering that a light meter can cost you several hundreds of dollars, starting at $69.99 USD, the ExpoDisc is incredibly affordable, and is usually available for much less if you shop around. I highly recommend the ExpoDisc.
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