dpreview says d700 has automatic wb issues? what?

Started Oct 21, 2008 | Discussions thread
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Genix Senior Member • Posts: 1,444
Re: AutoWB hopes and prayers

Tom Christiansen wrote:

michaeladawson wrote:

That being said, auto WB under artificial lighting conditions is NOT
very good. I have a D3. I find that you're far better off just setting
the WB to tungsten if that's the situation you're shooting under.

Now... having said that. Is Nikon's auto WB any worse than anyone
elses? To that I say "I don't know". I shoot in RAW so, as the posters
above said, no big deal.

I just reset in post.

I don't find that to be so. You need something in the scene you want to
be neutral to measure off from, and you often do not have such. Even
when you do, you risk spoiling the mood.

(Last in concern is the risk of noise in a channel with low signal, but
it still may happen at the more pushed ISO-equivalencies, whatever those
really are: we do not know the natural base ISOs of the sensors.)

I find what works best is not the WB measurer in NX, but rather the
Neutral measurer later, preferably multiple applied.

Why? Because:

  • You can specify the opacity, allowing mood to leak through.

  • You can have multiple neutrals due to multiple light sources--

which is COMPLETELY BRILLIANT. It's what your eye/mind/visual-
cortex are doing. Amazing.

But my experience has led me to not use auto WB if I'm shooting
indoors under artificial light.

Or anywhere.

I suspect that the D3 and D700, and probably the D300, are ALL going to
treat white-balance in the same way. They do have different sensors, but
are calibrated (programmed) to behave the same, AFAIK.

Artificial light isn't my problem.

That I know is going to be a problem. When possible, I use a CCF for
incandescent light: blue for tripod work; cyan for hand-held or higher
shutter speeds.

My problem is NATURAL light: Nikon does not do a good job.

I find Nikon's AWB especially poor in scenes either fully or partially
overcast. Worse, the D300's algorithms for this seem inferior to that of
the D200. This surprises and annoys me.

Let me get out the way my "givens" of experience bias.

  • Outside of an old Fuji point-and-shoot 3/6mp SuperCCD, my only

experience is with Nikon bodies. There are D50,D70,D200, and D300 in
specific. I don't count time spent with others as duly studied.

  • I live at 5640 feet (1820 yards, 1660 meters), and I spent most

recreational time there or 2x that or more. This all affects more
than one white-balance issue. I believe my normal sunny WB to be
7200K color-temperature, and that normal recreational time is at 9K
color-temperature. At more than 14 kilofeet or 4.3 km, it's rather
"worse" even than these figures.

There's the bulk of the problem right there. I live at 5200 feet and
having shot almost 12,000 frames on a D300, I will agree with you
that the Auto WB is off by a lot - reason? We are high up enough that
with a thinner atmosphere, much stronger UV presence, and less air to
scatter the blue end of the spectrum - the outside light is very blue
and the sensors love that end of the spectrum.

I doubt that Nikon's software guys took the time to hike Mt Fuji and
study the reaction of the WB and sensor all that much...

I find that a good WB from the camera sits around 5600K so I employ
filtering at times to knock down the "blueness" of the scenery -
especially over 8K-10K feet up (Rocky Mountain, Estest, Peak to Peak)
or just shoot raw and curve adjust as needed.

I've shot Fuji, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Kodak over the years and
no-one does a decent Auto WB yet - so I don't complain all that much.
Where the really funky colors come into play is for scenes indoors with
lots of white on the walls, ceiling, etc, lit by tungsten, flourescent, and
outdoor lighting all at once. It really plays with your head. This is where
I love RAW and NX2 as I can balance things better than I could in the
old film days and move on.

All that said, I find usually feed/find Nikon's auto-whitebalance to
be poor in EVERYTHING but at best two situations alone: full sunlight
at low (for me!) elevations, or with flash.

I don't know why it's so bad in overcast light. I don't know why I
perceive that of the D300 to be worse than that of the D200.

The difference between measured ("preset") white-balance and AWB in
overcast scenes is staggering. You will NEVER use AWB for them EVER ,
once you see what the D300's algorithm does--or probably any other
Nikon body.

I don't buy the "it's just trying to convey the mood" argument. I think
it's hogwash. That's because IF AND ONLY IF you measure from a
neutral, then mirabile visu, you do get what your eyes are seeing.

Because your eyes/brain don't perceive things the same way as the sensor

One of the first exercises I got put through many years ago was to point
out to the Photo Instructor what I thought was "white" in a studio scene
he had lit with different temp bulbs, plus outdoor.

We then were shown that exact scene shot in Kodachorme 25,64, Extachorme
64,100, and PanatomicX.

Each film responded differently to the light and resolved the color based on
what part of the spectrum the emulsion liked the most. For K25, it was
green, for K64 it was red, Ectrachome 64 was blue, while 100 was the
"flattest" but still tended to blue, and PanX lost some of the shading and
resolved it as "White".

The point is, that you can only do some much with a particular sensor, and
IMO Nikon has taken the right approach and gone for consistency in
rendition between cameras, so that you are all shooting with the same "film"
in each camera type.

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