Problems with color shift (White Balance) on Nikon D800

Started Jan 19, 2013 | Discussions thread
Luke Kaven Veteran Member • Posts: 5,705
Re: Problems with color shift (White Balance) on Nikon D800

ronste wrote:

[...]Maybe if I had use the "Auto" White Balance would I not have seen this problem,

The conclusion must be that the arena light where I shoot change rapidly all the time (as you explain), and you cannot use a preset white balance for this type of location.
Because of this is it necessarily to use RAW.
Since this was my first shoot in arena light with the D800 I was surprised when I saw the first picture. I was afraid that the problem was D800, but the problem seems to be me that never had heard of the change of color temperature in an arena.
So today I have learned something new.

With some lights, such as florescent lights or sodium lights, due to the physics of how the light is produced, the resulting color temperature is a complex function of many different kinds of materials in a variety of different states.

With these complex lights, you do not get a simple "Kelvin" spectrum, derived from the spectral characteristics of simple matter called "black bodies".  The Sun is basically a black body radiator at 5750K and with a smooth curve, it can be color balanced to give a full spectrum using a linear function.  But these newer lights, most of them, cannot be white balanced at all.

Compare the color spectrum of an incandescent lamp with a florescent lamp in the image linked below.  Note the huge spikes added by the mercury.  One of those spikes is green, ghastly green.  Creating a white balance for this is hard.  You need a full color profile (e.g., QPcard) to get anything even approximate, and it will never be right.

When you buy bulbs from now on for photography, you are interested in what is called the CRI, or Color Rendering Index.  CRI = 100 is the sun.  You want CRI >= 93.  Most consumer bulbs are much much worse.

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