Why do my indoor photos have a yellow effect/look

Started Jul 9, 2008 | Discussions
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newboy71 New Member • Posts: 6
Why do my indoor photos have a yellow effect/look

As others, I am a newbie to this, and have I think a simpe question.

Why when taking photos indoors or in low light conditions do the pictures have a yellow look/effect. If it helps I am using Cannon 400D 15-55 lens normally set on 3.5AP and auto white balance 100-400ISO

Comments and feedback would be great?

Thanks

James

Yellonet Senior Member • Posts: 1,253
Re: Why do my indoor photos have a yellow effect/look

Because the auto white balance is easily fooled, try some of the other white balance settings.

ADunham Regular Member • Posts: 135
Re: Why do my indoor photos have a yellow effect/look

Agreeing with previous poster, and I'd add that in some situations even the specific white balance choices don't work as well as you might like. Try shooting in RAW or RAW+JPG and then mess about with the white balance in DPP to see the difference. It's one of the things that prompted me to start shooting everything in RAW. Don't have to worry about whether or not I've correctly set the white balance or not!

dhphoto Contributing Member • Posts: 617
Re: Why do my indoor photos have a yellow effect/look
1

Because the lighting indoors (if it's normal bulbs) is yellow/orange compared to daylight (which is much bluer)

Auto white balance often doesn't deal with this well, by far the best way to ahcieve natural colour is to set a custom white balance, which is quick and easy and in the manual. You just take a picture of something white or mid grey, tell the camera to use that as the white balance and away you go.

It may be some of the presets will get you closer but a custom balance is comfortably the best

David

Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,237
See p20 of the 400D review

newboy71 wrote:

Why when taking photos indoors or in low light conditions do the
pictures have a yellow look/effect.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos400d/page20.asp
Under "Artificial light White Balance".

I suspect the issue is if AWB worked perfectly for incandescent lighting, it would fail miserably for other types of lighting. In particular sunsets and low sun angles are just a little higher color temp (e.g. 3500k) and people expect their golden hour photos to be "golden". Most recent cameras are similar, even the Nikon D3:

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Erik

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newboy71 OP New Member • Posts: 6
Thanks for your comments

Hey,

Thanks for the great and quick responses, I'll try it out later.

Cheers

James

feraldruid Regular Member • Posts: 438
Re: Why do my indoor photos have a yellow effect/look

I agree with using custom wb. Like the OP, I was quite surprised at how badly auto WB was indoors. Using another wb helped a lot, but truly, learning to use custom will be much better in the long run. Once I did that, I loved the results.

Even with our older cameras, I had to use custom when shooting in our school auditorium, because their colors are awful.

Funny thing is, our eyes trick us by adapting to the color, so the camera is actually capturing the light correctly.

BTW, I'm finding it worthwhile to mess with different metering (partial, spot) when shooting under demanding light conditions. Slightly different, but related, and just thought I'd recommend doing that as well, fwiw.

jkmacie Forum Member • Posts: 96
Re: Why do my indoor photos have a yellow effect/look

Agree with the above. AWB is fine outdoors. Indoors with flash is a different story altogher...
--
What I see I shoot.

nyer82
nyer82 Senior Member • Posts: 1,613
why does auto wb suck so bad?

Its really THAT bad. I shoot in raw now, so I dont have to deal with it but even a cheap sony digicam from 4 years ago will do better. Why cant canon just fix this.

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Myer Senior Member • Posts: 2,774
You can correct in PS - NT

No Text.

DrSid Regular Member • Posts: 331
Re: Thanks for your comments

It's really worth learning to use custom WB soon. I do it in like 20% of the shots and and I'm thinking about increasing that ratio. Only problem is to have white object with you.

Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,237
Re: why does auto wb suck so bad?

nyer82 wrote:

Why cant canon just fix this.

It's not just Canon. Look at the reviews for:

Pentax K20D:

Olympus E420:

Sony A350:

Nikon D60:

Now if none of the DSLR makers are doing a good job on this, do you think there just might be a reason?

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nyer82
nyer82 Senior Member • Posts: 1,613
Re: why does auto wb suck so bad?

but how come the point and shoot cameras excl. canon's actually do it better? Any ideas?

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Tom Meeks Senior Member • Posts: 2,942
Re: Why do my indoor photos have a yellow effect/look

Here is a blog entry that I wrote some time ago to explain the effect that ambiant lighting has on a photo.

http://photovideotips.blogspot.com/2006/01/videophoto-ambient-light-impact.html

The purpose of a camera is simply to capture light... which is the same purpose for which our eyes where created. The difference between our eyes and a camera's sensor is that God also provided us with a brain that instantly processes the information from the eye, integrates it and then composes a final light-balanced image almost instantly. We digital camera users have to 'post-process' our images if we want to have the best rendition of the light that our eyes saw at the moment the picture was snapped.

It doesn't matter whether you have a point & shoot that costs less than $100 or a professional SLR that costs $2oK+. Knowing about light can made a huge difference in what you get out of your camera and how hard you have to work at post-processing your camera's original images.

The 'COLOR' of Light....

Light is really the same thing as heat. If you heat up a piece of iron, it begins to glow. At first it glows orange or reddish and as you heat it to various temperatures it turns bluish and whiter. The color it will be is predictable based on the temperature it is heated. This range is mesaured in Kelvin Degrees. A regular light bulb is heated to 3200 degrees kelvin and produces a lightly red light with very little blue. The flash in your camera is the same color as a piece of iron heated to between 5500 and 6500 degrees. It has a blue tint to it.

Since both our eyes and a camera's sensor see color as a combination of three different colors... red, green and blue, we can represent any light source with these values in a bar graph. I'll uses 'X's for the graph.

A household incandescent bulb looks like this:

R: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
G: XXXX
B: XX

Bright Sunlight or 'Full-Spectrum' bulbs look like this:

R: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
G: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
B: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The color mix of 'Cool White' Flourescent Bulbs might look like this:

R: XXXXX
G: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
B: XXX

White in a photograph needs to be:

R: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
G: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
B: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

When we talk about a photo having a 'color cast' it simply means that the lighting was such that the photo took on the tint of the most prominent light source. Those taken under incandescent lighting will have an orange color cast and those taken under 'Cool White' will have a green color cast.

So, when we 'COLOR CORRECT' our photos we simply boost the primary colors that are low so that they match the highest primary color value. A photo taken under incandescent light must have the blue and gree boosted to get a true white. And, a photo taken under 'Cool White' flourescent must have the red and blue channels boosted to create a true white.

Check out this video I created for another group.

http://s101.photobucket.com/albums/m47/TMeeks/Photo%20Tips/?action=view¤t=colorcast.flv

Here is the Purposely Pitiful photo I used in the video

newboy71 wrote:

As others, I am a newbie to this, and have I think a simpe question.

Why when taking photos indoors or in low light conditions do the
pictures have a yellow look/effect. If it helps I am using Cannon
400D 15-55 lens normally set on 3.5AP and auto white balance
100-400ISO

Comments and feedback would be great?

Thanks

James

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Athegn Senior Member • Posts: 1,185
It is not just still cameras.

On Tuesday I was in Southwark Cathedral, London, where a unit were setting up video cameras for a lecture on architecture.

I was looking at the screen with a companion who asked what was the view? When I pointed out what the view was she said "that can't be right because the lights in the alcoves are yellow not green!" I also noticed that the stonework was blueish, not the warm colour it should be.

I went to the chap setting up the cameras and saw that the video cameras were Canon's. I asked about the green lights and he said that he has the cameras on auto white balance. He did some adjustments but the lights remained green and the stonework cool. I could not stay any longer to see if he resolved the problem.

There was a real lighting mixture. Mainly daylight through the windows, some stained glass, a various artificial lights. I think if I was setting up for an architectural lecture I would have concentrated on the stonework colour.

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Christakis Senior Member • Posts: 1,353
Re: Why do my indoor photos have a yellow effect/look

ADunham wrote:

Try shooting in RAW or RAW+JPG and then mess about with
the white balance in DPP to see the difference. It's one of the
things that prompted me to start shooting everything in RAW. Don't
have to worry about whether or not I've correctly set the white
balance or not!

I dont get why so many people think the white balance can ONLY be fixed in RAW. You can adjust the WB of jpgs just as well... Here's an example of WB set on JPGs files. (Original picture in first post of thread)

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1031&message=28507650

ilyarom Regular Member • Posts: 188
Re: Why do my indoor photos have a yellow effect/look

Canon does not have AWB implemented at all. At least bulb light is appear as it comes from sensor - without any processing. Selecting incandesced setting for bulb lamp will improve a little but will not fix the problem. If you have bulb lamps at home, you can shoot white paper and select this picture as a reference for Custom WB, images will look very natural. Regarding fluorescent lamps - their spectrum is not continuous - it has discret lines and nothing will help. I shoot in Raw, then set color temperature to 2800 - 3200 K and then reject yellow in photoshop - I find this is the only solution to fix colors at fuorescent light.

Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,237
P&S do better?

nyer82 wrote:

but how come the point and shoot cameras excl. canon's actually do it
better?

They do? Going down the recent review list:

Fuji S100fs:

Panasonic DMZ-T5:

Sony DCS-H10:

Ricoh R8:

Canon SD1100IS:

My theory is if they perfectly correct tungsten AWB, they will break other scenes and people mostly accept warm indoor shots (e.g.,what you got with film). Like auto-anything it's a compromise.

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Erik

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QuidProQuo Forum Member • Posts: 82
Re: Why do my indoor photos have a yellow effect/look

Thank you for this topic.

After this I finaly tried Custom WB in my 400D and I love the results.

nyer82
nyer82 Senior Member • Posts: 1,613
Re: P&S do better?

Well it seems like the P&S cameras (except Canon's) do it better. ESPECIALLY the tz5

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