White Balance and the ExpoDisc 2.0

Lights have different color temperatures which are measured in Kelvin. Our brains translate the colors so for the most part everything evens out. However, our cameras lack our big sexy human brains, so we have to tell it what to do to achieve correct white balance. (The blue/gold dress debate is a perfect example of poor white balance.) Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t look at a light and determine its Kelvin temperature. Luckily there are a number of ways to beat your camera into submission to obtain correct white balance.

One option is to use your camera settings (Auto, Sunlight, Shade, etc.). While that’s all good and well, it’s like shooting in Auto/Program vs Manual. The camera is in control. Throw in some mixed light, and your camera will be all “WTF, I’ll just do whatever I want”. The result can be inconsistent color from image to image. Post-processing nightmare!  In the studio, I prefer to use an X-Rite ColorChecker. Anytime you’re in consistent lighting it’s easy to pop in a gray card or ColorChecker then simply adjust in post. However, since I photograph a lot of events and parties, I don’t find the ColorChecker very convenient for these fast-paced environments.

After reading about the ease of using the ExpoDisc 2.0, I decided to give it shot (no pun intended). Place the ExpoDisc over the lens, stand where the subject is, point it at the light source, and follow your camera’s instructions to set a custom balance. It’s a bit confusing at first, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. (Video tutorials here.) Before an event begins I try to walk from room to room and set a custom WB for each lighting situation utilizing the different preset options in my camera. Setting the custom WB beforehand won’t work well if there is natural light in your scene since that changes throughout the day.

With that said, I am a bit disappointed with the product. After all the praise I’d heard, I thought I’d have beautiful consistent white balance. However, sometimes the white balance is simply wrong. The whole point is consistency so that’s a major flaw to me. The other issue is getting a “Good” signal from my camera. I carefully follow the directions, but I still get “no Gd” repeatedly. (You can check out this Nikon D800 tutorial to see what I mean.) Without changing anything, I finally get a custom white balance on the 5th or 6th try. At that point I’ve wasted time and I’m frustrated. Sometimes I just end up saying F-it. I’ve watched videos and reread directions but still no luck. My results with the ExpoDisc are simply inconsistent. A smaller issue for me is having to hold the ExpoDisc over the lens and not being able to screw it on. ExpoDisc offers 77mm and 82mm sizes. They recommend purchasing an ExpoDisc to fit your largest lens, so I end up awkwardly holding the disc with one hand and using the other hand to hold the camera and get through the preset process. I think having adapters to fit different lenses could help with this issue. It’s not a dealbreaker though.

TL;DR: In my opinion, the ExpoDisc is easier to use on the fly than a gray card. Event photography moves at a quick pace so I don’t want to waste anytime fumbling with camera settings. Plus I don’t want to ask everyone to post with a gray card. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get dependable results with this product.

Rating: 3/5

If you have any tips or tricks for getting consistent results from the ExpoDisc, I’d love for you to share them in the comment section below.

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