Electra Colour Balance Panel Review
You can watch my video review of this accessory on YouTube at the following link:
There is lots of technical information about colour temperature on the Internet and therefore I won't repeat it here. I like to think of things as simply as I can.
The light from the sun at different times of day and under different conditions is different. Natural sunlight is also different to artificial light sources, which again are all different.
Our eyes are very good at compensating naturally. A piece of pure white card tends to look white to us regardless of the light source. This isn't the case with photographic film and digital sensors.
If no compensation is made, images will display some kind of a colour cast under different lighting conditions.
In the old days, processing labs compensated for this in the developing process. Nowadays, with digital cameras we all have to do our own post-processing.
We can adjust for colour casts with software such as Adobe Photoshop, using either our eyes and individual colour preferences, or by trying to find a neutral grey area within the image to use as a reference.
A neutral grey has RGB values that are the same. With Photoshop you can select the Color Sampler Tool and then try to find a patch of colour in the image that is neutral grey. Alternatively, you could carry a grey card and include it in one of your photos to use as a reference in post processing. Grey cards tend to get damaged and need to be replaced fairly often.
If shooting RAW images, you can adjust the white balance with suitable RAW image editing software supplied by the camera manufacturer or a third party.
These methods are perfectly acceptable, but they can be time-consuming and the colour accuracy may not be true to the original scene.
The white balance options in digital cameras are factory set for different lighting conditions, but it is impossible for these settings to be accurate in every situation.
There is another method remaining.
Most digital cameras allow for a custom white balance setting. A white balance reading can be taken at the shooting location before shooting and this setting will be more accurate than the factory pre-programmed setting.
No cast correction is required in post processing if the white balance setting was accurate at the time of shooting. If you are shooting RAW and using RAW image editing software, simply choose the 'As Shot' white balance option.
Special panels have been designed to be used for this purpose. This page is about one of them: the Electra Colour Balance Panel.
Electra Colour Balance Panel
Asia is the home of the cheap knock-off. Very little innovation or radical free thinking comes out of Asia. Products get invented in the Western world and then copied in Asia at a fraction of the price.
Some copied items are useless, while others are very good. They can be as good as the original item abd because labour is so cheap they are very cheap.
When I saw the Electra Colour Balance Panel for the first time I immediately thought of the ExpoDisc. It looks very similar to the ExpoDisc Video Format Filter.
The ExpoDisc costs US$169.95, whereas the Electra version sold in Thailand is equivalent to US$23.77. That's a big difference.
It seems very well made and boasts 'The most modern multi-layer technology'. Three layers are used:
- Granitic-surface light diffuser layer
- Pearl diffuse layer
- Prism technology layer
Using The Panel
I currently use a Canon 40D. Different cameras may have different procedures.
- Set the camera aperture and shutter speed for a correct exposure.
- Set the lens to manual focus. (If auto focus is selected, the camera probably won't be able to focus and this will prevent the shutter from being released.)
- Place the panel in front of the lens and release the shutter. The manual says to aim the camera at your subject. Better results may be obtained by shooting from the subject back to the position of the camera.
- Go into the camera's menu and select Custom WB. Select the image you have just taken, which should simply be a uniform light grey.
- Now select the Custom White Balance option on the camera's White Balance selection.
The following pairs of images were taken using a tripod. No colour correction at all was performed in post processing. The images are as they came out of the camera, along with some very minor sharpening applied in post processing.
RAW format was used and the only difference between each photo was the white balance setting. The 'As Shot' option was selected in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).
The image you see at first uses the camera's Auto White Balance (AWB) option. If you mouse over the image it will be replaced with an image using the Custom White Balance setting.
Canon 40D plus Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro
Canon 40D plus Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5
The Auto White Balance (AWB) setting in digital cameras I have owned does a pretty good job most of the time. If not, colour balance can be changed fairly easily in post processing, especially if you shoot in the RAW format.
I shot digital images for eight years before owning a colour balance panel and managed to get colours that I liked without setting my white balance at the time of shooting.
If accuracy is important and you don't believe your eyes or your monitor, it would be a good thing to make sure that the camera white balance setting is set accurately at the time of shooting. The panel may also come in useful if you are shooting in conditions with strange lighting.
I can't quite understand a well known Internet commentator who says what a good thing the ExpoDisc is, but then winds up the saturation levels on his cameras as far as they will go. If the function of the ExpoDisc is to get accurate colours, then playing around with increased saturation will just defeat the objective.
How does it compare to the original ExpoDisc? I don't know because I don't own an original ExpoDisc and I'm not likely to own own because of the high prices.
Other Review Pages You May Be Interested In
Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.
One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. Each link on the right will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. Agoda hotel rates are usually always the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people. Here is some analysis I did regarding booking hotels in Southeast Asia.
Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.
If you want to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined.
Images of Thailand