White balance in the Olympus C-5050Z

My other pages related to the Olympus C-5050Z, C-5060WZ, and X-7070WZ

Here are some examples of how the white balance feature works in the Olympus C-5050Z camera. Only reduced-size samples are shown, with some re-sharpening applied after size reduction. All pictures were taken in aperture priority mode, with compensation of +0.3EV, at ISO 64.

Daylight (open shade)

This scene was lighted by a big, panoramic window about five feet away from the subject, facing an almost clear sky away from the Sun. Exposure was 1/13s at F/5.6.

The white balance setting by reference ("one touch" in the Olympus terminology) was established by pointing the camera at the empty white background.

White balance: Auto White balance: Daylight shade preset
White balance: Reference White balance: Sunny

From where I stand, setting white balance by reference gives best results, with the open shade preset being second (somewhat too cold), and auto — a close third. The "sunny" preset is included only for comparison, as I wouldn't even consider using it under these conditions.

Incandescent light

This scene was lighted with regular light bulbs: one 100W and one 75W, both in white paper shades; hardly a studio equipment. The pictures exposed at 1/4s and F/5.0, as described above.

White balance: Auto White balance: Incandescent preset
White balance: Reference ("one touch") White balance: Sunny

Again, the whites are most neutral when the white balance is set by reference; the image is hard to tell apart from the analogous sample shot at daylight, above. If you find the colors too cold here, you can adjust the balance by just one notch. The "Auto" result can also be considered acceptable.

To show you how reddish the bulb light really is, and by how much the camera has to shift the colors, I included the same scene, shot at the "sunny" setting.

Fluorescent light (office fixtures)

Here the source of light was the fluorescent light (the long, "daylight" tubes) at my office. The fluorescent light is quite tough on color photography, because not only the hue is shifted, but also the light spectrum may be poor in some wavelengths.

Once again, the "sunny" preset has been included only to show how green the fluorescent light really is.

The exposure was 1/3s at F/5.6, ISO 64.

Of four fluorescent presets available on the C-5050Z, the #3 has been chosen, as it is most suitable for this kind of tubes (4000°K). Just in case, I have tried the three other fluorescent presets (not shown here), and, indeed, they provide much more off-balance results, not even worth looking at.

White balance: Auto White balance: Fluorescent #3
White balance: Reference White balance: Sunny

Having read so much about how difficult it is to correct the white balance for the typical fluorescent light, I was surprised with these results: all three attempts (reference, auto, and #3 preset) resulted in quite nicely balanced images, while under incandescent or open shade light the reference setting was clearly better than auto or the presets. Note, this is not a quantitative test, just a casual comparison, but still.

My other pages related to the Olympus C-5050Z, C-5060WZ, and X-7070WZ

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Posted 2003/01/24 Copyright © 2003 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak