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Advice for camera dummy needed please

Discussion in 'Introductions...' started by Margaret Mallows, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. Hello photographers,

    I'm not here under false pretences but I'm not a photographer, I'm an artist who makes hand made prints which I sell online. The prints are always on white paper, and the camera I have (Sony DSC-WX350 - a point and click digital camera) makes the paper look grey. This camera doesn't have adjustable white balance (Sony were very unhelpful - sent me a link to the relevant help page which said 'white balance cannot be altered in superior auto mode...) I've been told that it under exposes the white, hence the problem. I bought a pair of studio lights hoping this would solve the problem but sadly it didn't. Also bought Adobe photoshop to try and fix it but I've had limited results with it and frankly find it so complicated to use that I'll avoid it like the plague.

    So can anyone suggest a genuinely easy to use camera that either shoots white paper correctly or can have the white balance corrected to take photographs of my artwork? Jessops 'chat' person suggested the Sony DSC-RX100 but also said I should have a one on one hour long tutorial to learn how to adjust the balance - that makes me very nervous it will be too complicated. Do any of you have experience of this camera?

    All replies / guidance / advice will be gratefully appreciated

    Thank you,
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    It's not complicated. A camera is calibrated on the asumption that an average scene has a typical brightness which is equal to the light reflected from a grey surface. If you take a picture of a white surface it will appear grey as will a nearly black surface. The way around this is to over-ride the automatic settings. Most cameras, except the most basic point and shoots, allow adjustment of exposure. It is called exposure compensation and typically has settings between -3 and +3. A positive value gives a more white and a negative value a more dark rendering than the base camera setting. A +3 setting will make a white card appear "white".

    The colour balance is something different and as an artist you will recognise that a white surface will actually reflect the colour of the light falling on it. Our brains will compensate and we will see white just because that's what we expect. A camera is generally not so clever. You will most often see this in colour pictures taken indoors where the lighting is incandescent bulbs - everything looks yellow. If you are taking pictures of prints and lighting them with daylight calibrated bulbs or good daylight you don't need to worry about white balance as much as overall exposure.

    Without reading the manual for the Sony camera I don't know if it allows exposure compensation (or alternatively manual exposure setting) or custom white balance setting but I'd be surprised if it didn't.

    Edit PS. It shouldn't need tuition to set white balance (unlikely to need it with studio lights) or exposure. Plus you can do a lot of minor adjustment in post-processing although that is an extra work step.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
    Snorri likes this.
  3. Hello Pete,

    Thank you for your reply. I know the camera cannot custom the white setting but I'll have a look at whether it will allow exposure compensation. And re your ps I really thought studio lights would do the trick, could have cried when the result was the same as before.
  4. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    PeteRob's advice answers the question, and the 'exposure compensation' is there specifically for this situation because simple 'point and shoot' cameras often aren't designed for users who know how to do adjustments in the way that you would with a more complex camera.

    The Sony web page for this model is here:


    The English language pages of the user manual do not mention exposure compensation or colour balance adjustment. As you say, it is a very basic 'point and shoot'.

    But as well as the user manual, there is an online 'Help Guide' in which I found the answer in the 'shooting functions' section:

    Exposure Comp.
    Based on the exposure value set by auto exposure, you can make the entire image brighter or darker if you adjust [Exposure Comp.] to the plus side or minus side, respectively (exposure compensation). Normally, exposure is set automatically (auto exposure).

    1. MENU → [​IMG] (Camera Settings) → [Exposure Comp.] → desired setting.
      You can adjust the exposure in a range of –2.0 EV to +2.0 EV.

    Try the +2.0 setting for your mostly-white images.

    I'd suggest looking at the Help Guide because there may be more suggestions there to help you. It's certainly worth finding out more about the Camera Settings menu - you can also change the settings for 'White Balance' tell the camera what the light source is (daylight, different type of artificial light, etc.). One of these should get your whites 'right': you will have to experiment, but this won't take long to do. 'Colour temperature' is the technical term which describes the colour balance of the light source in your room, and 'auto white balance' is not foolproof so sometimes you have to tell the camera what the light source is.

    Also, if you are using Windows 10 you should have the basic 'Photos' software that allows image cropping, brightness and colour adjustment. It's worth trying this, but I'd suggest working with a copy of your image (with a different name ) in case you save it after changes and replace the original by mistake. This is much simpler than specialist picture processing software, and may do what you want.
  5. Gezza

    Gezza Well-Known Member

    This is in the camera manual:-
    Capturing a basic white color in [Custom Setup] mode
    In a scene where the ambient light consists of multiple types of light sources, it is recommended to use the custom white balance in order to accurately reproduce the whiteness.

    1. MENU → [​IMG] (Camera Settings) → [White Balance] → [Custom Setup].

    2. Hold the product so that the white area fully covers the AF area located in the center, and then press [​IMG] on the center of the control wheel.
      The calibrated values (Color Temperature and Color Filter) are displayed and registered.
    • The message [Custom WB Error] indicates that the value is higher than the expected range, when the flash is used on a subject with too bright colors in the frame. If you register this value, the [​IMG] indicator turns yellow on the recording information display. You can shoot at this point, but it is recommended that you set the white balance again to get a more accurate white balance value.
  6. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    It is worthwhile having consistent lighting. Once you have the exposure sorted everything should be repeatable. Bon chance!
  8. Chester AP - many thanks for your suggestions too. Will be trying again!
  10. Gezza, many thanks to you too. I'll let all of you know how I get on!
    Snorri likes this.
  11. So just to let you all know how I've got on today. Spent most of the day trying out different lighting / white balance / exposure; the best results have come from a mix of studio lights with natural light, on auto white balance with +1 up to +2 on exposure, on 'P' setting. (programme auto). This was the only relevant setting which allows changing both the white balance and exposure.

    Took over 100 pics, recording what was what for each one. So tomorrow I'll take pictures that I can crop / edit for uploading, and I'm happy the results will be 100% better than I've had previously . It also means I won't need to fork out for another camera.

    Sincere thanks to all of you for the suggestions / help. Shame on Sony for not suggesting the same when I emailed them!
    steveandthedogs likes this.
  12. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I'm pleased that worked out. Getting the exposure right, or equivalently coping when the camera gets it wrong, is probably the one important thing to learn how to do. The alternative to trial and error is to measure the light falling on the subject instead of the light reflected from it, however hand-held light meters are now not so common and I expect quite expensive. I've got one because my film camera doesn't have a built-in meter.
  13. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the feedback.

    Some more suggestions, once you've got the exposure and white balance correct.

    If you intend to upload pictures to a website or attach to emails as 'samples', it's a good idea to resize them to 800 or 1000 pixels on the longer side. I can't see this facility in the Windows 10 'Photos' software, but Windows also has some older software called 'Paint' that will do this. If you try the right click on the image thumbnail and then 'open with' facility in Windows, you should get a pop-up menu of software on your PC that can open it. Again, I suggest copying your original picture to one of a new name first (for example, with an 'A' or '1000' on the end if the name) and working with that. Smaller images this size will be fine for a PC screen, but too small to get a decent print from so less likely to be used without your consent. Most of the images in the AP Gallery pages have been resized like this.

    Also, if you have problems with images being distorted this may be because the camera is not being held directly above the subject, but at a slight angle. I have had to copy some A3 drawings done my my wife, and found that the best arrangement was to have the subject pinned to a board on a vertical wall, and then put the camera on a tripod so that it was level with the centre of the drawing, and pointing directly at it. Also, try to avoid using your camera's zoom lens at its widest setting (where straight lines near the edges of the subject may be curved due to lens distortion) and use a 'less wide' setting if you can move the camera a little further away. It's possible that software in the camera may automatically correct distortions like this - photographing something with vertical and horizontal lines is a good test.

    If you intend to regularly copy prints or drawings, it might be a good idea to look for a cheap secondhand tripod (there is a tripod mount socket underneath the camera body). You won't need a heavy or expensive one because your camera is so small and light. If you try this, use the camera's self-timer facility (it's somewhere in the menus) to fire the shutter to avoid the risk of your finger on the button shaking the camera. Also, if the room lights are not very bright which means that the camera may select a slow shutter speed, this method removes the risk of you not being able to hold the camera still for long enough.

    Later, it would be interesting to see a 'before and after' example of the same subject, using you original method and the method you arrive at after your experimenting.

    Have fun.
    Snorri likes this.

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