Samsung Samsung EX1/TL500 flash white balance problem

Lachbus Lach

New Member
Hello guys,

I'm new here and my TL500 is new to me, too. I was a happy Olympus 5060 user until it broke down on a recent humid Costa Rica vacation. I had been very happy with this Oly for 5 years, but there was no way to fix it any longer...
So after much deliberation between Canon G12 or the Samsung I took the plunge and got the Samsung. Unfortunately the weather here in Chicago has been kind of difficult for outside shooting so I have tried the camera only inside so far! Without the flash, its performance and color balance is great, a clear step up from the old Oly.
However, I can't for my life figure out what happens when I switch to flash. The colors are way too cold, everything looks drab, some yellow wall is just grey. I'll post some examples later, but I wonder - am I just dumb and have something set wrong? I even reset the camera thinking I might have some wrong setting somewhere.
This happens in all modes I tried, and the White Balance setting I choose doesn't seem to have any influence. Since the camera knows it's own flash light temp, it shouldn't, so that's not a surprise. But it appears to choose a setting that doesn't match the flash temp.
I start to wonder if my flash is maybe somehow off. Never heard of it before, but...
Any suggestions?

Greetings from Chicago, Stephan
 

ricardovaste

Regular
Location
UK
You have to keep in mind that the WB of the flash is always constant, whilst the actual CT of the ambient light will be changing all the time, this is why people use flash gels to help balance the differences. I'd never do or both with this on a compact though personally, but 'to each their own'...
 

Lachbus Lach

New Member
Ricardo, thanks for your comment. I never ever heard of flash gels, and I'm not planning to get into modifying the flash color.
The more I think about it the stranger it seems that the camera would not get the colors right with the flash. I know I could fix the colors either in Raw (but I didn't plan to use Raw all that much) or even in the JPG if I accept some loss of detail.
I'm using fill in flash a lot even outside, and I will today try to see if this also results in 'cold' colors.
 

ricardovaste

Regular
Location
UK
I use flash gels often with my SLRs, but my compact (TL500/EX1) is mainly available light, and even then if I do use flash I don't really care if it's a bit off as it's just a snap.

If you want to take control in camera, the best you can do is shoot in manual WB, otherwise just tweak it in raw or you can even just warm the jpeg up a bit in PS.
 

Lachbus Lach

New Member
Some example shots

Attached are three shots I took to illustrate the white balance problems I see.

colors2.jpg
yellowIsGrey.jpg
Scarf3.jpg


The first two of my girlfriend were taken inside with the flash in a room dimly lit by three incandescent light bulbs. BTW, the grey looking wall is really much more greenish/yellowish than the photo shows. Admittedly, the color is really faint.
The third was taken outside, and I attach it to illustrate my girlfriends 'normal' looks. She's a little tanned right now, not exactly dark, but far from the cold, blueish - pink look the flash gives her.
As expected, when using the normal flash, the camera seems to ignore any WB setting I use.
 

Lachbus Lach

New Member
I tried something else now, Slow Synch Flash, which as I hoped adds more ambient light to the mix, and gives much more pleasing results. I suppose that will be my shooting mode if conditions allow.
During shots outside today I tried various combinations of regular and flash-assisted shots. The results were somewhat confusing, and by no means as 'bad' as the pure inside shots. It appears that when using flash, the camera tries to find the subject being lit and, if the subject is far away, boosts ISO. This sometimes leads to overexposure if the background is actually properly lit already.
In the attached photos(excuse the unremarkable subject) you can see this:
In the first photo, ISO 80 gives accurate colors of the house and the sky. The second photo, with flash added, made the camera boost ISO to 160 and leads to washed out colors of the house and the sky.
 

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Location
Laurel, MD
The issue is that you are never going to have super results indoors with any camera using the tiny flash that is built into modern compact cameras. The solution if you are unhappy with the white balance your camera is giving you is to set a custom WB which is very easy on the EX1, or shoot in RAW and correct in post.

The AMOLED screen on camera is pretty accurate with regards to colors so adjust the white balance until you find something you like.

The outdoor shot of your girlfriend looks like it was taken in early morning or late afternoon when the sun was low in the sky and had lots of warm red light you will just not find that with the built in flash on the EX1 as the light it makes has lots of blue in it.

Another idea is to try the scene mode and select the one for portraits. This will also give you a warmer WB than the standard shot
 

Lachbus Lach

New Member
Follow up on the WB issue, and RAW

Guys,
I said I'd write again regarding the White Balance issues when using flash.
After using the camera a lot for inside and outside shooting and comparing the results when using RAW mode, I realized that RAW, even though not as convenient and fast as 'Super Fine JPG', gives a far better image (and all the WB corrections I could dream of).
I really think Samsung went overboard with their noise reduction or whatever causes images to lose a lot of details.
So I'm really shooting RAW all the time now. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect solution, as the camera is pretty slow writing all the data. I got a Class 10 card, but it's still much slower than I'd like. And it doesn't allow continuous shooting at all in RAW mode, nor bracketing for different exposures. I can live with it, and I still think it's a great camera, but I also wish Samsung would work on their firmware:

1. Provide a way to control noise reduction, or at least tone it down enough to preserve enough details to make JPG a better option.
2. Improve RAW write speeds to make RAW a better option, and maybe allow continuous shooting.
3. One more gripe, if I just want to review images on the gorgeous OLED screen, I still have to take the lens cap off. Maybe it would be a good idea to let the camera go into review mode immediately, instead of beeping at me and shutting off.

Stephan
 

FiXXeR

New Member
Location
Ukraine
fill flash white balance problem
I think full manual mode (iso, WB and explosure) might help
RAW mode is recommended in any case, jpeg not good optimized

p.s. sorry for double post
 

Lachbus Lach

New Member
Fixxer,

thanks a lot for the tip about switching to Review (without opening the lens) by just pressing 'Play' instead of the power switch. Great, I had no idea, and it works like a charm.
If you could tell me now that there's a secret setting to manipulate the in-camera 'smoothing' I'll be ecstatic...

Stephan
 

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