It’s easy for photographers to focus on the benefits that modern digital cameras give us. We’re excited by the detail that our high-megapixel cameras can resolve, and we obsess about how much dynamic range we can capture and the shallow depth of field a new prime lens can offer. It’s odd that one of the most important components of a great photo is often ignored: colour.
White balance is critically important to the look of your final photo, which is why I generally try to shoot my photos in Raw. This allows me to fine-tune white balance after the fact, as our cameras are often fooled by different types of light. However, I’m always looking for a way to spend less time in front of a computer, and getting your colour right in camera can certainly streamline things. Also, if you shoot JPEG or video, getting a proper white balance is essential. You have much less ability to fix colour issues in software afterward with those files.
Enter the ExpoDisc 2.0. This small tool is roughly the size of a filter, and it helps you get accurate white balance consistently. Simply attach it to the front of your lens, point your lens at your primary light source and perform a custom white balance. You have now measured the colour of the light, while not letting the colour of your subjects interfere. It’s reassuring know that the colour of my portrait subject’s shirt won’t effect the image’s white balance.
The original ExpoDisc was a useful product, but I found it somewhat expensive, especially with two separate versions being sold. One was for neutral colour and one was a portrait model that produced warmer, more flattering skin tones. The new ExpoDisc 2.0 replaces both models; it is neutral by default and includes a pair of “portrait filters” that will warm up the image. Also, the new ExpoDisc clips onto the front of your lens, whereas the previous model required you to awkwardly hold it front of the lens while setting a manual white balance. Despite the improvements, the new model is also less expensive than the original.
I find that my images are consistently more pleasing with the ExpoDisc attached, requiring no white-balance adjustment. It’s also a great tool to make sure my lights were outputting the right balance. Using the ExpoDisc I was able to determine that one of my LED panels had started drifting towards a magenta cast. A bonus feature is using the ExpoDisc to check for sensor dust. Just pop the disc on your lens, shoot an overexposed image, and you’ll quickly be able to see any dust or debris on your sensor.
The “portrait” filters are a useful add on, and the ExpoDisc 2.0 comes with light and strong warming filters, two of each. I found the +1 warming filter very useful on my Sony A6000, as it tends to have a very cool auto white balance. The +2 warming filter was a little extreme for my taste. I would prefer to have a filter even more subtle than the +1 filter, rather than the quite extreme +2 filters that are included.
After using the new ExpoDisc 2.0 for a week, I found it to be a very valuable piece of gear. At the new reduced price, I think it’s an easy recommendation for any photographer or videographer looking to get great colour consistently without spending any more time in front of the computer. Check them out at expoimaging.com or thecamerastore.com.