Before you can get predictable results from your camera, you have to figure out its limitations.
So I brought my new Canon Powershot G11 to an indoor gym where I play badminton on Sunday mornings.
The exposure meter in mostÂ cameras today are extremely reliable.
Besides, with the instant LCD monitor feedback and number of exposures limited only by the number of memory cards you have, how can you not get a good picture?
In this indoor situation, my hunch was the camera would be severely tested under the sodium vapor lighting. I was correct.
Does that mean I should return the G11 for a refund?
It only proves that a camera is only as good as the programming if you shoot on a program or automatic mode.
It is up to the user to figure out how and when to over-ride and work around its programming limitations.
Automatic White Balance is a setting that many folks don’t ever change. It is reliable the majority of the time but every so often, like in the examples below, it is totally worthless.
Auto White Balance fails!–Sodium vapor lighting inside the gym is so flattering, isn’t it? My buddy Anil shot this at ISO 800 1/30 sec @ f2.8. Photo by Anil Punjabi
Flash to the rescue?–Even with flash, the G11 failed miserably to correct for the strong color cast of the sodium vapor lighting inside the gym when left at the default Auto White Balance. Photo by Anil Punjabi. See now the picture he took using my
I passed the camera to a friend who owned the same line of camera previously without giving him any directions other than “Knock yourself out.”
I was glad my buddy Anil felt comfortable enough to over-ride my settings and use the camera his way.
Using the default Auto White Balance setting, notice how jaundiced my friend Lesly and Armstrong who also goes by “Raya” look.
In the 2nd picture, according to the metadata, the flash kicked in on Auto. I can only assume Anil didn’t like the color and forced the flash to fire. A slight improvement by the camera to be sure, but you can tell the tiny built-in flash isn’t going to make our subjects look healthier.
In any situation, no matter what kind of camera you use, you should try to match the color temperatures of light sources especially if you are changing the White Balance to the presets like Incandescent, Florescent, Cloudy, Daylight or Shadow side of a building. That makes color adjustment easier in post production.
When you’re shopping for a Point-and-Shoot camera, look for a camera that lets you do a Custom White Balance if possible. That option will at least give you a fighting chance to get a good skin tone right out of the camera.
When shooting indoors under fluorescent lighting, if you set the White Balance on your camera to Florescent and you want to use some flash to fill, you need to use a green florescent filter over your flash as well.
So my G11 performed poorly in this situation, but that doesn’t mean I’m disappointed.
What is important is the camera has an option where I perform a Custom White Balance to work around this.
Like its big brother counterparts, the digital SLRs, the G11 lets you shoot something white in the same lighting condition then allows you tell the camera to use that particular frame to set White so that all the other colors will fall into place.