Canon G11-White Balance

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 most 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

Custom White Balance setting.

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.

6 thoughts on “Canon G11-White Balance”

  1. Hi Azrin,
    Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and taking the time to comment.

    The G11 is a very capable camera and over time I will learn to get better results with it.

    I used it at a wedding because I was a guest recently and I didn’t want to upstage the pro who is making a living.

    Here’s one of my favorite images from that:

    There are more pictures from that wedding I shot using the G11

  2. Hi Peter, stumbled upon your site and read this review on G11’s AWB.
    I have had the G11 for 5 months now. I do find that the G11 struggles at times with AWB. So, I started shooting in RAW which gives me the flexibility to adjust the white balance in post processing.

    However, I recently took the G11 along with my 400D to a relative’s wedding, just for fun. I took pictures with both and shot in RAW. During post processing I was surprised the AWB on the G11 nailed each shot while I had to color correct the shots taken on the 400D.

    I guess in certain conditions the G11 do get the AWB right…but unfortunately not all the time.

    Nevertheless, being a hobbyist I find myself using the G11 more than my DSLR…its a great little camera. But when I want my fix…I’ll take out my Eos 30 and shoot some film.



  3. Ted,
    🙂 I’ve coughed up $500 and change for the Eye-Fi card and the G11, so I had better make like I am, huh? The old G3 was actually very capable till the very end. I can hear the shutter going off still. But on a digital camera, when the LCD fails, there is no readout whatsoever. Blind as a bat. How can I tell even the most basic of things like mode, exposure I’m in? I had been waiting for the return of the articulating LCD monitor and I”m glad it’s finally back.

  4. Hi Carl,
    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I had to go back and re-read my post. Yep, I’m in agreement with you about the camera being a tool. I’m just surprised that you thought I was a bit harsh blaming the camera.

    I’m basing my review from the perspective of a hobbyist, the majority of owners, since this is a Point-and-shoot camera.

    So those hobbyist owners usually don’t want to deal with RAW files. Few lack the motivation to pay more for Lightroom, the full version of Photoshop or Aperture to efficiently process RAW files. But for the moment, let’s not throw that RAW versus JPG debate into this. (That’s a topic for a debate that has potential to start WWIII, by the way)

    You obviously love this camera as well and have come to its defense. I love mine by the way. I even say so in my post. 😉
    So my G11 performed poorly in this situation, but that doesn’t mean I’m disappointed.

    I love your underwater pictures on your website btw. I have lots of friends who are extremely passionate about Scuba and Photography. They’re are obviously well-to-do, have dual incomes and no kids. 🙂

  5. Peter … I think you are a bit harsh blaming this on the camera….. you get what you get when shooting with any of the AUTO settings… that’s why nearly all photo instructors and professionals suggest using manual settings and RAW modes… where the G11 performs well and is more powerful than a lot of other compacts… might also be useful for you to learn the custom white balance settings…..

    The camera is just a tool… and the output is mostly dependent on the skill of the photographer…

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