How $16 Can Solve All of Your White Balance Problems

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Of course, we all know that photographers love gadgets!  In this series, we’re talking about those great little gadgets that you can pick up for a bargain price and how they affect your photography.  In this article, we’ll talk about and how a $16 white balance disc can make all the difference in your photos!

Let's Talk About White Balance!

Today let’s talk about White Balance.  If you have been shooting in manual, then you know setting your white balance can be a bit tricky.  There’s all the settings for different lighting scenarios:  Sunlight, tungsten (what the heck is tungsten anyway), cloudy, shady, indoor, outdoor, yada yada yada….  And then, of course there’s the Kelvin setting if you have lots of time to tinker to find the perfect balance…  Of course those are all nice options, but why mess with those options if you can make an adjustment with just a few clicks and a handy tool?

Kelvin screen on the back of the camera
The Kelvin settings can be adjusted in camera, but it takes a bit longer than an Expodisc.

Check out THIS VIDEO from Zach and Jody Gray, who explain what the Expodisc does. 

If you want to learn more about Zach and Jody, CLICK HERE.  

Look no further! This little gadget for around $16 will solve your white balance woes!

I was first introduced to a device called the Expodisc a couple of years ago at a photographers’ meetup.  The photographer that was using it explained that by simply attaching this little lens filter to your lens and snapping a speedy photo, you could automatically set your white balance for every situation you find yourself in.  We passed it around, gave it a try, and I was convinced that I NEEDED one of these bad boys!

Click HERE to find out what else I carry in my camera bag!

Almost immediately when I got home, I jumped online to look for that fancy Expodisc.  Well, I was a bit disappointed when I saw the price was around $50.  You see, I just hate to spend more than necessary for gadgets.  So, I kept looking before I pushed the “purchase” button.  Sure enough, I found a more generic “white balance disc” that looked awfully similar for about $16.  Amazon has a lovely return policy, so I thought I’d try it out.  I mean – I would lose nothing to try it out, right?  I could always return it.

This is the Expodisc.  If you purchase this one, be sure to get the one that will fit your largest lens size.

This is the Amazon Choice White Balance Disc.  This will fit any size lens.

This is another option I found on Amazon.  This should fit any size lens and comes with the lanyard and a carrying case!

Know Someone else who loves gadgets?

Click HERE for a list of 25 great photography gift ideas, gadgets included!

I pushed the button on the round “white balance disc” with the handle and waited with great anticipation for the disc to arrive.  It arrived in Amazon’s 2-day window and I immediately gave it a try.  It is quite simple to use by following these steps:

  • Set your exposure correctly. If you need help doing that, please read SHOOTING IN MANUAL link
  • Place your camera in the area where you’ll be shooting your subject. In other words, Pretend you are the subject.
  • Place the disc over the lens – be sure and keep it pressed directly to the front of the lens, allowing no light into the lens from the sides.
  • Point your camera back in the direction of where you’ll be standing as the photographer. Press the shutter to take a photo.
  • Follow the instructions for your camera to set the custom white balance by using the image you just took.
A white balance disc placed properly in front of the lens

The whole process takes about 10 seconds once you’ve practiced it once or twice.  You only need to repeat these steps when you move to an area with different light.  This process is the same for both the Expodisc and its less expensive counterpart.  After trying both, here’s what I found.

Pros

  • Both models are very lightweight and won’t add much weight to your bag.
  • The less expensive white balance disc has a perfect handle to hold when placing it on your camera lens. It also has a little hole in the handle that will easily attach to a lanyard for ease of use when you’re moving around.
  • The Expodisc has a spring-loaded mount, so you can pop it off and on your lens easily, which frees you to use both hands on camera.

Cons

  • The less expensive model is a bit larger and takes a bit more space in your camera bag. It may not fit into the smallest pockets of your bag like the Expodisc does.
  • The less expensive model does NOT attach firmly to your lens, unlike the Expodisc. You have to be sure you’re holding it very flat against your lens, which requires 2 hands (an important note here is that with the Expodisc you will either need a different one for each lens, or if you buy one to fit your lens with the largest front, then you can use it with all of your smaller lenses also, although it likely won’t clip on, rendering it the same as the less expensive version).

The Takeaway

  • Both products work great at correcting white balance at the touch of just a couple of buttons.
  • Both are lightweight and convenient.

Overall, since both products work the same and deliver the same results, I would find no reason to spend $50 when I can have the same end result for only $14.  The extra bonus here is that when I checked Amazon again, I found an even less expensive product that comes with a lanyard and a carrying pouch.  This one is definitely worth considering and I would likely purchase this one if I needed to replace the one I have.

Please let me know in the comments if you’ll give these silicone lens covers a try, and what you think!

And since I love a good gadget, please shoot me any ideas you have for camera gear you’d like me to try!

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