Build Your Own White Balance Kit For Free

Build Your Own White Balance Kit For Free

While I will admit that buying a kit of white balance cards is extremely affordable (around $10) - nothing beats free. The guys over at Knick-Knack wrote up an article recently sharing their experience on how they built a dependable kit for themselves that did not cost them a penny. Read on to learn how they did it. 

Many photographers are comfortable shooting with their camera on Auto White Balance, but once you learn how to correctly balance the color in camera you will find that the amount of time you save in post production is incredible. In the recently released Fstoppers video, "How to Become a Professional Commercial Wedding Photographer" Patrick Hall talks about White Balance in the first chapter and how important it is to get it right in the camera as well as use it to set the mood of your photos. In the video he gives some great tips with regard to this.

When out shooting I prefer to use the Kelvin custom temperature setting in the camera to try and dial my white balance as exact as possible. Over the years I have got so accustomed to doing it that most of the time I can dial it in within one or two shots. But even so, there are occasions when the light temperature is difficult to read or if you are just learning the ropes and need some help, a set of white balance cards can be handy. By shooting one shot holding the white balance card, you can use the eye dropper in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw to click on the card telling the program this should be your neutral gray color thereby changing the white balance of the rest of the picture to match with that. As I mentioned in the introduction the white balance kits are sold typically between $10-$30. But if you enjoy free.... here's another option that works just about as well.

WilsonArt Contract is a company that provides all different kinds of laminate surfaces and decorative metals for use in retail and industrial spaces. In fact if you are in the middle of building out a studio they would be a great place to check out. On their site you can choose different color sample chip cards and they will ship them to you at no cost. The guys over at Knick-Knack ran some tests and discovered that the following card samples are the closest match for your own white balance kit set.

Neutral Gray - North Sea D90-60

White - Designer White - D354-60 

Black - Black 1595-60

If you take advantage of this opportunity that WilsonArt is offering on their site please consider using them for additional services and spread their name to others you know that might benefit from the products they offer on their website.

Thank you to photographer Michael Sweeney for sharing this tip with me.

[Via Knick Knack]

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15 Comments

Cool tip! Thanks Trevor!

Another tip is just to use a microfiber cleaning cloth, some are 18 % or very close. 

J. Dennis Thomas's picture

You could alway use the palm of your hand...

amazing, pity they dont ship to the UK :(

Good buzz, just orderd.

I have an X-rite color checker card, but I find that in a pinch a white foam cup, used for coffee and hot drinks, works really well. I stick the cup over the end of my lens and use it to set the manual white balance. It can also double as an incident meter for daylight or remote flash. Take a picture with the cup on the lens and just make sure the luminosity peak is in the center of the histogram.

Lee Christiansen's picture

So... pretend you need their samples on a false basis and obtain freebees at someone else's hard earned cost.

Repeat lots of times (or as many as people find out they can get stuff for free).

Save yourself a few pennies and collectively cost some poor company materials and postage costs.

Everyone make themselves feel better by suggesting they think of the poor company in case you're "building a studio."  Or maybe consciences can be appeased by "spreading their name."

If the boot was on the other foot I wonder if photographers would mind Joe public doing he same to us.

For each of us it seems like a little thing, but this little jape could cost WilsonArt $100's

Shame on Fstopers for suggesting what can only be a dishonest representation to get a freebee.  If we can't afford a $10 card then perhaps we should double check the value of the kit we cheerfully hang around our necks when out shooting...

Feel free to claim this is purely honest and above board - but before anyone does, ask whether you'd like a few hundred strangers taking advantage because a website suggested they could save a penny or two...

If this starts getting to be more than Wilson Art anticipated, they have the right to shut this supply off. Nobody told them to do this. 
If you have THAT much of an objection, email them directly and tell them about this nefarious scheme by thousands of photographer to bilk them for free samples!Face it, this may mean thousands of new customers for WilsonArt. I had never heard of them until today. And if I ever need the products and services they offer, I more than likely will be back to them for it.

Dave hobby did the same thing with Rosco gel sample packs, as the samples are the perfect size for hot-shoe flashes.  Rosco figured this out and have since released a "strobist pack" containing many more gels than came with the sample pack.  I picked up one for under $10.  If this company encounters a problem with their sample program, they could easily monetize it.  I've seen many companies charge for samples, presumably because of things like this.

Lee Christiansen's picture

You're right... nothing wrong with taking advantage of a freely available offer...  Nobody told them to do this.

Actually I have one to advertise myself.  It's with the lovely chaps here at Fstoppers.  Apparently you can purchase their great new Wedding Video tutorial at just $300 and, get this...  they say "We will give anyone their money back if they are unhappy with this tutorial for any reason."

So if you can't afford a video tutorial, just say you're not happy and get you're hard earned pennies back.  But make sure you tell others about this great new video and all will be well.

Of course, this sort of offer may cost Fstoppers financially, but on the up side it could generate lots of press and their readership could increase (a bit like all those freebee chasing photographers who I'm sure will be returning with studio builds and other projects...)

And if it doesn't work out for Fstoppers they can always stop making such a kind offer and say all sales are final - it probably wouldn't hurt the few legitimate claims for refunds.

Sorry Lee for making his suggestion - I'm actually appalled by the thought.  I'm sure your wedding tutorial is worth every penny and would question the integrity of anyone taking advantage.  (Indeed I paid out for the Peter Hurley video myself).  Kudos to you for making such a generous offer.  But if members of the team are recommending taking advantage of a company under false pretenses then it's worth looking at things from both sides.

And with all those $10 everyone has saved themselves, I'm sure they'll now have extra pennies to put towards that "studio build" in the very near future and direct that money towards Wilson Art... ahem...

Grey cards are one of the cheapest photography tools around, but regardless, requesting the samples under false pretense is a question of integrity.  I'm disappointed with this post and the recent "get Adobe CS2 for free" post.  I bought TAOTHS Hurley video and wouldn't think of falsely claiming dissatisfaction.   

Thanks so much. After having bought a Leica M9 I'm broke. 

Awesome - I just ordered and 8 x 10 of each.  Thanks for sharing!

Luke Melchert's picture

This is the exact same thing that happened with Rosco Filters. They had a sample pack that they sent out, free of charge, to potential customers. It just so happened that the samples were about the perfect size to fit the end of a speedlight.

Sweet! Free color correcting gels for all! 

Then Rosco figured out why they were inundated with requests and stopped giving them away. Now you can buy the Strobist Kit for about $8 or order a "sample" from Rosco for about the same cost.

JimmySchaefer's picture

I don't know if thats such a great idea to be posting stuff like that. I mean yes it free, yes they offer it for anyone, but it still cost the company money and now that the masses of people reading this, it could hurt their company.