sony pd 150/170 video cameras

White Balance

White balance has to do with differences in color caused by the intensity or "temperature" of the light and how the camera compensates for these differences in color. Sunlight is rarely pure white, but rather takes on different shades, such as a yellow or red tinge at sunrise and sunset, or a blue tinge in a shaded area.

Digital video cameras come with an automatic white balance meter that essentially tells the camera which intensity of the color white is in the picture, and the rest of the colors in the spectrum are adjusted accordingly to make the video look as natural as possible.

But there are cases where a video camera may misconstrue the intensity of the lighting because it is measuring the general intensity of the light it sees through the lens rather than the intensity of the light at the location of the subject of your shot. The result is either a blue or orange tone that makes your entire video tinted the wrong color.

For example, if your camera is in bright light, but the subject of your shot is in the shade, the camera will be reading the light as more yellow in tone, because the camera is in yellowish sunlight. The subject of your shot thus will come out looking slightly blue, because they are actually lit by bluish shade light.

White balance button on back of cameraTo fix this problem, you should hold up a piece of white paper next to the subject of your shot, and then zoom the camera in on that white paper. Then push or select the white balance button on your camera to set the proper white balance at the position of your subject.

The camera essentially is forced to look at a true white color at that point, and then balance the rest of the color spectrum around that true white that it sees.

On the Sony TRV900, PD150 and PD170 the white balance is adjusted by sliding the Auto Lock switch near or on the back of the camera to the middle setting, just like for adjusting exposure. 

Then press the Wht Bal button on the very back of the camera. 

Now open the LCD screen on the side of the camera so you can see a display of the white balance settings.

Below the Wht Bal button is a little Sel/Push Exec control dial you can use to toggle through three settings:

  • Manual (an icon that is a tiny black square and two triangles for manually adjusting the white balance)
  • Outdoor (an icon of a sun, which is an automatic white balance setting for shooting in sunlight) 
  • Indoor (an icon of a light bulb, which is an automatic white balance setting for shooting in indoor light)

To set your own white balance, use the Sel/Push Exec control dial to toggle to the Manual icon setting.

Aim the camera at a piece of white paper that is next to the subject of your shot and push in the Sel/Push Exec control dial. The manual icon will flash briefly and then stop when the manual white balance setting has been locked in.

Returning to Automatic White Balance

To return to automatic white balance move the Auto Lock switch to Auto Lock.