The Vello Universal White Balance Handheld Disc is a hand-held disc placed in front of a camera lens to manually set white balance. It is very simple to use. Just hold the disc up to the lens, pointing your camera to the light source, and take a custom white balance measurement per the instructions in your camera’s user manual.
Why Use It
Light can be tricky. It can be made of light from different sources, such as the sun, a light bulb, or your camera flash. Skin tones can also be very tricky. The skin reflects colors around it. If the subject is under a green tree, the skin will probably have a green tone. Getting white balance right in the camera can save a lot of time later, in processing. You can either leave it to the camera to calculate the white balance, taking a risk that the camera might not get it exactly “right,” or you can take greater control and set a custom white balance. Note, there are times you may not want to have the white balance determined through a custom setting, such as when the color of light affecting your subject is important to your image, or when your creative vision dictates otherwise.
What Differentiates A Vello White Balance Disc
The Vello disc is nice because it can be used with any lens size up to 95 mm. It has a handle, so your fingers don’t get in the way. It lies flat in the camera bag and is easy to pack. You can also put a cord through it and hang it around your neck.
The disc measures incident light, not reflective light, which is an important distinction. When you hold the disc in front of a lens, pointing your camera towards the light source, you are measuring the light actually falling on the subject.
I tested the Vello disc in different circumstances, to check how the white balance settings affected the image, and to look for consistency in results. My tests compared images when I set my camera to “auto” and when I used a “custom” white balance setting based upon a measurement taken with the Vello disc. I was not looking to compare the “custom” result with different in-camera white balance settings. My interest was knowing whether I could rely on the disc to give me accurate white balance calculations.
I initially shot outside. The first photograph is of a boring wall, photographed with my camera set to “auto” white balance. The blocks in the wall have yellow tones, but since the wall was surrounded by trees and plants on an overcast day, there is a blue-green color cast. I took the same wall minutes later using a custom white balance determined through a measurement made with the disc. The color of the wall in the second photo is more accurate.
The next two photos are the before and after shots of a woman sitting in a park in the late afternoon. Only natural light was used for these two images. The camera was set to “auto” white balance for the first shot and to custom for the second photo, using the Vello disc to measure the white balance. The third image was photographed with an on-camera flash attached to a Vello Flash Adapter Ringbox, and the white balance set to custom, using the disc once again to calculate the white balance. All portraits were processed using Perfectly Clear Complete V3, with no adjustments for white balance.
I also photographed a dog, with greying hair, on a sunny afternoon. The first photo is with “auto” white balance and the second with custom white balance.
The last shot is of a woman indoors. There are three sources of light. Light is coming through a window to the right. An incandescent light was turned on in the room. The photo was taken with a Fuji X100F, using the tiny flash in the camera to add fill light. A custom white balance set with the Vello White Balance Disc brought the skin tones in very well.
I don’t use custom white balance often. However, for the times when lighting is really tricky or I am concerned about skin tones, I use the custom white balance setting in my camera. Based on the consistent results I have experienced with the Vello disc, I will keep it in my camera bag for those special times. It is lightweight to carry and easier to use than other methods I have tried in the past.