ExpoDisc is a professional digital white balance tool from ExpoImaging. ExpoDisc aids in setting an accurate custom white balance on digital cameras. Photography Bay recently reviewed the ColorRight white balance tool (read review). A few readers mentioned ExpoDisc and other white balance tools and asked how they stack up against ColorRight. While this is a review of ExpoDisc, I will make several comparisons to ColorRight throughout the review to address some of the prior questions and requests.
ExpoDisc comes in a very nice package that is reminiscent of Apple’s packaging presentation. Just opening the box, you feel like you are getting a professional too.
Along with the ExpoDisc itself, you get a lanyard, which attaches to the ExpoDisc. Also included is a very nice nylon case with a belt loop for toting or storing the ExpoDisc. A quick start guide and a CD-ROM containing multi-language reference manuals and videos round out the package contents.
The ExpoDisc itself feels very well built. The outer ring is thick and solid, which makes the ergonomics better than the ColorRight. Additionally, the “lens side” of the ExpoDisc ring is stepped down to the appropriate filter size (my review copy was 77mm). This portion of the ring features three spring-loaded balls that snap into the filter threads of your lens.
The filter portion of the ExpoDisc also feels very solid. Its more of a plastic material, whereas ColorRight uses glass. Performance considerations aside, I like the build quality of the ExpoDisc over Coloright.
How ExpoDisc Works
The Expodisc is an incident light tool. That is, it is designed to take a white balance reading the light source rather than the subject (i.e., you point your camera toward the light that is shining on your subject from your subject’s position when taking your white balance reading).
This method makes the ExpoDisc a bit more complicated to use than ColorRight, which takes a reflective white balance measurement (i.e., you point your camera toward the subject for your white balance reading). However, ExpoImaging claims that the incident reading with the ExpoDisc is a more accurate white balance reading.
The first step for using the ExpoDisc is to install it on the end of the lens by snapping it into place as noted above. If you are using a lens with a smaller filter size than the ExpoDisc, then you simply hold it over the end of the lens. Next, you set the your camera’s focus to manual and adjust your exposure for the shot.
Then, aim the camera at the light source to measure the incident light. Snap the image to get your custom white balance reading. Then, apply that image as your custom white balance profile in the camera. Now, you are ready to shoot.
Incident light readings with the ExpoDisc can sometimes get a little complicated. For example, it is impossible to get an incendent reading directly from camera-mounted flashes. However, you can get an incent reading from a flash bounced off the ceiling by pointing the camera toward that surface for the incident reading.
If you cannot remove the camera-mounted flash for an incident reading, then you will not be able to use the ExpoDisc for custom white balance. In such a case, you will be left with in-camera presets or post-processing adjustments to work with.
Simply put, the ExpoDisc does what it claims. You get spot-on white balance from incident readings.
As expected, using the ExpoDisc saves lots of post-processing time by allowing you to practically ignore the white balance settings. I shot a few dozen images today using a combination of studio flashes and wireless speed lights. I did not touch the white balance on a single image in Lightroom 2 when processing the images.
The use of the ExpoDisc is just as straightforward as the instructions tell you. I held the ExpoDisc over the front of the lens and pointed at my strobe. After firing off a frame, I had my reading and set the file as my custom white balance reference in camera. Then, it was set for the duration of the shoot.
It’s so easy that anyone shooting under studio lights or another off-camera light source on a regular basis should have an ExpoDisc or other custom white balance device.
ExpoDisc vs. ColorRight
I’ve been comparing these two devices through this review. I simply could not have ignored ColorRight while shooting with the ExpoDisc because I’ve been accustomed to using ColorRight over the last few weeks.
For casual shooters, I think ColorRight is the better choice. I give a big edge to ColorRight setting custom white balance when using flash (especially, on-camera flash). Additionally, the use of reflective light with ColorRight is simply easier than taking incident readings with the ExpoDisc – particularly if you are in an environment where your light source is changing frequently (e.g., wedding photographers).
The ExpoDisc build quality is solid and I haven’t presented it with a lighting situation where the ExpoDisc didn’t offer similar results to ColorRight – except for direct, on-camera flash. In many cases, the decision between ExpoDisc and ColorRight is going to be the photographer’s personal choice. However, I will carry ColorRight in my camera bag more often than not.
If you consider yourself a serious amatuer or you are a pro photographer, then you should strongly consider picking up a custom white balance tool like the ExpoDisc. If you shoot JPEG images, then you really have no excuse to be without an ExpoDisc or ColorRight in your bag.
RAW shooters have the convenience of correcting white balance in their post-processing software; however, it’s a big time saver to get white balance right on the front end. If you’re shooting hundreds of images across a wide variety of lighting situations on a particular shoot, then you’re going to save a ton of time by starting with the right white balance before you get to post-processing.
Where to Buy ExpoDisc
ExpoDisc is available from a number of online trusted retailers like Amazon.com, B&H Photo and Adorama. It is available in neutral and a warmer portrait version. You can also purchase the ExpoDisc directly from ExpoImaging.
Prices range from about $70 to $170, depending on the size of the ExpoDisc that you need. Err on the side of caution by purchasing one that’s at least the filter size of your largest lens. You can then hold it in front on the lens for all of your smaller lenses with the same quality results.