Digital Calibration Target is great for photos but I am not sure how to use it for video.

I picked up a Digital Calibration Target last week and I have been playing around with it and learning a lot more about my histogram on the back of the camera.

I found it helpful in my photography to get the perfect white balance and exposure but for video I am struggling on how best to use it.

Using it for photography I shift the exposure to the right of the histogram where I bring my highlights almost to clipping, but with videos I am finding that is not the best approach so I am practicing withe waveform monitor.


  • @Dave — glad to see you got the 24″ target. I now have target envy, since mine is only a 14.

    So you’ve got the technique down for stills. I use an almost identical technique for video, only I don’t push the highlights as much as with you do for stills. You didn’t fully describe your method, but I hold the target with the white stripe facing the key light side of your lighting, but placed where my subject will be located. I then spot meter the grey stripe, take a picture of the target (filling the frame), and then check the histogram. There is a particular place I like to see the three spikes, and this you will have to determine based on your own preferences. I also look to see if the picture of the target still shows details in the white and black stripes. If I don’t get the right histogram results and visual details, I adjust the aperture and take another shot of the target. Once it’s dialed in, I use that picture to set the white balance, and I delete the others (if time allows). And when I transfer my footage to the computer, I place the correctly exposed target shot in with the clips that were shot using those settings. You may have many shots of the target per shoot because of lighting changes, so you have to develop a work flow that accounts for keeping the target shots and clips together. I use the target shots later for white balance/color correction, if needed.

    Of course, this technique works best in a controlled environment, but including this tool in your work flow is really helpful. It’s also a tool to help better match cameras in a multi-camera shoot. With 5Ds, you need to figure out ahead of time how much variance in there is between cameras in terms of metering. 5Ds vary quite a bit from camera to camera, a 1/3 to 1/2 stop is not uncommon. I don’t know if this is true with the T2i, but I’d err on the side of caution.

  • One other quick point to add to what I wrote above: Be sure the camera is focused on the target when setting exposure, and be sure to use the properly exposed shot for setting white balance. IOW, don’t just take a picture of the target and use it to set your white balance; use the picture of target that you have determined to be correctly exposed.

  • Man-O-Man…You guys are shooting Hollywood, 🙂 … I’m a hobbyist that’s why I bought a T2i and kept three or four grand in my pocket. I’m dieing to learn how to shoot video with this camera but if it takes all of this I might as well take money I didn’t spend on the Mark D whatever, and buy a real Video camera… ( Don’t take me wrong I’m joking with ya). I learn something valuable every time I visit this site. Sadly I am unable to contribute intellectually but I just want to let you know I am greatfull there is someone like yourself that’s willing to share knowledge with peons like me.
    Thanks Again

  • Dave: I think you did fine of setting the blacks and whites with the scope. The 18% grey should, ideally, end up at 50%.

    I agree with you that for shooting raw you can/should push the exposure toward the right and correct in lightroom later. But video (H.264) is much more like shooting jpg. You can’t correct as much later. So it is better to get the exposure correct in camera.


  • I think it is wrong to set the black as a real black because when you recorded that target, there was light hitting on your black so it is technically a very dark grey. With these setting you are probably loosing detail in the shadows.
    I think the best you can do is expose to the 18% grey and just use the black and the white for latitude tests or whatever.
    Just an opinion.

  • @Shandor thanks that is great advice, I have found that moving the blacks down to 7.5 (legal blacks for broadcast) crushes the blacks way too much.

  • Hey Dave, can you post or add on a link video to this article if you’ve figured (learned) how to set the contrast and exposure perfectly? I’m having a hard time finding it and I really want to learn to perfect my contrast and exposure in DSLR video.

  • I’ve only been taking photos for about 6 months or so & I’m learning as I go. There is one problem that I keep running across that’s driving me insane. I take photos that look great in Aperture (editing software) but when I upload them to the web they look dull. Do you have any idea why this happens & Is there a way to correct it? I shoot JPEG (because I was told raw dulls your photos) I have my camera set to sRGB.

  • Thanks for making this. Can you give me a simple explanation of how to set the exposure level when I’m out video’ing (not in studio) and don’t have access to a computer? Do I shoot the grey card and then look for something in the histogram? Then what? Thx, I’m a newbie.

  • Hi Dave,
    Regarding the YC Waveform scope; you can turn off both the Chroma and Setup (7.5 IRE) in Premiere. You don’t need chroma for luminance and the Setup was meant for CRT televisions so it actually skews your readings a tad. Also intensity can be 100%.

    Great site!