I was introduced to the Lastolite Ezybalance white balance targets by Will Crocket. I had been using a scuffed up Kodak 18% gray card to do my custom white balances with but this is a much better solution. They come in three sizes, fold up just like a collapsable reflector and take up very little space in the camera bag. One side is white with a gray target in the center and one side is gray with a white target in the center. I like the gray side because if you are using an automatic mode on your camera the camera will set approximately the right exposure and it will make the whole process easier. I also like having the target graphic right on the center because this gives the AF sensor something easy to lock onto which means you don't have to go into manual focus to make your reading.
The targets come in three sizes: 12 inch, 20 inch and 30 inch. I own all three. Why? The small on is small enough to put on a lanyard and have around my neck all day long as I traipse down the hallowed halls of corporate America and make custom white balances by holding the target in one hand and holding the camera in the other, filling the frame with the target and taking a reading.
I own the middle target because it's just the right size to hand to portrait subjects and then zoom in from camera position to fill the frame, take the ready and then move back. I own the large target because it's wonderful to put it into a scene in the studio or on location and have a big "target" to hit. I use them on almost every shoot. Sometimes I get lazy and all infatuated with raw (although I can easily prove that you'll get better files if you custom white balance in the camera....) and shoot AWB and balance after the fact. I find it's always much quicker to do your white balance settings in post production if you've included a target in your first or last frame. Then you can click on it with the eyedropper tool and at least get into the ballpark.
These are simple devices that are well implemented. Whether you are a heretic and always wait until post processing to try to get your whites, white or whether you are one of the infinitely wise photographers who know that creating a custom white balance in camera will give you the ultimate quality you'll want something like this to speed up the process. Whether you choose to do it the right way or the wrong way!
I used mine last week and I used them this morning. They go into the case with the light stands and the tripod. That way I never forget them....
The small and the medium. Just hanging out in the studio.
Coming soon. Yes, raw is not the ultimate cure for white balance.
And when you get tired of white balancing and you're ready to relax,
consider a good book....