Color Correction for Flash in Photography

  • Electronic flash units usually emit light at about 7000˚K. Most commercial units claim emission in the 5500 to 6000˚K area, but unless the flash tube or its covering is definitely yellowish in color the output of the unit will almost certainly be too blue to match daylight type color films truly. (Finding the yellowish hue of a corrected flash tube may require tilting the unit back and forth until the tube itself can be seen behind the covering.) Film manufacturers recommend corrective filtering with a Wratten 81A or 81B filter. You may get a more exact correction using a CC20Y filter. Although filtering can be done at the camera lens, it is preferable to cut a piece from a suitable gelatin filter and tape it directly over the light-emitting head of the flash unit, leaving it on as a permanent fixture. (One 3 x 3 inch square filter will be large enough to cover three ordinary sized units.)

  • If the lamp is filtered for color correction, there will be a filter factor, unless the unit is of the automatic feedback type - these will self-correct. Whichever of the three filters you decide to use, a one-third stop exposure correction is necessary. (The 81A, 81B, and CC20Y filters all have the same filter factor.) Blue flash bulbs and flash cubes are the correct color temperature for daylight-type color films. Therefore, no color correction is needed.

More about Camera Filter


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