Home CheatSheets Must Have Accessories FAQ About Us Checkout
Site Search:

Cart is empty
Important Note: This accessory CANNOT be shipped Internationally.

 Gray target - 12 inch   Price: $12.95

A gray target allows you to get the perfect exposure & white balance.
It's the perfect low-tech solution to a hi-tech problem!

This is a 12" gray target. It is perfect for getting exposure and white balance right. 

You NEED a gray target, but maybe don't realize it yet - read on...

Gray Card Difference

Your Camera's Exposure Meter needs help.
The exposure meter in your camera measures the amount of light that is reflected back to it from your subject. The meter is calibrated to EXPECT that your subject is always has a reflectiveness of "medium gray", but it often does not! So, what your camera does is try to make everything look as if it has a reflective value of medium gray.

Try this little experiment:

Photograph a piece of white paper, with nothing else in the viewfinder. (You'll probably have to use manual focus, as the AF system won't be able to focus on the white paper.)

What you'll get is a solid gray image - NOT WHITE.

Then photograph a piece of black paper or cardboard. It also will come out as a solid gray image - NOT BLACK.

This happens because it's what your camera was designed to do. Depending on your subject, your camera is designed to produce "muddy" looking images.

This incredibly simple gray target solves this problem. 

Here's how you use this gray target for exposure
  1. Put your camera in an AUTO mode.
  2. Put the gray target in the same light as your subject, fill your frame with the gray target and press your shutter half-way. Read the f-stop and aperture shown in your viewfinder. This f-stop and aperture is what you should use to expose your subject.
  3. Now, put your camera in MANUAL exposure mode and set your aperture and shutter to the settings your read when using the gray target. This will yield the correct exposure for your subject.
For a better understanding of exposure, see our eTip: When picures come out too dark or light.

Perfect White Balance!
One side of the gray target is white, which can be used to determine accurate white balance using the "custom white balance" feature built into most digital cameras. Because the target contains no color, it's the perfect target for determining the white balance of any light source. It's a MUCH less expensive way to get the correct white balance than most products designed to do this, and it's just as accurate!

Here's how you use this gray target for white balance.

If you shoot JPEG: 
  1. Put your camera into the White Balance Preset mode.
  2. Follow your camera's instructions for setting the white balance preset.

If you shoot RAW:
  1. Take 2 shots of the scene you're shooting:
    • Include the gray target (either gray or
      white side) in the first shot (as in
      the example to the right)
    • Shoot the second shot normally.
  2. When post-processing your RAW image,
    you can determine the exact white
    balance from the target in the first shot.
For a better understanding of white balance, see our eTip: Understanding White Balance

We know of no other product that can be of more use to a digital photographer.

Here's the difference between letting the camera decide the exposure and using a gray target.
These pictures were taken with a black background with one incandescent light bulb for light. You can see how the dark background color "fooled" the camera into thinking there was less light than there was, so the camera over-exposed the image. The camera tried to make the background gray, as that's what it's programmed to do. The gray target told us what the CORRECT exposure was!

As you can see in this first image, all of the detail in the necklace has been lost and the background is way too bright.
Gray Card Difference
In this second image, we used the gray target to determine the correct exposure - as you can see, the necklace retains all of it's detail and the background is it's proper black color.
Gray Card Difference

One side of this target is 18% gray, and the other is white (good for white balance). And it comes in it's own nylon pouch.
Gray Card

Related products
Mini Softbox

Sunlight-White Reflector

Translucent Disc

  © Copyright 2001-2022, Bert Sirkin
Contact Us Email Us