- Jason W 2:18pm, 18 February 2008
If you've done any research on the Expodisc or Expocap products, you may have come across people suggesting the use of a normal disposable coffee filter as an alternative. The results were quite positive. Since I don't own an Expodisc, I can only compare the coffee filter against a white card WB test. (since this is basically what the expodisc is intended to replace... ok ok an 18% grey card, but who's counting)

For those that don't know, the Expodisc is a small filter device you place over your lens during the time you manually adjust the white balance of your camera. When in unusual light situations the results will usually far exceed the 'auto' capability of the camera.

I decided to test it out, and took it a step further by adding the coffee filter to an extra UV filter I had.

These photos were taken in a room with a single compact fluorescent bulb (seen overhead) as the source of light. Regardless of camera setting (fluorescent, incandescent, outdoor, etc.) manual WB was the only way to achieve correct colors.

Before (auto WB)
Expodisc Alternative Example Shots (5)

After (coffee filter WB)
Expodisc Alternative Example Shots (4)

The "control" (photo WB with white card)
Expodisc Alternative Example Shots (4)

Directions to make the Filter:
Expodisc Alternative : Coffee Filter 2
Expodisc Alternative : Coffee Filter

All of the photos in the test sequence are here:

The Test Photos:

Make it yourself for about a nickle... And save $89.95... particularly if you have a spare UV filter around the house.

Remember, you point the expodisc (and this) TOWARD the light source(s), usually from the perspective of the subject being photographed. If you just aim and shoot at your subject it will normally not work correctly.

Happy building!

-Jason W
Jason Bell Photography - Northern Ireland Posted 9 years ago. Edited by Jason Bell Photography - Northern Ireland (member) 9 years ago
I've just saved myself $0.05 by shooting in raw! :) It's fantastic idea and one I might try soon.

Tom Janz Posted 9 years ago. Edited by Tom Janz (member) 9 years ago
Thats awesome.

I picked up a cheap plastic knock off one at the local camera shop. I got the biggest one so i could use it with all my lenses (just hold it up), it was like 9.00 bucks.

I haven't really did a controlled test, but it worked great from when i played around with it.

I might do a test with the coffee filter vs cheap exposer disc i have and Auto WB.
udijw 9 years ago
That's a great idea.
I wonder if tissue paper will work as well.
- udi
alanofsac 9 years ago
The translucent lid from a fountan drink.
Free , works as well IMHO
martybugs PRO 9 years ago
The translucent lids from a Pringles can apparently works very well too.
However, Pringles are no longer using the translucent lids....so they may be hard to get hold of now.
Bengt(Bildochfoto.se) 9 years ago
IKEA have a transulent Tray called Smula....this you can make your own expodisc....

or you can use it as a light table...
J o y s h a 9 years ago
I just went to an expodisc workshop and they were giving out 10% off the expodiscs.... but I think I'd rather do this. Thanks a lot!!! =)
I won one at a seminar that I attended.. cant remember what one it was though..
Catch.IT 8 years ago
Sorry to bring this old topic up again.

I just came across another creative idea for cheap white balance:


They use Pringle can cover or ice cream tub!!!

Personally I will try Pringle can cover as it would be very durable and portable.
Captain Starfish 8 years ago
I bought an eBay knock-off from China for about $10. Replaced the lens cap.

I don't use it any more - it seems to take the average of the whole scene. Imaging a sea and sky shot with a sailboat in the middle. A small sailboat. I want the white point set on the white sail - these cap things will see mostly blue and adjust accordingly :(

Or am I just doing it wrong?
Catch.IT 8 years ago
From outdoor, the camera's auto white balance should work well, so you only need to use it for indoor use.

From what you describe, seems Picture style is the way to go.
ηεїℓ 8 years ago
are these any good for setting a custom white balance for infrared?
Oxidiser Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Oxidiser (member) 8 years ago
@martybugs They still have those lids here in The Netherlands. I'll buy a can this afternoon (what flavour, hmm) and give it a try, sounds like a great idea. I don't want to fork over 90 euros for a thing like that, it just stops 82% of the incomming light.
Finally got around to making one, and it's brilliant.
- Jason W Posted 8 years ago. Edited by - Jason W (member) 8 years ago
I do hear the Pringles caps work very well, but I haven't seen that kind here in the states in a long time. I'm sure there are other materials that will work too. But coffee filters are easy to come by, and cheap.

Neil: I haven't had any digital cameras modified for infrared shooting so I couldn't say. If you try it out, let us know.

Captin Starfish: They are mainly intended for indoor photography, where you have a mix of light that is different colors. (incandescent light is very orange/red vs. sunlight, etc.)

On most cameras the "auto" white balance will not be able to handle mixed lighting very well, or may have trouble adapting to specific colors of light. That compact fluorescent light in the example was hell on my camera, even with the "fluorescent" setting it didn't work as there are different color spectrums of fluorescent lights.

You don't always need it, but when you do, it's nice to have one on hand... particularly one that was pretty much free vs. $90 bucks.

ivanroberts1 8 years ago
@ Jason W

Did you just tape the coffee filter onto the inside of the UV filter?
- Jason W Posted 8 years ago. Edited by - Jason W (member) 8 years ago
On my lens filter, there is a small ring that unscrews. It's purpose is to hold the filter glass in place. I loosened the ring, and slipped the coffee filter behind it, then tightened it back down.

Getting the ring off is pretty easy. There are notches in the ring that allow you to turn against. This works well as long as you apply EVEN PRESSURE to both sides of the ring. It will fight you every step of the way if you only try to rotate it from one side of the circle.

A pair of scissors, or needle nose pliers that can open side enough to get purchase in both of the notches at the same time, will take it right off.
Catch.IT 8 years ago
I use the cap of Slim Jim beef stick can from a local Duane Reade store and it serves me well:

udijw 8 years ago
Catch.The.Momentum you can always find just one more use to beef jerky :)
Oxidiser Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Oxidiser (member) 8 years ago
I tried the pringles cap and it works great! I can certainly use the money I saved for buying some ND Grad's. Thanks for the tips!
Raoul Ries Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Raoul Ries (member) 8 years ago
It is even easier than that. Take a look at this.
Catch.IT 8 years ago
Interesting, lieberkater. Will try at home. I suppose that the filter makes the picture blur and even-colored.
Catch.IT 8 years ago
It doesn't work well, especially if the shooting target is busy.
mibelleson 6 years ago
I'm a newby to photography, but I've just learned how to use manual settings. YAY! Now, how do I use this cap with Canon DSLR? I need it in laymen's terms.
dannyt. 6 years ago
Google setting manual white balance canon...enjoy.
Inpernity [deleted] 6 years ago
Any plastic liquid container which is translucent works too. I cut a section from a Lenor fabric conditioner bottle and just hold it in front of the lens...

Works for me.
ffotoffunster Posted 6 years ago. Edited by ffotoffunster (member) 6 years ago
Try a plastic pet food can cover. The coffee filter paper is good too, keep it clean in a plastic envelope, remove for CWB I open up the intact filter and it will cover my Canon compact, then I do CWB. Can use for a brew in an emergency.
steveblackdog PRO 6 years ago
If you are out and about and get caught without anything to set your W/B, one of these might help.
Emergency Exposure Disc
tombell06 6 years ago
I use a clean white sock. I use the sock as a diffuser on my flash too.
I just throw a white card into the scene, or have the model hold the card, and adjust in ACR.
Groups Beta