Izzy Video 131 – Getting a Good Exposure with an 18% Gray Card

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We’re returning to some video fundamentals with this episode. This tutorial is all about getting a good exposure. Also, I demonstrate how to to use an 18% gray card.

The specific gray card I’m using is from Lastolite. Here is an Amazon link (where I purchased mine): Lastolite 12-Inch Ezybalance Card Gray Card

You can watch the high quality version of the video here.

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14 thoughts on “Izzy Video 131 – Getting a Good Exposure with an 18% Gray Card

  1. Hi Izzy,

    Never leave home without your gray card. ;)

    Most gray cards can be used to white balance a camera too, as it’s chrominance value is neutral, just like a white card.


  2. Mark,

    Excellent point!

    I’ve tested this, and I get the exact same results from white balancing on the white side as I do on the gray side. I suppose it’s just a habit to use white for white-balancing. :-)

    All the best,


  3. Great video … as always. Just recently found out about grey cards myself. They have made an ENORMOUS difference on the color balance in my indoor video shooting. For years, my son’s Taekwondo tournaments have looked just awful – the mats are blue and red. The colors were OFF the chart!

    As far as the Canon HV20 camera Izzy was showing. I have this particular camera. You can change the white balance in the menu to different settings, Auto/Daylight/Shade. The final setting is called SET. Here is where you can custom set the white balance with your grey card.

    Detailed instructions can be found in the HV20 manual page 51.

  4. Just a side note. I was watching some of my own video and started to think, “What would Izzy do?”

    Then I thought, “What a great topic! People submit their ‘finished’ video and you put in what you would change and WHY you would do that!”

    Then that person makes the changes and posts a before and after video….What do you think?

    Here’s my video – http://vimeo.com/3022129 – to be honest, for my “What would Izzy do?” I thought about cropping, key frames …. who knows? I’m not Izzy!



  5. I’ve been doing some experimentation using a Macbeth Color Checker for this.

    With my supercheap Canon ZR800, I can zoom in to fill the frame with the card and then shift to manual.

    I am finding that I can +3 the exposure without blowing out the white box.

    This card also has CMYK patches so you could possibly use it to critically check the color balance.

    I make a screen shot and then look at it in Photoshop to see what the values are.

    1. Steve,

      Thanks for the comment. Sounds like an interesting test…

      Macbeth Color Checkers are great. I frequently use one when I’m testing for new looks.

      All the best,


  6. I got a gray card and started to use it but decided the exposure was too low.

    I determined this by shooting a gray scale and measuring the white in Photoshop. I forget what the numbers were but it was too low.

    If you look at “Exposing to the right” on Luminous Landscape you can read some comment about how information is recorded digitally.

    Basically you want to push your RGB white values as close to 255-255-255 as you can.

    On my last video I used the gray card with a .3 nd filter over part of it. When setting the exposure I positioned my camera so that 1/3 of the screen (grids on) showed the ND filter. You can see that video here:


    The shirt has check on it, and the RGB values are 253-253-253, which is as good as it gets :-)

    Also, the manual for my supercheap camera cautions against changing the zoom once you have set the exposure, as the exposure may change. So I set the zoom I want and then take the camera off the tripod and walk it up to the target to set the exposure.

  7. Thankyou so much for this. Im a newbie trying to shoot green screen and have been having a terrible time getting my HV20 to give me the right colors. I was at a camera shop today and I mentioned my problem and they mentioned the grey card. I found your video and man you gave me what I need to set it up. Thanks again.

  8. Also, I just wanted to compliment you on this video. Ive seen other tutorials and the instructor spends so much time talking about basically “nothing” and while Im watching Im thinking and many times saying out loud “GET TO THE POINT AND TELL ME SOMETHING USEFUL. This is the first video of yours that I watched and Ill tell you theres no fluff at all. Just a very solid well thought out well paced instructional style. You have a genuine talent for this IMHO. Looking forward to learning lots. Bye for now…..

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