White Balancing Lens Cap Review

White Balance Cap On CameraWhite balance is an age old problem that is becoming all too modern with so many people moving to digital SLRs. Today’s cameras all have a pretty decent auto white balance settings, from the basic point/shot cameras to the pro SLRs. There are also several “fixed” settings on many of the simple cameras and most of the SLRs like Sunlight, Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, etc. But as many of you may know, these settings are not always perfect, and sometimes far from it.

Color balance is a long, deep discussion that can go on for days. But here, we are going to talk about a series of products of the type known as “over the lens white balance caps”. You may have seen these from companies like expoimaging.net with their ExpoDisc Digital White Balance Filter and the ExpoCap.

With the cost of the ExpoCap being around $80.00 and the ExpoDisc at $120.00 for my lens size, I decided to see what else was out there to compete with these products. With little effort, I found one from a company called Mennon that claims to do the same basic thing as the ExpoCap, but the price difference was extraordinary.Mennon White Balance Cap Package

I searched on Ebay for “white balance cap” and was presented with over several products besides the ExpoCap. The one I found for my lenses was under $10.00 shipped! Could this be? Is it possible that a sub $10 item could compete with the $80 ExpoCap? I was anxious to see for myself.

Mennon White Balance Cap out of packageAfter almost 2 weeks of waiting, the cap finally arrived. The seller had the item drop shipped from a different location, and took way too long to do it. The cap arrived in a small, unpadded envelope with markings form China on it. To my surprise, the product was actually higher quality than I expected. Made of fairly heavy plastic or nylon, the pieces were fairly substantial.

Mennon White Balance Cap off lensSo, how this works is actually pretty simple. Most SLR cameras have the ability to set a custom white balance from their internal menus. On my Canon EOS 30D, the option is pretty straight forward. be sure and consult your camera’s manual to see how to set the custom white balance as every camera is slightly different. The idea is to get the color of the light where you want to shoot by pointing the camera at a white surface and taking a photo.

White Balance SettingYou then tell the camera to look at that photo you took and set the balance from the white it sees. However far off the color is from pure white, it adjusts your camera’s white balance to compensate for the difference.

White Balance ImageWith a partially translucent lens cap, the camera sees nothing but the color of the light that the cap lets through. In theory, its just like shooting a white piece of paper, but you can point the camera anywhere you want to capture the light from the scene. All you have to do is turn off your automatic focus so the camera can shoot (focus doesn’t matter, you just need a white image) and point your camera at the scene. You take a photo, then go to the menu and tell the camera to set its white balance to that photo.From there, you go to the camera’s display settings an tell it to use the custom white balance setting. Now, you are ready to shoot. It’s that easy!White Balance Selection

In theory, you should set your white balance like this before every scene you shoot. If this works, you should never take a photo again with off color. So let’s take a look at the results.

White Balance Cap ShotsO.K., to start, let’s do a little setup here. I played around for a day and shot several different scenes. When I was done at the end of the day, I noticed the huge difference in the color of each of the white balance images I shot through the white balance cap. It was amazing to see how different the basic color temperature was on each shoot. The 3 pictures here were shot at 3 different times in 3 different places. This is the basic color difference that the custom white balance setting sees in each scene you shoot. You can get this with a real white piece of paper, but the cap just makes it so much easier and convenient.

Child’s Hawaiian Shirt for white balanceSo next, I took some outdoor photo sets using 3 different settings… AUTO white balance, a MANUAL set white balance, and the CUSTOM white balance set with the white balance cap. This first image is of my son in the afternoon shade. Although the difference isn’t huge here, you can see how blue the auto white balance is. The manual SHADE setting saturated the colors a bit more in the orange/reds. The CUSTOM with the white balance cap was pretty good. Notice I included the white balance shot in the upper right corner that the camera used to set this balance.

Flower Pod for White BalanceNext, I shot a flower pod getting ready for a summer bloom. The difference here was a bit more dramatic. Notice again the blue shift in the AUTO white balance. The manual SHADE balance saturated it pretty good, but the CUSTOM white balance from the cap was definitely the best. The colors are richest and not over-saturated. This is a definate win for the white balance cap, as you might have shot a photo of this type just using AUTO white balance and had been disappointed.

Studio Shoot - Fluorescent LightingNext, I went into the studio to put the cap through its paces. I started with my normal 5,000° k fluorescent bulbs. I shot an AUTO white balance shot, one with the balance set to FLUORESCENT under the manual setting and one with the custom white balance cap. The AUTO white balance setting here did pretty good as the 3 lights I used are all 5,000° k daylight fluorescent bulbs, but there was a bit of magenta in the background. The CUSTOM white balance shot is again the best overall color balance.

Mixed Studio LightingNow for the hardest test… multiple light sources of multiple color temperatures. Basically, how does it do when the color is all over the place. For this test, I had 6 lights on. 3 fluorescent bulbs at 5,000° k and 3 other tungsten lights at various temperatures. Basically, a light balance nightmare. In this shot comparison, the AUTO white balance photo says it all. This is a bad situation and AUTO white balance did a terrible job. The INCANDESCENT setting came out a bit green, but much better than AUTO. Once again, the CUSTOM setting with the white balance cap rules the day.

Custom White Balance ComparisonAnd perhaps the most significant comparison is the two white balance shots in the studio side by side. Remember these 2 shots were taken under completely different lighting conditions, as can be seen by the white balance cap images in the upper right hand side of the photos. Then look again at how close these two different images came out.

Conclusion… yes, an under $10.00 product can truly improve your photos, and greatly at that. Is this <$10.00 product better than the $80-$120 ExpoDisc products? Well, that is to be seen in a future review.

Now get out and start shooting!

Maurice Naragon
Digital Creations
Website Development and Marketing
Professional Photography in Orange County, CA


Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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30 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    […] the past we have looked at other products to do white balance such as the Expodisc or the Menon Lens Cap. While these can really help you get your white balance correct, the two issues with products like […]

  2. Anonymous says:

    thanks for the great write up. Have you tried using this cap with a flash? I found that in normal conditions without flash is ok but with flash it makes the scene all blue….

    let me know what you think


  3. Johnny says:

    thanks for the great write up. Have you tried using this cap with a flash? I found that in normal conditions without flash is ok but with flash it makes the scene all blue….

    let me know what you think


    • SteveM says:

      Johnny: You are right, flash will vary just like anything else, especially when you start bouncing it or using umbrellas softboxes and the like. If you are experincing a blue hue to your flash images then use the lens cap ponting it at the light source to neutralise colour cast. if it is an on camera flash you are concerened about then filling the frame with a grey card (or underexposing a white card works just the same) take a shot of the card and use that as your reference to balance on.


    Your Review very helpful, I was wondering how is it work this cab, it is amazingly good.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Great review, this has helped me a lot.

    To Johnny:
    Generally the flash will create a proper white balance so adding a custom WB will throw things off. At least this has been my experience

  6. Anonymous says:

    Instead of shooting the scene, shouldn't you put this where your subject is and point it back at you? That way you can determine the color of the light that is falling on your subject?

  7. Paul says:

    Thanks for doing this! Do include how well the cap fairs against a traditional white card in the future review too. I look forward to this test.

    Btw, do let me know if you are selling it. 😀

  8. AC says:

    I just found your website and its really great! I want to buy a white balance cap and was excited to see your review of the cheap one you found on Ebay but I saw the page of what your gear was and noticed you had Expo cap. Did you decide the Expo cap was far superior?

  9. kdawg says:

    No, you want to measure the light that is being reflected back at you – it's not exposure you're measuring so you need to be where you will take the shot from and pointing at the subject – it fits over the lens of the camera obviously so you can't put it anywhere but where your camera is.

    • SteveM says:

      WRONG: The light reflected at you will be tainted by the colour bias of the subject matter in the view, this is why autowhite balance is average at best. What if you shoot a red car against a white wall. The traditional method of photographing a grey card removes colour bias out of the shot and gives only the colour of the light source.

      To neutralise colour cast you need to know the colour 'of the light source'. You have to use incedent method in the same way you use an incedent light meter or colour meter. With the lens cap attached 'point the camera towards the light source' take an image and use that as the source custom white balance.

      The same method will work exactly the same way with flash.


  10. David says:

    I'm glad you wrote this review. I lost my lens cap last weekend at a wedding and figured for the price I could get a cheap white balance lens cap instead of the original black one from Olympus. After reading your review my mind is made up . . . get the white balance lens cap.

  11. ecam says:

    You just made my day with your test of the <$10 white balance lens cap. I hope your next article on the subject, comparing the high dollar white balance lens caps with the inexpensive but effective white balance lens cap, shows that the difference between the two makes it a waste of money, for all but professionals who are constantly dealing with light balance, to purchase the high dollar unit.

  12. Have you done a comparison with the Expodisk yet?
    How accurate is the Mennon disk – did you check it with a colour temperature meter?
    Look forward to your feedback,

  13. Mike says:

    I have been using a 77mm Mennon cap for the past one week. O dont bother using the threaded filter mount that comes with it, i just hold the cap over the end of the lens and take the test picture at correct exposure.

    I for one, MUCH prefer getting the WB right 'in camera' rather than adjusting my images later on the computer. I have a great set up, but this little plastic chinese cap has made me happier than ANYTHING I have bought in the past 2 years.

    Oh, just for fun, try the same technique with the lid from a tube of pringles chips. Even that is better than the AWB setting.

  14. Mark says:

    Great review! You've mentioned that,

    All you have to do is turn off your automatic focus so the camera can shoot (focus doesn’t matter, you just need a white image) and point your camera at the scene.

    My question is, do i switch it back to auto when all the white balance settings are done?

    please advise!


  15. great! my question is, how about indoor shooting with flash, shoot i take with flash on or off for the customize wb?

    • kgarrison says:

      You always do your white balance with the lights on that you are using. So with flash, you would use your flash to illuminate the scene when getting your white balance.

  16. WFloyd says:

    Hi, Does it matter what white balance setting to use for taking the shot with the cap?
    I have have experimented with 4 different WB settings and get different final results.

  17. Donovan says:

    I would say the method to use the light reflected from your subject is wrong. If your subject is all red, the reflected light will be red. So your white lens cap will produce a reddish white, which will be cancelled out. This would result in a wrong WB, because you actually want your subject to be red. So you have to be at the location of your subject, pointing to the light source (assuming it's white light).

  18. Photographe says:

    Very intressting this review. I didn't new the existence of such gadget.

  1. March 2, 2008

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