View Full Version : White Balance Approach

04-10-2008, 03:38 PM
I'm curious to find out how people approach white balance. Do you manually set it before each shoot? Do you just keep it on Auto? Do you dial in the preprogrammed settings (direct sunlight, flash, incand, cloudy etc)?

I find the quality of my daylight shots to heavily depend on how white balance is set. I find the direct sunlight setting on my D60 really sucks when shooting in .... well... direct sunlight.... everything appears artificially blue. I usually use the cloudy or shade setting when in direct sunlight. One of these two (i forget which one) usually shoots a little too warm.

04-16-2008, 01:36 PM
What did I ask for the Caramilk secret or something???

I know that on "professional shoots" that you pro's are using white or grey cards... or expodiscs....or post processing white balance...

but what about when you are walking with your camera? impromptu stuff?

04-16-2008, 03:59 PM
The auto white balance is not very auto and the daylight setting tends to be somewhat on the cool side which can make photos in shade areas really look off colour. Night shots can tend toward orange or yellow even in auto mode.

For shooting outside, I tend to get good colour by shooting in the "Vivid" menu choice and the shade or cloudy setting to warm up the colour a little.
I also use an enhancement filter on my lens.

Inside buildings colour balance has got more complicated. Incandescent, fluorescent, mercury vapour etc. and new lights even having a different colour than older lights. A mixture of light from outside makes it even more interesting. In those situations I find that it is just necessary to experiment. Sometimes auto works. Other times tungsten may be the necessary choice.
For really important inside shooting inside, I might even tweak the colour temperature in the menu until I get the colour I want.


04-17-2008, 11:58 AM
I find the auto-white balance excellent on my canon 30D and I almost always use flash or daylight as lighting so my camera stays set to auto white balance. I have played with the tungsten setting and it worked well.

Setting the white balance would come in most handy when the lighting is mixed (Example tungsten and daylight) and in that case I would set the WB to the more predominant light source.

Hope that helps a bit...


04-17-2008, 08:41 PM
There are a couple of issues related to white balance. One way to judge colour accuracy beyond the grey card is to shoot a pale colour such as beige, light orange, purple (with blue & red in it). Move from looking at your shot on the LCD to the real thing and see the slight differences.

What you will find is that camera contrast settings can transform a beige into a pale white or a carmel colour into a brown. Minor differences in exposure also change colours.

Yellow tends to be the hue to overcome in a lot of outside night shots. Trying to get true white out of snow at night without flash is a real challenge.

Even if you get close to accurate colour, then the issue becomes what do you want. Do you want more vibrant colour, colour that is slightly warmer in tone, a little more saturation, etc.?

In formats, shooting in RAW and editing in tiff will give you more colours and tones to work with, but if that range of colours and tones is not in the original then they will not magically appear in your edit.


Alex Wilson
04-17-2008, 11:10 PM
If you are shooting RAW, then shoot whatever is closest or consistent -- but it really doesn't matter since you can always reset the colour temperature when processing the image.

The latitude stored in a RAW file will be the same regardless of what white-balance setting is used to take the picture. The only difference might be if you were using an autoexposure setting and the camera adjusted the exposure based on the WB setting and the scene -- but I'm not actually sure if any cameras do that.

If you are not shooting RAW, then getting it right is a bit more of an issue. Does your camera have a manual WB setting mode?

As a last option, if you like shooting in direct light but find the presets consistently a bit off, what about a (real, physical) filter for your lens? a really slight warming or cooling filter might give you the exact look you want.

04-18-2008, 03:09 PM
Hey Alex,

I used to shoot RAW with Adobe RGB, but as a noob hobbyist I found the conversion/adjustment process a little painful. I'll take a few hundred pic's a week and find the process of deleting these down to 50 time consuming... never mind processing all 50... To be truthful... I really don't mind my "in camera" processing.... It does a pretty good job with sharpness and saturation... the white balance is the only variable that I seem to have to monitor.... I have ton's of options for setting white balance on the D60 and was just curious as to how people approach it..... I'm with Tegan on the indoor thing.... coloured walls seem to be perceived differently by the camera and require extra fiddling with w.b. ...

I was thinking about picking up an expodisc.... seems to be the fastest way to white balance without fussing...


The RAW files always come out flat (like they are supposed to)... this is uninspiring when you download your fresh batch of pic's and you are only half way there... On shoots that are really important to me I set the camera to RAW+Jpeg.... that way I have the RAW files for future if needed...

Has anyone here used an Expodisc???

04-18-2008, 08:25 PM
I was not at all impressed by the indoor expodisc examples. The colour may have been accurate but the light loss, dark area, and lack of detail toward the bottom of the shots was very noticeable.

The new Sony Alphas automatically and selectively expose the dark areas to bring up colour and detail to prevent these obvious visual problem.


04-18-2008, 10:14 PM
i guess thats why i'm the noob and your the pro..... cuz I went back and couldn't find anything noticeable that you mentioned.... to me... the white balanced images simply look better...