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White Balance

tomcat606 9 108
17 May 2012 9:39PM
White balance if you shot in Raw is there any need to do anything apart from just leave the camera on auto WB and then do any alterations in Lightroom or any of the other softwares. I only ask because of the array of equipment on the market to help set your white balance.

Just asking Steve Wink

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ianrobinson Plus
8 1.2k 8 United Kingdom
17 May 2012 9:50PM
very rare do i use custom white balance, i use auto most of the time and use raw, i then adjust if necessary in one of 3 softwares i use, so no i don't personally think it matters at all.
Auto white balance is probably the best to use although some will state otherwise just to look more pro than you Smile
Ewanneil 8 1.1k 2 Scotland
17 May 2012 10:00PM
Bryan Peterson, author of "Understanding Exposure" advocates setting your WB control once and then leaving alone. But rather than leave it set on Auto he suggests setting it to "Cloudy". He does this because he prefers his images to be warm but acknowledges that if you don't like the result (and you shoot in RAW) you can always change it later using software.
Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
17 May 2012 10:30PM
I'm with Ian.
I have it set to 'auto' all of the time.
My theory is exactly the inverse of Bryan Peterson's. I also shoot exclusively in RAW but rather than undo a setting to change it I start with a (theoretically, at least) blank canvas.
Modern DSLR's 'auto' W/B gets it about right 90% of the time anyway.
The biggest problem that you'll encounter with using different settings in camera (apart from having to alter it later in software anyway) is that you'll forget to change it between shots.
User_Removed 16 2.8k 11 United Kingdom
18 May 2012 7:04AM
I leave mine in auto unless I'm shooting strong colours i.e. Bluebells. Then I set uit to cloudy which gives those colours a little more punch.
Dave B 15 113 United Kingdom
18 May 2012 7:37AM
The Bryan Paterson 'set WB to cloudy' point is interesting.

I always shoot RAW and then tweak the WB in processing. I had always assumed that whatever the WB was set to in-camera it was ignored in the capture of the RAW data. Bryan Paterson is suggesting then that this is not the case? I've always just left the WB on auto by default.

The only time I think about the in-camera WB setting is on the odd occasions what I shoot RAW + JPEG (so that I can quickly bung the JPEGs on to a CD and ask the client which RAW files they would like me to work on for them). For this I leave WB on auto mostly, only changing it if there is a definate reasion to do so. Again my assumption was that, whilst the RAW file did not have the in-camera WB applied, the JPEG would.

Is my thinking correct or have I been wrong all these years?

Cheers, Dave B.
steveh5 7 90 United Kingdom
18 May 2012 8:19AM
I have always understood that in RAW, WB is not used but is recorded in the EXIF data. When viewing on a screen a WB value is needed and the one recorded with the shot is used by default. The choice it then yours if you wish to use it or change it. If WB is critical I take a photo of a Grey card somewhere in the shoot, then if the light doesn't change it can be used as a known reference point in the processing stage. The main point is in RAW the WB can be changed as you wish on post processing without any loss in quality.

Steve h
Ewanneil 8 1.1k 2 Scotland
18 May 2012 8:30AM
The WB settings are fixed to the JPEGs but only attached to the RAW files, meaning you can alter the settings later in post processing. Try it for yourself. Set your WB to something wholly unsuitable to whatever the prevailing light conditions are; take a few shots and then play with the JPEGs and RAW files on your PC. You will be able to alter the WB on the raw files to achieve the desired result but probably wont be able to to the same with the JPEGs.

Interestingly, the manual for my Nikon suggests, "Auto white balance is recommended with most light sources."
geffers7 Plus
7 51 1 United Kingdom
18 May 2012 8:34AM
Mine is now set on daylight all of the time although I shoot in raw and can tweak it if necessary. I changed after reading David Noton's book - he uses daylight setting all of the time and I found that if using auto at sunrise and sunset the colour tended to be neutralised. Yes I can change at the processing stage but the less I have to do then the better.
Nick_w Plus
11 4.3k 99 England
18 May 2012 8:44AM
I always use AWB in landscapes. If you set WB in camera higher than that suggested it moves the red channel to the RHS, which can often clip in the highlights. Even if you check the histogram religiously it's easy to miss if the red channel has clipped ( and unrecoverable) and impossible to see if you only have the main luminosity graph showing.

AWB tends to give an equalised graph, it's so easy to set in RAW, you could even set daylight to be apPlied in inport,
Dave B 15 113 United Kingdom
18 May 2012 9:04AM
@ Ewanniel

Ah, yes, that would seem right.

I understand the post processing on RAW or JPEG, it was what physically happened in terms of information capture / application that I was suddenly a little uncertain of. I had assumed that whatever the natural colour temperature in a scene is then that is what would be recorded in the RAW file no matter what the WB was set to in-camera. I've never had reason to test it (a task for the to-do list then Wink ).

There is some interesting rerading over at the Canbridge in Colour web site ....... look for their 'RAW File Format' and 'White Balance' tutorials.

Cheers for the info, Dave B.
puertouk 6 1.1k 17 United Kingdom
18 May 2012 10:17AM
The thing to do Dave, is take a shot with AWB, then go through all the settings to see how it effects the image
duratorque 15 427 United Kingdom
18 May 2012 12:31PM
If I am shooting without flash, I leave it on auto. If I am shooting indoor with flash, I set up a custom white balance and gel the flash to match. This way I get a good match between the ambient light and people lit by the flash.
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
18 May 2012 12:46PM
I do change mine off of auto from time to time, but only as i want to see the corrected colour on the camera screen, and also as sometimes i give people small jpegs straight out of camera ( I always shoot Raw + small JPG).
Typically i change it to flash for home studio work and maybe tungsten for in house lighting.
But as said above for all the really important stuff it comes into LR and get adjusted there anyway.

I do feel lazy that i've never learnt how to set a custom WB with a grey card.
sherlob Plus
12 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
18 May 2012 1:26PM
Colour is a vital part of composition. I do play with the WB setting in camera at the time of exposure - often trying several WB settings for the same scene in order to get a better 'feel' for the possible impact of colour on the composition used. I tend to favour warmer WB settings - and push the WB to be warmer than the scene is in reality. I do occasionally change my composition as a basis of these experiments. I will however then tweak the WB of the resulting RAW file in LR - usually cooling it down a little.


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