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Quick Custom White Balance Question

I purchased an 18% grey card (along with white and black) from a photo store, just to play around with and learn about Custom White Balance. I read the manual for my camera, and it explained everything, but left something out, which I think is important: when you take the picture of the grey card, what white balance setting do you use? Would it be one of the canned settings to match the lighting conditions you are in, or do you set it to Auto? The answer may be obvious to you guys, but not really to me right now.

Thanks - Dave


  • I have found when "relying" on a grey card that it gives me many different readings depending on where I click on in in Camera Raw. So, I just set my camera according to Kelvins and that usually gets me pretty close.
  • I have a Canon T3i, and can't set by Kelvin. I was just experimenting and trying to learn a bit more. I am not using it in post-processing. I would like to know what setting of in-camera white balance to use when taking a shot of the grey card.
  • It depends on your light source. You should have at least the basic daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, etc. settings, if I'm reading your question correctly.
  • qrickmanqrickman Member
    edited January 2015

    It should not make a difference which white balance setting
    you use to take the photo of the gray card.
    The camera will correct the white balance of the image when you ask it to
    set the custom white balance.

  • OK, thanks. My camera has all the "canned" settings - sun, shade, fluorescent, tungsten, etc. Maybe I will just set it to AWB. But, since I'm trying to learn about this, I will do some playing around with the different settings.
  • Your camera has a facility for setting a custom WB. You put it in that mode and in the lighting you will be using, you zoom in on your gray or white card and "take a picture" which is part of the instructions for acquiring the WB. Then you have set the custom WB, and subsequent photos taken will use that. I tend to not bother with that - I generally use auto WB and shoot raw and I can change it later if needed.
  • I just shot a grey card twice with a 600ex, 1 set at 5500k and the 2nd at AWB. They both measured between 6050k and 6200k in Camera Raw.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2015
    You are looking at 2 ways in your question.

    1] Setting a Custom White Balance IN Camera

    2] Using the Grey Card to set your WB IN Post.

    Nikonguy explained the first by using the camera setting to obtain a Custom WB, it does not require you to set any WB itself, totally done automatically in camera by the camera for that custom WB.

    The other option is to include the grey card in the general scene for that series, set WB to what you 'think' and take a shot, remove card and then shoot the subjects, then in post open in RAW, using the WB Picker/Selection Tool, click on the grey card and it will then (or should) give that grey section a default of 128/128/128 thereabouts in the RGB values and 'neutralise' the color to correct.

    You can then of course still adjust, and as Nikonguy said, even if you used a Custom WB set in camera, can still change anyway.

    I also personally choose Kelvin manually in my camera to get as close as possible.

    Either way, I think you would be still changing WB in post anyway, since you do not want a totally neutral WB, you want a 'pleasing WB' to the eye, especially for skintones.

    Note: Make sure though that you have your exposure pretty much correct since that will definitely influence your WB settings and if you have to bring up a badly under-exposed image, that most certainly will change your colour.

  • I think the question I was looking to be answered was - what WB do I set the camera when I take the picture of the grey card - was answered by Nikonguy. But, I didn't realize you set the camera to Custom WB to take the picture of the grey card; I thought you took a picture of the grey card with the WB setting that most closely matched the ambient, THEN put it in Custom WB, select the shot of the grey card, and press "OK".
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Depends on the Camera, with my Nikon I just select Custom, take a shot of a white object (not grey card anything white does the trick) in the light/colour I am shooting under, does not even have to be focussed like Canon has to be, take the shot, it will then tell me if the shot was ok, then just press OK, or if shot not good, take another. Then just select that Custom WB in the camera and start shooting.

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