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White Balance

RubyRuby Member
edited April 2013 in home
I'm just wondering if there are some tips on setting up manual white balance as sometime my shots seem to be a bit too yellow. Cheers Ruby


  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    Are you looking for general ideas or camera specific information?
  • RubyRuby Member
    Just interested in how others set their white balance. Ruby
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited April 2013

    Manual as in setting the WB under the Kelvin setting on your camera I presume.

    I set WB in Kelvin, don't use Auto, Daylight, Cloudy or Shade settings, as I know those settings in Kelvin and can then fine tune it if need be.

    eg: Daylight I find 5560K [Nikon D3s] to be good daylight; Cloudy 6250+; Shade 7140+; now those are Nikon [D3s] settings and they jump up in unusual amounts whereas Canon jumps in 100K increments.

    When using Tungsten light [full] I set around 2800-3000K; 1/2 tungsten gel on flash it's around the 3500-3700 -/+; but if fluorescent, well I try to have dominant flash as it's slightly different. Sometimes you can get it great, other times you are left scratching your head as all fluros are not the same, many many vary in temp they emit.

    If you set the WB via a specific WB Style [Daylight/Cloudy, etc.] setting you are stuck with that and the difference between 'Daylight' to 'Cloudy' may be too much if in sun and it's not quite warm/cool enough, so by setting it in Kelvin [manually] and I look at the LCD and it appears too warm at 5560, just 1 click back will adjust nicely, or vice-versa too cool, 1 click up will warm it up.

    Another way to see how the WB setting is to check the RGB Histogram, not just the Luminosity [single grey color histogram] and if all the colors line up and peak roughly in the same place generally indicates an even/neutral WB, but it does depend on the scene, and having a completely neutral WB will a lot of the times not be as good as a slightly warmer/cosy scene.

  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    edited April 2013
    Depending on where I am at, indoors in a controlled studio setting, or running all over a wedding, will change what i do. 9 times out of 10, I will determine the necessity to match ambient and flash with gels (if flash is being used). Or determine the general type of light I will be shooting in.

    For weddings

    Since I am shooting raw, I will lock the camera into the appropriate white balance setting (shade, daylight...) and shoot away. Any changes if necessary can be made in post later. Never, ever using auto wb will save so much time in your workflow since you can adjust an entire group of shots at once instead of making minute adjustments to a huge number of photos to get them looking the same. Most of the time only very minor adjusts are needed.

    In a studio

    It is mostly the same as above, but, as an option, if the subject will remain mainly in the same position to the lights, I will expose properly for a grey card and photograph that. That will become my target neutral later in post and it helps clear up any odd color casts I may not catch chimping. I find true grey a little cold sometimes and end up warming things up a touch in the end. Many ways to do it. Have to find the best way for you.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited April 2013

    PS: You have to remember that not all cameras brands have the same WB settings and where 5560K may look great for daylight from a Nikon, setting close to that in a Canon or other camera may be too warm or not warm enough.

    Also, don't go by the numbers you see when in the RAW program, I guarantee you that you can shoot a file say at precisely 5500K, open it in Adobe Camera RAW, LightRoom, Aperture, Capture One, they will all read different in the Temp/Tint values shown as each program has it's own algorithm set of figures whereby it displays it's own values from those.
  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    Trev also has made many good points!
  • ZenonZenon Member
    Trev had a lot of good info. Unless I'm using gels I just set it to average and deal with it in PP. With gels I'm doing what Trev does but I still fine tune during PP.

    ColorChecker Passport is a pretty good resource if you want to save PP time.
  • JerryJerry Member
    I always set a WB and try to stick to it, never use Auto WB anymore. I would however like to comment on something other people brings up every now and then regarding Auto WB.

    Whether you use Auto WB or a set WB doesn't matter regarding the PP. You can still change a whole batch of photos to the same WB in PP even if you are in Auto WB...just adjust the first photo, select all the photos from the same light environment and synchronize them all at once. (Exactly same procedure as witha set WB)
  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    edited April 2013
    Jerry is correct. To be more precise as to what I meant is that you can have variances in awb frame to frame depending on what is going on in the frame. I mean this more toward a wedding or event situations where things are not under your control consistently. But we are all agreeing that awb is really not your friend. For the most part.
  • jhilgersjhilgers Member
    edited April 2013
    The only time I have used a manually set WB is when I am indoors. I normally gel my flashes with the appropriate level of CTS and then set it to the correct WB K setting. The exact setting to use with each level of CTS gel is easily obtainable online.

    Before I do any shooting I try to set my exposure the best I can for the shooting conditions. I will normally pull out my Calibration target: http://preview.tinyurl.com/cd2xcpf and then fill my frame with as much of the white portion of it as I can. I will take a few shots and adjust my settings as necessary until the white displays properly on my camera's histogram.

    Once I get it where it should be, I can take a normal shot of the entire target and all the colors will normally fall into place on my camera's histogram as they should. On both my Canon 1D-X and 5D Mark III this is "almost" 2 stops higher than what my camera thinks it should be. It all depends how well I expose for using my target; sometimes I may want to underexpose my abient light a lot, so I will have to fudge this process a bit and intentionally underexpose it.

    At this point I can set a custom WB if I want to create one for that shooting situation. All I need to do is use the photo I just took of the target and it is done. From here on out I begin taking my photos. If I run into a situation outside where I constantly have the sun peaking in and out from behind the clouds causing my exposure to change a lot I will normally not mess with it a lot. If I leave it alone, I can easily adjust it in Lightroom afterwards because it will not be too drastic of an adjustment to make when I apply an exposure change to all the photos of that same shot group.
  • LenLen Member
    I shoot a Nikon D3s and my portrait work seems a bit on the cool side, so I purchased a Passport Color Checker and I like the skin tones it produces. Of course with it you must custom white balance. I hope this helps.
  • jhilgersjhilgers Member
    edited April 2013
    You can use whatever WB setting you want in your camera in advance before using the ColorChecker passport; your not forced to custom WB. The ColorChecker passport just allows you to fine tune whatever WB was used more to your liking afterwards by clicking on the select rows that are custom created for WB specifically for "landscape" and "portrait" photo situations.
  • RolfRolf Member
    I mostly shoot events and shoot indoors and quite often with flash.

    I typically go to K for my WB.
    a) If I am purely Ambient light - I use an Expodisc and shoot in Pre mode (I really wish Nikon would show the K reading on camera, when you take a Pre mode shot - that would be simply fantastic to get accurate ambient Kelvin readings real, real quickly)

    b) If I am at an event,
    - Morning or evening or night and what kind of a shoot (hall or tight shots) ? Essentially, do I need to worry about ambient or am I going to override with flash only (in which case it's real easy). Typically I want to be taking in some ambient for sure.
    - I take a look at the lights (ambient and bulbs etc). That gives me a gauge. More ambient than Tungsten or other way around.
    - I use a handy little tool called White Balance on Android phone...I am not 100% convinced it's rock solid - but it validates my earlier gauge. So I get a reading of say 2900...I know I am tungsten territory ( and if using flash - will use a Full CTS gel)

    Once I have that:
    - Set my Camera setting.
    Take a shot of a white paper (which I carry) or a white tablecloth. Does it look right? if good, I'm re set on WB. Now I start working on Exposure.
    - Add my gelled flash to the equation and shot wider to see drop off checking for background WB (grungy color or smooth transition from Flash to background)

    Good to go or if I have to, adjust to taste.

    How long does all of this take? 3-4 mins.

    Interesting side note:
    If I am at an event ( typically evening) with 2800K WB - I'll look for some windows and take shots of people in front of them. I get a beautiful Blue light coming through. Ambient is at 5500 or higher and my light is at 2800 --- background is pretty cool (no pun intended).

  • We shoot Raw @ 5600 K.; splits the difference between Daylight and Flash w/our Canon frames... then adust in post... Ed K
  • X-Rite Color Checker Passport for me too and there are several good videos on youtube.com showing how to use it properly.

    Remember there's also a part to set your white balance.
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