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White Balance >

19.1 - Introduction

A Problem

Most beginning photographers have little awareness of the color of the light they're using when photographing.

The main reason for this is called chromatic adaptation.

Our eyes adapt to the color of the illumination.

For example, florescent lights, unless they're full spectrum, produce green light.

However, we perceive the light as being white.

White Balance

Set the white balance to correct for different colors of light.

These are the common settings for this feature.

Automatic (AWB)

Measures the color of the light and attempts to correct it.

Sun Use on a sunny day at midday.


Removes excess orange of light bulbs


Removes the excess green of fluorescent tubes (except full-spectrum tubes)

Cloudy Removes blue from overcast weather
Shade Use on a sunny day to remove cyan in the shade
Flash If your flash is consistently too blue, use this setting.
Custom/Preset See below

Custom (Preset) White Balance

A custom or preset white balance is one that you create with your camera.

Your camera measures the color of the light, and creates a corrective setting.

Do so in the following situations.

Different Colored Light Sources

If different colored light sources are illuminating the subject, such as a mixture of tungsten and fluorescent lighting in a kitchen, create a custom white balance setting.

More Precise Color

If you want more precise color than that provided by the above white balance icons, create a custom white balance setting.

For example, tungsten lighting varies according to the type of bulb and wattage.

The tungsten white balance icon uses an average tungsten setting.

You can get a more precise white balance setting by using the camera to measure the color of the light in the scene.

No Shade Preset

All cameras have a preset for overcast light, which is too blue.

Some cameras omit a preset for light in the shade, which is cyan (blue/green).

If Your camera lacks a preset of light in the shade, create and use a custom preset.