Camera Basics: White Balance

White balance is a feature that ensures that the colour white is reproduced accurately regardless of the type of lighting under which a photo is taken. At a very basic level, it is common to use the Auto White Balance setting. However, this setting is no one-size-fits-all solution. For a white balance setting that best suits the lighting source, choose one of the preset white balance settings on your camera. (Reported by Tomoko Suzuki)

White balance makes sure your pictures turn out with the appropriate colour tone for the lighting

Points-to-note

– Its original function is to ensure that white appears white in your photos.
– You can also use it to add a colour cast to your photos.

Depending on the light source, the photo you take of a white object may take on a colour cast, appearing reddish or bluish, for instance. This is something that is not apparent to the naked eye, because our brain automatically corrects the colour casting so that the white object still appears white regardless of the light source. However, cameras don’t have that ability. Instead, this function is carried out by the white balance (WB) function, which ensures that white objects are depicted as white in photos regardless of the light source.

Most of the time, if you were to shoot with white balance set to the “Auto” mode, which is also commonly known as Auto White Balance (AWB), the colours in the photo would be quite close to those that you see with your naked eye. However, for some  scenes, “Auto” is not able to make the appropriate corrections, which results in colours being depicted differently from those that you see. When this happens, choose a white balance setting from among the presets. You will have a few options, such as “Daylight”, “Shade”, “Cloudy”, “Tungsten light”, “White fluorescent light” and so on.

However, you can also use the WB function to intentionally add a colour cast to your photos. Try it out for yourself: First, take a photo with the “Daylight” preset. Compare it with photos taken with “White fluorescent light” or “Tungsten light”. See that the images are more bluish in tone than the one shot with “Daylight”? Next, try “Cloudy” and “Shade”. You will get images that are warmer in tone.

Take note of these effects—you can use them to create drastic changes to the look of your final image.

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