Understanding camera white balance settings

Camera White Balance Settings

White Balance is an often overlooked feature that can make a huge difference to your product imagery. After taking photos you might sometimes notice that some of them have an orange, blue or yellow tint to them. It’s unusual to notice these discolourations with the naked eye since the mind adapts quickly to compensate but the camera is less forgiving and different sources of light can cast a different colour or temperature over an image. For example, fluorescent lighting (think strip lights in supermarkets) add a bluish hue to photos whereas more traditional incandescent (tungsten) type light bulbs (the type you’ll find in most bedside lamps) can add a yellow or orange tint. By adjusting white balance you can correct these tints so your image colours appear neutral as they do to the naked eye.

You’ll most likely find that your camera has several White Balance presets that you can make use of to correct these discolourations. You should switch to these settings before taking photos.

auto-white-balanceAuto: as the name suggests, your camera will adjust the white balance automatically based on the type of light it detects in the environment that your shooting photos. This may lead to inconsistent results between photographs however.

incandescent-white-balanceIncandescent (tungsten): if you’re shooting images under typical domestic lighting conditions (think yellowish light given off by light bulbs) then switch to this setting to cool down the temperature of your shots and remove yellow/orange hues.

fluorescent-white-balanceFluorescent: if you’re shooting images under fluorescent lighting (think strip lights in offices and supermarkets that give off whiteish light) then switch to this setting to warm up the temperature of your shots and remove blue hues.

daylight-white-balanceSunlight: this setting will help you to capture neutral colours when shooting photos outdoors.

flash-white-balanceFlash: it’s worth noting that camera flashes give off a light similar to that of fluorescent lighting which can result in cold looking images with blue hues. Select the flash preset if you’re using flash to help warm up the temperature of your shots.

cloud-white-balanceCloudy: light has a cooler tone when under a cloudy sky so selecting this setting will help warm up the temperate of your shots, a little more so than using the sunlight setting.

shadow-white-balanceShade: if you’re photographing in the shade then the light is naturally quite cold with blueish hues. Select the shade setting to boost the temperature of your shots.

k-white-balanceManual white balance colour temperature (K): if you’re shooting on a more advanced digital SLR then you may have a manual white balance colour temperature setting which will allow you to make finer adjustments than the above presets allow. This is particularly useful if you’re shooting under special lighting in a photographic studio.

pre-white-balancePRE: short for preset manual, this setting allows you to take a manual white balance measurement from a neutral surface (usually from a piece of white paper) so you can create your own white balance preset.