What is the white balance, what does it mean and how does it affect the photo? In this article, we make a general introduction to the subject of white balance.

What we have to say in the first place for white balance is the setting that most DSLR users do not need to change directly in their settings, or even leave this change to the photo processing stage after shooting.

Of course, you can see the serious effects of white balance settings on your photos like many other elements that have an effect on photography.

In this article, we will try to define what white settings are and simply define them for users who have never thought about “what’s the white balance” and generally took photos with auto (WB).

The primary reason we adjust the white balance is to get as accurate colors as possible for the photo we take.

The white balance feature in the cameras exists to record the colors as accurately as possible according to the light provided by the environment we are in taking the photo. We want the photographs to always be as we see them from the viewfinder, so the white balance exists to correct the color deviations in the environment in which the photograph was taken at this stage, as we see it.

camera white balance settings

So why is white expression used? Because the tip the photographer gives to the camera when adjusting the white balance is white. The photographer tells where the white color is in the photo and minimizes the margin of error relative to the ambient light of the camera. In short, the cameras make arrangements for other colors according to the white color information they have acquired thanks to the white balance.

We can adjust the white balance settings that we prefer, at the time of shooting the photo if we want, or at the processing stage of the photo if we wish.

Color Temperature and Kelvin Settings

As we know, the main source of the photographs we take is light. The color of the light changes according to the direction of the sun during the day. At the same time, every light has a warmth, that is, its color. This is called whether the light is hot or cold. A light in shades of blue adds coolness to the photo, while an orange in shades of yellow adds warmth. Below you can see these gradients with their respective Kelvin degrees.

what is white balance
WB and Kelvin color spectrum work in inverse logic

Color temperature, i.e. light, is measured in cameras (Kelvin). In other words, the values ​​we select for the white balance adjustment are Kelvin ranging from 2800 to 10000. Kelvin value turns red as it approaches 10000, and blue as it approaches 2700.

Predefined White Balance Types
You can find the descriptions of some of the predefined white balance (WB) variants available on the cameras below.

Auto – Auto WB selects the correct white balance in most cases and is completely assigned by the machine. We only use this setting if we are not sure which white balance setting to choose.

Bulb (Tungsten) – Incandescent bulbs, which are used frequently in our daily life, have a temperature value set to 3200 Kelvin. You can see that orange / yellow tones are dominant in photos taken in environments lit with this type of bulb. The “Tungsten” mode with bulb symbol is a WB that can be preferred to balance this color tone.

Fluorescent – It refers to the environments illuminated by fluorescent lamps and is the WB value set to 4000-5000 Kelvin. It usually has a cool blue tone and can affect the entire photo if not properly adjusted to white.

Daylight – It has a temperature value set to 5000-5500 Kelvin. It is preferred for shooting in open air where daylight is effective.

Cloudy – The WB value set to 6000 Kelvin. It has shades between daylight and shade. It is preferred in cloudy or closed weather.

Flash – Usually, when using flash, it is necessary to adjust according to 5000-5500 Kelvin, which is the color temperature needed by these devices. It is not used very often, as the automatic WB mode naturally provides this.

Shade – Shade white balance with warm tones has a value set to 7000 Kelvin. It is generally used for environments such as buildings or tree shadows.

Selective / Custom – It is used to give the most accurate white balance by measuring in multi-illuminated environments. In order to get correct results, the camera is told which one is white selectively.

Kelvin – Available on intermediate and advanced DSLR cameras. It helps you choose the value of Kelvin. It is a WB usually used by professional users.

what is white balance

The most important thing to consider when changing the white balance settings is the indoor and outdoor lighting conditions. Let’s remind you that you need to update your balance settings according to the change in light sources.

In addition, it is absolutely necessary to take RAW (raw) photos. The photos taken in RAW allow the raw data to be stored without any visual processing. The data recorded in this way allows the photographer to edit the RAW image without losing image quality.

If you need more ideas, technique, tips and tutorials you can check our Photography page here.

May your light be bright. Stay healthy.

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Digital photography ideas, tips, techniques and tutorials for camera owners of all levels.