Understanding White Balance

Manual Mode


The term "white balance" refers to the process of adjusting colours to match the colour of the light source. So that white objects appear white.

Sunlight, incandescent bulbs, and fluorescent lighting can all be used to illuminate subjects but in order to maintain the accuracy of the colours in your image, your camera compensates for the colour hue of your light source when adjusting the white balance. This is so that, the areas of your image that are completely white appear white and do not take on a warmer or colder tone as a result of the colour of the light source


The two concepts of white balance and colour temperature are strongly linked. Colour temperature is measured in kelvins. Kelvins are simply denoted by the letter "K."


The colour temperature of light refers to its relative warmth or coolness. Every light has a distinct colour, from the sun to a torch. The light's colour tints all of the colours in the scene, including skin tones. Some lights cool down the colours while others make the scene appears warm

Our goal is to make the colours look as natural as possible, with no tinting of the whites. To achieve this, we change the colours to a neutral grey shade. This can be fixed in-camera or during post-production. 

Candlelight and tungsten, for example, have extremely warm colour temperatures ranging from 1500 to 3000 K. Fluorescent lighting have a slightly warm cast (typically around 4000-4500K). The colour temperature of the Daylight white balance setting is relatively neutral at 5000-6500K, making it the best choice for shooting outdoors.


Your camera's white balance settings ensure that you have the most accurate colours possible. While automatic white balance is a commonly used option, there are many other options to consider. 

Manual white balance is sometimes required in difficult situations. Fortunately, most cameras include a variety of manual white balance modes that allow you to fine-tune your colours while saving time on post-processing.


Most cameras use the "Auto" white balance setting by default, which works well most of the time. 

When you use auto white balance, your camera examines the scene you're attempting to photograph and selects a colour temperature (in Kelvin) that it believes will work best. 

Your camera, on the other hand, can easily become confused if the scene is lit by a variety of light sources with varying colour temperatures or consists primarily of one colour (e.g, white snow, sky etc.) or there are no colours that are white or close to white.

All of these different scenarios can cause a colour cast in your image, so it is best to control your white balance manually.

In tungsten or incandescent lighting situation, for example, when you select the lightbulb icon from your preset list, your camera makes adjustments to compensate for what it knows is a warmer light temperature. 

It achieves this by using a cooler colour temperature in warm light and a warmer colour temperature in cool light. Y

You can adjust your white balance in the menu system of your camera or by pressing a dedicated "WB" button on the camera's body. The most common options are tungsten or incandescent (usually a light bulb icon), fluorescent (a fluorescent tube), daylight (the sun), flash (a jagged arrow), cloudy (a cloud), and shade (a house with shade on one side).