What is the White balance (WB)?

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On a digital camera, white balance solves the problem of colour casts without the need for the filters that are used with film.

There is no such thing as a pure white in the outside world. A building that is painted white, for instance, will change color during the day. As the color of the light bouncing off it changes. If the blue light is hitting it, the wall will photograph as blue.

White balance gives you options for correcting color balance for a number of different light sources.

Once the camera has established a neutral white all the colors in your pictures will fall into place. And the color cast that has been taken out of the white will also be removed from the colors.

Many of the new camera models also include the facility the fine-tune the color balance in the camera after you have taken the shot, which can also be done in Photoshop.

The danger of digital photography is that it always attempts to make things uniform, and this is most evident in the white balance mode.

WB technology has been developed to make every color picture you shoot look as if you have taken it in direct sunlight.

The end result of this is that you could end up with blandly normal pictures that lack the excitement that all the amazingly variable light sources provide us with.

Although it’s important to understand the white balance mode and its functions, don’t allow it to commandeer your own assessment of light.


This automatically sets your camera to suit any lighting conditions, giving a fairly good neutral color balance.

However, if you just leave white balance set to auto all the time you are in danger of missing out on capturing the subtle beauty of different light conditions.

When shooting in daylight, for example, try setting the white balance to the direct sunlight setting. So you can capture the different light qualities that change throughout the day.


An ordinary household tungsten bulb gives incandescent light. It is much warmer than daylight and requires the camera to add blue to balance it back to neutral.

The incandescent settings provide a more neutral color balance than auto, which tends to be warmer.


Use this setting when you are shooting in fluorescent light. It will achieve a much better color balance than auto white balance succeeds in doing.

Direct sunlight

Like the daylight-balanced colour film, this setting gives a natural colour balance in direct sunlight in the middle of the day.


Flash tends to be slightly cooler than daylight. This setting warms it up a little.


On overcast days the light is cooler. This setting warms it to match direct sunlight.


Light in the shade is much cooler than bright sunlight because it mainly comes from the indirect blue skylight. This setting warms the light to match direct sunlight.


You can manually set the white balance to correct any light source to neutral.

This is accomplished by photographing a grey or white surface in the light in which you are working. You can also set the color balance to a pre-selected photograph of your choice. Refer to your manual for instructions.

White balance is very important if you are a wedding photographer, too. Then the white has to be clear and pure. For more information about Wedding Photography see on