White Balance Modes on DSLR Cameras


There are various color temperatures of the light during the whole day. And the white balance refers to the process in which the color casts created by various color temperatures are removed. Our human eye is far better in the color processing, and it is possible to find what should be in the white color with the human eye. But a camera needs some helps.

Temperatures of Colors

As I discussed earlier, you will have different color temperatures for different time periods of a day. The measurement unit of light is kelvins, and 5000 k (as short for kelvins) is needed to create the neutral light. As I listed below, you will understand the various temperatures given by different types of light.

  • From 1000 to 2000k: You have candlelight
  • From 2500 to 3500k:  The light is tungsten (Normal household bulb)
  • From 3000 to 4000k: You have the light of sunrise/sunset (as the skies are clear)
  • From 4000 to 5000k:  The light is fluorescent
  • From 5000 to 5500k: You have the light of electronic flash
  • From 5000 to 6500k: You have the daylight (as the skies are clear and there is sun overhead)
  • From 6500 to 8000k: You have overcast skies (Moderate)
  • From 9000 to 10000k: You have heavily overcast skies or shade

White Balance Modes

If you see my list of symbols, perhaps you will realize the white balance modes for your DLSR camera. The first three symbols allow for a range of color temperatures. You will have the color temperature set accurately in all the trickiest lighting conditions with Auto White Balance (AWB), which is more and more improved nowadays. In the Custom White Balance, you can set your own white balance through using a gray card (18% gray is offered for the shot, which sits between the true white and true black. This mode is commonly selected by advanced photographers in a studio environment at which they need the absolute white background.

With the Kelvin configuration, you are able to adjust the color temperature as you want. Thanks to this option, the result will be very accurate because the kelvins can be tweaked in small increments.

The other symbols represent various color temperatures listed above. You should keep in mind that there is an orange cast on your images when you select the tungsten light and a green tinge with the fluorescent light.

How should you use the White Balance mode?

As I said, the AWB can be useful in many situations. Especially when the light is from an external source (for example, a flashgun), this mode does bring helps, because the neutral light produced by this shall often remove any color casts. There may be a problem caused by several subjects for the AWB – especially in the warm or cool condition. These subjects can be misunderstood as a cast over a photo and can subsequently be adjusted by AWB. Therefore, for example, if a subject has the over excessive warmth, a blueish tinge will be casted over the image so that the camera can balance this out. Obviously, the color cast will become very funny in this case.

The mixed lighting also makes the AWB confusing (for example, a photo with the combination of artificial and ambient light). In general, the best way to adjust the white balance is through manual setting, which brings a warm tone to the subject that are lit with ambient light. Warm tones seem to be more appealing to the human eye than tones that bring you the cold as well as sterile cool feelings.

In summary

The white balance is a very useful feature found in DSLRs and you will not have to correct color casts with filters of high prices. The white balance setting brings the images accurate changes and super precise color temperature readings. Finding out thoroughly about the various modes shall also be useful for correcting any mistakes that may be caused by the AWB.

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