How do you get the perfect white balance?


There are a few different approaches to getting the color right in your pictures.

In camera white balance

The first and simplest is to choose the white balance in camera using one of the presets in your camera. In most ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) cameras there will be options you can choose for white balance, including AWB (auto white balance).

It’s a good idea to try to get the white balance right in camera, so taking a second to simply set the white balance correctly for the scene can help you get a better quality image with less time wasted during editing.

Use a grey card

The second and most accurate way to set your white balance is to set it using a white or grey card, you can buy these on Amazon for less than $10.

Using a white balance card is fairly simple, first, ask your subject, assistant, or friend to hold the card in the same scene you are shooting towards. Try to make sure the card is well lit then take a picture of the card that fills the entire frame. Be careful not to overexpose the white card. You may need to use a telephoto lens to fill the frame completely. After you have a picture just navigate to “Custom White Balance” in the camera menu and set it using the image you just took. Then in Canon cameras you will also need to set your white balance options to “Custom”, which tells the camera to use the custom white balance data you just created.

Now you have set the white balance precisely to the scene using the scenes available light, which is probably the most accurate way to white balance in camera.

Please note that when you use custom white balance it is very specific to a scene, you will need to set the custom white balance again on a different day or location.

Total control of color

The last option is to kind of bypass white balance altogether. The way you do this is by purchasing a color checker tool like the X-rite ColorChecker Passport Photo. Now, after you set your custom white balance take a picture of the color checker. Later when editing you’ll use a software program provided by X-rite to create a .DNG color profile using the picture you took of the color checker. Once you generate the color profile you can then load the profile into Lightroom or Photoshop Camera Raw. This will fully correct your colors giving you perfect color no matter what you’re shooting.

The only downside of the color checker is that you won’t see your final colors in camera, you’ll have to either shoot tethered using lightroom or wait until you get back to your computer to see your corrected files.

I hope this post helps you get the most out of your gear and improve your photography. Good luck and happy shooting!


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