SteveFE's blog

Custom White Balance

posted by SteveFE, Jan 14, 2007 12:23 AM — 10 comments

Custom White Balance is actually dead easy to use and a great thing to learn as it'll help you loads.

First, before taking any proper pics, if you're in any sort of dodgy light (which in Canon terms is anything other than broad daylight), you take a picture of anything white or light grey using Auto White Balance, in the ambient light (e.g. indoors under tungsten or fluorescent lights), shoot a pic of a sheet of blank white paper, or if you're a techie, use an 18% greycard. If you have neither to hand but the ceiling of the room you're in is white or off-white, shoot that, somewhere near the light source. Or hold a translucent Pringles lid over the end of your lens and point it somewhere near the light (you can buy fancy expensive things called Expodiscs that are a slightly more sophisticated version of the Pringles lid). Doesn't matter if the shot's in focus or any of that malarkey, you just need it for a colour reference.

Once you've done that, select Custom White Balance in the menu and the camera will ask which image you want to use. Select your white shot, confirm it and set the White Balance to Custom. Job done! Everything you take from now on will be balanced to the available light, people will be more or less people coloured and not look like sunbed and bottle-tanned aliens. If you move to different lighting conditions you'll have to change it again.

I don't know how cameras other than Canon set CWB, but it must be similar.

Custom White Balance is a real saviour if you're shooting in JPG mode, as colour casts are tricky to remove. It's easier if you're shooting in raw mode as you can adjust the colour temperature in post-processing, but if you get it right first time it's a lot less work, especially if you have lots of pics to process. Do try it. It's actually a lot quicker and easier than I've made it sound. I can do it in about a fiftieth of the time it took to type the explanation.

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1. posted by NobbyNobbs, Jan 21, 2007 3:42 PM

Great idea, thanks.

2. posted by rubenshito, Jan 22, 2007 4:59 PM

My only doubt here concerning that method is... will it be affected if we use flash? I mean... we adjust the CWB and then we take the pic using flash...

3. posted by markpk, Jan 24, 2007 7:56 PM

Thanks for the tip. My only question is, should I take the custom white balance Shot near the subject or near the light?


4. posted by niloc, Feb 8, 2007 5:28 PM

What should the picture type dial be set to: Auto, P, Tv, Av, M, C1, C2, "head", "mountain". If I put it on Auto I can't adjust the white balance.

5. posted by kellytf, May 30, 2007 8:55 PM

Very cool posting! I love it! This is something I struggle with my Canon digital on a regular basis on indoor photography. Definitely looking forward to trying it out. Pringles here I come...

6. posted by Undy, Jun 18, 2007 8:59 AM

top tip - I will have to make it a habit instead of relying on AWB

7. posted by jph9362, Jul 2, 2007 8:41 PM

many thanks, that is an excellent tip. the lid idea works.

8. posted by crisderaud, May 11, 2008 9:16 PM

I bought the ExpoDisc and I just love it.

Using the ExpoDisc also taught me how to set the custom white balance quickly and effectively as you explained above.

Setting the custom white balance insures you won't have to use hit and miss tactics adjusting raw images with ACR.

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