What is the white balance in the camera

White balance - This is a parameter that helps to correctly build the transmission of a color image.

White balance

White balance

In short it is called simply BB (white balance), in English literature can be found WB (White balans)that does not change the essence.

This is very important parameter when creating color photography. He is responsible for color accuracy. Roughly speaking, white objects should be white and not have different shades of yellow or blue.

White balance helps the camera determine which light is considered white. Indeed - a camera, it is not the human eye that the powerful (or less powerful) brain carries out adjustments and sets the white color. The camera needs to somehow guess what is considered white. In this difficult task, the knowledge of the laws of physics helps the camera.

Let us superficially reveal the essence of the issue: according to thick textbooks, it is known that white is the color that gives an absolute black body (usually they use platinum), heated to a certain temperature. A certain temperature will give a certain wavelength, and the wavelength determines what we call color. The temperature is measured in Kelvin and, for example, they say that the temperature of daylight white light is 6500 K.

And what will happen if you heat less than 6500? Then we get a lower temperature, and it will correspond to a light of a yellow color - for example, a candle has a temperature in the region of 1800 K. Therefore, the candle gives off a yellowish warm light.

But what if heated more? There will be light with a temperature corresponding to different types of lamps with a bluish tint.

White balance - different BB settings

White balance - different BB settings

Why is it important to monitor BB? The answer is very simple, setting the correct white balance you can achieve the "right colors" in your picture. For example, for a portrait, the skin should have a natural color. If the BB is not installed correctly, the color will be mixed with yellowness or even worse with a touch of blue. You can see for yourself on the test pictures that are in this article and compare the appearance of the picture with different BB settings. The flowers are illuminated on the left by daylight from a window and from above on the right by an incandescent lamp, in this regard, light from different sources with different color temperatures is obtained and the camera finds it difficult to correctly set the BB. Pay attention to the difference between automatic balance and white sheet balance (predefined).

White Balance Adjustment

White Balance Adjustment

How to configure BB in the camera? Adjusting the white balance in the camera is simple, as almost all ordinary digital or digital SLR cameras have this function. Typically, the camera offers one of the preset BB profiles, for example, “sunny”, “cloudy”, “reflected light”, “incandescent lamp”, “flash” and, of course, “auto”. These standard settings are usually pictured and intuitive. For example, in the open air on a sunny day it would be wise to set the BB to “sunny” mode and thereby let the camera know that the BB is shifted to a hotter side. Similarly, in the evening with incandescent lamps you need to use the appropriate setting.

More advanced cameras have the ability setting the color temperature in Kelvin. The task is quite interesting and useful for visual study of BB.

White balance according to the template and with manual temperature setting

White balance according to the template and with manual temperature setting

How to configure BB in Nikon cameras? Just press the WB button and use the multi selector to choose a preset option. Or select the PRE option, press the WB button again, point the camera at a white object and take a picture. The picture on the card cannot be recorded, but information about the color, which is considered white, will be taken from it. After a successful BB installation, the camera will write Good, if the camera could not correctly read the BB, the message No Good will appear and you will have to repeat the procedure again. You can also store BB samples in the camera’s memory and turn them on as needed. In more detail, only the instructions for the camera will help you, which I highly recommend studying.

Interesting thoughts: if you have an advanced camera and you can choose to set the color temperature manually, I advise you to conduct an experiment - take the same picture at the lowest possible camera temperature and the highest possible temperature, as shown in the examples. After comparison, most likely, understanding of how this parameter works is very fast.

How to configure BB properly? Very simple, you just need to tell the camera what exactly is considered white. To do this, you need to take a test picture in a special mode (the picture is frozen) by placing a white object in the center. Usually this method of installing BB is called white balance on a white sheet. This is the best option. But he, in my opinion, has a drawback. Personally, I often forget that I made a preset white balance and continue to shoot further when changing the location and light for shooting.

Do I need to constantly remember about BB? It all depends on the situation - when there is a lot of time and there is a desire to take the most "correct" picture - then white balance is an irreplaceable thing. But if the scenes and compositions change at tremendous speed, then I recommend using Auto White Balance. Modern, especially digital SLR, cameras do an excellent job of this. But still, in low light conditions, it will be difficult for the camera to choose the right color temperature. For the majority of people automatic white balance is enough, since it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish between pictures with different BBs.

If the white balance was not set correctly, the picture can still be saved. To do this, use a photo editor such as Photoshop or any other. You can set the color temperature in the editor; it is especially easy to do this by selecting a white object in the photo and using a pipette “take” a white sample. Very easy to pull BB out of RAW. I use a little trick when I shoot people, portraits, etc. and I want to stretch the correct white balance with RAW, then I expose the BB by pipetting along the white areas of the eyes.

By the way, professional BB cameras have a separate button for quick setup, just like ISO or image quality. That is, manufacturers themselves place great emphasis on setting the correct color temperature.

Conclusion: in almost all cases, when setting the white balance, you can rely on the automatic mode, in extreme cases, you can correct it with the editor. In an ideal embodiment, the BB is best set using a preset on a white sheet or plot.

Thank you for your attention and do not forget to press +1, tweet and like. Arkady Shapoval.


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Comments: 113 on the topic: What is the white balance in the camera

  • Rainbow

    please tell me, if I’m shooting in a room, is it possible to adjust the BB simply on the white ceiling? And did I understand correctly that the flash also affects the BB? those. if I photograph with a flash in the room, then the preset BB should be done with it as well?))

    • Arkady Shapoval

      You need to configure the BB according to the situation. The flash is highly affected.

  • r-jan

    Hormang, don’t get tired, as we say.
    After shooting with a new camera, I panicked, I thought the camera was defective.
    I went to your site and calmed down. Thanks again.

  • Patsenko Bogdan

    Thank you very much helped.

  • Andrij

    Crazy for a story. I don’t need to pay me food for the special season for deputy BB (http://strobist.ua/kryshki-zamera-balansa-belogo/kryshka-dlja-zamera-balansa-belogo-wb-52mm.html) How could she frown? Stattpro doesn’t say anything. Crazy.

  • Shaloman

    Arkady, and you did not use special caps on the lens for installing the BB in your work? I think it would be more convenient. And it’s more convenient to measure the BB with such a cover when working with the flash.

    • Andrij

      Shaloman, then how to freeze BB for help shouting?

      • Shaloman

        She needs to close the object with an extravagant cry, send it to the object and send the sign to the camera from the BB by PRE. Yak tse robiti Arkady writing. I tried zrobiti tacos. The result is shocking! Dorechі taku kryshku can be victorious as a substitute for the staff. Tse zruchnіshe nіzh shukati bіlі objects. and the cry is waiting for you. I am a raja.

  • Anatoly

    Explain, please. At what distance from the lens of the lens is it correct to hold the gray card when manually setting the white balance? Thanks for the answer.

  • Shaloman

    To get the card in the focus area. that is, so that the lens focuses on it. You can not hold a card directly in front of the lens obscuring the rest. A BB is placed on the map taking into account the shooting conditions, such as lighting and so on. That is, you should not make changes to the shooting conditions with a card, block the lens or obscure the light source with a card. The task is to let the light reflect off the map and understand to the camera what exactly is gray in general and it will itself make adjustments based on the lighting conditions at the moment.
    Something like that.

    • Anatoly

      Thanks for the answer. It is clear and intelligible.

  • Peter

    Thank you so much, Arkady, for the article ... Especially about the white sheet! Now I will always carry it with me!))))

  • dimochka sweet

    Hi Arkady!

    It is often written about the d7000 that it distortes skintones (skin color), will it be correct to say that this problem is associated with an incorrect BB, if the preset control picnic is set to neutral and shooting is in jeep format.

    If you set the BB on the sheet, will the color be natural 100%?

  • Denis

    I shoot on D7000 myself - personal impressions that yes, he is not very loyal to portraits (to skin color). I shoot in NEF (RAW), tried different BBs, incl. and auto BB. After purchasing a gray card (Lastolite) and using the “PRE” white balance setting for it, the skin color and in general the colors in the picture became natural according to my personal perceptions (the bride's dress is white as it is). And after fine-tuning in a RAW converter (which is called according to taste), in general, it turns out very well. I came to the conclusion that the Auto BB in the camera is exactly the "auto" (average auto) and it is a problem to get a natural balance of the skin with it. The gray card also helps to set the correct exposure (in mode A - overexposure on the D7000 is a common thing), for example, the bride's dress is “revealed” to the details of the embroidery, and not a white spot in the picture, and of course it is white.
    Plus, you need to take care of color profiles throughout the entire process of creating a photo - from shooting to printing.

  • Jury

    I read somewhere that it’s better to configure the BB on a gray card !!!
    if possible, write in an accessible form and this method !!

  • Denis

    The idea is this: a test picture is taken under the same lighting conditions under which the main (main) picture (pictures) will be taken. The reference is a gray map. A picture with a gray card is not saved on the memory card as a picture, but serves as a guide for the camera.
    Details: 1) Place the gray card under the same lighting conditions as you shoot. The gray card must fill the entire viewfinder space and be in a perpendicular position to the lens axis 2) In M mode, scroll the shutter speed and aperture wheels until the built-in exposure meter reads “0”. 3) Take a test shot. 4) Remove the gray card. 5) Taking pictures ...
    Specific details: What buttons to press - see the instructions for your specific camera.

  • Jury

    Thank you for the article. Affordable, understandable and without excess water. There remains little to do - LEARN :)

  • Boris

    Arkadiy, I know that I know how much in RAV and how much I can do it myself I want to add the balance in ADOBE of RAV. I’ve added your wisdom to the pipette, to write it down, be sure to leave the tea for every day: to know when auto-tuning in the camera can mother zhovtuvati bluish vidtinok?

  • Sergei

    Hello Arkady. Thanks for the informative article. I have such a problem: I took a photo of a white sheet in low light when setting up the BB, it was saved, and after that, when the 'auto' BB was installed, the picture was taken on a blue background. Photo Olympus. Help solve this problem. Thank you.

  • Ksenia

    No words, thanks for such an article, very informative.

  • Nina

    Hello Arkady! Very good article! I photographed everything on Auto, I have Nikon 3100, portrait photographer. But I was not always satisfied with the colors, I wanted real ones, and the car does not always cope, especially with white ones, for example, when the room is illuminated in the morning or in the evening, it gives off blue. I set everything up as I wrote it, both on white and on a gray sheet, but now I don’t understand, on my “Pre” it gives off a slightly orange color, warmer tones became, I photographed both on Auto and on “Pre”, on Auto is brighter, whiter, but still with a light blue, and in Manual mode, warm colors, but more realistic, what am I doing wrong?

  • Eugene

    Article Very informative, thank you Arkady! And you can also configure the BB for the inner lining of bags for the camera. Many bags (including mine) are lined with light gray fabric inside and you can set BB on it. And the main thing is that she is always at hand!

  • Eugene

    Hello, I have such a question, I just can’t figure out the white balance, the 50 1.4 nikon lens, I photograph the morning and evening when the sky is filled with such favorite shades of violet for me. I bring the camera in, set the neutral mode, exposure, matrix metering, click, and the pictures turn out faded, I adjust the white balance, the pictures turn red, and all my pink-purple colors go away somewhere, and I love them so much and every time I pull them out in adobe raw, tell me what can be done so that the photos display colors as accurately as possible?

    • Lynx

      Shoot in RaVe, and learn to process them later in lightroom or photoshop.

      • Andrey Super

        Yes, yes only in RAW. But to process only in Nikon kepche, there is nothing better for the Nikon rabbis!

  • Alexander

    Good evening everyone. Maybe someone faced the problem of installing BB on 5100? When shooting in an apartment with a chandelier illuminated, the BB is lying all the time, I used to set Auto, but today it turned out that he was lying))) I compared 600D with a friend of Kenon. As soon as I didn’t try to correct it and used the fine settings for the “incandescent lamp and“ flash ”mode and installed it on a white sheet, it’s still lying. It turns yellow, then a blue tint, I can’t achieve neutral in any way.

    • Svetlana

      Alexander, here I have been “going crazy” for several days from this problem. Even AutoBB is lying. I don't know how to set up the camera for the correct colors now. I point the camera at a white sheet in any mode under any light - the sheet is gray-green.

  • Alexander

    On the street it is even more or less normal, only a little goes away in normal colors, but in general nothing, but in the room there is horror))) Then we have to edit all the pictures. Well, the exposure metering still pretends, "falls short" a little. But it's easier to deal with this, but I don't know what to do with BB, I'm tired of sitting on my computer for days and adjusting everything.

  • Alexander

    There is also an interesting feature. I put the BB on the sheet. Up to the subject (child) about 3.5 meters, lighting chandelier under the ceiling, built-in flash 0.0, Auto ISO, lens 50mm 1.8 G, aperture 3,5-4, BB almost does not lie, well, it is tolerable if there is a meter to the subject. one and a half, aperture 1,8-2, then it lies terribly, filling up with a bright yellow tone. If in the same terms I put Auto BB or "flash", "incandescent lamps", then it is lying in all cases. Under the same conditions, the Canon 600D with a 50mm 1.8 lens is the simplest, with the same settings, gives a completely different result, even a shame))) But “our” makes less noise at high ISO)))

  • Mikhalych

    In this regard, the Canon650d has BB bracketing. A very useful thing. Especially when shooting sunsets.

  • Alexander

    The D5100 also has it, but it does not help, takes a few pictures, but all with a "lie" BB))))

  • Maksim


    How many I have read all over, but one question haunts me all. White balance allows you to neutralize the color of the light source so that it does not stain other objects in its color. This is achieved by indicating the color temperature of the color to be neutralized. But why is there no OFF option for white balance in digital cameras? Why is it generally believed that it is necessary to neutralize the influence of the color of the light source?

    It is written in many places that the eye adapts to such situations, and white looks everywhere white. Just kill me, but if I sit in the dark with Ilyich's light on and look at the wall, it is yellow, but not white. If I turn on a red light bulb, my whole room will be red. The concept of naturalness is therefore incomprehensible to me in this context. For me, naturalness is the colors that the human eye actually sees at a particular moment in time. The brain is another matter. When I am busy with something serious, I can ignore something when they tell me something. The same thing, when I am in the room, I “don't remember” about the yellow tint of the light bulb, and when I look at the photograph, this shade will not matter to me, and I have no desire to take a photograph in order to examine the yellowness later. But this is already artificial, but not natural. And if I am a photograph of nature, why should I neutralize what I see and want to remember? And I have to do some corrections to get the colors back to normal.

    Tell me, please, maybe I don’t understand something.

    • Lynx

      I think you yourself do not understand, but maybe it only seems to me.
      As for the "button off", then it is either to shoot in equal - which gives "like absolute" color values, or always forced to set "white balance - sunny day", which can be taken as a reference point.

      • Maksim

        I don't quite understand how RAW has to do with this. If I compress RAW to JPEG, my white will never turn yellow. Just like if I compress CDA to MP3, my E will never become A.

        As far as I remember from a physics course, color is determined by wavelength. And the wavelength is also the wavelength in Africa. Accordingly, the camera already receives natural colors that come through the lens. Accordingly, white balance is a software post-correction of those colors that the camera receives naturally in order to get the colors that the photographer wants in the photo. And what he wants is everyone's business. You can artificially remove some colors, add others, etc. Therefore, I wondered about the OFF option.

        On the other hand, I thought a little more here, conducted a couple of experiments and began to believe that the eye (or rather the human brain) does indeed carry out color correction in order to remove yellowness and other “parasitic” colors. It just obviously doesn't eliminate them completely. One way or another, the yellow tint from the incandescent lamp remains noticeable, and the white still looks yellow. But if we set a temperature on the camera that approximately determines the white color (for example, ~ 6000 K), then theoretically we should get an approximate real image that enters the eyes, into the camera, anywhere. So, if we take a picture of an incandescent lamp, where it is the only light source, at white balance = 6000 K, then we get an orange-red frame. From this it follows that the human brain, after all, carries out a correction. It does not completely eliminate yellowness, but it also does not leave it in the form in which it is. If so, then the absence of the OFF option really makes sense, but then for those who shoot in JPEG, the camera simply must have an option for explicitly setting the temperature, which, unfortunately, is not available in budget cameras.

        • Dim

          I agree 100%. I believe that the inability to set the color temperature on “simple” cameras is their main drawback.

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