Introduction to White Balance

When we look at subjects with our eyes different lightning situations seems to have the same effect. But when we take the image of the same subject and look at them we can find the color difference there. In the human visual system our brain automatically compensates with it and delivers white image of a white object under any lights. The same is done in camera system with the help of white balance feature it reduces the color impact of different colored lightning sources.


Image Courtesy: Daniel Oines

In earlier times when people mostly used film cameras they had to use an additional colored filter on their lenses, the color of the filter depended on the lightning conditions. But now in the digital world people mostly prefer digital cameras as it allows several advantages over the film cameras including the WB (white balance) control feature. By the help of this feature camera automatically adjusts the white balance depending on the available lightning conditions. Below are the predefined WB controls in the cameras:

  • Automatic white balance (represented with ‘A’ or ‘AWB’): in this mode the camera automatically detects the lightning conditions and compensates the white balance itself.
  • Daylight: while shooting in daylight images appear to be more yellowish, this mode helps to reduce the unnecessary yellow color from the images.
  • Cloudy light: the images taken in a cloudy environment have an effect which is slightly cooler than the daylight effect on them so this mode eradicates such extra effect from the image.
  • Shade: images in the shady areas are apparently bluer than what they are therefore it reduces the effect of the unnecessary blue effect on the image.
  • Flash: flashlights of the camera also create unnecessary lightning impact so this mode reduces the effect.
  • Tungsten: while shooting indoors or while shooting near a light bulb creates an orange effect on the image and to remove this orange effect user can use this mode.
  • Fluorescent: this reduces the cool lightning effect created by the fluorescent light. it is generally used to warm the lightning conditions of the images.

Several high end DSLR’s allows the users to manually adjust the white balance control. By manually adjusting the WB you can bring a tad variation in the image color to reveal creativity or special effect.

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