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What is White Balance

Ned S. Levi (Ned_L)

Keywords: guides, tips

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Editors note:
All images below correspond to the same frame as shot, with white balance changes only, except the final one that included a slight curves adjustment to the one with the highest temperature, out and up of the working range of AUTO.
Location: ANPAT 11, at Bryce Canyon NP, Utah
Camera and Lens: Nikon D2X, 12-24mm f/4G AG-S DX Nikkor, no ND Grad filters
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/25, ISO 400, Matrix Metering
Color settings: Color Mode III (sRGB), Color Space sRGB.
All changes to white balance were made on Nikon Capture NX2 V2.2.8



As shot, on AUTO White Balance


White Balance changed to Direct Daylight, SUNLIGHT, 5,200°K



White Balance changed to Direct Daylight, CLOUDY, 6,000°K





White Balance changed to Direct Daylight, SHADE, 8,000°K


Temperature 8,500°K



Temperature 9,090°K


Adding a White point curves adjustment to make white snow white


Conclusion for this set of white balance adjustments
Nikon AUTO White Balance does a very good job even in tough light conditions, however it has its limits. The original AUTO frame is almost as good as the one with temperature set at 8,000°K, but to get the whites white, it was required to go to the highest allowed for this image-camera combination, or 9,090°K and adding a curves adjustment, raising the actual temperature to it's top end of 10,000°K.

Follow this link to see white balance settings for an stage example  


(4 Votes )
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Originally written on January 15, 2012

Last updated on October 3, 2016

Ned S. Levi Ned S. Levi (Ned_L)

Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography

Philadelphia, USA
Moderator, 8384 posts


Y V Tyagi (yvtyagi) on December 23, 2013

Do the settings under picture control also have an effect on White Balance?

Zita Kemeny (zkemeny) on March 12, 2013

Good explanations. Thanks.