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What is white balance in a camera?

The white balance is a parameter that helps to correctly construct a color image transfer.

It is abbreviated as simply BB (white balance), in the English-language literature one can find WB (White balans), which does not change the essence.

This is a very important parameter when creating a color photo. He is responsible for the correctness of the color transmission. Roughly speaking, for white objects to be white, and not have different shades of yellow or blue.

White’s balance helps the camera determine what kind of light is considered white. Indeed, the camera is not a human eye, which with a powerful (or less powerful) brain makes adjustments and sets white color. The camera needs to somehow guess what is considered white. The knowledge of the laws of physics helps the camera in this difficult task.

Let’s openly examine the essence of the matter: it is known from thick textbooks that white is the color that gives an absolute black body (usually platinum is used) 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, it is said that the temperature of daytime white light is equal to 6500 K.

And what will happen if you heat less than 6500? Then we get a lower temperature, and it will correspond to more yellow light – for example, the candle has a temperature of around 1800 K. Because the candle gives a yellowish warm light.

And what if the heat is stronger? There will be light with a temperature corresponding to different types of lamps with a bluish tinge.

Why is it important to keep track of the BB? The answer is very simple, by setting the right white balance you can achieve the “right colors” in your shot. For example, for a portrait, the skin should have a natural color. If the BB is not properly installed, the color will be mixed with yellow or worse – with a touch of blue. You can see for yourself on the test shots that are in this article and compare the look of the picture with different BB settings. Flowers are illuminated on the left with daylight from the window and on the top right of the incandescent lamp, therefore light from different sources with different color temperatures is obtained and the camera is at a loss to correctly set the BB. Note the difference between automatic balance and white sheet balance (preset).

How to configure the BB in the camera? Adjusting the white balance in the camera is easy; almost all ordinary digital or digital SLR cameras have such a function. Usually the camera offers one of the specified BB profiles, for example, “sunny”, “overcast”, “reflected light”, “incandescent lamp”, “flash” and, of course, “auto”. These default settings are usually iconic and intuitive. For example, outdoors on a sunny day, it would be reasonable to set the BB to “sunny” mode and thereby let the camera know that the BB is shifted to a hotter side. In the same way, in the evening with the lamps it is necessary to use the appropriate setting.

In more advanced cameras, it is possible to set the color temperature in Kelvin. The task is quite interesting and useful for visual study of BB.

How to set up BB in Nikon cameras? Just press the WB button and use the multi selector to select the 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 is not recorded, but from it will take information about the color, which is considered white. After successful installation of the BB, the camera will write Good, if the camera could not read the BB correctly, the message No Good will appear, and you will have to repeat the procedure again. Also, you can store samples of BB in the memory of the camera and include them as needed. In more detail you will be helped only by the instruction to the camera, which I strongly recommend to study.

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 temperature allowed by the camera and as high as possible, as shown in the examples. After the comparison, most likely, an understanding of how this parameter works will come very quickly.

How to properly configure the BB? Very simply, you just need to tell the camera what exactly to consider white. To do this, in a special mode, take a test shot (the shot is measured), placing a white object in the center. Usually, this method of installing BB is called white balance. This is the best option. But he, in my opinion, has a flaw. Personally, I often forget that I made a preset white balance and continue to shoot further when I change the place and light for shooting.

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