White Balance on Auto??

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by d70girl, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. d70girl

    d70girl TPF Noob!

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    Should I leave my white balance on auto setting on my Nikon d70s or adjust it manually for each shot? Not sure if I "trust" auto, ya know?
     
  2. Philip Weir

    Philip Weir TPF Noob!

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    Personally, I would trust "Auto" and the huge amount spent by Nikon to make it accurate. Try it both ways if you wish, but I'm sure you will go back to Auto.
     
  3. kelox

    kelox TPF Noob!

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    use auto for now, but as you get better and learn more you will want to switch to manual. it really does make a difference when you know how to use it. as PW said though, trust it for now.
     
  4. Tiberius

    Tiberius TPF Noob!

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    Auto works well enough for outdoor shots for me, but whenever shooting indoor I manually set it to Incandescent or Flourescent - it never seems to read either of those lightings properly for me. I suppose I could use Preset as well, but I haven't bothered getting that extreme yet since I can always adjust the color levels in PS anyhow.
     
  5. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    I'd use auto and shoot in RAW. If it gets it wrong, adjust it when you convert to TIFF. As I understand it, WB is really just a map applied to the RAW data that's stored.
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with Mark. If you shoot in RAW, the WB is recorded but not permanently applied to the image....so you can adjust it quite easily when you convert the RAW file.

    Also, it's not very hard to set a custom WB. Just shoot something completely white in your light and use that image to set your custom WB.
     
  7. DepthAfield

    DepthAfield TPF Noob!

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    True. It’s been my experience however, that the fewer postproduction adjustments made via white balance generally results in a better photograph. Try to get your white balance as close as possible at the time of capturing the image.
     
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    When it comes down to it...I actually make very few WB adjustments. I think the Auto setting on my 20D does a fairly good job. When I do make adjustments...it's almost always change it for mood/feel...as in warming it up for better looking portraits.

    The benefits of RAW is that you can make WB adjustments without adversely affecting the image in any way. The WB setting in a RAW file is not applied to the image until you convert it into an image file. Technically, a RAW file is not an image at all (just RAW data)...although it does have an embedded JPEG image that we can see as a preview.

    If we are shooting JPEG, the WB setting is applied to the image in-camera...and if we want to change it in post production...it does affect or 'damage' the image.
     
  9. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    It is, in the same way that a JPG or GIF is image data. It's just in a different format. GIF uses 8 bits total for color. JPG uses 8 bits per color (24 total). RAW uses 12-bit per (36 total), and TIFFs can use 16-bit per (48 total). This is why converting from RAW to TIFF doesn't lose anything (if you use 16-bit and not 8-bit), but going to JPG loses data. The big difference is that the color data in a RAW file is linear, where as it has a gamma of 2.0 in other formats. A displayed RAW file looks very dark. That's what you play with when you are moving the "exposure" slider: How much above or below the 2.0 curve you are going to apply when you convert to TIFF. Some people just convert the linear data straight over with no adjustements and then do their own in Photoshop.
     
  10. DepthAfield

    DepthAfield TPF Noob!

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    I must respectfully disagree. While it is certainly true that one can tweak the color temperatures of RAW files, it is generally not recommended.

    Any and all digital WB manipulation results in some degradation of the image. This is not to say that SOME manipulation is forbiddenÂ… Just that extreme manipulation should be avoided.

    The point isÂ… One should try to make the photograph in the camera, and NOT in post-production.
     
  11. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    From what I've read about WB and RAW files...the WB is not applied to the image at all...until you convert it. According to this theory, you could take a RAW file and set the WB at 2000 or set it at 8000...without degrading the image properties. Of course it would not look very good either way, unless that was close to the temperature of the actual light.

    As I understand it, WB is just a function of the camera's firmware. It reads the color of the light and records the temp (or uses the preset temp you choose). If you shoot JPEG, that recorded temp is applied to the saved JPEG image. If you shoot RAW, the temp is still recorded but not applied to the image until you convert the RAW file.

    Maybe we should do some testing.
     
  12. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    That was my understading as well, Mike. WB on a RAW file is like an adjustment layer. It's not until it gets converted that it gets applied to the source data.
     

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