What's canon auto white like? How many of you use it?


TPF Noob!
Apr 10, 2006
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What's auto white like on the Canon DSLRs?

It can't be accurate cause it's auto, right? How many of you use it and who swears by doing a manual white balance here?

Is it like the professional video camera world were you simply just don't use auto white unless you're a newbie?

It's great on the 350D I've found.

I generally leave it on auto except for when I'm shooting indoors with tungsten or fluoro lighting. Then I usually try the appropriate setting - but I've found the tungsten setting is usually still a bit too reddish (but of course it depends on the room).... so I manually tweak it then.

In clouds, shade and full sun I've never had a problem with it. And if it's a photo that I'm going to have printed... then I'm going to photoshop it anyway so I can always fix it there.
I think it depends on the camera. My 10D tends to run really cold in the shade and nearly every shot needs warming up when using auto white balance.
It depends what you mean by reliable, but if you mean you want it to pick the same white balance everytime you point it at a gray card in the same lighting, then no, it's not very reliable.

I used auto-WB on the first couple of weddings after I got my 20D, and correcting WB was a pain. Now I keep my camera on daylight balance, just like if it was loaded with daylight film. I always shoot raw, so it's easy to fix if need be, and at least all of the photos taken in the same lighting are off by the same amount. Unless the project calls for very precise color I don't set a custom white balance. If I have the time, and the lighting isn't going to be changing, I'll do it. If I'm running around here and there, i don't worry about it.
I have a Canon 5D, and was always trying to use the presets for various white balance situations. It was driving me nuts - I would always have the wrong setting for the shot I had just taken because I had forgotten to switch it from my previous shots.

Fortunately I shoot RAW so it wasn't that big an issue.

Then I read the review of my camera on DP Review, and they spoke SUPER-well about the D5's auto-white-balance. They said it was almost always spot-on, and the most reliable they had ever seen.


Now I just keep it set to auto, and only manually set it if I know I'm going to be shooting in one particular light for a long time.
I've found with a 20D that the AWB is awesome for "normal" lighting situations - very good in daylight, good under tungsten, but crap for flourescent lights or halogen pin spots. There's a real tendancy for it to green out under strip lights. Other than that, it's great. To be honest, I'm not likely to get a super winning shot under either strip or halogen lighting.

just want to second what robs said about the 20d and halogen lighting
same here. the auto white balance can do very well or kinda off, which is obnoxious. i have begun setting my white balance/color temperature manually and have loved the results, although for quick switches it's a pain, so i use AWB. i usually shoot in RAW so it's not as big of a deal.
It's easy to test your camera's AWB. Take a gray card or neutral colored surface, and place it in lighting that is going to stay the same. Shoot a dozen or so shots on AWB. Check the color temp in a RAW converter. As long as your lighting hasn't changed, then the color temp in the shots shouldn't change.

With my 20D the color temp will sometimes change slightly in this situation. Some lighting causes it bigger problems than others.
Like most others that have posted, I keep my 300D on auto, and I shoot RAW, so it's not much of a problem with me.

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