Friday, April 22, 2016

How to set Custom White Balance for Perfect Colors

Your camera’s Auto white balance setting is great for general subjects, but strong colors can fool it. It can also be difficult to match the white balance presets to the conditions you’re shooting in. In these situations, you can use a Preset Manual (Nikon) or Custom white balance (Canon) setting to get color spot on.

Shoot an image of a white or grey subject (a piece of card or paper) in the same lighting as your subject and the camera then uses the colors in this image to get the white balance right (for more, see how to get spot on white balance using a color chart). Because this white balance is then fixed, this technique is only suitable for shooting in consistent light. If the light changes, you need to go through the whole process again.

Creating a custom white balance setting will save you time when you’re editing your shots, and also enables you to more accurately assess the colors when you review the images on your camera’s rear LCD screen. Of course those who shoot RAW (myself included) will have control over white balance in editing, but even then it's good to get it right in camera, as it can save you trouble later on. So let's start.

How to set custom white balance

Step 1: Position the card
To get the most accurate colors, position a piece of white or neutral grey card or paper so that it is in the same lighting as your subject. For the best results, place the card where your subject will be, and make sure that it is facing where you are going to be shooting from.

Step 2: Shoot the card
Now fill the frame with the card and take a picture of it from the same direction as you will be taking your main shot. The exposure of this reference image isn’t critical, as long as the picture isn’t completely over- or under-exposed. You may need to switch to manual focus.

Step 3: Delve into the menu
Now you need to navigate to your camera’s shooting menu and find the list of white balance settings. To do this on a Nikon, scroll down to the white balance settings and then select Preset Manual; on a Canon, simply select Custom White Balance from the list of options that appears.

Step 4: Set the white balance
Select the picture of the card to set this as the white balance reference image. On a Nikon, press OK twice to set the white balance, while on a Canon you need to first press Set to select the image, then go back to the white balance settings and select Custom from the list.

I hope that this post will be of use to you, and that you will play around with the white balance next time.


  1. It's always worth having a go if only because it gives an understanding of how the camera sees things.
    I have a grey card but the only time I use it is to get a white point when shooting under mixed light indoors without flash. Film is another matter but then I correct with filters on camera and have to guess.

  2. Sehr informativer und guter post. bei meinem Samsunghandy kann ich den Weißabgleich zum Schnellzugriff hinzufügen.
    Liebe grüße

  3. Thanks, Mersad - as always I appreciate your expertise.
    Thank you also for linking up at

  4. i learned something in photography, thanks for noting it.

  5. Good day Mersad. I will try this next time I'm shooting outside. Do you have any suggestions on photographing quilts similar to the one on my recent post - Dark colored quilts are difficult for me to get the true depth of color. Thanks "sew" much.

  6. Great post. Love your moody mountain image!

  7. Interesting photo tips and amazing scenery. Pleased to meet a fellow scenery blogger.

  8. Thank you for the great tip. I'll be sure to use your suggestion in the future.

  9. I love that last photo. I am always guessing the white balance, mine is Olympus and i just choose from Sunny, Cloudy, Auto, etc. hehe.

  10. Such a great tip. I typically shoot with Kelvin temps in a ballpark and adjust in ACR later. But, your method would probably save time in the workflow.



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