Why set White Balance when you shoot RAW?

When you shoot RAW (as you probably should if your pictures are important t0 you) then your in-camera image processing settings are not important. Setting like colour space (AdobeRGB or sRGB), sharpening, noise reduction, colour saturation, saturation, white balance, and more.

They are not applied, just attached to the sensor information as “suggestions”. You can always set, or change, them later in Lightroom, Photoshop, or whatever you use.

So why set Light Balance in the camera anyway? It is time-consuming, and if those settings are not permanent, why bother?

First, if you shoot RAW, you should turn off all image settings that make the preview look very different from the RAW image. Set your camera to “normal” picture style and disable auto lighting optimization, lens correction, extra contrast, and so on. I have written about that before on this blog.

Then, white balance. Why you might want to set it:

  1. Your images will look more like the finished product. You will get a better idea of “what you are getting”
  2. You know whether to correct anything.
  3. They will also look better, so you will feel better about your skills
  4. Most software will take the White Balance setting at least as a suggestion, so you can start off in Lightroom, say, with colours already almost right.

    Against this: it takes time. So what I DO IS THIS:

    • Not worry about it
    • If shooting in a studio, and I have time, I set it to Flash
    • If shooting a sunset, or late day light, or snow on a sunny day, and I have time, I set to daylight
    • If shooting in Tungsten light, and I have time, I set to Tungsten
    • But when in a hurry and at all other times than those above, set it to auto.

    That’s simple, no?

    0 thoughts on “Why set White Balance when you shoot RAW?

    1. Can’t argue there. I shoot raw all the time and WB always on auto. The actual work comes during post.

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