White Balance is/is not important

You know your camera’s White Balance setting. It should of course be called “colour balance”, but what with engineers doing the naming, science will trump understandability.

So this setting sets your colours properly for the available light. Is it important to set it? For instance, while taking portfolio pics like this, at Saturday’s workshop, do I set White Balance to anything, or do I leave it on Auto?

Biker chick, by Michael Willems

Biker chick - model Lindsay Biernat, 14 August 2010

Can you see how important the flash is, by the way? The edge light

Back to White Balance: is this important?

One possible (and valid) answer: If you shoot JPG pictures, yes, you should get the White Balance right in camera. But if you shoot RAW, no. White balance is set afterward, on your computer in Lightroom or whatever you use. It makes no difference what you set on your camera. Save yourself the time.

Another (equally valid) answer: Yes! Setting white balance is important when shooting JPG, but when shooting RAW you should set it too, because:

  • You get a much better impression while shooting of how the colours will eventually look. That saves you from many mistakes. It also makes you feel better about yourself and your abilities.
  • You save time afterward, because Lightroom will start off with your in-camera setting and you will have to correct less, and less often.

So when shooting with flash, set your white balance to “flash”. Especially if you use gels, avoid “auto” white balance.

So my answer: if the shoot is important and if you have a second, set it. If using flash, always set it (to flash).

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