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Is Auto White Balance pushing things too far?

Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
497
Location
Winnipeg, Canada
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Advanced
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I've been using Auto White Balance on many photos recently in order to get a better starting point. My Nikon D7200 seems to record a bit too low in daylight but I leave it on Auto due to a wide variety of lighting conditions.
Here's an example of where the original is a little blue (to my eye anyway) at 4850...

1605125619799.png


Clicking on Auto in the White Balance pushes it all the way to 7500::
1605125709061.png


A couple of photos in the same set, went to 7650. Too me on my Laptop Monitor they don't look too bad but I find that number scary high.
When I google White Balance, 7500 seems beyond any range that comes up. This is from Wikipedia:
1605126093039.png

So according to that, Lightroom is interpreting the white balance in the shot as belonging to an LCD or CRT screen.

Are others finding this happening at all? Anyone have thoughts on it?
Thanks,
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2015
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Interesting. The only time I've played around with WB is to use the eye drop to select a 'gray' area of the picture. Normally, my camera WB is in Auto and I just leave it 'As Shot' in Develop.

I just played around with a shot of sun flowers in direct sunlight in August. The results are for temp/tint
  • As Shot - 5200/+8
  • Auto - 3450/+30 (The green leaves seem to have a suggestion of blue in them)
  • Daylight - 5500/+10 (Not much different than 'As Shot')
I don't think you can interpret the Wikipedia for what LR is doing. Monitors have varying color gamut's rendering. This chart may be better since it distinguishes between indoor and outdoor shooting.

Don't forget your color will also be affected by the choice of Profile. See here for some info I found from Adobe.
 
K

kimballistic

Guest
It's important to keep in mind that all Auto White Balance does is try to guess what the WB should be to eliminate obvious color casts from light sources illuminating your scene. In the above examples the camera guessed wrong, and then Lightroom also guessed wrong but in the opposite direction. Neither your camera nor Lightroom are able to actually measure the color of the light in the scene. All they can do is guess the color cast that was present based on the colors in the image, which means if you took another shot from that overlook 5 seconds later, under the exact same lighting but pointed in a different direction, the AWB algorithm in your camera and in Lightroom would probably give you different results, because you had different objects in the photo with different amounts of color. Why is that a problem? Well, your WB should only need to be changed when your light source changes, not when merely your composition changes.

So for outside shooting I'd recommend setting your camera to its Daylight WB preset (in LR that would be a temp of 5500k-5600k, tint 0 to +5 magenta, depending on the camera) and leaving it there. Especially if you shoot raw. This will give you a much more consistent starting point than the constantly fluctuating results provided by AWB. And as a bonus, you'll actually start to see how different lighting conditions effect your color, and develop a taste for how you want to adjust it.

Since you shoot raw you can season to taste when editing. For example, shooting early or late in the day, or in especially cloudy or overcast conditions might need a temp of 6500k or a little higher.

And keep in mind that unless you're shooting product photography or reproducing artwork, there's really no such thing as a "correct" white balance. WB is a subjective aesthetic choice. You get to pick it in order to best represent your memory of the scene, or best achieve your goals for the image.
 
Joined
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Thanks for the replies! I do like keeping the D7200 on auto white balance but I'll try daylight next time. Interesting how the LCD on the camera displays a more nicely balanced image, but I guess that's due to it converting the RAW to JPG in camera and applying whatever to that.
I was just a little 'alarmed' at the high number Lightroom plugged in since I'd never heard of a color temperature that high, and that concern only amplified when I looked up color temperatures. All editable anyway and I've learned something in the process.
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2015
Messages
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Interesting how the LCD on the camera displays a more nicely balanced image, but I guess that's due to it converting the RAW to JPG in camera and applying whatever to that
I was in a forum discussion with Nikon on details of what is the JPG they show for viewing and historgram display. I assumed it would be something like the embedded JPG on the RAW. Their response was they don't release that information.
 
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