White balance – Auto or Custom?

[written by KopiOkaya]

During our F.U.N. is ONE!: ‘Rediscover Nostalgia’ Outing, some very attentive members noticed that switching white balance setting from AUTO to CUSTOM will affect color accuracy (which will in turn affect the overall mood of the image).

Amberture noticed:

Wrong WB (AUTO) resulted in Green turned out to be Blue color.

Correct WB (CUSTOM) – It was green in color.

[photos: Amberture]


Bluffname explained: “Thinking about it, I believe the reason why the green part of the photo turned blue is not because of overcast sky or the fact that the numbers were in the shade.

It is because the scene was mainly yellow – which is a warm colour, so if the White Balance is set to AUTO the camera compensates by making the image cooler, ie more blue / cyan. In this case, it compensates a bit too much and so the green became blue.

If don’t believe, go back on a bright sunny day and shoot again. I am pretty sure the green will still turn out blue. Or shoot some non-yellow scene in the shade and see if the colour runs. eg if shoot green leaves in the shade or on overcast day, they will still appear green, not blue.

Setting White Balance to SHADE helps because in the shade there is less sun, therefore less yellow and the camera compensates by making image more yellow. But again it overcompensates and the “correct” colour is actually a bit too yellow, although now the green appears green.”


But, I [KopiOkaya] know it is WAY more complicated than this. I was certain a camera’s white balance algorithm has got something to do with its proprietary firmware.


As our discussion progressed, the topic got more confusing. So Andikong posted a series of tests.

[photos: Andikong]

So, who is right?

Instead of arguing who is right and who is wrong, I will offer the general users 2 solutions instead.

Solution 1: With a FinePix compact camera, before pressing the shutter,  go to MENU > WHITE BALANCE and scroll down the various white balance settings to select one that is most suitable or deemed accurate for the scene.

Solution 2: With a FinePix S-series DSLR or prosumer camera, shoot RAF (Fujifilm RAW format) and adjust the color temperature accordingly during post-processing.


I hope everybody is happy now… but if users still insist on shooting JPEG with their FinePix S-series DSLR or prosumer camera, I have another solution for them.

Solution 3: Spend about S$1,600 to purchase a digital color meter such as this. This meter reads ambient light in Kelvin so the user will always gets perfect color temperature regardless of weather or lighting condition.


2 responses to “White balance – Auto or Custom?”

  1. richard seah says :

    WAH! Solution 3 means BBB again, ha ha. Almost can buy 2nd hand poison lens!

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