Canon 7D: White Balance

category: Cameras • 2 min read

I do have a mean streak. Most of the times, it’s well hidden, but it comes out when some people really rub me the wrong way, especially the “holier than thou” people. That’s when my mean streak most often comes out.

One of the great benefit of switching from film to digital is that we don’t have to deal with the white balance. So why so many different settings?

White Balance Colour Temperature in Kelvin
Auto 3000 - 7000
Daylight 5200
Shade 7000
Cloudy, twilight, sunset 6000
Tungsten light 3200
White fluorescent light 4000
Flash use 6000
Custom 2000 - 10000
Color temperature 2500 - 10000

In Raw, and this is not only for Canon for all the other brands, the white balance doesn’t exist! It’s only a flag to be interpreted by the software processing the raw photo. You can change and set the white balance to whatever you want in the camera, and then change it to whatever you want in the software to process your photo.

Raw photos are affected by only 3 items:

  1. ISO: the sensitivity of the sensor.
  2. Aperture: the amount of light controlled by the lens.
  3. Shutter speed: the amount of light controlled by the camera.

And that’s it! On the other hand with JPEG photos, everything is “baked in” by the camera.

So what’s that got to do with my “mean streak”. This morning, I was at Reifel and this guy was playing with his “expo disc. So I walked over, started to ask him questions about what he was doing, I knew, but it’s always a good conversation starter… Then he went on explaining:

I’m a purist, I never change the photo once it’s taken by the camera…

Basically the situation is as follows:

  • He’s shooting raw
  • We are outdoor
  • It’s cloudy

Since he had a Nikon D3, I asked is him if he was shooting raw or jpeg? He was shooting raw, he’s a purist. I asked what were the factors affecting an image? He started to mumble… I stated getting the camera out of my bag, making my settings… So I ended up telling him:

ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. And that’s it.

Oh by the way, the White Balance’s only a flag for the Nikon NX2 software. And I’m using the cloudy setting for mine.

— Syv Ritch

  • My default White Balance setting used to be Daylight: see AWB Automatic White Balance, now I’ve switched to “cloudy”. It looks better to me in Lightroom 3.2.