How do you set the white balance? AWB, the automatic white balance, sunny, cloudy, or flash… The AWB mode will let the computer (oops the camera) do a quick analysis and decide.

The purpose of the white balance is to find the temperature of the light, so what looks white to the eyes will be white in the photo.

Now here’s the problem: Do you care? Should you care? “I shoot raw, why should I care?”

My answer is: “That depends!” Talk about waffling, but it’s true, that depends.

  1. Raw outdoor: who cares. Makes not difference, the white balance is easily changed in Lightroom or any other processing software. The white balance is just a flag.
  2. JPEG outdoor: Need to get it right, because even changing the white balance in any processing software will degrade the photos. The white balance is “baked” in.
  3. Raw indoor: What’s the light source? Where are the sources? Side window lighting with or without flash? Tungsten bulbs? Fluorescent? This is when it becomes tricking, the solution is to either:

    • Balance all the various lights with gels.
    • Select which light is the most important and balance just for that light.
    • Change the location like taking the photo outside or move to where one light is much more preponderant.
    • Be a Photoshop specialist and correct in the white balance is PS. This will not work in Lightroom.
  4. JPEG indoor: It’s actually a little bit simpler:

    • Balance all the various lights with gels.
    • Change the location like taking the photo outside or move to where one light is much more preponderant.
    • Be a Photoshop genius and correct in the white balance is PS.

Actually, this is not just for Canon, it’s also for Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony.

  • I only use raw. I can’t remember the last time I used JPEG.
  • Outdoor, I’m almost always set to “cloudy”, it brings a little bit of warmth to the photo.
  • Indoor, I’ll set the white balance to the dominant light or the color of the wall used to bounce the light.