Photography Cheat Sheet: White Balance Presets Guide

Break away from your camera’s Auto white balance setting with this nifty guide on the other white balance presets at your disposal.

It may seem like a good idea to stick to the Auto white balance setting and let your camera figure things out on its own. One less setting to worry about, right? If you’re consistently happy about your results, you may not find it necessary to change to another setting. However, it always helps to learn more about the other options that you can use, especially if you’re shooting with artificial lighting or tricky lighting situations. For this, we bring yet another useful photography cheat sheet that you can use as a reference.

Digital Camera World has an in-depth explanation of white balance is in their tutorial, but in a nutshell, it involves getting the colors as consistent or faithful to how you saw the scene you shot. This makes sure that whites are white, blacks are black, and the rest of the colors are as accurate as possible. However, since various light sources and lighting conditions produce different color temperatures, the white balance setting makes sure the scenes you photograph maintain their color constancy. The Auto white balance system is designed to notice the changing light and color temperature and make adjustments accordingly. However, some conditions may be harder for it to judge than others (like the varieties in different fluorescent lights) so your camera may get it wrong.

Here’s where the white balance presets cheat sheet above come into the picture. It combines Digital Camera World’s color temperature scale that we shared previously, plus more details about your camera’s white balance presets and when to use them. Most of the settings are pretty self-explanatory, but for the last two should come in handy if you’re already familiar with how white balance works and want to set your own white balance manually. K allows you to set the color temperature manually, which is great for shooting with studio lighting. Pre lets you take a manual measurement from a neutral surface to use as a basis for your custom white balance preset. More advanced DSLRs will often have these settings available.

If you want to know more about white balance, we have loads more resources for you to check out.