What Is White Balance?

White Balance is one of many settings users of DSLR and advanced (digital) cameras have. They help the camera lens and sensor to take even better, life-like photos or are used to create artistic effects with the picture taken.

A camera lens can never be as accurate when it comes to detecting white with respect to different lighting situations as the human eye. By default, the White Balance of many cameras is set to auto or automatic. This can result in different color casts that give the image a blue, orange, and in some cases even green tint. By setting the White Balance on the camera, photos appear more realistic – or it can be used to create the exact opposite.

Checking a photo’s metadata can indicate what kind of White Balance was used for this particular image. This works for Camera RAW images as well as raster images created from them. Most of the time, the value for the White Balance matches the settings name of the camera used:

  • auto
  • daylight
  • flash
  • fluorescent

Some cameras allow for very precise and custom settings for White Balance. In this case, it may also happen that the exif information gives a numerical value used by the lens.

White Balance is not only used in photography, but in filming as well. Thus, White Balance information can also be found in video files such as MOV and MP4.