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What is white balance?

You may have noticed that light comes in lots of different colours. Most noticeably, a sunset is deep orange, street lamps are yellowy orange, daylight is blueish, the lamps in your home are yellow (think of when you are outside at night, and you see a home lit up in the distance). Colours like red and orange are referred to as warm, while blue is cool.

Tungsten White Balance

See how orange this un-corrected image is?

Our eyes are very good at adjusting for these differences. But cameras will over accentuate them. This can lead to problems. Most commonly, if you shoot images inside your home with the lights on, and no flash, they are likely to come out very orange.

You can compensate for this by setting your white balance correctly.

Here are the usual different white balance setting and when you should use them

Auto – This lets the camera guess at what it should use.
Tungsten – Use this under tungsten lights (such as in your home). It will cool down the colours from warm oranges towards more natural blues.
Fluorescent – Use this under fluorescent lights (like in many offices)
Daylight/Sunny – Obviously, use this during sunny weather
Cloudy – Use this outside when it’s cloudy and it will warm up the colours as little.
Flash – Camera flash is a very cool shade so this mode will warm the colours.