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White Balance or Automatic White Balance? A delicate state of mind: the Nikon D800 case.

artborghi awb d800

I recently had the duty to shoot overcast-outdoor-mixed-with-tungsten-and-candle-lit-low-light-indoor (quite a nightmare without flash) and I always had the D800 AWB on. I tested Lr on raw files to see how good was my choice. D800 AWB was  doing a very good job … look at the paper in the hand of the girl in the post picture: it was white, not cyan, not yellow.

WB is quite an artistic choice, not a technical one. That said, there are different WB schools out there. Purists go for a fixed daylight WB. Warm-saturation lovers go for a fixed overcast WB. If you do not belong to any of them, you are probably very often satisfied with your AWB and you correct it in raw when needed.

There are many rumours around D800 bad quality AWB and suggestions agree on A2, M1 (or even A3, M2!). It’s a good solution to get better pictures on the LCD … and magenta overcast pictures on the card. So, I would not suggest doing such adjustment.

I gave alsawb d800 artborghio a try to Lr autotone, but I was disappointed: it always went down a couple of stops or more, making pictures quite dark, as you can see both for car and skin tones. I do not advise it.

The Lr AWB gave a yellow cast on skin and car this time … not sure I will use it again.

A bad point for D800: there is a green/yellow cast on the LCD, it is not just “a better representation of reality” as Nikon likes to say. Have a calibrated monitor (Win7 monitor calibration works easy with me) to judge your work, don’t trust the LCD.

Conclusions? Set your WB on the colour memories of the event and on logical patterns if you have unexpected tones. Was that wonderful dress red or magenta ? What does the D800 flash WB say?

awb flash wb d800 artborghi

Also, choose the WB you like more or that is more suitable to the situation: better a suntanned bride or a pinky groom? Candle lights aside and outdoor light back: what is the priority for the atmosphere of this picture?

outdoor candle AWB d800 artborghi

Posted by lorenzoborghi on February 20, 2013
5 Comments Post a comment
  1. 02/20/2013

    agree. Your AWB does good job here.


    • 02/20/2013

      Did you ever play with WB on your camera? Do you have a WB card with you for difficult situations? Or you just use whatever white reference on spot?


      • 02/23/2013

        i tried to play but it’s not really effective. grey card is not convenient in varying light condition either. normally i do it post-shooting.


      • 02/23/2013

        Thanks, I exactly thought I would have done more damage with grey cards.. I also find post-shooting better… if I will ever need 😀


      • 02/23/2013

        hahaha, you and your majestic D800


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