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Selecting a White Balance

White balance can be used in two distinct ways: to obtain as close to correct color as possible, or in a more interpretive manner. The a7-series cameras’ preset white balances can be used in corresponding light conditions without any problem. If it’s sunny outside, Daylight WB will work well, as will Cloudy WB if it is overcast. At the same time, though, there are no real rules about the use of white balance, and it’s worth experimenting with how different white balance settings affect the feel of the scene. For instance, Figure 8.6 was shot right before the sun rose above the horizon, so the light was extremely warm and orange. Daylight WB was used to ensure that those tones remained in the image. However, a simple move to Incandescent WB throws on a blue filter, and the same image now becomes cool in appearance and mood (Figure 8.7). This more interpretive approach to white balance can only be used with the knowledge of how different white balance settings affect various light conditions, so try them all out!

Figure 8.6

Figure 8.6 Using the “proper” white balance, Daylight, yields predictable results.

ISO 200 • 1/400 sec. • f/11 • 35mm lens

Figure 8.7

Figure 8.7 Changing the white balance to Incandescent gives the photo a completely different feel, as well as the impression that the picture was taken at a different time of day than it really was.

ISO 200 • 1/400 sec. • f/11 • 35mm lens

You can select the most appropriate white balance for your shooting conditions in a couple of ways. The first is to just take a shot, review it on the LCD, and keep the one you like. Of course, you would need to take one for each white balance setting, which means that you would have to take 12 different shots to see which is most pleasing. The second method doesn’t require taking a single shot. Instead, it uses the Live View display to get perfectly selected white balances. As you scroll through the white balance settings, they are displayed for you right on the LCD or the EVF. If you want to be even more precise, you can choose a custom setting that will let you dial in exactly the right look for your image. If you’re shooting RAW, white balance setting can be altered in post without affecting image quality—yet it’s often useful to see the effect in real time.

Using the LCD or EVF to preview white balance settings

  1. To ensure that the Live View display is exhibiting the changes you want to see, select Menu > Custom Settings > Live View Display > Setting Effect > ON.
  2. On a7/a7R/a7S cameras, press the right side of the Control Wheel to activate WB. (On Mark II cameras, I program this setting to the down button: Menu > Custom Settings > Custom Key Settings > Down Button > White Bal.)
  3. Press either up or down on the Control Wheel to select the different white balance presets. You can also rotate the Control Wheel to scroll through the settings. The image on the LCD or in the EVF will change to reflect the chosen white balance.
  4. Select the white balance setting that looks most appropriate for your scene, and press the Center button to lock it in.
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