How to Set Manual White Balance in DSLR

By on May 20, 2013 — Updated on May 24, 2013

There are circumstances that any of the preset white balance modes that mentioned above doesn’t match with the existing color temperature. In this case, you can use the auto mode but if you are not satisfied with the result after all, you need to set the white balance manually.

First, you need to locate the manual white balance setting in the menu of your camera, particularly DSLR. Commonly, the icon for this is a rectangle with a capital letter K.

After finding it, adjust the temperature according to this table below, left side is the color temperature and the right side is the light source:

1,000k — candles, some flashlights
2,000k — pre-sunrise
2,500k — bulb
3,000k — halogen lights
3,000 – 4,000k — sunrise, sunset (with heavy smog)
4,000 – 5,000k — cool white fluorescent lamp
5,000 – 5,500k — electronic flash
7,000 – 8,000k — bright day
8,000 – 9,000k — overcast skies at lower elevation
9,000 – 11,000k — heavy overcast skies, shade
11,000 – 18,000k — rain at lower elevation, clear day and overcast snowy above 8,000 feet

This means that when your light source is candle, you set the color temperature to 1,000k; if the source of light is bulb, you set the temperature to 2,500k and so on.

Usually a manual setting allows you to increase or decrease the measurement by hundreds. Say for example you shooting inside a room with a fluorescent lamp light source, you set the white balance to 4,500k and fire a test shot to check whether the color balance is okay.

If you think the the color of the image is not fine, increase your setting to 4,600k or 4,700k if the color of the image is blueish but if it is yellowish, decrease the number then try a shot again until you get the desired color balance.

Image: By Shiretoko-Shari Tourist Association [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

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