Category Archives: Tips and tricks

Nikon white balance pre-set

A preset white balance is a useful tool to ensure an accurate white balance in your images and can reduce time in post production correcting colour casts. If you are shooting in the same lighting conditions regularly you can save a white balance as a preset which can be recalled each time you shoot under those specific lighting conditions i.e. for studio photography.

To calculate a white balance the camera needs a point of reference for the specific lighting conditions. The most popular tools for this are a plain white card or a grey card. An 18% grey card is often used in photography as it represents the mid point in tone between black and white.

To record a preset white balance hold the ‘WB’ button and turn the main command dial to alter the white balance to PRE on the rear control panel.

 White Balance (WB) button on the rear of the D3

 The PRE option within the White balance settings

The D3 has five preset channels however this may vary depending on your camera model. On the D3 you can save your custom white balance to a preset channel ranging from d-0 to d-4 with the sub command wheel.

Once you have selected a channel to store your custom white balance on you will need to record a white balance value. To do this follow this procedure;

1. Press and hold the WB setting for approximately six seconds.
2. The PRE will start to flash indicating that it is ready to record a value.
3. Before the PRE stops flashing, frame up your reference point (white paper or grey card) so that it fills the whole frame and depress the shutter completely to record a value.
4. The custom white balance will not be effected whether the card or paper is in focus or not.

If the reading is successful the camera will display a flashing ‘Good’ in the control panels or Gd in the view finder. If the lighting conditions are too bright or too dark the camera maybe unable to record a value and will flash ‘noGd’ and you will need to be repeated the process. If no value is recorded while the PRE symbol is flashing you will need to repeat the process. If you intend to use the new white balance value immediately, keep the white balance set to the same channel you tested on.

How to copy the white balance settings from one image to another
With the exception of the D1, D1H, D1X and D100, all Nikon DSLR cameras allow the white balance settings to be copied from a previously taken image. The user can select images* from a memory card inserted into the camera to copy the white balance from, these images can be JPEG or NEF files. It is possible to select and use NEF files modified using the white balance adjustment option in Capture NX. For more details please see the cameras user manual. Cameras can only read Images taken by the same camera model i.e. the D200 will only read images taken with the D200 camera.

Select ‘measure’ to perform the preset white balance calculation. When the preset white balance is selected, exposure and all settings are controlled by the camera. The camera will return to return to it’s original zoom position.
Note the internal Speedlight will not fire even if selected during preset white balance measurement. Preset white balance cannot be measured with the flash internal or external, if you wish to use flash set the flash white balance setting instead.

If you are unsure whether you camera has the option to set a custom white balance, please refer to your user manual.

I like to use this white balance/reflector from Amazon;


Canon custom white balance

  1. Turn your camera on and make sure the dial isn’t set to any of the choices other than a preset Canon setting. Any setting between the green box and the “M” on the dial should work. If you’re accustomed to working in Manual mode, feel free to do so for this exercise, but you may want to start with a more basic mode if you are just learning how to use the camera. AV or TV should be fine.
  2. Take the lens cap off your lens and take out your white balance card. You can either buy a card specifically made for setting white balance or an Expo-disc from your local photography store. However, many amateur photographers have had great success using a white coffee filter or the nearly opaque white lid like those found on frozen whipped cream containers. I like the white balance / reflector from Amazon, it focuses very well and the results are great.
  3. Hold your white balance object in front of your lens making sure to hold the tool at an angle that does not create shadows. It’s also important to take your test picture under the same conditions you plan to take the other photos. Setting a white balance in bright, natural light and then walking to the opposite corner of the room and taking a picture with tungsten lighting doesn’t produce accurate results.
  4. Focus on the white balance card (You might use manual focus if there is not a lot of contrast.) When the white (or white/black gray) object fills the center of the viewfinder, take a picture.
  5. Select the “Menu” button on the left side of the camera’s screen. Scroll to the second camera setting menu and then down to the “Custom WB” option. Press the “Set” button. This opens the pictures stored on the camera’s disk.
  6. Scroll through your pictures and select the photo you just took of your white balance object (Click OK or SET)
  7. Press the “WB” key. This is the lowest key on the right-hand side of the camera’s screen with the other quick-control functions. Scroll over until you can see the custom white balance option. Press the shutter button down halfway to select.
  8. Take pictures with your new custom white balance setting. You should notice when you review the pictures the colors appear more true to what they looked like when you took the pictures. This is because you have told the camera what white looks like where you are shooting. With this method you can reduce the amount of post-processing you need to perform on your photos.
I like to use this reflector/white balance from Amazon and make sure it fills the frame with equal white, gray and black;