White balance, or WB, is necessary because light doesn’t just vary in brightness, but also in colour. Each light source has its own individual ‘colour temperature’ (check out this handy cheat sheet explaining colour temperature), which varies from red to blue as you move through the visible spectrum.
Human vision is very good at compensating for this, so a sheet of white paper will look white whether it’s viewed in daylight or by candlelight.
It’s the job of the camera’s White Balance system to do the same thing and compensate for the colour differences in the lighting, so the colours in a scene look exactly as we would expect.
Your Nikon DSLR has a wide range of options for controlling the White Balance to suit the colour temperature of the light in the scene, including Automatic White Balance (AWB), which will cleverly look after all this for you.
In the photography infographic below we show you some of the cool Auto white balance options, as well as White Balance Bracketing, number presets, user presets and more that are available on each current Nikon DSLR.
On the next page we’ve provided some of our favourite white balance tips for breaking the rules and using your Nikon DSLR’s presets in a more creative manner. We’ll also show you how to use your white balance presets when shooting in mixed lighting.
The right way to set up your DSLR
Digital Cameras: what the manual doesn’t teach you
White Balance: how to use a colour chart to get tones perfect
What is white balance: common problems and how to solve them