A dedicated photographic grey card is ideal for creating a custom White Balance setting, and you’ll find a wide variety of different types available from a number of different retailers.
However, anything that has a neutral grey or white tone can make a good target for White Balance adjustments,. Here we’ve listed a selection of alternatives that you can use, ranging from high-tech solutions to simple, more affordable options.
Use a piece of paper
Yes, it’s that simple. Grab a sheet of paper from your printer’s input tray and use it as a target for your White Balance setting. Technically, it may not be perfectly neutral – some papers have hints of colour from brightening agents – but it’ll be close enough for most situations.
This is the reverse of the grey card used in our walkthrough. It’s white rather than grey, but that only matters if you’re measuring exposure rather than just White Balance. In principle, any reflector, such as those used in portrait photography, should work perfectly well.
This is the ExpoDisc White Balance attachment. You screw it onto your lens and point the camera at the light source to measure the White Balance. It can also be used for incident exposure measurements, to check the light falling on the subject.
Your favourite newspaper
Ordinary newspapers can be good White Balance targets, though it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find papers that don’t use colour photos – these are no good, for obvious reasons. Also, make sure you avoid a certain UK financial publication that uses pink paper…
White Balance swatches
This is the Polaroid Digital Grey Card set (£8, $12) used in our Key Skill panel. It’s designed to help set the White Balance in the editing phase on a computer by acting as a neutral test target. You place a card somewhere within the scene, and you then remove it for the final shot.
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