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Filters vs. white balance? We'll tell you the right way to get great shots

Added on Tuesday 22nd of July 2008 07:36 am EST
Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3
Operating Systems:
Microsoft Windows, Macintosh

I’m new to digital photography and see filters for sale in many photo magazines that are used to white balance images. Yet I also have discovered that my digital camera can internally white balance my images as well. So which is better to use—a filter or my camera’s white balance settings?

White balancing—or color balancing, as it is also known—your images is an important part of the photographic process. Different lighting sources possess different color characteristics. An image you shoot using the sun as a light source may look acceptable, but that same image will have a reddish cast to it if you shoot using a tungsten light source. So, it’s a good idea to set the white balance before you shoot your images to prevent this discrepancy. There are two ways you can white balance: You can use a color balancing filter such as an 80A, as shown in Figure A, or you can use your camera’s own onboard software, as shown in Figure B.



Color balancing filters, such as the ones you see for sale in photography magazines, were developed for use with traditional film photography. When film manufacturers produce film, they generally formulate it for use with daylight or tungsten lighting sources. When a photographer uses daylight film in the daylight, the results appear normal, but when he uses the same film with a tungsten light source, he should use a filter to correct for the tungsten source.
               Color balancing software was developed for use with digital cameras for the exact same color balancing issues that filters were developed for. When a photographer uses a daylight white balanced image setting in the daylight, the results appear normal, but if he uses the same white balanced setting with a tungsten light source, the image appears with a reddish hue. Therefore, when shooting und...