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Camera FAQ #13: What is White Balance Correction ([WB Shift/Bkt.])? How Do I Use It?

The white balance (WB) correction feature ([WB Shift/Bkt.]) is effective for changing the overall colour tone of a photo. It enables you to perform even finer white balance adjustments. This not only lets you faithfully reproduce the colours of the subject, but can also be used as a colour filter. (Photo & text by: Kazuo Nakahara)


Use white balance (WB) correction as a filter effect, while keeping the two axes in mind

The WB correction feature ([WB Shift/Bkt.]) can be used not only to faithfully reproduce the colours of the subject, but also as a filter effect that adds the characteristics of different colours to your photos. 

When using this feature, there are two axes you should keep in mind. The first is the B (Blue)/A (Amber) axis on which you can make simple adjustments to the colour temperature to make colours appear cooler or warmer. The second axis is the G (Green)/M (Magenta) axis, which lets you add unique colours to your photos that are difficult to obtain using the preset White Balance settings.

If you are using WB correction to create a colour filter effect, try adjusting it with the G/M axis in mind. To settle on a colour that suits your preference, I would firstly recommend specifying a preset White Balance mode, such as "Sunlight", "Shade", or "Cloudy, twilight, sunset", to roughly set the coolness or warmth of the colour temperature, before using the G/M axis to add your preferred colour tone. The final step would then be to use the B/A axis to adjust the overall colour. 

The final impression will differ depending on the subject. However, in general, a shift in the G (green) direction will create a younger and more refreshing impression, while a shift in the M (magenta) direction will create a more mature, solemn impression in your images.

[Lesson 8] Getting to know White Balance
-> Click here if you want to find out more about the basics of WB



EOS 5D Mark III/ FL: 600mm/ Aperture-Priority AE (1/30sec., f/6.3, EV+0.3)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto


For this shot, it was slightly overcast, so I set the WB to "Cloudy, twilight, sunset". Although the colours were very close to how they appeared in the actual scene, they were somehow came across as too refreshing and did not match the impression the subject gave me.



EOS 5D Mark III/ FL: 600mm/ Aperture-Priority AE(1/30sec., f/6.3, EV+0.3)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto


I wanted a tint that would give a calmer, gentler finish to the image, so I shifted the WB in the A (amber) and G (green) directions. This gave the image a warmer tint overall, which was closer to the mood of the subject.



Kazuo Nakahara

Born in Hokkaido in 1982, Nakahara turned to photography after working at a chemical manufacturing company. He majored in photography at the Vantan Design Institute and is a lecturer for photography workshops and seminars, in addition to working in commercial photography. He is also a representative of the photography information website studio9.


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