Calibrating the White Balance

If you shoot jpg’s, or view your nefs’s in the image browser, calibrating your white balance is essential. Jpg’s ‘burn-in’ the colors and throw away other valuable color information during the creation of the jpg in the body, making any post-processing color corrections difficult.

If shooting only raw, the white balance only makes a difference in the preview jpg embedded in the .nef file and you can still adjust the balance in post processing without loss of image color quality. You can calibrate your white balance to handle any lighting conditions. An accurate white balance can save you a lot of time in post-processing doing color corrections.

How to Calibrate

  1. Start ControlMyNikon and connect to your camera.
  2. Go to the Tools menu and select ‘Calibrate WB’.
  3. Light your scene exactly how you intend to shoot it. This can be any combination of ambient, continuous or strobe lighting.
  4. Place a white or 18% grey reference card in the scene and ensure it is illuminated by the light described in step 3.
  5. In the Calibrate window, select the Preset that will hold the calibrated white balance.
  6. Position the card so only the card is visible in the viewfinder or live view.
  7. Press the Start button.
  8. If successful, it will show “Success” and the calibrated white balance is stored on the preset selected in step 4. The body will now be using the calibrated preset. If you were in live view, the difference is visible immediately.

No Reference Card Available?

If you do not have a real reference card, you can use a white sheet of paper. However, these are rarely a true white so the calibration will not be accurate. Grey paper is rarely true grey and often has alot of blues so this will also cause an inaccurate calibration.

Failed Calibrations

If the calibration has failed, it is because the camera could not get a good reading from the card. Sometimes, perfect white cards will cause the body to reject it. Try moving the card to a different position and try again. Some bodies will reject it if is in or out of focus, so try some variations.

Live View

You can calibrate the white balance while the live view is running so that you can see the color distribution before and after the calibration. A successful calibration gives identical histograms for the Luminance, Red, Green and Blue channels when viewing the card. To see how accurate your body auto-iso setting is, try setting the white balance to Auto and see if it gives identical histograms. (Note: this is only available in the non-gpu live view mode).