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06-06-2013, 04:40 PM   #1
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Does white balance matter when shooting in RAW?

This is my first time to try shooting in RAW. I set my K-r to do RAW+.

When I compare the JPEG files with the RAW files, they look exactly the same, The RAW file size is much bigger and Faststone also tells me it is in RAW format.

I set the WB to Cloudy and they were sunset pictures.

Am I doing things right? When I shoot in RAW, do I need to set WB?

06-06-2013, 04:52 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmnf Quote
This is my first time to try shooting in RAW. I set my K-r to do RAW+.

When I compare the JPEG files with the RAW files, they look exactly the same, The RAW file size is much bigger and Faststone also tells me it is in RAW format.

I set the WB to Cloudy and they were sunset pictures.

Am I doing things right? When I shoot in RAW, do I need to set WB?
If you shoot RAW, you can leave it on AWB and forget about it... Even if you change it to something else, it is not disastrous because you can always fix it in post-processing. However, if you shoot JPEG and set the WB to something wrong it will be much harder to get the WB correct even in post-processing. It is common mistakes by beginners shooting in JPEG who usually changed the WB to "tungsten" during and indoor shooting before and then forgot to change WB the next day when they shoot outdoor during the day.

Last edited by aleonx3; 06-06-2013 at 05:19 PM.
06-06-2013, 05:17 PM   #3
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White balance is designed in such a way that a raw converter can change it without loss in quality. This is very useful because it lets you make an indoors room with tungsten lightning appear more natural, more liek we humans perceive it, rather than just how the camera records it. If you are shooting on a cloudy day, everything looks a little blue, so you can use white balance Cloudy, to make it appear more natural.
These days AWB is pretty good, so you can just use that. But beware, that AWB can also make the scene look different from how you want it. For example, if you want a sunset to look orange, turn off AWB and set it to daylight or CTE. AWB would turn a sunset to a "normal" colour.
So the use of white balance is primarily to make sure the colour of lights is the way you remember it being instead of just the way the camera recorded it. You can also use it creatively and change the mood of a photo with a slight tweak in white balance.
Oh, and white balance is important when taking portraits, because it can make the skin look more or less natural.
I usually shoot in AWB, Daylight, or CTE. Tungsten when indoors.

White balance is just one aspect of raw developing, though. Look at the other features, like contrasts, curves, saturation, sharpness. The difference between jpeg and raw is that the jpeg gets developed by your camera, according to algorithms. You have to develop the raw yourself. But if you do it well, it will look much better than the jpeg.
06-06-2013, 06:37 PM   #4
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There is no white balance in a raw file. A raw file is just ones and zeros. White balance in the raw viewer becomes whatever you choose, and is only set after conversion to jpeg.

Correct white balance is very important when shooting jpegs. It is possible to tweak white balance in a developed jpeg, but it's a lossy process and limited in its effect.


Last edited by audiobomber; 06-07-2013 at 04:47 AM.
06-06-2013, 08:20 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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I just set my white balance to 5000K and leave it there. I like to have a consistent point of reference for all my images as opposed to constantly shifting it - or trusting a camera to automatically adjust it correctly(which they rarely do)
06-06-2013, 08:38 PM   #6
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There's two other factors that play into the WB choice, depending on the circumstance:

1. Digitalis's suggestion of setting a constant WB allows one to use the Sync command in LR a lot more freely. When adjusting, say 30 pictures in the same lighting, one can adjust one picture, and then sync those adjustments to the rest of those 30 pictures - a real time saver. If the camera is on auto WB, then you can't do that because the camera may be constantly changing the setting, which would sabotage the sync command.

2. When I do promo shots for directors in the local playhouse, some of them like to look at the back of the camera to see how the shots are looking, if the WB is too far out of whack, then the directors will not get a "warm" feeling that the scenes are working out. So i usually set the WB on Tungsten for indoor shots and adjust as necessary later.
06-06-2013, 11:55 PM   #7
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While I haven't verified this--I assume if the white balance is way off--you may see a false indication of the exposure when you check the histogram/look for flashing overexposed areas. The image you review after the shot may indicate that some parts are overexposed when they aren't. I say this because I observe this when I process the raw images--when I reset the white balance often areas that were indicated as overexposed are then not.

Thus I feel it is a good idea to not be way off. e.g., if you are shooting under tungsten lights I would suggest setting it for same, rather than daylight. Auto WB presumably is usually OK--although I never use it. But if it is stage show with very colored lights, likely setting it for tungsten (incandescent lights) is better. But this is not a huge effect--as a guess maybe 0.25 e.v.
06-07-2013, 12:58 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmnf Quote
This is my first time to try shooting in RAW. I set my K-r to do RAW+.

When I compare the JPEG files with the RAW files, they look exactly the same, The RAW file size is much bigger and Faststone also tells me it is in RAW format.

I set the WB to Cloudy and they were sunset pictures.

Am I doing things right? When I shoot in RAW, do I need to set WB?
Before starting with WB settings, just check your Faststone settings, I had a similar problem until stormtech pointed me in the right direction. If you've already got the setting right....


QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
My guess would be that Faststone is using the embedded jpeg in the raw file for viewing thus they would be identical.

Edit to add - there is a setting in Faststone to use the embedded jpeg for faster raw viewing which you can turn off. In the top menu, hit "settings", then choose "settings". Then hit the "RAW" tab. The first setting in that window is "view raw files in" where you can choose the embedded jpeg or the actual size. I can guess that this setting in your program is set to "embedded preview image" which will use the embedded jpeg. Change it to ""actual size" and you should see the difference.



Last edited by altopiet; 06-07-2013 at 07:52 AM.
06-07-2013, 02:45 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmnf Quote
This is my first time to try shooting in RAW. I set my K-r to do RAW+.

When I compare the JPEG files with the RAW files, they look exactly the same, The RAW file size is much bigger and Faststone also tells me it is in RAW format.
What are you using to compare the RAW v.s. JPG images?
RAW contains a JPG preview imbedded within itself for faster viewing on the LCD. Your OS's file system may or may not use the JPG preview. Some software may even display this embedded JPG. at least initially. I thought Fastone quickly processed the RAW image, but maybe its showing the JPG preview for some reason? (I only used it once, years ago, so Im not certain how that one works).

If you are comparing from the camera/s LCD, you will see no difference as the embedded JPG is using the same image settings as any other JPG you may have taken in the past (including WB and other image settings that affect JPG).
Once you get that RAW file into an RAW image processor (LightRoom, Adobe Camera RAW, etc...) the true RAW image is visible and you will have a hard time exactly matching the JPG settings.

Technically the WB setting does not affect the RAW image itself. But it does affect the JPG preview, of course. It also sets the starting point for RAW processing software to generate the image that it will display to you. Having this set to some meaningful and/or helpful value will be beneficial to speeding up your processing of your RAW images.
Leaving your white balance off of Auto will allow you to adjust the white balance for a whole set of images when/if necessary. Otherwise the camera make each image different, and you may end up individually adjusting several dozen images, each slightly different from the last. I rarely find it a big deal, but a wedding shooter might find that a much bigger deal.
Setting to some wild value simply means you need to re-adjust every image. But you don't really lose anything from it, other than your time, when shooting RAW.
06-07-2013, 05:56 AM   #10
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I set to 5000 as well for shooting RAW.

For JPEG I either do AWB or set to flash when using...flash. I learned not to trust the AWB when doing manual flash.
06-07-2013, 07:24 AM   #11
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I use AWB and shoot RAW+ (DNG). dmnf, you are somewhat correct in your thoughts that white balance doesn't matter a whole lot when you are working with RAW image files. If I decide to use the jpeg, it is because A- the purpose is non-critical and B- I don't have to fuss much with the image.

However, when I open a DNG file in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR), white balance is at a good, if not great, starting point because ACR brings in the AWB results "As Shot". I can tweak that image to my heart's content from that point. For those who shoot only RAW and want/need to apply corrections to batches of RAW images, I can certainly see the advantage of starting at 5000K. It would save a lot of post processing time.
06-07-2013, 07:33 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmnf Quote
When I compare the JPEG files with the RAW files, they look exactly the same, The RAW file size is much bigger and Faststone also tells me it is in RAW format.
In FastStone go to Settings>Raw and check the "View Raw Files In" checkbox, then select either Half Size or Full Size from the dropdown. FastStone, by default, displays the embedded jpeg of raw files so no matter what your camera settings, the jpeg and raw files are going to look the same unless you set it (FastStone) otherwise.
06-07-2013, 09:19 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
Digitalis's suggestion of setting a constant WB allows one to use the Sync command in LR a lot more freely.
This is one of the principal reasons why I set all my DSLR and digital RF cameras to 5000K - it makes getting the image in the library quicker and it also allows me to sync WB adjustments which can be extremely useful when I'm doing Batch output.

QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
When I do promo shots for directors in the local playhouse, some of them like to look at the back of the camera to see how the shots are looking, if the WB is too far out of whack, then the directors will not get a "warm" feeling that the scenes are working out. So i usually set the WB on Tungsten for indoor shots and adjust as necessary later.
Personally I never let clients see the rear LCD of my camera, the reason for this is the same reason I never let them look at the ground glass on my view cameras - at the capture phase the image is still far from a polished product and I'm damned if I'm going to change my camera settings to let a micro-managing neurotic art directors see the image as it is going to be on the low resolution LCD, I have work to do - he can see the photos when I give them to him.

QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
While I haven't verified this--I assume if the white balance is way off--you may see a false indication of the exposure when you check the histogram/look for flashing overexposed areas. The image you review after the shot may indicate that some parts are overexposed when they aren't.
This is another reason why I have my cameras set to 5000K - because a considerable amount of artificial lighting is designed to mimic natural light which just happens to be around 5000K. In the case where there is an extreme shift caused by the lighting source and I have to compensate, having the WB value fixed at 5000K and being aware of the DR of your camera, it makes it far easier to compensate just by looking at the histogram. If you see either of the red/ green/blue channels start shifting too far to the left/right you have a colour cast somewhere. Since the metering system in our cameras is set to expose the scene at roughly 18% grey* so that is a RGB value of roughly R128G128B128

* though many cameras these days meter scenes to 12~13% grey.

Last edited by Digitalis; 06-07-2013 at 07:02 PM.
06-07-2013, 10:17 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
1. Digitalis's suggestion of setting a constant WB allows one to use the Sync command in LR a lot more freely. When adjusting, say 30 pictures in the same lighting, one can adjust one picture, and then sync those adjustments to the rest of those 30 pictures - a real time saver. If the camera is on auto WB, then you can't do that because the camera may be constantly changing the setting, which would sabotage the sync command.
This only applies to JPGs.

When shooting RAW, any absolute WB setting chosen in post-processing (e.g., in LR) whether dialled in manually or through a batch sync, will override any camera setting. WB adjustments in LR's Develop module are absolute. WB adjustments in the Library module (Quick Develop) are relative, but is anyone really using those?

I also keep my camera fixed to one (daylight) WB setting, but because I'm shooting RAW this won't help me to save time in LR.
06-07-2013, 05:22 PM   #15
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Thanks for the help. Yes it was my Faststone RAW setting problem. Now I can see the different between camera JPEG and RAW.

Now I know why you guys always use RAW. I have more flexibility in PP if I shoot in RAW. In this case, I can just select the lake and sunset and adjust the color and brightness without touching the dock and boats whereas in the camera JPEG case, I have lost some content of the "dock and boats"

And yes, WB doesn't affect much to the RAW file after changing the setting in Faststone.

However, I am not good at color mixing. Any quick suggestions for the RGB settings if I want to make the sunset background to be amber or natural red to create the sunset effect?
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