White balance is one of those items well down in the setup menu and in an even more obscure corner of the manual. Few digital photographers have probably even given the setting a second thought.
In simple terms white balance is an adjustment to the colour of an image so that white objects appear white. In older cameras there where a few setting option
- Shade, when subject mainly in shade , it reduces bluish tones of the photo
- Cloudy, for cloudy days
- Fluorescent Light
- Artificial Light, (Tungsten light)
More recently cameras will have -
- Flash, when using the built in flash
- Daylight, for taking photos in strong direct daylight
- AWB (Auto White balance), the camera tries to automatically adjust the white balance. This is the softest default setting to leave your camera on
Higher end cameras may even have setting like -
- Fine Tuning, the basic settings like shade
- K (colour temperature)
But don’t panic about always getting the perfect setting. The colour temperature of your photo can always be adjusted as a post process. The Tuning tab in Picasa has a neutral Colour picker, which lets you select a neutral gray or white part of your photo to remove any colour cast. Alternatively the little light blub beside this is a one click fix for colour. Most advanced packages will have a similar tool.