White balance is a feature available on almost every digital camera–most point-and-shoot models and every DSLR–that allows the camera to properly register the color white within the lighting conditions under which the photo is taken.
This feature is necessary because, unlike the human eye, the camera does not automatically adjust to changes in the temperature of light. When we look at a white index card out in the sunlight, inside by candlelight, and under the fluorescent lights of a shopping center, we see a white card. Digital cameras, however, need to be told what true white is in the photo.
Unless otherwise manually set by the camera operator, the white balance is usually set automatically. Failure to change a manual white balance setting when switching between lighting conditions (such as moving from inside to outside a building) will result in photos with incorrect hues such as overly warm or cool whites that look unnatural.
- By Jason Fitzpatrick on 04/11/13