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Setting Custom White Balance on Canon EOS 50D

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Shawn S. Lealos•updated: 5/31/2011

White balance helps you create natural looking images. But, sometimes the automatic settings aren't enough and you have to create your own custom white balance settings. Learn how to do this on a Canon EOS 50D camera.

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    Canon EOS 50D Camera

    The Canon EOS 50D is a mid-range 15.1 megapixel digital SLR camera. It sells for approximately $1,000 as of May 2011. The camera is geared at prosumers or advanced amateurs and comes with different automatic white balance settings.

    These settings make it easy to use the Canon 50D. Custom white balance, however, must be done manually. But, before you learn about how to manually set the white balance, let’s review the available settings.

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    Available White Balance Settings

    The white balance settings on the EOS 50D camera include standard ones like daylight, cloudy and white fluorescent light. It also has a EOS 50D tungsten lighting setting, which is for incandescent lighting. You can use the standard flash setting. But, the problem with flash is that it only illuminates the object right in front of you. And, it can overexpose the image.

    The color temperature setting refers to how cool (blue) or warm (orange) the image is. You can increase or decrease the warmth or coolness of an image. This helps make the image look more natural. The Canon EOS 50D allows you to correct the white balance for color temperature within nine stops. You can also adjust the white balance bracketing by three full stops.

    Then, there’s the auto white balance. This reads the available light and adjusts the white balance accordingly. This is generally the setting that everyone uses since most of us don’t know how to adjust the white balance.

    The problem with the auto white balance is that it leaves your images either too cool or too warm, creating unnatural looking images. You can always correct this issue in post-production. For example, you can shoot in RAW. This creates large images that are easier to manipulate in post-production since they have little to no processing.

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    Setting the White Balance

    Before trying to create your own custom white balance settings, take a few pictures using the other presets. You’ll get a feel for how the images look using the different settings. This may work for you.

    Or, you can take the next step, and adjust the white balance. Creating custom white balance is pretty much the same for all cameras. But, it is time-consuming. You must adjust the white balance setting every time the light changes, or you change scenes.

    You have two options for setting the Canon 50D custom white balance. You can find the whitest item in the room or landscape. Or, you bring a white card. The white card is the easiest way to do this since you might not find an object that is completely white.

    Set up the card somewhere in the scene. Focus on the card, and then take a picture of the card. Go into the main menu, and go to the custom white balance setting. You should see the photo you just took. Then, the camera will ask you if you want to use this photo to make your custom white balance setting. Select yes. You must finally change the camera’s white balance setting to the custom white balance setting.

    Remember, you have to do this for every shot that you take. If not, your images will look fine for one sequence of shots and not the next. Also, you must do this for every photo shoot.

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