Setting the White Balance on a Canon XL1: Tutorial to Help You Shoot the Perfect Scene

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What is White Balance?

White balance involves removing unnatural color from the video in order to make items that appear white render white in the actual video. While a human’s eyes easily differentiate the color temperatures of white items, digital video cameras have numerous problems when attempting to use automatic white balance settings.

A poorly rendered white balance will give the video a bluish tint. Oftentimes poor white balance might even make the entire shot look orange or green, rendering the entire shoot unrealistic to the viewer. The Canon XL1’s automatic white balance system compensates for many light conditions but a user will get better results when setting the balance manually.

Manual white balancing is preferred when shooting items with a dominant color, like green grass. It is also preferred when shooting close-up shots, ever-changing lighting conditions and locations with fluorescent or mercury vapor lights. Luckily, the Canon XL1 has an easy-to-use manual white balance system to make sure you get the best looking video possible in any lighting conditions.

Setting the White Balance on a Canon XL1

Before you prepare to set the white balance on the Canon XL1, make sure everything is set up the way it will be in the shot. Also, make sure you have complete control over all the lighting used in the scene because a change in brightness might throw off the white balance of the shot.

If there is a chance of the light changing, such as outdoor video shooting, you might need to recheck the white balance on the Canon XL1 throughout the shoot. The white balance controls are on the left side of the Canon XL1.

  1. Make sure you do not have the Canon XL1 set on Easy Recording mode because manual white balance does not work in this setting.
  2. Press the white balance selector on the side of the camera to make the knob pop out.
  3. Choose either 1, 2 or 3 to manually set the white balance. The other three levels available on this knob are automatic, indoor lighting and outdoor lighting, all automatic white balance options.
  4. Turn on all the lighting you plan to use to shoot the scene.
  5. Point the Canon XL1 at a white object, preferably with no shadows. It is always handy to carry white poster board to the set for these purposes. It is a good idea to have the white object beside your key light source.
  6. Zoom in on the white object until it completely fills the display.
  7. Press the white balance set button on the side of the Canon XL1. An icon on the display will flash and then remain lit to show the white balance is set. Even if the icon continues to slowly flicker, it is still a better white balance than the automatic settings.

Once this is completed, the Canon XL1 is ready to shoot the scene with the proper white balance levels. When finished, turn the selector knob back to A and push the knob back in.

If the light changes and you need to change the white balance settings, you must return the knob to auto and then reselect 1,2 or 3 to reset the white balance. If you turn the camera off between shots, it remembers your last white balance setting.