|Nikon D2x - Setting the White Balance|
|© Darrell Young|
Back in the good old days, we'd buy a roll of tungsten balanced film to shoot under the orange-colored light of indoor bulbs. Or, we'd buy a fluorescent filter to correct for the greenish light of a florescent bulb. If it was an overcast day, or we were shooting in the shade, we might add an 81A filter to warm things up a bit.
Instead of needing to carry a big pack of filters around with you, your D2x has a method for balancing the camera to the available light. It is your White Balance controls. Normally, the White Balance is used to adjust the camera so that whites are truly white, and other colors are accurate, under whatever light source you are shooting. But, you can also use the White Balance controls to deliberately introduce color casts into your image for interesting special effects.
First, let's look at the normal use of the White balance controls, that of balancing the camera's sensor to the light in which you are shooting.
The D2x gives us two distinct methods to adjust white balance. One is more sensitive than the other, and will work in much lower light levels.
Notice the WB button, FUNC button, rear command-dial (thumb wheel), and small lower LCD in Figures 1, 2, and 3 below. These buttons are used to adjust the white balance.
White Balance Method One
This method is best used in areas where there is relatively bright light. It uses the small white “third-eye” sensor on the top of the D2x.
Please note that the flashing GOOD means that a successful white balance reading was taken, and your camera is now color balanced for that light source. If you do NOT see a flashing “GOOD,” but instead see a flashing “noGd” then the operation was unsuccessful and the light source may not be bright enough. Use method two below instead.
White Balance Method Two
Remember, if you see “noGd” flashing, instead of “GOOD” then the operation was NOT successful.
Method number two is very sensitive, since it is actually using the light coming through the lens to set the white balance, so it will virtually always be successful. Method number one uses the small white sensor on the prism housing of the D2x, and it will only work in medium to high brightness light sources.
Using the White Balance to Experiment with Color Casts
Many of us previously used daylight balanced film and an 81A filter to warm up our subjects. Or we might add a filter to put some blue in on a foggy day to make the image feel cold and foreboding. We can achieve the same effects with the hard coded white balance settings built-in to the D2x. Please see page 54 of your D2x user's manual to see what each of the symbols mean.
To achieve the same effect as daylight film and an 81A filter, simply select the “Cloudy” white balance setting while shooting in normal daylight. This sets the D2x to balance at about 6000K which is warmish, and makes nice warm-looking images. If you want to really warm the image up, set the controls to “Shade” which sets the camera to 8000K.
On the other hand, if you want to make the image appear cool, try using the Fluorescent (4200K) or Incandescent (3000K) settings in normal daylight.
Examine Figure 2 below to see how shifting the color temperature can cool down or warm up an image.
Remember, the color temperature shifts from “cool” values to “warm” values. The D2x can record your images with any color temperature from 2500K (very cool) to 10000K (very warm), and any value in between. There's no need to carry different film emulsions, just to deal with differing light types. The D2x has them all!
Learn to use your White Balance controls to play around with color temperatures, and you will eliminate most of the filters you used to have to carry. The D2x has very easy to use color temperature controls, and a full range of color temperatures available.
Below is how to use the preset White Balance values:
Pages 54 to 66 of your D2x manual has extensive white balance information. With these simple tips above, and a little study of the manual, you can become a white balance expert with your D2x. Learn to use the color temperature settings above to make superior images.
You will be able to capture very accurate colors with your camera, or make images with color casts reflecting how you feel about the image. Experiment a bit, and you'll find it easy to remember how to set your white balance in the field.
Keep on capturing time…