Auto White Balance: A Mystery Debunked

  1. Bouncer71
    OnePlus 7 Pro Sample Shot Photographer Apr 5, 2020

    Bouncer71 , Apr 5, 2020 :

    Hello fellow Photomaniacs,

    A lot of discussion going on about how bad Auto White Balance on OnePlus camera is lately, especially in artificial light...

    I want to shed some of that light on why and that not only smartphones suffer some of those problems...
    Also will give some tips how to get better AWB or how to get a better reading to set it manually...
    Don't be afraid, you don't need to be a Pro to get it right... ;)

    All photos shot with OnePlus 7 Pro unless it says otherwise... !

    What is Whitebalance..?
    It's complex but it can be described as the following..

    The camera software uses the light information that hits the sensor to determine the color temperature to get the color reproduction according to the human eye.
    This is done by assuming that scenes contain neutral colors thus correcting to warmer or colder side of the spectrum plus correcting an green or purple tint.
    This usually fails when there's a dominating color in the scene or the light source has a narrow spectrum...

    Some Examples:
    Just like in the icecubes title picture...
    The the torch I used to illuminate the scene has an cheap, very cold white on the edge of blue LED..

    Or like here, natural full spectrum light through the window but the brown floor adding warm or better more red tones to the scene, causing AWB to correct to the colder side...
    The wall is actually light gray not light green... ;)

    A little tilt up with more asumable neutral colors changes that..

    One last one..
    Won't happen anytime soon on Smartphones but a perfect example what happens if the light spectrum is missing some wavelength..
    Shot with Lumix FT-5.

    Under water, the deeper you get the more of the short wavelengths are getting absorbed.
    Reds are missing and everything turns green..

    Just a meter below the surface...

    about 10 meters deep...

    So you see there are a lot situation when White Balance just goes wacko... ;)

    How to handle White Balance if AWB wrong...?

    1. Presets
    Available in some camera Apps like "Open camera"

    2. Custom Whitebalance metering..
    The camera is pointed at an neutral gray card or a Whitebalance lens protector is used..
    The prisms collects the light of the scene and projects it on an translucent neutral gray surface...

    3. Using neutral gray card
    to get the perfect Whitebalance in postprocess...
    Place it in the scene, make one reference shot, then remove it and go on shooting...
    When ever the light conditions change take a nother reference shot..

    4. Using Pro-Mode for Manual Correction
    Read more at @cdnfarmer 's awesome Tutorial. ;)
    A Practical Guide to Pro Mode

    5. Post Development
    Actually my favorite cause I don't have fiddle around to much while out there shooting photos..
    And that's up next.. ;)

    Correcting Whitebalance in Post...

    Almost all Photo Developing Apps, for Smartphones or PC feature functions to correct WB.

    Well, tries to assume natural colors and settings accordingly..

    Manual sliders
    Colder or warmer
    Tint is sometimes even more important to correct an greenish or purple tint...

    Dropper tool (my favorite.. :D )

    If you have an reference shot use the Dropper tool on the gray card and copy the Whitebalance values to the other photos of the series...
    Or select an area that is close to neutral gray.
    E.g. a shadow on a white surface
    This tool analysis the pixels assuming that the are neutral gray and automatically correcting WB and Tint...

    Accuracy depends on the software also in this case Snapseed isn't really that good. On the shadow surface it was way to yellow and that is the best result i could even get...

    Lightroom CC Mobile is way better...

    Now to the WB corrected example from above...

    IMG_20200122_183210.812__01 (1)_001.jpg




    So in most cases it's actually pretty easy to correct White Balance if AWB is not on spot..

    But that doesn't mean that OnePlus shouldn't be constantly working on the matter to get better results straight out of camera..
    Especially in this days of AI scene detection... ;)
    Sometimes I think it would be great if there was manual WB preset selection also in the stock camera.. ;)


    Do some shooting and get your Balance right already... :D

    Thread open for discussion or to post some of your failed WB examples...
    Maybe we'll find a solution together... ;)

    Thanks for reading..!
    Yours Bouncer71...!
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2020

  2. Dresa91
    User of the Year 2016 Apr 5, 2020

    Dresa91 , Apr 5, 2020 :
    Thank you for your explanation @Bouncer71 :)
    very interesting and good to read:)
    Maybe I have to try some settings at home :)

    hennes, TibiTibi, BeingIncog and 3 others like this.
  3. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Apr 5, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Apr 5, 2020 :
    Great work @Bouncer71 . Excellent explanation.

    hennes, TibiTibi, drl431 and 3 others like this.
  4. Bouncer71
    OnePlus 7 Pro Sample Shot Photographer Apr 5, 2020

    Bouncer71 , Apr 5, 2020 :
    Thank you both very much... :) :)

    hennes, TibiTibi, cdnfarmer and 2 others like this.

  5. #5
  6. Bouncer71
    OnePlus 7 Pro Sample Shot Photographer Apr 6, 2020

    Bouncer71 , Apr 6, 2020 :
    Thanks @Batman360...! :D
    Glad you like it... :)

    hennes, TibiTibi, cdnfarmer and 2 others like this.
  7. TibiTibi
    Photography Expert Apr 6, 2020

  8. hennes
    YaImCo Developer Apr 6, 2020

    hennes , Apr 6, 2020 :
    Thanks @Bouncer71 for explaining and for the tips. It is wonderful to read and understand. Thank you very much.

    I always said that I want to have a real pro mode where you get the neutral picture seen by the sensors and you can adjust the values on your own. I don't like it when AI is changing my pictures in a way it doesn't match to that what you see in real, but ok I know this will be a dream.

    Bouncer71, TibiTibi and Dresa91 like this.
  9. Bouncer71
    OnePlus 7 Pro Sample Shot Photographer Apr 6, 2020

    Bouncer71 , Apr 6, 2020 :
    Totally..!!! Thanks...

    I'm known to be stoic calm most of the time... ;)

    Thanks a ton @hennes... :D
    Really appreciate it... :)
    You're more than welcome...!

    Pro-Mode and RAW might do the trick... ;)

    cdnfarmer, TibiTibi and Dresa91 like this.
  10. B_Wrath
    Nougat Apr 6, 2020

    B_Wrath , Apr 6, 2020 :
    An excellent read! @Bouncer71, my man!
    Really really informative!

    It's an understatement to say that I have learnt a lot from your threads:)

    Keep up the good work!

    By the way, hope you are safe!

    cdnfarmer, Bouncer71 and Dresa91 like this.
  11. Bouncer71
    OnePlus 7 Pro Sample Shot Photographer Apr 8, 2020

    Bouncer71 , Apr 8, 2020 :
    Thank you @B_Wrath... :) 🤗

    Those threads are just my way of giving something back to the community, for all the fun, kindness and friendship I experience here.. :)
    Reaching some that find them helpful is the cherry on the topping.. ;) :D

    And yes I'm save...
    Thanks for asking...!
    Our company is doing what they can to keep us secure, listening to every suggestion we have that helps us feel save and comfortable, having to deal with hundreds of customers on a daily basis...

    Hope you're also doing well my friend... :)