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From: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond3100/page19.asp

White balance often excessively orange under artificial light.

Artificial light here may also mean Flash.
Is this something which I should be concerned of if I have to purchase this camera or is this "normal" and can be "easily" adjusted by reading this: How do I properly white-balance my photographs when I'm shooting in mixed-lighting environments? ?

Is this a factor on which one should/may decide not to purchase this model?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

No it is not a big concern and usually does not mean flash since flash is daylight balanced.

What it means is that when you use the automatic white-balance option, things will come out too orange under artificial light, mostly incandescent lighting.

There are plenty of ways around which mean different amount of work:

  • Use Custom White-Balance: You shoot a known white target first and then all your shots in the same lighting condition come out perfect.

  • Use Preset White-Balance, possibly with Fine-Tuning: You set the white-balance to current type of lighting which gives you better results but not necessarily perfect.

  • You shoot RAW and the white-balance problem is delayed. You then set the WB according to taste or use a known white object (ex: shoot of a reference WB-card) to set the WB to images in batch shot under specific condtions.

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Cameras simply tend not to ve very good at auto-whitebalancing in artificial lighting, whether it be candlelight, tungsten lights, LED lights, halogen lights, fluorescent lights, gas-vapor streetlights or whatever. (Which is perhaps the root of the problem - there are so very many different artificial light sources and they vary wildly in colour temperature from one to the other.) The Nikon is very far from unique in this respect. It's just one of those things.

My advice would be to simply set in-camera WB to Auto and let it do its worst, then shoot in RAW and figure it out on the computer afterwards!

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I did not have the chance to work with this particular model, but I would guess that the problem lays elsewhere. White balance may be affected by many factors, such as:

  • not every artificial source has the same color temperature. For example, if the reviewer used "flash" as a setting (6000K), but took the picture under a light source with different temperature (difference over 200K may be noticeable, 500K will be surely visible), the WB is off, but it is not the fault of the camera

  • even if the WB setting was correct and coresponded to the temperature of the source, the final scene color temperature might have been affected by some other factor, including residual daylight when using flash, wall color (if the room is not painted in neutral white, there will be changes) etc.

  • very unprobable, but possible reason to this may also be a problem with the lens

I would personaly look for the reason of wrong WB in images elswhere, than the camera. However, if the camera is really causing this (and it would proof on several pieces under controlled conditions), it would be surely a reason not to buy one. Correcting white balance is possible, but doing that for every picture you take under "artifical light" would be very annoying and I suppose it would take the fun out of taking pictures.

Jakub

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By "artificial light", they mean tungsten (incandescent) and fluorescent. Flash is artificial too, but it's usually relatively high color temperatures (like the midday sun) and therefore not hard for the auto-wb systems to get right.

In any case, it is a moderate concern. It's not necessarily a deal-breaker because there are plenty of workarounds, but even if you shoot raw and post-process every image, it's nice for the white balance to be at least close to correct initially.

My current camera, a Pentax K-7, has incredibly good automatic white balance, usually providing results better than the presets like "sunny" or "cloudy". I find this to be a huge benefit and time saver. I'd be disappointed with any camera that had worse performance in this area. (The K-7 has a sensor that it uses to adjust the autofocus system depending on the wavelength of light, and it's speculated that this is also used for the auto-wb, but I don't know of any proof of that and Pentax won't say.)

Unfortunately, online reviews don't seem to cover this very well, either accepting poor performance as the status quo and maybe putting a line like the one you noticed in the conclusion, or else using some sort of technical measuring system where the results don't match with my experience. Not to argue with science, but there's a lot of ways to get those technical measurements wrong, and since they don't line up with my actual observations, I'm skeptical. So this is something I'd test out in person first if possible, and ask someone who has the camera about if not.

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