Can I use a white sheet of paper instead of the grey card for white balance calibration? I actually tried and it works not bad at all. I know the grey card is calibrated etc, but does it really change?

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    \$\begingroup\$ possible duplicate of What's a good ad-hoc replacement for a gray card? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 21, 2012 at 15:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @paolo - Do you ever search for answers here before asking? I think that is why many of your questions either have zero votes or 1 vote. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Mar 21, 2012 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @[email protected] Searching photo.stackexchange.com/… gives the possible duplicate as 10th or 15th result and I would be able to konw that question has something to do with mine just after reading it with other 15 questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Paolo
    Mar 21, 2012 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also see: Why are greycards used for white balance? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 21, 2012 at 16:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I see what you are looking at, but a simple search for gray-card returns pretty obvious answers at the top of the results. I wasn't even focusing on this question, many of yours are ones that are already answered previously here on the site. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Mar 21, 2012 at 16:34

2 Answers 2


A purist would say it's not good enough because you can't guarantee the consistency of the white in the paper. However in my personal experience it's plenty good enough. I've used sheets of paper, bleached coffee filters, tops of Pringles cans (when they had a frosted top) and everything was fine. I've also used more expensive tools like the CBL Lens.

However, a word of caution: if your goal is color accuracy then it's not good enough. You need proper tools. If your goal is to get very close then it's perfectly fine to use paper. Remember that in many cases a white balance choice is an artistic choice more than anything else. And there are many reasons to choose something other than what is technically correct.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Remember that in many cases a white balance choice is an artistic choice more than anything else." +1 \$\endgroup\$ Mar 21, 2012 at 16:48

I use the back side of 3x5 cards all the time. The one reservation I have with paper is if it has writing on the back side, it can show through, and in strong lighting, sometimes it's easy to see through the paper, and especially in strong light, you can see the grain of the paper much easier. If you use paper, you should use several sheets of it to prevent colors coming through. I would also watch out for watermarks when you are using a piece of paper for a white-balance.

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    \$\begingroup\$ White balance doesn't require good focus. In fact, it's almost always better to be out of focus when doing a white balance check. it averages out the inconsistencies in the color of the surface. \$\endgroup\$
    – nwcs
    Mar 21, 2012 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ AWESOME COMMENT! I totally agree with you. If you made it a little longer, you could post that comment as an answer to this question. \$\endgroup\$
    – J. Walker
    Mar 21, 2012 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ LOL, thanks! If I could think of more to add I would! \$\endgroup\$
    – nwcs
    Mar 22, 2012 at 17:08

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