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I am trying to figure out how color balance and chromatic aberration are different and related.

It seems to me chromatic aberration is caused by the lens operating differently on lights of different colors.

But is color imbalance also due to the lens? What causes it?

How is it different from chromatic aberration, in terms of distorting the images?

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These concepts are almost entirely unrelated.

Color balance, or white balance, is generally a global correction meant to compensate for the characteristics of the light in the scene, to make it appear neutral to our eyes. See What is the meaning of "white balance"? and Why is there a colour cast when using an incorrect white balance? for more.

Chromatic aberration, as you note, is a lens artifact. It isn't caused by lights of different colors, but by different response to light waves of different colors even though they come from the same light source. (Remember that white light is really made up of a mix of all of the spectral colors.) More at What is Chromatic Aberration?

  • thanks. If lens doesn't cause color imbalance, what causes it? – Tim Jun 6 '15 at 17:53
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    @tim, please see the questions I linked. I think they answer that comprehensively. – mattdm Jun 6 '15 at 17:54
  • i understand your advice and tried to understand the posts there. But is it the film/sensor (and exposure) which causes the color imbalance? – Tim Jun 6 '15 at 17:58
  • My question isn't how to do white balance, but what causes white balance (why does a camera produce a photo with color imbalance?). – Tim Jun 6 '15 at 18:14
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    @Tim, that is specifically why I linked to "Why is there a color cast...", which is exactly that question. – mattdm Jun 6 '15 at 18:33

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