Filters and White Balance

 

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Filters and Your Camera’s White Balance

Here is a valuable lesson on filters when it comes to white balance. I’ve found that when I use any of my main filters, I have to follow one simple rule in order to avoid ugly color casts in my photos and that is…

  • NEVER USE AUTOMATIC WHITE BALANCE (AWB) WITH
    • Any warming circular polarizing filter.
    • Any color filter of any kind.
    • Any ND grad filter.¹

UV filters can still use AWB. Get a good UV filter if you will be filming at high altitudes because the UV is stronger there (above 5,000 ft. it just becomes noticeable).

Theoretically ND filters could also use AWB, but I wouldn’t trust this entirely. I’ve had better luck using a set white balance.

¹Reverse ND Grad and ND Grad filters could probably also use AWB, but I have had better success with a set white balance instead of automatic with these.

Another couple of rules are worth mentioning…

  • USE DAYLIGHT WHITE BALANCE 99% OF THE TIME
    • Shoot digital in RAW and adjust later in Lightroom or other post-processing software.
    • If you use a polarizer consider “cloudy” or “tungsten” white balance and see if it works better. This would be the “1% of the time” solution.
  • NEVER STACK FILTERS
    • You will rarely if ever need to stack filters. If you do you will degrade image quality.
    • Don’t be tempted to put a UV or skylight filter on with your polarizer. I tried it and it can degrade image quality, creating a bluish cast to your photos (especially at high altitude).

Summary

Daylight white balance almost always works and gives you the right white balance when using filters outdoors. If not, adjust later by shooting in RAW. Keep these simple rules in mind and you won’t get a weird color cast when using filters!

Thank you for reading what I wrote — I hope you enjoyed it.


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