Since various kinds of light from different sources have different light temperatures, when a picture is taken, the same subject may appear in different colors. This is noticeable if you compare sunlight on a cloudless day with light from a neon tube.
Therefore, the camera needs to know not only the light intensity, but also the color temperature of the ambient light to ensure that the color is rendered correctly. The latest digital cameras have an automatic white balance feature. The camera automatically analyzes the ambient light, determines a precise color temperature range, and rectifies possible chromatic aberrations so as to reproduce the image with natural colors.
Many digital cameras also allow the white balance to be set manually, and generally offer preset parameters for balancing the light temperatures for sunlight, cloudy days, artificial light, and fluorescent light. Some models even have a button you press to set the white balance, depending on the relevant light source. However, to do this, the photographer needs to “train” the objective lens using a white object (e.g. a sheet of white paper), which will be used as a measurement baseline and then to adjust the values.
Does the white balance setting have any impact on exposure time? No, it doesn’t.
In many cases, the automatic setting is sufficient for the white balance. However, if you see any unexpected (slight) color shifts or you possibly wish to achieve a particular effect for your image (such as warmer shades), it definitely makes sense to adjust your color temperatures using the white balance setting.
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