Cubic Mango & White Balance fail

My wife prepared mango in a rather fancy way so I wanted to make a photo of it. But surprise – the white balance was totally wrong. Or rather, no surprise – there’s only warm tones in the frame, so the camera logic, looking for an overall neutral tone, picked a color temperature that was way, way too cold. This was with my iPhone 6, but it doesn’t really matter – even the best DSLR would stumble here.

Mango on wooden chopping board
Mango on dark wooden chopping board, completely wrong white balance.
The same would happen if you were in a forest in spring for example, where everything is more or less green.

When you’re using raw data with a DSLR, it’s not a problem because white balance can easily be corrected in post – with the phone though (and JPEG files in general), there was no way to easily correct this – neither the iPhone’s built-in editing features, nor Instagram (which I wanted to use to share the photo) were able to get the colors right.

It would be possible to get this fixed with Lightroom – by setting Temp to +65 and Tint to +45 on the JPEG file. But since I’m not a CC subscriber, I don’t have Lightroom for mobile, and fixing it on the computer to then later share it on Instagram would’ve made the whole “insta” aspect of Instagram rather absurd. 🙂

But why not try to get it right instantly? Luckily, I already had the “ProCam” app installed – it allows manually setting the white balance (and a ton of other things). That’s really useful in this situation – and this is what the mango actually looked like:

Mango on wooden chopping board with correct white balance.
Mango on dark wooden chopping board with correct white balance. Yes, it really was that orange. 🙂
No edits were needed, I shared the photo to Instagram, and the mango was delicious (albeit a little bit tart).


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5 Comments

  1. On Android, my 1+ default camera app allows manual setting of white balance as well. For really detailed setting of camera parameters, I’ve found Open Camera to be perfect – good for geeks, that is.

    Good point clarifying the difference between RAW and JPEG, where this decision is baked in. Even on my DSLR I’ve stuck with ‘daylight’ WB as my default – with most of my photos being outside it’s usually my best option anyway, and helps with consistency between shots. After all, with film this is what we had no? 🙂

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    1. I’ve been using the fixed white balance for a while too, but I’ve stopped doing so. Here’s why: you can always apply that as a preset in Lightroom (my camera’s daylight WB is 5050K/+8) – you can NOT replicate what the camera’s auto WB would have picked for that scene however, and depending on the situation, it may be a better choice. I rather have both options. 🙂

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      1. Good point. I haven’t considered that, as for a long time I used Canon’s DPP as the first stage in my workflow. With DPP you can set WB to auto after-the-fact, and results are identical to in-camera use. I have since changed to DxO Optics, and had to check whether it provides auto WB (the version I have does not).

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      2. On DPP it’s identical, I tested this a while back. It’s not surprising, as it can easily use the same algorithm. After all, in-camera WB can only use the sensor and exposure data, which is all in the RAW file anyway, regardless of what WB mode is chosen.

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