Camcorder Controls: How To Use Auto White Balance
White balance is an important aspect in photography which will help you capture accurate colors in different light conditions. Different types of lighting have a major impact on the captured image, and a camcorder or camera has special automatic controls that adjust the parameters in order to get the right natural colors. This is called white balancing.
Depending on the model of the camcorder you are using, you will generally have a couple of presets, an auto mode and a button for manual setting for getting the correct white balance.
Usually there are two presets; one for outdoor shooting represented by a sun icon and one for indoor shoots represented by a bulb icon. Selecting the outdoor white balance will adjust the camcorder's sensitivity to color, to match natural daylight. This preset is useful for a range from direct sunlight to grades of cloudy skies. Indoor preset is mainly for areas having various types of halogen lights. Here the sensitivity of color matches a warmer cast of light. Certain camcorders also have a white balance preset for fluorescent lights which will offset the greenish cast given off by such lighting. If this preset is not available, use the outdoor preset for getting good results.
On the auto mode setting, your camcorder will perform a color cast analysis of the light which it encounters and then set the parameters which will give the most accurate colors. The efficiency of the auto mode will depend on the model of your camcorder. A low end model will just choose between the outdoor and indoor presets, while a sophisticated model will have an on-going fine tuning process to get the best results in varying light color casts. So, the use of the auto mode will largely depend on the type of model and the expensive ones will give you quite a good result. If your model is not that sophisticated, you will need to depend on the Manual mode to get the right white balance.
The manual mode for white balance is also quite easy to use in most camcorders. You need to zoom in on a white surface or a white sheet of paper and then select the manual option usually represented by an icon of a square with two triangles in it. If your camcorder has a joystick control, push it up until the balance is set. In some models, the screen will turn black and the image will return slowly. In some models, the manual icon will continue to blink until the setting is correct.
Certain camcorders which are built for underwater shooting have a default auto setting for white balance whenever the camcorder is turned to the underwater mode. This setting is mainly used for warming the image to compensate for the lack of sunlight.