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Why You Can Only Choose “Auto” or “Custom” For Your White Balance

Happy Monday, everybody! (Hey, I tried).

I’ve have a number of folks ask why sometimes when they go to the White Balance pop-up menu, they get a list of a bunch of different white balance presets to choose from, but sometimes they only get two choices: Auto and Custom.

Here’s why:


ABOVE: White Balance Presets for a RAW image.

When you shoot in RAW, the white balance hasn’t been decided yet. It initially shows you the one you had set in the camera, but it’s waiting for you to make the final choice when you process the image, so all the presets you could have chosen in the camera appear in Lightroom’s WB pop-up menu.


ABOVE: White Balance presets for a JPEG or TIFF image.

When you shoot in JPEG or TIFF mode, the White Balance preset setting you made in camera are “baked in” so you can’t choose those White Balance presets like you do with a RAW photo — as far as presets go you just get “Auto” or Custom. That doesn’t mean you can’t change the white balance for JPEGs or TIFFs — you absolutely can — using the Tint and Temperature sliders as well as the White Balance Eyedropper tool — you don’t get all those preset choices like you would from a RAW image.

Also, if you start with a RAW image, but then export it as a JPEG or TIFF, when you bring it back into Lightroom, even if you started with a RAW image, once it’s saved as a JPEG or TIFF that white balance is now baked in to the file.

Hope that find that little tidbit helpful. 🙂

Tomorrow I’m off to Virginia — I guess I just wanted to be colder than it is down here in Florida. 😉  – Looking forward to meeting some of you on Wednesday at my seminar in Richmond, and then in Atlanta on Friday.