Summary and Recommendations

White balance is one of the most important manual settings that you should get familiar with if you want to be able to control the look of your images.
It can visibly improve your pictures, especially when shooting in the shade and under artificial light.

White balance is an adjustment of color rendition that you can use for different types of looks:

  • neutral colors, as accurate as possible
  • „natural“ look that is as close to human perception as possible and can be slightly warmer or cooler
  • intentionally shifted colors for certain effects

The three most important ways to set white balance on a digital camera are:

Automatic

  • most convenient
  • works more or less reliable, depending on your camera and shooting situation

Manually by choosing a source of light

  • easiest way of manual white balance setting
  • requires to be familiar with the different types of light and what the related white balance corrections will do
  • will give you better results than automatic white balance

Manually by using a neutral white or grey area as reference

  • needs some more effort than the previous method
  • the only reliable way to get accurate color rendition

To get familiar with how your camera behaves and how to apply these different methods please practice yourself, try and analyze the results instead of browsing the internet for too long.
And do not analyze too much, at the end everything is OK if you just like the way your picture looks.

Last but not least: Color rendition is also important for the unreflected judgement about your images that others will do – if someone else finds your images „somehow better than others“ without being able to describe why I take a bet that it will be (among other factors) due to color rendition.
And also vice versa that you will hardly get such a compliment if you neglect this basic setting to control color rendition.