DNG files and White Balance

mickyatesLeica, Mick's Photo Blog, Photography, Processing Leave a Comment

Following a friendly debate on Facebook about the impact of White Balance camera settings on Leica’s DNG files, I did a very quick ‘real world’ test. Normally, the White balance setting is reckoned not to alter  RAW capture, although all cameras process the RAW date to create usually proprietary files – e.g. Nikon creates NEFs. Leica however uses Adobe’s DNG file format.

I took a serious of identical shots in rapid succession using the Leica Q2. That way the ambient lighting was identical. I changed the White Balance on the camera between shots – all other settings are the same (F8 and 200 ISO). The subsequent JPG conversion for use was identical.

Here are the results. Click on the image to see it larger.

Auto White Balance

Daylight White Balance

Cloudy White Balance

Shadow White Balance

Tungsten White Balance.

You can see that Daylight is cooler than Auto. Daylight is balanced for sunshine, it seems, and so it slightly ‘offsets’ the yellow light of the sun. Cloudy and Shadow are very similar to Auto, although Shadow is a fraction warmer. It was cloudy conditions at the time of shooting, so no surprise. Tungsten is off the charts of course as it should not be used outside. I include it just to show that the DNGs are actually processed in camera.

And here is a strip which is easier to see the differences.

My conclusion? Frankly, I will continue to use Auto White Balance as any differences are easily handled in post. Maybe I am lazy, as I know that choosing a fixed White Balance for a series might be a sensible move for consistency. But, hey ho …

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