How to Create Custom White Balance on Your Canon EOS 7D Mark II

By Doug Sahlin

When you photograph a scene that’s illuminated with several different light sources, your Canon EOS 7D Mark II may have a hard time figuring out how to set the white balance. And if the camera has a hard time, chances are you can’t use one of the presets to accurately set the white balance. You can, however, set a custom white balance by following these steps:

  1. Photograph a white object and then press the Menu button.

    Photograph the object under the light source that will be used to illuminate your scene. Photograph something that’s pure white, such as a sheet of paper without lines. You won’t get accurate results if you photograph something that’s off-white. You’ll also get better results if you use the Neutral picture style.

    You can purchase an 18-percent gray card from your favorite camera retailer and use this in place of a white object in Step 1. The 18-percent gray card gives you extremely accurate results.

  2. Use the Quick Control button to navigate to the Shoot tab, use the multi-controller button to navigate to the Shoot2 menu, and then rotate the Quick Control dial to highlight Custom White Balance.

  3. Press the Set button.

    The image you just photographed displays onscreen.

    The Shooting menu of a Canon camera

  4. Press Set.

    A dialog box appears asking you to confirm that you want to use the image to set the white balance.

  5. Rotate the Quick Control dial to highlight OK and press Set.

    The camera calculates the color temperature for the light source. After the camera completes the calculation, a dialog box appears asking you whether you want to assign the color temperature derived from the calculation to the custom white balance setting.

    Choosing an image to create a custom white balance on a Canon camera

  6. Rotate the Quick Control dial to select OK and then press Set.

  7. When the menu reappears, press the Menu button to exit the Custom White Balance menu and then press the White Balance/Metering button.

  8. While viewing the LCD panel, rotate the Quick Control dial to select Custom White Balance, which appears in a rounded rectangle.

    Your custom white balance is used to determine white balance until you select a different white balance option.

    The Canon LCD control panel

The custom white balance remains in effect and is used whenever you select the Custom White Balance option. You can register only one custom white balance.

Using white balance compensation

If you find that images photographed with a custom white balance have a colorcast, you can apply compensation to remove that colorcast. This is pretty advanced stuff, so unless you know a lot about color correction, color temperatures, and so on, stick to AWB (auto white balance) and do any necessary color correction in your favorite image-editing application. But if you’re dying to know what it’s all about, follow these steps:

  1. Press the Menu button.

    The menu displays on the camera LCD monitor.

  2. Use the Quick Control button to navigate to the Shoot tab and then use the multi-controller button to navigate to the Shoot2 menu.

  3. Rotate the Quick Control dial to highlight WB Shift/Bkt and then press the Set button.

    The White Balance Correction dialog box appears. Notice there are four letters: one at the center top (G for green), one at the center bottom (M for magenta), one at the left center, (B for blue), and one at the right center (A for amber).

    The WB shift option in a Canon's shooting menu.

  4. Use the multi-controller button to move the dot.

    You can move the dot toward one color and then move it up or down to shift the white balance toward a combination of amber and green. When you move the dot, the color shift is designated in the dialog box.

    The Canon's White Balance Correction dialog box

  5. Press Set.

    Your changes are applied.

  6. Press the White Balance/Metering Mode button and then rotate the Quick Control dial to select Custom White Balance.

    The custom white balance icon displays on the LCD panel.

    A Canon LCD panel displays the custom white balance icon.

  7. Press the shutter button fully to take a picture.

    The color shift is applied to your custom white balance. The colorcast is no more, quoth the raven.

Bracketing white balance

When bracketing white balance, you end up with three images: one with your custom white balance setting, and two that have color shifts applied to them. You can also apply a white balance correction to your custom white balance, which will be the new custom white balance. To bracket a custom white balance:

  1. Press the Menu button.

    The menu displays on the camera LCD monitor.

  2. Use the Quick Control button to navigate to the Shoot tab and then use the multi-controller button to navigate to the Shoot2 menu.

  3. Rotate the Quick Control dial to highlight WB Shift/Bkt. and then press the Set button.

    The White Balance Correction/Bracketing dialog box appears.

    Navigationg the shoot tab on a Canon camera.

  4. (Optional) Apply white balance compensation to your custom white balance.

    The corrected white balance is the starting point for bracketing.

  5. Rotate the Quick Control dial to set bracketing.

    When you move the dial, two dots appear. Each click of the dial adds another level of bracketing. Rotating the dial clockwise moves the bracketing further from center along the B/A scale, while rotating the dial counterclockwise moves the bracketing further from center along the M/G scale. This bracketing produces one image with a color shift of –2 BA, and one image with a color shift of +2BA.

    The White Balance Correction/Bracketing dialog box on a Canon

  6. Press Set.

    Your changes are applied.

  7. Press the shutter button halfway to return to shooting mode.

  8. Press the White Balance/Metering Mode button and then rotate the Quick Control dial to select the Custom White Balance option.

    The custom white balance icon is flashing, which indicates that white balance will be bracketed.

  9. Press the Drive-AF button and then rotate the Quick Control dial to select Low Speed Continuous.

  10. Press the shutter button halfway to achieve focus and then press the shutter button fully.

    The camera takes three pictures with the white bracketing you specify.