How to Create White Balance Presets on Your Nikon D5500 - dummies

How to Create White Balance Presets on Your Nikon D5500

By Julie Adair King

If none of the standard White Balance settings on your Nikon D5500does the trick and you don’t want to fool with fine‐tuning them, take advantage of the PRE (Preset Manual) feature. This option enables you to do two things:

  • Base white balance on a direct measurement of the actual lighting conditions.

  • Match white balance to an existing photo.

Although you can create a preset using either method, you can store only one preset at a time.

Setting white balance with direct measurement

To use this technique, you need a piece of card stock that’s either neutral gray or absolute white — not eggshell white, sand white, or any other close‐but‐not‐perfect white.

Position the reference card so that it receives the same lighting you’ll use for the photo. Then take these steps:

  1. Set the camera to the P, S, A, or M exposure mode.

    If the exposure meter reports that the image will be under‐ or overexposed at the current exposure settings, make the necessary adjustments now. Otherwise, the camera can’t create your preset.

  2. Frame your shot so that the reference card fills the viewfinder.

    You must use the viewfinder to take the reference shot; you can’t create a preset in Live View mode.

  3. From the Shooting menu, select White Balance and then select PRE Preset Manual.

    Select these options to set white balance by measuring a white or gray card.
    Select these options to set white balance by measuring a white or gray card.
  4. Press the Multi Selector right.

    You also can get to this screen by tapping the PRE Preset Manual menu item two times.

  5. Select Measure, and press or tap OK.

    A warning appears, asking you whether you want to overwrite existing data.

  6. Select Yes and press or tap OK.

    You see a message telling you to take your picture. You have about 6 seconds to do so. (The letters PRE flash in the viewfinder and Information display to let you know the camera is ready to record your white balance reference image.)

  7. Take the reference shot.

    Your camera may have a hard time autofocusing because the reference card doesn’t contain any contrast. To solve the problem, use manual focusing.

    If the camera is successful at recording the white balance data, the letters Gd flash in the viewfinder and the message “Data Acquired” appears in the Information display. If the camera can’t set the custom white balance, you instead see the message No Gd in the viewfinder, and a message in the Information display urges you to try again. Try adjusting the lighting before doing so.

You also can create a direct‐measurement preset via the Information display. First, set the White Balance option to PRE. After you exit the menu or control strip and return to the Information display, press the OK button for a couple seconds until the letters PRE start to flash in the display. Then take your reference shot.

After you complete the process, the camera automatically sets the White Balance option to PRE so that you can begin using your preset. Your custom setting is stored in the camera until you override the setting with a new preset. Whenever you want to use the preset again, just choose PRE as the White Balance setting.

Matching white balance to an existing photo

You may have to make sure that the colors in a beige backdrop remain consistent for a particular set of shots, no matter how much time passes between photo sessions. This is one reason you may want to create a White Balance preset based on an existing photo.

Two words of caution:

  • Basing white balance on an existing photo works well only in strictly controlled lighting situations, where the color temperature of the lights is consistent from day to day. Otherwise, the White Balance setting that produces color accuracy when you shoot Big Boss Number One may add an ugly color cast to the one you snap of Big Boss Number Two.

  • If you previously created a preset using the direct measurement option, you wipe out that preset when you base a preset on an existing photo.

With those caveats out of the way, follow these steps to create a preset based on a photo:

  1. Copy the picture that you want to use as the reference photo to your camera memory card, if it isn’t already stored there.

    You can copy the picture to the card using a card reader and whatever method you usually use to transfer files from one drive to another. Assuming that you’re using the default folder names, copy the file to the 100D5500 folder, inside the main DCIM folder.

  2. Open the Shooting menu and select White Balance.

  3. Select PRE Preset Manual and then press the Multi Selector right
    (or tap the PRE item on the screen one more time).

    You can create a white balance preset based on a photo.
    You can create a white balance preset based on a photo.
  4. Select Use Photo.

    After you select the setting, the options appear. If you haven’t yet used the photo option to store a preset, you see an empty white box in the middle of the screen. If you previously selected a photo to use as a preset reference, the thumbnail for that image appears instead.

  5. Choose Select Image and select the photo you want to use as the preset reference photo.

    After you choose Select Image, select the folder that contains the image you want to use. Thumbnails of images in that folder then appear. Select the photo you want to use. Your selected photo appears on the screen, and This Image appears highlighted.

  6. Tap the return arrow or press OK to set the preset white balance based on the selected photo.

Whenever you want to base white balance on your selected photo, just set the White Balance setting to the PRE option.