How to Set White Balance with Direct Measurement on Your Nikon D5300

By Julie Adair King

You can set the white balance with direct measurement on your Nikon D5300. 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. (You can buy reference cards, made just for this purpose, in many camera stores for less than $20.)

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, press OK, and select the PRE Preset Manual White Balance setting.

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  4. Press the Multi Selector right, select Measure, and press OK.

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

  5. Select Yes and press 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.)

  6. 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 control strip: After setting the White Balance option to PRE, press the OK button for a couple seconds until the letters PRE start to flash. 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.