I have a silly question: Do I have to the WB before or after choosing a Color filter? If I do it after, then the camera will "see" white and the filter wouldn't make sense. If I do it before, why just not balance for the color temperature I want, say, 2900K if I want warm colors? I am sure I don't understand something basic Thanks

1 Answer 1


The ability to set custom white balances largely makes color filters unnecessary. The only thing they really (potentially) offer is better dynamic range. With a white balance adjustment, it alters the processing of what the sensors pick up, but if there is a really bright orange area for example, it could overload those sensors and thus detail would be lost if the rest of the image was darker.

Using a filter would reduce the amount of light of that color reaching the sensor and could potentially keep more detail. This probably isn't going to happen in the vast majority of cases, but it is one physical difference between the two processes. For the most part, color filters are a hold over from film days when there wasn't electronic white balancing.

  • does white balance adjustment impact capture speed? It does (or did) increase the required exposure time in DSLRs I have used.
    – horatio
    Mar 1, 2013 at 17:54
  • @horation - would depend on how the camera is configured. The image sensor itself still has the same light sensitivity. The only difference is how it processes that. If the reduction in sensitivity results in more information being needed to generate a standard exposure, then the length of exposure would have to be increased or the image would have to be gained up (increasing noise). It is worth pointing out that the same thing would result from using an actual filter.
    – AJ Henderson
    Mar 1, 2013 at 18:02
  • So, the progression would be:
    – user17252
    Mar 1, 2013 at 19:00
  • Choose the light i want, for example: if I am going to use the window light, I would fill with reflector or a 5,600K light.
    – user17252
    Mar 1, 2013 at 19:01
  • Then, i choose the filter if needed. and last WB, right?
    – user17252
    Mar 1, 2013 at 19:02

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