Tutorial: Set white balance with DxO Optics Pro and Datacolor SpyderCUBE
Jul 2012 23

In this tutorial we will show you how to adjust the white balance to compensate for the color casts that can be caused by certain kinds of artificial lighting (such as tungsten or neon), so as to give your images a more natural look.

White Balance In Digital Photography

White balance consists of correcting the color casts that certain kinds of lighting can produce in an image. This correction can be achieved during shooting by presenting the camera with a reference tool, such as a gray chart, or — as we will see in this tutorial — a Datacolor® SpyderCUBE. But photographers will also want to make use of DxO Optics Pro because of the finesse and flexibility of the tools it provides.

White Balance In RAW

In this tutorial we will be working with a RAW file, as this format fits in with a non-destructive and reversible workflow as well as being subject to a wider array of corrections (we will also look at how to apply white balance adjustments to a JPEG file). But as a JPEG file by definition has already undergone processing within the digital camera, it will not benefit from the same number of options and level of accuracy as when editing a RAW file.

Color Temperatures

Color temperature, expressed in kelvins (K), is used to determine the temperature of a light source from its color. For example, people talk about warm light (predominantly yellow) produced by halogen lamps (values less than 5800 K), and cool light, predominantly blue, such as that produced by electronic flash (values greater than 5800 K). 5800 K itself corresponds to broad daylight (when the sun is at its zenith and there are no color casts).

To follow this tutorial, you will need:

  • DxO Optics Pro, Standard or Elite edition (depending on your camera).
  • A RAW-format or JPEG image.
  • A Datacolor® SpyderCUBE.

1. Calibration

In this step, we will prepare to adjust the white balance by integrating a Datacolor SpyderCUBE into an image.

With its three-dimensional shape, the SpyderCUBE captures all the reference elements necessary to easily adjust the white balance in DxO Optics Pro. Just take a single shot of the SpyderCUBE under the desired lighting conditions before, after, or during your shooting session (if you change your lighting conditions, all you need to do is photograph it again.)

Place the SpyderCUBE next to your subject. Make sure to position it such that the two white/gray sides are on top and that the black surface is on the bottom (black hole pointing down).

2. Adjustments

Now we’ll open the image containing the Datacolor SpyderCUBE in DxO Optics Pro.

In the Browse tab, select the image from the folder in which you saved it (or drag and drop the image onto the DxO Optics Pro window).

Click on the Customize tab to display the workspace in which you can apply your settings to your image. By default, DxO Optics Pro displays the DxO – First Steps workspace, which is where we will make our adjustments.

In the Light and Color palette, check the RAW white balance box (if it isn’t already checked). Expand the controls palette by clicking on the triangle on the left side of the white balance box. The controls palette includes three tools:

  • The White balance eyedropper , which one generally uses on a neutral element in the image.
  • The Settings menu, which corresponds to certain lighting and situations (we will talk about this more later).
  • The Color temperature and Tint sliders for making adjustments by sight. The former allows you to control the color in kelvins (K), and the latter allows you to fix any residual color casts by fine-tuning along the green-magenta axis.

2.1 Automatic Adjustments

In this step, we will automatically adjust the white balance by using the numerous predefined settings available in DxO Optics Pro.

The Setting menu contains predefined white balance settings adapted to your digital camera. You can use these to deal with such general cases as photos shot under tungsten, sodium, neon, or mercury lighting, as well as with photos taken in shade or under cloudy skies.

The illustration below shows, from left to right, the original image, and then, successively, two predefined light settings that we apply to our image: Tungsten and Daylight fluorescent. The As Shot setting is what the camera defined at the moment the photo was shot.

2.2 Assisted Manual Adjustments

In this step, we will manually adjust the white balance by using the white balance eyedropper on the SpyderCUBE.

Select the white balance eyedropper in the Light and Color palette located at the right of the Settings menu. The workspace displays two images: at left, your image before processing, and at right, your image after processing. In the left-hand image, the SpyderCUBE shows two gray faces, one lighter and the other darker. Using the eyedropper, click on the lightest gray zone in the SpyderCUBE.

SpyderCUBE lets you chose a perfect gray zone from your image. Use a high level of magnification in order to easily distinguish the selected area.

2.3 Manual Adjustments

DxO Optics Pro provides you with a third way to deal with your settings with the Color temperature and Tint sliders.

You can use these sliders if the image does not contain a sufficiently neutral element, or if using the eyedropper does not achieve a satisfactory compromise among all the parts of the photo. Use the Color temperature slider to adjust the value in kelvins (K), colder to the right and warmer to the left, as indicated by the slider axis. As for the Tint slider, use it to compensate for any magenta or green color casts (the second component of white balance).

Feel free to play with the mood of your photo, opting for either realistic or “creative” settings as you experiment with applying warm or cool tints.

In this example below, we’re looking for a cooler look than in the original image, so we chose the following values: Color temperature: 4800K and Tone [hue, tint]: –23

You can adjust your images even further with SpyderCUBE: its different faces, its Black Trap, and its chrome ball provide all the references necessary to define exposure, brightness, and blacks. Watch this video for more information!

3 Applying Settings

You can apply your settings to all the images that you took under the same shooting conditions.

In the image browser, right-click on your image and select Copy correction settings from the menu. Then, still in the image browser, select the image(s) to which you want to apply the same correction. Right-click on one of the selected images and chose Paste correction settings. Your settings have now been applied!

Alternative: White balance for JPEG files

Even though a JPEG file has already been processed by your camera, you can still adjust the white balance by using the Color temperature slider, which in this case is not accompanied by the Tint slider. However, you can still warm up or cool off the image by using the eyedropper tool.
When you open a JPEG file, DxO Optics Pro automatically adjusts the Light and Color palette accordingly.

Do you want to implement these tips? Experiment with the DxO Optics Pro thanks to this special promotion reserved for Datacolor customers only.

Valid through September 23rd 2012, you can receive up to 30% on DxO products*

This offer is only available through the DxO online shop using promotion code:


*Offer only valid in Europe on the following products: DxO Optics Pro – Elite, DxO Optics Pro – Standard, DxO FilmPack – Expert and DxO FilmPack – Essential.

SpyderCUBE – The RAW-Processing Accelerator

Shooting in RAW mode gives you creative freedom but processing a RAW file is often a long, trial-and-error operation. SpyderCUBE accelerates RAW processing in providing references to set the white balance, exposure, black level and brightness right from the start. Simply take one reference shot with SpyderCUBE under the same light condition, adjust, save as preset and apply to the entire series.

Designed for anyone who shoots with a Digital SLR or in RAW mode from amateurs to professionals.

  • AlmostThere

    Does this automatically only take the white balance setting (or, for that matter, any other settings you’ve adjusted manually?) leaving the automatically chosen settings alone?