Okay, for shooting outdoors Auto White Balance seemed the obvious choice with such sophisticated camcorder – why do things the complicated way when you can keep them simple? – and it gets randomly yellow instead under bright sunlight.
Then Manual WB looked like the ‘pro’ feature that would get colors right, but it can turn everything red without warning.
Finally there’s that OUTDOOR preset which seems so questionable that I never tried it before: outdoor light conditions are so diverse, how could it be possible that one single preset would fit them all? Well, against all odds OUTDOOR WB turns out to be the simplest, most effective solution with outstanding results.
Here is a series of shots, all with OUTDOOR WB while changing WB Shift and Color Level. They are all good basically, there is no significant color cast and which one do you prefer really is up to one’s individual preference. I find the default WBS 0 CL 0 slightly too warm, WBS -2 slightly too cold, and WBS -1 CL +1 has my preference. But again, they are all very close to each other and close to my recollection, and none of them exhibits what I would call color cast.
To quantify the variations, here are the color-correction values in EDIUS that were necessary to neutralize the 3-step gray scale in each case. They are quite close to zero, especially in the mid-tones (which impact perceived colors the most). This is consistent with the visual perception that all these pictures are close to neutral.
So it’s a go… and high time to test OUTDOOR WB in a real-life country-side setting.