Searching for better settings than Automatic White Balance (AWB) in outdoors situations, I tested Manual WB earlier this year. Surprisingly, it can also have some random results (to various extents), making it very risky unless you really, really have no better option.
Additional tool for this session: X-Rite ColorChecker White Balance Card (to set the camcorder’s white balance).
Testing Manual White Balance under a cloudy sky
First test was in a cloudy situation: Manual WB shows a strong red cast, compared to Auto WB.
Testing Manual White Balance under direct sunlight
Second test was in a sunny situation (still moderately cool): Manual WB shows a very slight magenta cast, compared to Outdoor WB. This doesn’t seem very obvious here when publishing frame grabs on the Web (with the multiple consecutive BMP/JPEG transformations), but it shows very clearly in EDIUS (when alternating between the 2 clips) and I had to color-correct by adding some green (opposite of magenta) in order to get satisfactory colors, especially on the stone ground.
The slight magenta cast seems roughly acceptable to me, there are so many factors at play that it probably falls within some overall error margin in recording colors. But the strong red cast looks like something can go very wrong sometimes.
Conclusion about HDR-FX7 Manual White Balance
Use Manual WB only if you really must (like shooting at 5000m altitude?) but don’t expect clean results, be prepared instead for some color-correction – slight to severe.
Obviously now, my next post will be showing OUTDOOR WB as the best choice for shooting outdoors.