Which is better, using “In camera white balance PRE” or using third party software (such as RawTherapee) for setting the white balance?
(I forgot to mention, this is assuming everybody already knows a white balance value is not required for a raw image file to be processed, and can be readily provided later within software.)
I hear a lot about software being better with most image rasterizing versus using a camera’s limited image rasterizing abilities, however white balance seems like a very non-trivial task and allowing the camera to use a custom white balance seems fine to me.
Some benefits I realize using setting the white balance within the camera prior to taking a series of photos:
The white balance is already set correctly, so JPEG’s and/or embedded JPEG’s within RAW image files (eg. Nikon’s NEF raw files) are already white balance calibrated correctly. (NOTE: JPEG’s are likely always best taken setting a custom white balance in camera, as a JPEG has issues with correcting white balance afterwards.)
One less step when using a raw image editor, correcting the camera’s image auto white balance using a Color Checker white balance card, along with having to remember to take the additional photo of the Color Checker during the photo session!
The in camera preview better reflects the final corrected image color tones, as the in camera image is already white balance calibrated.
Funny, Stack Exchange has a similar question posted, yet all the answers seem to get side-tracked and fail to mention which is best.
I’m going to take a guess at the final answer or best suggestion and state, when time permits, it is probably best to always take along a Color Checker or White Balance card, and configure the camera to use a custom white balance for each photo session. My only guess for using third party software to perform this task on raw image files, software does a better job for some unknown reason. But for the time being, I’ll assume this is a simple task easily left for the camera to perform!
One benefit I just thought of, taking a separate Color Checker or white balance photo/image, a better record is kept of the white balance conditions during the photo session. For example, also taking a photo/image of the Color Checker color tones, can easily adjust tones for artistic reasons.
Added: I just found the following X-Rite web page, reiterating basically what I just previously stated as an explanation as to why one would set in-camera white balance.
“How to Set In-Camera White Balance”