You can probably guess that I have had more than a few conversations regarding NEF color rendering lately. In the past I have ranted and raved about not only the color wrongness of Apples CoreImage RAW conversions for NEF files but also about the white balance. Over the years the situation has gotten a little better and a little better. It is still unbelievable to me that Apple is about the only vendor decoding NEF files that has not figured this out yet. The rest have so I am not buying it's Nikon's issue any more. Yea maybe Nikon does not do WB the way Apple wants it to be done but if you are going to play in the RAW conversion arena and say that you do NEF files then you should at least be on par with EVERY OTHER FREAKING VENDOR THAT SELLS PRODUCTS.
Okay - I am done with that. WB is still wrong and the WB "presets" included with Aperture 3 are even worse yet. I have no idea why the Daylight WB preset adds a bunch of magenta. Do you? Doesn't seem to work for any of my files - Nikon or not. Hmmmm. Maybe they got that one confused with the "Make this look like an old Agfa chrome that has laid around for 50 years" preset. I am still trying to figure the rest of them out and what kind of crack the Apple dude that made them was on.
Moving on to Non-Apple white balance topics one of the things that surprised me when discussing color rendition with a lot of readers out there was a really basic understanding of color temperatures in general. Yea everyone knows what WB is and everyone has bought those stupid little overpriced targets that they can waste time screwing with while missing the shot. That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about a very basic understanding of the color temperature of light that they are actually shooting in and what settings they "should use".
This is not a creative use of white balance discussion. This is the opposite. There are plenty of other "creative use" and practical WB tips that I have posted - look them up. This is a couple of things that are NEED TO KNOW.
First off - When you use studio strobes it is NOT daylight WB. When you use little Nikon flashes it is NOT the same color temp as most studio strobes. The "flash" setting on Nikon cameras has nothing to do with studio strobe color temperature. Further more the "5400K" that Nikon lists as the color temp for that setting might be correct but they don't mention that it also ratchets the entire thing way toward magenta as well.
Okay so now you know all the stuff you thought was the same is entirely different. What is what? Let's start with Daylight. Nikon defines daylight WB as 5200K - this is an okay setting but reality is that Daylight has a range of color temps depending on the time of the year, time of the day, and atmospheric conditions. Does this mean you shouldn't use that setting? No - in fact using it will ensure that you capture the color of the light relative to that setting. This might be a fantastic thing depending on the light vs. Auto WB neutralizing it. Depends on the image - if you are shooting RAW I would rather shoot at one setting in one lighting condition rather than have WB all over the map by a few point here and there.
Studio strobes - the vast majority of studio strobes are 5500K or 5600K. They are different. If you buy really good strobes the tubes will be matched on color - this is important. If you shoot with your camera on daylight when using studio strobes your images will be too blue. If you adjust them after the fact and set them to "Daylight" they will be too blue. If you use the Nikon "Flash" setting they will be a tiny bit too blue and way too magenta/pink. Only use the Nikon "Flash" setting with SB's and then it is not usually the best thing to do.
Hope that clears a few things up for Nikon shooters. Oh - the numbers displayed in Aperture are way way way wrong no matter what setting you used in your camera - that is really funny since if you shoot using a "setting" the EXIF tells you in plain english what the numbers were. Just to illustrate some differences here the image at the top of the post was shot at 6300K using 5500K lights. The next image down is the same one rendered as "Daylight". The one after that is at the correct color temperature of 5500K - that one is dead neutral. The next one is using the Nikon "Flash" WB setting and finally we have what Apple thinks things should look like from a WB perspective as "daylight"