White balance correction with the ACR plugin

White balance correction appears to be pretty easy - if you know your stuff like Pixel Peter does that is. While I was wondering about the differences between similar shots coming from the Lumia 1020, he just shows how easy it is to fix the .JPG outcome if it's not to your liking. For this he uses the "Adobe Camera Raw plugin".

I have no idea what that is exactly, but he wrote me all about it (see below) and the results he sent me are amazing. As an example you will see his edit of Cosimo, my friend's cat in Münster. First the shot that was pretty "amber".

Many liked this shot over the other (see this post), since it was so much sharper. Pixel Peter just fixed the white balance:

Cosimo corrected

Now as many readers seem to think, I'll be showing the coming posts I'm not a professional - far from it even. I wrote earlier that Nokia is leading me towards professional photography faster than I ever thought would be possible. I'm still learning to work with Lightroom for instance...

So I asked Pixel Peter what this ACR plugin is all about, and he wrote me following:

The ACR plugin is free downloadable Adobe software for PC or Mac, it’ll make you work with raw files. The programs you can use it with are Photoshop, Lightroom and Photoshop Elements (the “smaller” consumer version). In Elements only some basic functions of this plugin will work, like white balance.

In the past years, ACR has almost become an editing program in itself. Except for the basic funtions like white balance, lighting, contrast, shadows/highlishgt etc, you can also crop, reduce noise, sharpen, et cetera, you name it, it's all there.

The great thing is that ACR will also work with JPG shots – you won’t get the optimal result as with raw files of course, but still you can reach amazing results with JPG files using the ACR plugin. That’s why I wrote this article for PureViewClub,  today exactly one year ago!

So that’s why the white balance of your ambered colored cat could easily be changed, but again, it would have been even better if you would have had the raw version of this shot.

By the way: white balance will always be hard, for professional photographers and equipment. Colour temperature will change constantly, inside, but, as you have seen recently, outside as well – especially in our country!

High-end equipment and DSLR’s (like my Nikon D300s) offer white balance bracketing, so you can make five different shots within a second or so for your .JPG shot. That will increase the chance of getting it “pefect”, and afterwards you can always work on a combination on your computer.

Back to smartphones and the “perfect” colour representation. Except from raw .dng – for which you will need a computer – I’m convinced Nokia offers the best solution at the moment with its 5MP JPG format on the Lumia 1020. The result might not be always perfect, but that will happen with other cameras as well, as you have showed with even your Nokia 808 PureView recently.

Maybe someone (Nokia? Harald Meyer?) will develop a dedicated app to change the white balance of your shot on the phone itself, so you can change it to a version which you as photographer think is the most “neutral”. Bracketing would be another option, but you’d need a tripod for sure.

I’ll keep looking for free raw converters for PC or Mac, that can be easily used by the average smartphone user. There must be free raw converters, but it takes a while to find and test them. I'm testing RAW Therapee at the moment, very good but a bit intimidating for the beginner and average user I'm afraid. I will keep you posted!

Peter Meijs

See? Piece of cake, obviously. To conclude I'll show you what he did with one of my shots in an earlier post. There  one shot coming from the Lumia 1020 seemed a bit too yellowish in comparison to the others.

Using the same plugin, white balance was corrected to this.

Mirror-1020-AfterACR I have to say that in this case I'm not too thrilled about the loss of detail in these resized versions, but it's just an example that it appears to be very well possible to change the white balance if it's not completely to your liking.

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