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White Balance

Comparing Entry Level Digital SLRs From Nikon and Pentax
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Both the Nikon and the Pentax offer automatic white balance, which is the best setting to use by default. They also have preset modes for common types of lighting, and a manual mode that requires you to shoot a white (or grey!) surface. White balance works very well on most current cameras; generally, only shots that require high precision, such as in a studio, and those taken with a very low colour temperature (such as with domestic incandescent lighting) require manual adjustment. The automatic adjustment only goes down to about 4000 K. Nikon also offers a hue adjustment, but we don't favour this kind of image manipulation in the camera; if you need colours that are very precise, it's much more efficient to work in RAW mode, which lets you make adjustments on the computer without loss or risk of error.

You can choose between the sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces; Nikon offers two options for sRGB, one with brighter colours than the other. Just as a reminder, sRGB is the default mode used by consumer-level digital and photo equipment. Adobe RGB offers a wider colour gamut, but won't display correctly outside of specialized programs that handle different colour spaces. If all this sounds unfamiliar to you, just remember that if you stick with sRGB you won't have any problems as far as amateur use is concerned.

Like all digital cameras, both models have adjustments for controlling the contrast, sharpness and saturation of images. Nikon adds adjustments for types of photo (portrait, landscape), while Pentax has a choice between two conversion curves. Naturally, in case of doubt, the best approach is to shoot in RAW, which lets you make all the adjustments in front of your computer screen. Note that certain adjustments are not accessible if you switch your camera into "full auto" mode - this is done to avoid user errors.

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