Determining color temperature doesn’t need to be a mystery. Here are three easy ways to make sure you have the right lighting in your shots.

Cover image via Shutterstock.

Sure, your DSLR may have an “auto-white balance” setting, but to work with the most accurate information, knowing how to find and set accurate color temperature is a necessary skill in professional film and video production.

Here are the three simplest ways to work with your white balance and set your ideal lighting temperature.

Memorize Your Color Temperature Chart

Three Easy Ways to Set Color Temperature — Kelvin Color Temperature Scale

The standard Kelvin Color Temperature Scale should be your ultimate cheat-sheet for judging color temperature on set. I recommend keeping a print-out with you in your camera bag until you know it by heart. With this chart as a guide, you should always know at the very least what range you should be in, which will help when setting exact color temperatures with the following methods.

Use a Light Meter

To get pinpoint readings on color temperature (especially when you’re working in environments with mixed light sources), working with a professional light meter will be your best option. There are many options available at several different price points. As always, the higher-end models will give you more options, but for the best bang for your buck, this may be your best option.

If you’re looking for convenience and innovation, you can also try out some of the cool, new smartphone adapters like the Lumu Light Meter adapter and app. You can see how it stacks up against the Sekonic below.

Customize Your Color Temperature in Post

Like the video above shows, there are several methods for working with color temperature in post-production. If you’re a strong enough editor and color corrector, as long as your color temperature is in a close enough range, it shouldn’t be too hard to tweak it in post. Because of this, being able to shoot with color temperature consistency is almost just as important.

If you’d like to turn color temperature from a concern into a film and video production strength, check out these additional resources on understanding and working with lighting and color temperatures.


What are your tricks for setting color temperature? Let us know in the comments.