Does changing White Balance in camera actually affect RAW file pixel data?

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JoeSchmoe007 Regular Member • Posts: 285
Does changing White Balance in camera actually affect RAW file pixel data?

PLEASE NOTE: the question below applies to RAW files only.

FWIW I own Canon EOS RP but I think this behavior is the same between the different camera brands.

Here is what I am trying to understand:

Say I put a green filter in front of my lens. This will mean all light hitting the sensor will be tilted towards green and (R,G,B) values in RAW file will have "exaggerated" G value.

Now let's say I don't put any filter in front of my lens but instead adjust White Balance towards the green to achieve the same green shade  on my EVF/on camera display. In this case the light hitting the sensor is not modified in any ways and sensor can still capture unmodified color values in RAW file.

But what actually happens? I see 2 possibilities:

1) Sensor captures unmodified color values and records them in RAW file. My custom white balance setting is saved in the RAW file separate from pixel data (somewhere in the "header") and then post-processing software (like Canon DPP) can read it and apply to the RGB values during the postprocessing.

2) Sensor captures modified color values like if I had green filter in front of the lens.

Can someone clarify? I suspect correct answer is option 1) because it is always mentioned it is easy to modify white balance in the post if you didn't get it right. But I am not sure and have not been able to find a definite answer.

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