Color Rendering Index

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What is Color Rendering Index and How to Inspect It?

Color Rendering Index is a photography item, which is the well-accepted rule to measure objects with natural outdoor lights. If you have noticed one situation before, you may understand Color Rendering Index meaning in a degree. Everyone has bought clothes before, and then when you step into the department store, or even without going into it, you can see the different lights and light bulbs. The one reason of these lights is to create the atmosphere, which may confuse you, the actual color of your colors. You can find that the actual appearance under sunlight and the department shops are different, that is the easy Color Rendering Index explanation.

Color Rendering Index

Part 1: The definition of color rendering index

Color Rendering Index (CRI) means the comparison of natural light source and your target lights. You can also understand CRI as the tool to measure the how realistically the objects have shown under different lights. The Color Rendering Index scale varies from 1 to 100. CRI is not the official term to standard light sources, the more frequently use item is CIE Ra, But you can also use CRI in daily use. The standard CRI range of daylight is 100, the higher CRI has been, the more naturally your images will express. The normal cool white color range 60 to 75 CRI, then you may have some clearly impression about CRI. It is not familiar with color saturation, as CRI is more close to natural lights.

CRI is usual applied into LED lighting, the higher CRI is, and the better your light bulbs will show as outdoor sunlight. The same principle can also be applied in Color Rendering Index of fluorescent lamps; high CRI can replicate the nature outlook. Thus, things are familiar with Color Rendering Index LED bulbs. As light bulbs can turn the normal objects into cooler or warmer just with its shining light sources. For example, the daylight bulb is 80 in CRI scale. Nowadays, more and more people are paying attention to CRI spectrum during picking LED light bulbs. If you use lower Color Rendering Index light bulbs, your surroundings will be strange, which has little links with white balance. Though white balance images use color distortion to make special photo effect.

Color Rendering Index

Part 2: Color temperature V.S. color rendering index

Color Temperature is the temperature of light sources. The measurement of Color Temperature is Kelvins, which is more applied by people as k. The normal daylight Color Temperature is about 5500 degrees Kelvin. The link of Color Rendering Index and Color Temperature is that CRI and CCT ranks in the same directions. In most people’s mind, if the Color Temperature rises, the lights will be warmer. However, the truth is that high Color Temperate also related with cooler light sources. According to Wikipedia, LED lamps with soft light is 2700 K, and LED light bulbs with warm light is 3000 K. as for moonlight, can you guess? Actually, the Color Temperate of moonlight is 4100 to 4150 Kevin. As the horizon light is 5000 K, and the clear blue poleward sky ranges from 15,000 to 27,000 K.

Let’s link Color Rendering Index and Color Temperature together to make things be clearer. Just as you have read, the higher CRI related with higher color temperature, thus, you could see that normal lights in natural are almost bright and cool. And low lower CRI equal with orange or even yellower lights, just like candles.


Part 3: Best application to inspect color-rendering index

Though you can distinguish Color Rendering Index comparison, you cannot adjust images with CRI scale directly. To solve this problem, you need to install Color Machine, which is the Color Rendering Index app on Mac. You can view, convert and explore many standard color spaces with the highly verified color library. With the Color Rendering Index application, you can reset RGB, lab colorspace, illumination, color temperature and so on.

1. Being the Mac Color Rendering Index app, you need to upgrade your Mac into OS X 10.6.6 or later. Moreover, the Mac computer needs to be 64-bit processor.

2. There is much photo information you can view on the Color Machine. You can view spectral data, observer, illumination, RGB, lab color spaces, 3D view, Metameric and so on.

You just need to import images and then you can use the Color Rendering Index application to view and edit. Color Machine enables you to correct every photo details in free way.

Color Machine

Part 4: More tips about color rendering index

In order to protect color fidelity, you have to use high Color Rendering Index. If you are chasing color appearance, then you can also use low Color Rendering Index in some cases. Just as you have read in the beginning, shops prefer warm lights to create soft atmosphere, then the light bulbs are low Color Rendering Index. You may hear the interesting saying that women like to date in darken area, the one main reason is romantic, and another reason is that most women look better in low Color Rendering Index of fluorescent lamps. As for choosing LED bulbs, in most cases, higher CRI will be better.

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Peter Wood
Peter Wood
Peter Wood, a senior editor, focus on photography design and editing software and devices.

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