A figure of merit, on a scale of 0 to 100, used by manufacturers of fluorescent, metal halide and other nonincandescent lighting equipment to describe the visual effect of the light on colored surfaces. Natural daylight and any light source approximating a blackbody source (see color temperature) is assigned a color rendering index (CRI) of 100.
To determine a CRI value, observers view 8 standard pastel colors under the light source being rated and under light from a blackbody source (such as an incandescent lamp) having the same color temperature. The CRI is calculated, roughly speaking, by averaging the observers' estimation of the extent of the differences in the appearance of the colors under the two lights. Although the CRI is intended to apply only to the visual quality of light, photographers have also used it in choosing light sources.
The CRI can only be used to compare two light sources that have the same color temperature. A 5000 K, 80 CRI light source is not necessarily superior to a 4000 K, 70 CRI light source.
|white deluxe mercury||45|
|warm white fluorescent tube||55|
|cool white fluorescent tube||65|
|deluxe warm white fluorescent||73|
|metal halide 4200K||85|
|deluxe cool white fluorescent||86|
|metal halide 5400K||93|
|low pressure sodium||0-18|
|high pressure sodium||25|
Illuminating Engineering Society.
Interim Method of Measuring and Specifying Color Rendering of Light Sources, LM-19, NY, 1962.
For an exposition of the mathematics of calculating the CRI, visit www.kruschwitz.com/cri.htm
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Last revised: 10 October 2002.