What Is Color Temperature and What Is Right for You? [MiniTool Wiki]

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What Is Color Temperature

What is the color temperature? Technical definitions of color temperature are full of terms such as "blackbody radiator" and "chroma space". In short, the color temperature is very confusing. Now, keep on reading this post from MiniTool to get detailed information about it.

In layman's terms, different light sources produce different colors of light. For example, a candle glows reddish, while the midday sun is blue. These different colors can be represented by numbers, which is called color temperature.

Color temperature is measured on a Kelvin scale, followed by the letter "K" or the word "Kelvin". Then, here are some professional explanations of the color temperature.

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Color temperature is a way to describe the light appearance provided by a light bulb, which is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K) on a scale from 1,000 to 10,000. Typically, Kelvin temperatures for commercial and residential lighting applications fall somewhere on a scale from 2000K to 6500K.

A light bulb’s color temperature lets us know what the look and feel of the light produced will be. The color temperature of a light bulb is assigned using the basis of correlated color temperature (CCT).

What Color Temperature Is Right for You?

If you wonder what color temperature is right for you, please read the information in this part carefully. The color temperatures and the corresponding light appearances are as follows:

  • The saturation range from 2000K to 3000K, the light produced is called "warm white", and the appearance changes from orange to yellow-white.
  • Color temperatures between 3100K and 4500K are called "cool white" or "bright white". Bulbs in this range will emit more neutral white light and may even have a light blue color.
  • Above 4500K will get you into the "daylight" color temperature of light. Lamps with a color temperature of 4500K and above emit a blue and white light that mimics daylight.

Here is a chart about the ambiance and the usage. You can refer to the chart to find out what is right for you based on your needs.

Color Temperature 2000K-3000K 3100K-4500K 4600K-6500K
Light Appearance Warm White Cool White Daylight
Ambiance Cozy, calm, inviting, intimates Bright, vibrant Crisp, invigorating
Best for Pedants, wall/coach lanterns, restaurant/commercial ambient lighting, residential recessed lighting, table & floor lamps Basements, garages, work  environments, task lighting Display areas, security lighting, garages, task lighting

How Is the Color Temperature Used In Photography?

You might wonder how color temperature affects you and your images. The human eye is well adapted to different color temperatures, which means that your and my objects appear roughly the same color, whether in the sunlight or indoors under a light bulb. Then, how is the color temperature used in photography?

Digital cameras are less adaptable than you, so they "see" objects as objects of different colors, depending on the lighting. This may cause our photos to appear color cast (i.e. blue or orange overall), making the photos look unnatural and unpleasant.

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Thankfully, the camera lets you correct these color casts by telling the color temperature of the scene. This is done using white balance settings-just tell the camera the lighting type of the scene (daylight, shadows, tungsten lights, etc.) and it will use the appropriate color temperature.

Some cameras allow you to set accurate color temperature in Kelvin for more precise control. You can ​use a color thermometer or take a picture of a white object under the same lighting to get accurate values and let the camera calculate the temperature. Alternatively, you can make an educated guess using the chart below.

Final Words

To sum up, this post has introduced what color temperature is and what is right for you. In addition, you can get the information on the usage of the color temperature in photography. I believe that the post is useful to you.

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