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HOW to recognize different Color Temperature?


The color temperature of a light source is the temperature of an ideal black-body radiator that radiates light of a color comparable to that of the light source. Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light that has important applications in lightingphotographyvideographypublishingmanufacturingastrophysicshorticulture, and other fields. In practice, color temperature is meaningful only for light sources that do in fact correspond somewhat closely to the radiation of some black body, i.e., light in a range going from red to orange to yellow to white to blueish white; it does not make sense to speak of the color temperature of, e.g., a green or a purple light. Color temperature is conventionally expressed in kelvins, using the symbol K, a unit of measure for absolute temperature.

Color temperatures over 5000 K are called "cool colors" (bluish), while lower color temperatures (2700–3000 K) are called "warm colors" (yellowish). "Warm" in this context is an analogy to radiated heat flux of traditional incandescent lighting rather than temperature. The spectral peak of warm-coloured light is closer to infrared, and most natural warm-coloured light sources emit significant infrared radiation. The fact that "warm" lighting in this sense actually has a "cooler" color temperature often leads to confusion.

Categorizing different lighting

The color temperature of the electromagnetic radiation emitted from an ideal black body is defined as its surface temperature in kelvins, or alternatively in micro reciprocal degrees (mired). This permits the definition of a standard by which light sources are compared.


To the extent that a hot surface emits thermal radiation but is not an ideal black-body radiator, the color temperature of the light is not the actual temperature of the surface. An incandescent lamp's light is thermal radiation, and the bulb approximates an ideal black-body radiator, so its color temperature is essentially the temperature of the filament. Thus a relatively low temperature emits a dull red and a high temperature emits the almost white of the traditional incandescent light bulb. Metal workers are able to judge the temperature of hot metals by their color, from dark red to orange-white and then white (see red heat).


Many other light sources, such as fluorescent lamps, or light emitting diodes (LEDs) emit light primarily by processes other than thermal radiation. This means that the emitted radiation does not follow the form of a black-body spectrum. These sources are assigned what is known as a correlated color temperature (CCT). CCT is the color temperature of a black-body radiator which to human color perception most closely matches the light from the lamp. Because such an approximation is not required for incandescent light, the CCT for an incandescent light is simply its unadjusted temperature, derived from comparison to a black-body radiator.



1700 K

Match flame, low pressure sodium lamps (LPS/SOX)

1850 K

Candle flame, sunset/sunrise

2400 K

Standard incandescent lamps

2550 K

Soft white incandescent lamps

2700 K

"Soft white" compact fluorescent and LED lamps

3000 K

Warm white compact fluorescent and LED lamps

3200 K

Studio lamps, photofloods, etc.

3350 K

Studio "CP" light

5000 K

Horizon daylight

5000 K

Tubular fluorescent lamps or cool white / daylight
compact fluorescent lamps (CFL)

5500 – 6000 K

Vertical daylight, electronic flash

6200 K

Xenon short-arc lamp[2]

6500 K

Daylight, overcast

6500 – 9500 K

LCD or CRT screen

15,000 – 27,000 K

Clear blue poleward sky

These temperatures are merely characteristic; there may be considerable variation