Vision response vs. Planck’s Black Body Curve

Color temperature is based upon the idea of a Planck black-body radiator.

Here’s a Tech Note that shows how our eyes respond to the Planck Black-Body radiator.

For a lamp filament at a certain ‘color temperature’ there’s a curve of how our eyes

respond to the lamp. Pete put this into a MathCAD model, and there’s a pdf here

that shows off a few nice graphs.


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  1. #1 by Michael Beach on July 15th, 2009

    We thought of the subject matter during the course of our work in optics and photography. The units of optical power used by physics professionals differs by the units used in the field of photography and illumination. Since we had difficulty finding articles that could convert from basic physics units to units of ‘candelas’ or the ‘lumen’ and the Watt, we started some work on this type of article. As LED lighting starts to be compared to incandescent lamps, there will be much confusion, without these conversions, since the old incandescent lamps are rated by their ‘wattage’ which is just INPUT power NOT light efficacy.

    AND our eyes have different sensitivity than cameras do (see some of our other articles).

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