Videographers talk about ‘light quality’ like a mysterious place. Color Rendering Index, or CRI is thrown about like a panacea, but does it really make a difference underwater? We decided to find the truth and the answer the debate definitively through real world testing.
What we found was 90 CRI offered better exposure, along with better color, even at equivalent power levels to 70 CRI…
In the past the problem was having matched light sources with different CRI levels; i.e. comparing apples with apples. We took the time to make two identical lights as far as Lumen and Kelvin output with both 70 & 90 CRI levels. We match Lumen output as closely as possible, which required the 90 CRI version to use more power.
During independent, real world testing by a world acclaimed, professional videographer, we quickly realized that higher CRI does make a considerable improvement to the quality of the video. A green spike was present with the CRI70 lights, which was a material issue for skin tones and other lighter colors. Editing in post struggled to correct this too.
The problem was burn time, as the higher power, for the 90 CRI, resulted in a 28% burn time loss. We then tested different CRI variant LEDs with levels matching the 70 CRI light, meaning the 70 CRI was putting out 23% more Lumen.
The results were surprising, with the higher CRI resulted in a better exposure in camera, as evident from the histogram and exposure meters. As a consequence, all of our current and future video lights are now standard with +90 CRI (70 CRI versions are still available as custom order at no cost difference for compatibility and matching purposes). After in water testing and real world experience with some of the world’s leading videographers, our recommendation is to go with the 90 CRI+. See the side by side comparison below of screen shots from in water testing and decide for yourself which video light will give you the best results.
Dual 90 CRI, 10,000 Lumen LD-100V Video Light /w RED Epic Dragon 4K (click for original)
Dual 70 CRI, 13,000 Lumen LD-130V Video Lights /w RED Epic Dragon 4K (click for original)