Illuminant Metamerism – It’s not always ‘What You See Is What You Get’!

It’s happened to all of us, in one way or another. We all have been in a situation when you have purchased an item that appears amazing in stores only to notice when you get home the color or appearance is off. Whether it’s matching paint colors at a home improvement center, or matching a blouse to your favorite pair of slacks in a department store, when you take these items home, they don’t look the same. The purpose or cause of this is a phenomenon known as metamerism. It’s not always “what you see is what you get” (aka WYSIWYG.)

If you look up “metamerism” in a dictionary, you will likely not find anything related to mismatched colors. However, in the color world, the following is a fundamental definition of metamerism:

Metamerism is a phenomenon where two colored samples appear to “match” under a specific light source but then do not under a different lighting condition(s).

Using the paint example above, companies concerned about situations like this (and subsequent customer returns/satisfaction) will use a light booth to verify their pigments/colors under various lighting conditions. For color and appearance applications, colors are typically tested under three primary light sources: D65 daylight, incandescent (or home light) and fluorescent (office/retail light). By comparing product samples against known targets under these different lighting conditions, companies are able to verify that metamerism will be minimized, and customer rejects/rework are minimized. With that said, a light booth is a key element of any color program and will help you minimize metamerism in your workflow!

For more information see our light booths page

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