What Is CRI and Why Does It Matter?
What is CRI?
Color rendering index (CRI) is a way to express how ''normal'' or ''true to life'' colors appear under an artificial light source, like a flashlight, versus a natural/standard light source, like sunlight.
CRI is a quantitative measure of how light affects the appearance of color. The color rendering index is expressed as a number from 0 to 100. The closer to 100, the more natural colors appear in the light being measured. So, a light source with a CRI of 100 would perfectly reproduce all colors as they would look on a clear, sunny day. On the other hand, a light with a CRI of 0 would distort colors very much.
Here's a good explanation of CRI and how the CRI of LED lights affects videography:
Why should I consider the CRI of my flashlight?
Depending on how you use your flashlight, CRI may be of very great or very little significance to you. A flashlight used primarily to spot things at distance or quickly light up a dark room or hiking trail won't benefit as much from having high CRI as a flashlight used in the medical field or for first aid, for example. In medicine, small differences in the color of tissue can mean big things when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. In first aid, being able to see the true color of someone's lips, nailbeds, etc., can similarly affect treatment decisions.
Work and hobbies are other areas where high CRI can make all the difference. Trying to determine the proper paint color for a project in less-than-ideal lighting? A high CRI light is a must. Checking on the health of your garden after the sun goes down? Again, high CRI is what you're looking for. How about making sure your vehicle's fluids are all the right color when performing maintenance tasks after dark? The higher the CRI of your flashlight, the higher your confidence will be.
What about something as simple as shopping? Want to see how a paint sample, new carpet, or piece of furniture will look in your home? Those harsh fluorescent tubes at the store won't help much. A high CRI EDC light will.
Good versus Great CRI: what's the difference?
Let's take a look at Good (80 CRI) vs. Great (90 CRI), and what that looks like.
80 CRI: Good General Color Quality
80 CRI is often considered the baseline CRI level for LED lamps in your home. This is definitely an acceptable level of color quality, with most of the obvious colors standing out and appearing good enough for everyday work.
90 CRI: Premium Color Quality
The difference between 80 and 90 CRI is a very noticeable jump in color rendition, and it will immediately provide a nice boost in color clarity. An EDC-sized flashlight producing light at 90 CRI or higher isn't common, but our new i5R HCRI does just that!
i5R HCRI, newly released during our October Flash Sale, is the high CRI (≥90) version of i5R. This is an O-fan must-have! Click here to get it!