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The Secret World of LED Color

You might think that LED sources would be more consistent, but the truth is that it is very difficult (and expensive) to get perfectly-matching LED light sources. To keep the pricing affordable, when a lighting fixture manufacturer purchases LEDs, they do not just order 10,000 red LEDs with a particular wavelength. Instead, they order 10,000 red LEDs from a certain “bin. Color calibration systems are designed to ensure that all products coming off the production line will mix to the same set of colors, regardless of the LEDs installed and the binning selection. The downside is that some of the most saturated colors that a given LED fixture might be able to achieve will never be revealed when color calibration is turned on. Because the algorithms are restricting output for the sake of uniformity, they might also be blocking a range of unique wavelengths that might yield a deeper color. This is why it is essential that lighting programmers are aware of fixtures that have calibration features — and that they understand how to turn color calibration on or off.

—From “Feeding the Machines” by Brad Schiller, PLSN, Oct. 2012


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