This review will discuss the different LED Tints or Color Temps, and how they effect a lights performance. Including Color Retention, Perceived Brightness, and Preferred Applications.
4Sevens Quark Mini 123 lights were used for this test.
One of the first things that someone notices when they try out an LED light, is how much “whiter” the light is compared to a typical incandescent light bulb. For the most part, people like the white color temp, and never want to go back to those orange colored incandescent again, me included. But, not all LEDs are created equal. There are many different color temps or tints of white LEDs. Alot of the very first LEDs had a blue tint to them, they were so high up in the color temp range that they getting past “white”. As LEDs advanced over the years the color temps got much better and the blue tints went away for a more true white light.
Recently, there are developments on different tints of “white” though. Namely “Neutral” and “Warm”.
One of the main problems with a very white light, that is high in the color temp range, is that it has poor color retention. This means that while it looks great shining on a white wall in your house, it may not look as nice when shined outdoors, or on colorful items such as flowers, woods, etc. They tend to make colors a bit dual, and grey.
Incandescent bulbs have a lower, warm color temp, but they also have a wider range of color that they are emitting. LEDs have a more narrow band of color temp, which also causes color retention issues. So its important to select the correct LED color temp. Alot of this comes down to personal preference, and that is why many companies are coming out with lights offered in a couple color temps.
Since alot of this is personal preference, I decided to ask a variety of people, including people not really interested in lights at all, what they thought of the different tints. I was pretty surprised to find that, for the most part, they all had very similar opinions.
Most liked the typical white led alot, until I showed them the neutral tint led next to it. It made the typical white led look alittle blue, and unnatural. The neutral tint led seemed to have a bit better color retention also. Then they were shown the warm tint led. Which is a drastic difference, it looks very much like a typical incandescent bulb, with a very warm orange tint. Everyone was in agreement that it was too warm. While it did make reds and browns a richer deeper color, other colors suffered. The warm tint also did not seem as bright as the others. This could be due to the led actually not putting out as many lumens, or it could just be perceived as dimmer. Either way, to the eye, it wasn’t quite as bright. The warm tiny would be best suited for outdoor applications. It gives a more natural light outdoors, its very warm tint is too noticeable indoors.
If you are a person that doesn’t like the tint of any led light, and prefer the look of an incandescent bulb, I highly recommend that you check out the warm tint leds.
One interesting thing I found was that every agree that when the neutral AND the warm tint led were used together, that it produced the best color, and especially the best color retention. I think this was mainly due to the fact that is created a much wider range of color temp.
Personally, I would like to see a slightly warmer neutral tint led. Giving an led a hint of warm tiny can greatly increase its color retention. even though I would like to see the neutral leds be just a bit warmer, they were still an improvement over the typical white leds.
The following photos are a bit exaggerated, but they will give you an idea for the differences in the led tints.
The neutral tint shows a bit purple in these photos, thats not the case in real life.