I am sure shops generally choose lighting carefully to make products appear the most attractive. And I know that low-CRI often make some products appear dull and unattractive. But is high CRI always better? Could it be that the light source chosen for red sliced meat is actually intentionally chosen to have little light in the green spectrum, so that it will appear more red than brown?

Do you know of such examples of intentionally choosing light sources with unnatural spectral distribution and/or low CRI to make something appear more attractive?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about lighting grocery shops, not photographs \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Oct 24, 2018 at 2:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not exclusively about lighting in a grocery shop. It could be lighting of a raw steak about to be photographed for the cover of a book. In any case, I expect photographers to know much about how lighting affect appearance and I expect the answer to such a question to be of interest to many photographers, so IMO it certainly fits this forum. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 24, 2018 at 2:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think what @mattdm is trying to say is, if you're asking about how to light food for photographic purposes and how that lighting might differ from non-photographic display food lighting, ask that question. Rather than ask a question that might have photographic purposes at Photo.SE, ask a photographic question that might also have non-photographic purposes. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Oct 24, 2018 at 3:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MadsSkjern here, most people will wonder if you are talking about "special effects food" or "full frame food". \$\endgroup\$ Oct 24, 2018 at 23:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MadsSkjern No, that's definitely not standard English. It's not even widespread slang. In the context of photography, I would have assumed "fx" to mean "effects", as in special effects. (See Merriam-Webster) \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Oct 25, 2018 at 13:47

1 Answer 1


Appearance can indeed be enhanced at the cost of CRI. There is a video showing how color appearance can create different effects by altering spectral characteristics of the illuminant and shows various items, including some colorful vegetables, with differing spectral characteristics. Check out the examples around 5:40 in this video.

The main area where different lighting is used to create different effects is the IES TM-30 work. More technical details are discussed here and here.

There is also this research that studies how to optimize for higher perceived color saturation. In particular, GAI (Gamut Area Index) is especially applicable to retail displays.

But the definition of color rendering by the CRI is limited, and many research papers have already shown that high CRI alone is not enough to reflect the true color of the products in some special applications, e.g. retails/shops, where the subjective characteristics such as attractiveness and preferences would be more useful. Progresses have been made in recent years to develop new color quality metrics. Among many metrics, gamut area index (GAI) can be a useful supplement to the well-established CRI in ensuring color saturation and satisfactory perception of the object color. A light source which has enhanced chromatic saturation (chroma) can serve to increase the visual clarity...


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