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I got some bi-color LEDs that allow me to control the temperature of the light they produce in the range 3200K-5600K. I will be using them in non-studio settings to complement available light.

What is the best way to set their temperature? I am afraid I am a newbie, so I need some guidance.

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The best way would be to buy a Light Meter that specifically can measure color temperature. Something like a Sekonic C-500 for example. With a tool like that you can properly measure the ambient sources and determine their kelvin values. Then with that knowledge you can adjust your own lighting to match the desired ambient level(s).

You might have clicked on the above link, and said; dpollitt you are crazy I am not spending that much money. Well you could also try looking for an appropriate smartphone app that performs a similar function, although I can't vouch for the accuracy of any of them. Something like LuxMeterPro Advanced seems to be an option for example.

Finally, I would simply recommend doing what the rest of us do which is memorize and understand color temperature values in generic settings. For example, if you are in daylight, somewhere between 5500k-6500k is usually a fair assumption. You can read more up on this both on the Wikipedia article as well as a great answer on this site already: How can color temperature be measured using a digital camera?

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The short answer is: make some tests.

If you have a camera with manual mode, specifically you need to turn off auto white balance settings.

Take some pictures of some white color objects, like a sheet of paper. This need not be overexposed.

Then you can use any photo editing software and compare the rgb values, and make some adjustments.

If you want more professional results you might need to buy a graycard that will cost you like 8-10 dollars, taking a photo in a raw format, measuring the light with some lightmeter, and using a raw image processor, like Lightroom. But there are some free programs that can help you here like:

http://rawtherapee.com or http://lightzoneproject.org

Use the white balance tool, (the one that looks like an eyedroper) and again, compare the results between your light sources.


But you probably don't need to have a perfect balance there. You can always take a more artistic approach.

  • You solution is to capture an image then open up the image in photo editing software to determine the RGB values? How would you use the RGB values to determine kelvin temperature? – dpollitt Feb 11 '15 at 2:01
  • The programs I linked gives you an aproximate color temperature in numbers. If you are using a general retouching program you can see if you need more blue or more red. – Rafael Feb 11 '15 at 2:48

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