I tell my students that we’re lighting designers not scientists, but that it’s good to understand some of the science that underpins our work. This is especially true when the science is out of date and produces results that don’t necessarily agree with our vision and/or perception. It’s frustrating and amazing to me that as individuals we’d never agree to use a broadcast only TV and give up our modern cable and internet channels. We’d never agree to use a flip phone and miss out on all of the upgrades and improvements that have been developed over the years. Yet as an industry we seem perfectly happy to continue to use 75+ year old technology with known flaws when we calculate color rendering, measure brightness, plot chromaticity in color spaces, etc. Our industry doesn’t seem interested in “upgrading” to get the latest features like less metameric mismatch and measurements that better align with our vision and perception. But, I continue to shout into the void about these things.
One of these topics is the standard observer. This article, online and in the current issue of LD+A, looks at the problems that can arise from continuing to rely on the 1931 standard observer, and not “upgrading” to the 1964 or 2015 standard observers.