The Difference Between Luminance and Brightness

The Difference Between Luminance and Brightness

When it comes to lighting, people often use the words luminance and brightness interchangeably. However, this can lead to mistakes and confusion, especially when it comes to photography. These two terms refer to different concepts and measurements. Here’s a deeper dive into the differences between luminance and brightness.

What Is Luminance?

Luminance is one of the major measurements for anything that projects light, whether that be as a display or as a light source. It’s an objective, numerical measurement is lumens over a certain area. This is a necessary number for understanding light sources and how much light falls on an object.

What Is Brightness?

Brightness is a completely subjective measurement of the light people see. While it can be quite useful and does matter to photographers, there’s no way to accurately measure it. That’s because it refers to how bright or well-lit something is according to the person looking at it. Different people can and will have dissenting opinions about the brightness of any item or light.

What Is the Difference?

So, the main difference between these terms is that they measure different things. Luminance is the light that the light source creates, and brightness is how dim or bright that light looks to individuals. Each is important to keep in mind and will impact how you should interact with and adjust lighting in your area.

Why Does That Matter?

Understanding the differences of these terms is important for photographers and their subjects. Without a good understanding of luminance and brightness, it becomes difficult to take good pictures of any subject. However, you can utilize tunable light sources to mimic and create lighting as you need to mimic whatever lighting conditions you want. This helps photographers create the lighting they want by controlling the brightness in the scene.

These are the major differences of brightness and luminance and why it matters for photographers. Understanding the differences between these two subjects is vital for photography as brightness impacts the look and feel of any picture, while luminance is all about the light source.