CRI refers to Color Rendering Index, which is a light source’s ability to accurately show the real life color of the subject it’s illuminating compared to an ideal reference light of the same color temperature. The “ideal light” formula is Ideal Light=Daylight/ Tungsten. CRI level is scaled on a range of 1-100; the higher the rating, the more accurately the colors are portrayed.
Understanding dive light CRI levels helps professional divers as well as recreational divers determine the best lights to use when exploring, photographing, or filming a specific area under water. An informed diver ends ups choosing the best underwater dive or video light to meet their desired expectations and results.
A CRI of 100 shows colors at the same level as daylight, thus it’s considered a perfect color preserver; whereas a lower rating of CRI indicates that some colors might be lost when shown in that level of light. In this regard, when you consider the same picture/image produced under different scales of CRI, the image with the lower CRI will be more muted (less vibrant) that the one with a higher CRI.
For most divers, a CRI of 90 or above is most fitting for professional-level, high-quality imaging, as this range brings out intense colors underwater. It is important to note that CRI is quite distinct and not related in any way to color temperature; but rather, it’s dependent on the spectrum of the light it gives off. Therefore, two dive light gadgets may have the same color temperature of 7000K, but the images portrayed will look distinctively different depending on each light’s CRI.
For this reason, the best manufacturers of dive lights, especially those gearing their products toward underwater photographer and videographers, aim to get the right balance of temperature and CRI in order to help divers attain the best, most realistic images and films possible.