In photometry
Photometry (optics)
Photometry is the science of the measurement of light, in terms of its perceived brightness to the human eye. It is distinct from radiometry, which is the science of measurement of radiant energy in terms of absolute power; rather, in photometry, the radiant power at each wavelength is weighted by...

, illuminance is the total luminous flux
Luminous flux
In photometry, luminous flux or luminous power is the measure of the perceived power of light. It differs from radiant flux, the measure of the total power of light emitted, in that luminous flux is adjusted to reflect the varying sensitivity of the human eye to different wavelengths of...

 incident on a surface, per unit area
Area is a quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional surface or shape in the plane. Area can be understood as the amount of material with a given thickness that would be necessary to fashion a model of the shape, or the amount of paint necessary to cover the surface with a single coat...

. It is a measure of the intensity of the incident light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

, wavelength-weighted by the luminosity function
Luminosity function
The luminosity function or luminous efficiency function describes the average visual sensitivity of the human eye to light of different wavelengths. It should not be considered perfectly accurate in every case, but it is a very good representation of visual sensitivity of the human eye and it is...

 to correlate with human brightness perception. Similarly, luminous emittance is the luminous flux per unit area emitted from a surface. Luminous emittance is also known as luminous exitance.

In SI derived units these are measured in lux
The lux is the SI unit of illuminance and luminous emittance, measuring luminous flux per unit area. It is used in photometry as a measure of the intensity, as perceived by the human eye, of light that hits or passes through a surface...

 (lx) or lumens
Lumen (unit)
The lumen is the SI derived unit of luminous flux, a measure of the total "amount" of visible light emitted by a source. Luminous flux differs from power in that luminous flux measurements reflect the varying sensitivity of the human eye to different wavelengths of light, while radiant flux...

 per square metre
Square metre
The square metre or square meter is the SI derived unit of area, with symbol m2 . It is defined as the area of a square whose sides measure exactly one metre...

The candela is the SI base unit of luminous intensity; that is, power emitted by a light source in a particular direction, weighted by the luminosity function . A common candle emits light with a luminous intensity of roughly one candela...

The steradian is the SI unit of solid angle. It is used to describe two-dimensional angular spans in three-dimensional space, analogous to the way in which the radian describes angles in a plane...

·m−2). In the CGS system, the unit of illuminance is the phot
A phot is a photometric unit of illuminance, or luminous flux through an area. It is not an SI unit, but rather is associated with the older centimetre gram second system of units...

, which is equal to 10,000 lux. The foot-candle
A foot-candle is a non-SI unit of illuminance or light intensity widely used in photography, film, television, conservation lighting, and the lighting industry...

 is a non-metric unit of illuminance that is used in photography
Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...


Illuminance was formerly often called brightness
Brightness is an attribute of visual perception in which a source appears to be radiating or reflecting light. In other words, brightness is the perception elicited by the luminance of a visual target...

, but this leads to confusion with other uses of the word. "Brightness" should never be used for quantitative description, but only for nonquantitative references to physiological sensations and perceptions of light.

The human eye is capable of seeing somewhat more than a 2 trillion-fold range: The presence of white objects is somewhat discernible under starlight, at 5×10−5 lux, while at the bright end, it is possible to read large text at 108 lux, or about 1,000 times that of direct sunlight
Sunlight, in the broad sense, is the total frequency spectrum of electromagnetic radiation given off by the Sun. On Earth, sunlight is filtered through the Earth's atmosphere, and solar radiation is obvious as daylight when the Sun is above the horizon.When the direct solar radiation is not blocked...

, although this can be very uncomfortable and cause long-lasting afterimage
An afterimage or ghost image or image burn-in is an optical illusion that refers to an image continuing to appear in one's vision after the exposure to the original image has ceased...


See also

  • Irradiance
    Irradiance is the power of electromagnetic radiation per unit area incident on a surface. Radiant emittance or radiant exitance is the power per unit area radiated by a surface. The SI units for all of these quantities are watts per square meter , while the cgs units are ergs per square centimeter...

  • Exposure value
  • Luminance
    Luminance is a photometric measure of the luminous intensity per unit area of light travelling in a given direction. It describes the amount of light that passes through or is emitted from a particular area, and falls within a given solid angle. The SI unit for luminance is candela per square...

External links

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