In the previous section, we discussed how the color of an object depends on the light source under which it is viewed. A related problem is if, for example, the colors of two objects appeared to be the same under daylight but appeared to be different under indoor room lighting. Such a phenomenon, in which two colors appear the same under one light source but different under another, is called metamerism. For metameric objects, the spectral reflectance characteristics of the colors of the two objects are different, but the resulting tristimulus values are the same under one light source and different from each other under another. This problem is often due to the use of different pigments or materials.
Look at Figure 23. If we look at the spectral reflectance curves for the two specimens,
we can immediately see that they are different.
However, the L*a*b* values for measurements under Standard Illuminant
are the same for both specimens, but the values for measurements under Standard Illuminant A are different from each other.
This shows that even though the two specimens have different spectral reflectance characteristics,
they would appear to be the same color under daylight (Standard Illuminant
So how should metamerism be handled? To evaluate metamerism, it is necessary to measure the specimens
under two or more illuminants with very different spectral power distributions, such as Standard Illuminant
and Standard Illuminant A. Although both tristimulus colorimeters
and spectrophotometers use a single light source, they can calculate measurement results based on
illuminant data in memory to provide data for measurements under various illuminants.
Tristimulus colorimeters can generally take measurements under only Standard Illuminant C
and Standard Illuminant
, both of which represent daylight and which have very similar spectral power distributions;
because of this, tristimulus colorimeters cannot be used to measure metamerism.
Spectrophotometers, on the other hand, are equipped with the spectral power distributions of
a wide range of illuminants and thus can determine metamerism.
Moreover, with the spectrophotometer's capability to display spectral reflectance graphs,
you can see exactly how the spectral reflectances of the two colors are different.