As consumers grow increasingly aware of the differences among their lighting options, we're seeing more and more of a demand for bulbs that produce vivid color quality. Some bulbs, like the Cree TW Series LED and the GE Reveal LED, are explicitly marketed for their color rendering capabilities. Which ones produce the most striking shades? We've put together the following untouched shots lit by the various lights we've looked at so far to help you decide for yourself.
We'll start with a plain, old 60W incandescent bulb. Incandescents will typically do a great job with color rendering.
Here's a closer look at those M&Ms.
And here're the color rendering results from our lab, color by color. Extremely solid numbers across the board, making for an average in the high nineties.
Next up is Cree's 60W Replacement LED, which averages a CRI score right around 80.
Looking closer at the candy, we can see that the bowl looks a bit yellow.
The red score (column number 9) actually drops into negative territory. This isn't unusual -- most standard LEDs will struggle to clear single digits when it comes to rendering red.
Let's move on to Cree's TW Series LED. The "TW" stands for True White -- this bulb promises a CRI score of 93.
That white bowl certainly looks truer than before, doesn't it?
Here's the hard data. Cree filters out some of that yellow light, then amps the wattage up to make up for the loss in brightness. This adds up to bulb that's just as bright as before, but better at rendering colors such as red.
Let's move from Cree to GE. Here's those same M&Ms lit by the GE 60W Replacement LED.
All in all, not bad. This bulb scores in the low 80s and offers very even color-rendering performance.
Looking at the numbers, that red score is still low, but it's actually decent compared to those of most other LEDs. All of the colors score just slightly better than average.
Here's something different -- a 60W replacement CFL.
The candy looks colorful, the bowl looks white... it's not nearly as bad a result as you might have expected. CFL quality has come a long way in the last few years, particularly from big manufacturers like GE that have a lot invested in the technology.
Aside from the lousy red score, the numbers are actually fairly solid and on a par with most LED offerings.
All right, back to LEDs: Here's GE's take on the high-CRI bulb, the GE Reveal.
Like the Cree TW Series, the GE Reveal boasts a CRI score in the low 90s -- though it doesn't compensate for the filtered light like Cree does. This makes for a bulb that isn't quite as bright as it probably should be.
Still, it's hard to complain about those colors. Score for score, the GE Reveal is is one of the best LED options for color rendering -- just look at that red score.
Here's a look at the bargain-priced Ledare LED that you'll find at Ikea. It isn't as bright or as efficient as the competition -- but it does boast a very attractive CRI score of 87.
That's a good looking bowl of candy, right there.
The hard data looks good, too, with several impressive scores adding up to that 87 average.
Now, it's Philips' turn. Here's their standard 60W equivalent LED. Looks a little bit yellowish to me.
A closer look at those candies -- hungry yet?
And here's the graph, with scores that average out to 81. Not bad, not great.
Finally, let's take a look at what the Philips SlimStyle LED is capable of.
Taking a closer look at the bowl reveals that the SlimStyle isn't quite as bright as the standard Philips LED. It also looks to have a slightly higher CRI rating.
The data seems to confirm this last part, with slightly higher scores with several key colors, including red, yellow, and dark blue.