The LightSpectrum Pro iOS app detects the colour temperature of a scene through your iPhone camera, displaying the Kelvin and colour spectrum.
With compressed file formats, achieving an accurate colour temperature can mean the difference between a smooth editing process, or painfully adjusting the cool or warm temperature so the scene looks right. LightSpectrum Pro is an iOS app that uses the smartphone camera to calculate the white balance in Kelvin, which can then be dialed into a camera.
Why do I need an app for that?
Unless you carry a colour meter or grey card to every shoot, it can be difficult to nail the colour temperature accurately, especially avoiding the camera presets of daylight, tungsten and definitely auto. This $1.99 app is a handy tool to have in your pocket, it is relatively accurate and very easy to use from the outdoor tests I made.
Upon opening the app and giving it access to the camera, LightSpectrum Pro analyses what the camera is pointing at and displays it as a graphic in Kelvin. For additional information, a colour spectrum is displayed below, which can identify any spikes.
The Kelvin display can be switched to the Lambda range, and measures can be recorded and stored in the app along with a photo of that scene.
In the above test, the colour temperature was set to 6800K, however by eye I would have made this cooler, and adjusted the tint. The app only displays the colour temperature, it does not display the tint.
Does it make sense? Conclusion
The downside to the app is that when you point the smartphone at a different area of the scene, the white balance does shift slightly. Evidentially the app takes a reading of that one part of the scene, which then changes as the camera moves. For run and gun shooting, it would be a fast solution to checking the colour temperature of a location, but it would not be so reliable in other shooting circumstances.
It can be argued that the app calculates the colour temperature simply from the smartphones camera processing (which can be rather inaccurate under circumstances), so taking the readings with a pinch of salt and general good knowledge of colour and temperatures is advised. At the end of the day, if you know it looks wrong when you set the colour temperature in camera, take the time to set it properly.
For $1.99, it is a quick and easy tool to carry with you, but wouldn’t replace a grey card or taking the time to measure colour temperature correctly. Of course if you’re shooting RAW, the white balance can be dialed in, in post.
Are you in need of a colour temperature tool like LightSpectrum Pro, or do you use the app already? Let us know in the comments.