Holiday greeting – Speaking about white

Whiteness perception is a special visual experience and represents a complex sensorial effect.

One might expect that a reference white (perfect white diffuser with reflectivity R=100% at all wavelength) would be perceived as the whitest possible surface. However, brightness and tint can substantially modify whiteness perception.

There are three methods to achieve a “white”. Samples that show differences in the method the white has been achieved always show metamerism. In contrast to colors where only two kinds of metamerism exist, there is an additional metamerism for whites:

  • Observer metamerism
  • Illuminant metamerism
  • UV metamerism (for whites and fluorescent colors)

We did a “white watcher” study for one of our retail customers
The retailer ordered 160 samples of a specific white color from different suppliers. They sent the digital reflectance data and physical master sample to the suppliers together with the order.

What they got in return? As many different white as one would get if just saying “I want white”.

What went wrong?
We found a difference in the digital reflectance curve compared to the master sample. This was not noted by the retailer because of wrong UV setting in the spectrophotometer.

For white, the correct UV setting in the spectrophotometer is crucial.

The use of digital color communication tools is the only way to go beyond the subjective perception of viewing colors and to efficiently find the root cause of color issues.

Is the white not the white you want? We can check and let you know exactly what to do. E-mail our support team at

from all of us at natific

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