# Brightness

Decreasing brightness with depth (underwater photo as example)

Brightness is an attribute of visual perception in which a source appears to be radiating or reflecting light.[1] In other words, brightness is the perception elicited by the luminance of a visual target. It is not necessarily proportional to luminance. This is a subjective attribute/property of an object being observed and one of the color appearance parameters of color appearance models. Brightness refers to an absolute term and should not be confused with Lightness.[2]

The adjective bright derives from an Old English beorht with the same meaning via metathesis giving Middle English briht. The word is from a Common Germanic *berhtaz, ultimately from a PIE root with a closely related meaning, *bhereg- "white, bright". "Brightness" was formerly used as a synonym for the photometric term luminance and (incorrectly) for the radiometric term radiance. As defined by the US Federal Glossary of Telecommunication Terms (FS-1037C), "brightness" should now be used only for non-quantitative references to physiological sensations and perceptions of light.[3]

A given target luminance can elicit different perceptions of brightness in different contexts; see, for example, White's illusion.

In an RGB color space, brightness can be thought of as the arithmetic mean μ of the red, green, and blue color coordinates (although some of the three components make the light seem brighter than others, which, again, may be compensated by some display systems automatically[clarification needed]):[4]

${\displaystyle \mu ={R+G+B \over 3}}$

Brightness is also a color coordinate in HSL color space : hue, saturation, and lightness, meaning here brightness.

With regard to stars, brightness is quantified as apparent magnitude and absolute magnitude.

Brightness is, at least in some respects, the antonym of darkness.

## New meaning

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has assigned an unconventional meaning to brightness when applied to lamps. When appearing on light bulb packages, brightness means luminous flux, while in other contexts it means luminance.[5] Luminous flux is the total amount of light coming from a source, such as a lighting device. Luminance, the original meaning of brightness, is the amount of light per solid angle coming from an area, such as the sky. The table below shows the standard ways of indicating the amount of light.

SI photometry quantities

Quantity Unit Dimension Notes
Name Symbol[nb 1] Name Symbol Symbol[nb 2]
Luminous energy Qv[nb 3] lumen second lm⋅s TJ The lumen second is sometimes called the talbot.
Luminous flux, luminous power Φv[nb 3] lumen (= candela steradians) lm (= cd⋅sr) J Luminous energy per unit time
Luminous intensity Iv candela (= lumen per steradian) cd (= lm/sr) J Luminous flux per unit solid angle
Luminance Lv candela per square metre cd/m2 L−2J Luminous flux per unit solid angle per unit projected source area. The candela per square metre is sometimes called the nit.
Illuminance Ev lux (= lumen per square metre) lx (= lm/m2) L−2J Luminous flux incident on a surface
Luminous exitance, luminous emittance Mv lux lx L−2J Luminous flux emitted from a surface
Luminous exposure Hv lux second lx⋅s L−2TJ Time-integrated illuminance
Luminous energy density ωv lumen second per cubic metre lm⋅s/m3 L−3TJ
Luminous efficacy (of radiation) K lumen per watt lm/W M−1L−2T3J Ratio of luminous flux to radiant flux
Luminous efficacy (of a source) η[nb 3] lumen per watt lm/W M−1L−2T3J Ratio of luminous flux to power consumption
Luminous efficiency, luminous coefficient V 1 Luminous efficacy normalized by the maximum possible efficacy