What is footcandle

Footcandle is an amount of light produced by one candle at a distance of one foot. Candles are one of the most ancient sources of lighting, no wonder this measurement is still used even though candles have been replaced by electricity.

A ”pure” footcandle is an imaginary ball of light with a radius of 1 foot and a candle in the center.

The obvious drawback of this parameter – it measures the amount of light, but not its direction and intensity. That’s where we have to call out lumens.

What is lumen

Lumen is a light flow, it’s light emitted by the source. If we want to visualize it, let’s imagine the very same candle, which is based 1 foot apart from the wall and casts light over it. If we draw a square foot on a lit surface, we can assert that it is lit by a light flow of one lumen.

Foot-candle vs lumen vs lux

It is extremely important to understand the difference: lumen is a unit of light, emitted by a source. Footcandle is a unit of light received by a surface. They relate to each other according to the formula 1footcandle = 1 lumen / 1 foot².

What is a lux then? It’s a footcandle’s analog in a metric system. One footcandle equals approximately 10 lux.

Why do we need it

Well, usually we don’t, as long as we don’t work in a site-lighting company. But you can come across those terms while reading manuals to your camera or looking through the settings.

Don’t be scared out: the ultimate majority of modern gadgets measure lighting automatically and you don’t have to bother with it.

But just out of pure curiosity, you may have a look at the approximate lighting recommendations for different sites in footcandles.

Here is a similar list in lumens:

  • Living room – 1500-3000 lm
  • Bedroom – 2000-4000 lm
  • Dining room – 3000-6000 lm
  • Bathroom – 4000-8000 lm
  • Kitchen – 5000-10000 lm

And don’t forget that even if your technique didn’t manage to catch the lighting correctly, you can always adjust it during post-shooting editing.