Candela (cd/m2) vs Nits: Definition, Differences and Convert


Author:Led Screen Manufacturer Since 2013——LIGHTALL

Candela (cd/m2) vs Nits: Definition, Differences and Convert


Candela (cd/m2) and nits are both commonly used units of measurement to express brightness or luminance. Understanding the differences between these two units is essential for various applications, including display technologies, lighting design, and photography. This article aims to define candela and nits, explore their differences, and provide a conversion guide between the two units.

Definition of Candela

Candela (cd) is the base unit of luminous intensity in the International System of Units (SI). It measures the amount of light emitted in a particular direction from a light source. In simple terms, candela refers to the brightness of a light source in a specific direction. It is a crucial unit in lighting design, as it helps determine the appropriate intensity of light for a given space or application.

Definition of Nits

Nits, also known as candelas per square meter (cd/m2), are a unit of luminance commonly used in display technologies. Luminance refers to the amount of light emitted or reflected from a surface per unit area. Nits specifically measure the brightness of a display or a screen. Higher nit values indicate greater brightness, resulting in improved visibility, especially in well-lit environments.

Differences between Candela and Nits

1. Measurement Focus

Candela primarily measures the intensity or brightness of a light source itself, regardless of its area or surrounding environment. On the other hand, nits concentrate on the luminance or brightness of a surface or display, considering the area over which the light is spread.

2. Application Domain

Candela finds its applications in the field of lighting design, architectural lighting, and photography where the focus is on the light source itself. Nits, on the contrary, are commonly used in the display technologies industry, including televisions, smartphones, laptops, and other screen-based devices.

3. Measurement Units

Candela is measured in terms of luminous intensity (cd), while nits are measured in terms of luminance (cd/m2). It's important to note that while candela is an absolute measure, nits are a relative one as they take into account the area over which the light is distributed.

4. Conversion

To convert between candela (cd) and nits (cd/m2), one must consider the area over which the light is spread. Since nits represent the luminance per square meter, the conversion factor is simply 1 nit = 1 cd/m2.

Converting from candela (cd) to nits (cd/m2) can be done by dividing the candela value by the area in square meters. For instance, if a light source has an intensity of 100 candela (cd) and illuminates an area of 1 square meter, the conversion to nits would yield 100 nits.

Similarly, converting from nits to candela requires multiplying the nit value by the area in square meters. For example, if a display has a brightness of 500 nits and the active display area is 0.5 square meters, the conversion to candela would result in 250 candela.

5. Practical Examples

Let's consider two scenarios to illustrate the practical differences between candela and nits:

Scenario 1: Lighting Design

In architectural lighting, the intensity of a spotlight needs to be determined to achieve the desired ambiance or effect. Using candela, a lighting designer can calculate the appropriate intensity for a specific beam angle to illuminate a particular area. Candela allows the designer to focus on the light source itself, ensuring optimal lighting conditions.

Scenario 2: Display Brightness

In the context of display technologies, nits play a crucial role. For example, when purchasing a smartphone, a higher nit value ensures better visibility in bright outdoor settings. If two phones have different nit values, the one with a higher value will be easier to read in direct sunlight due to its increased luminance.


Candela (cd/m2) and nits are both essential units to measure brightness and luminance. While candela focuses on the intensity of a light source itself, nits concentrate on the brightness of a surface or display. Understanding the differences between these units is crucial for professionals working in diverse fields like lighting design, photography, and display technologies. By converting between candela and nits, it becomes easier to compare and evaluate various lighting or display options, ensuring optimal visual experiences in different settings.



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