Colorimeter vs Spectrometer: Which One Should You Buy?
Well, I am comparing the two devices so you can make the decision. Both the devices are very useful when measuring color. Anyway, differences are there between a Colorimeter and a spectrometer. I will start with the Colorimeter.
What is a Colorimeter?: It’s a light-sensitive device that measures the amount of color absorbed by a sample or an object. It works similar to the human eye. Red, blue, and green are the colors that it uses to determine color. As you already know, a part of the light gets absorbed when it passes through a medium. In other words, there will be a decrease in the reflected light. So, what a Colorimeter does is measuring the change. With the change measurement, it analyses the concentration of a solution. It uses the principle of Beer-Lambert’s law His law states that “The absorption of light transmitted through a medium is directly proportional to the concentration of the medium.”
Spectrometer: This device measures the properties of light. Well, according to the Wikipedia, “A Spectrometer is a scientific instrument originally used to split light into an array of separate colors, called a spectrum.” It detects spectral lines, then measures their intensity or the wavelength. Many types of spectrometers are available such as optical, magnetic, mass, and Time-of-flight. This device can classify different wavelengths.
Colorimeter types: Same as the spectrometer, many types of Colorimeters such as densitometers and photometers are available in the market today. A densitometer measures the density of colors and the photometer measures the transmission and reflection of colors. Also, they are available as portable, digital, and laboratory. Digital Colorimeters are widely used for sampling and educational purposes in classrooms. Portable ones are not that expensive and used for testing soil samples and water. Well, both the spectrometer and the Colorimeter use Beer-Lambert’s law. Anyway, spectrometers are very complex compared Colorimeters and need regular calibration. Also, less portable compared to the Colorimeter.
How does a Colorimeter work: As mentioned, it uses the Beer-Lambert’s law. The device passes a light (of a specific wavelength) through the solution being measured, and the solution will absorb some light. The amount of light comes through the other side is then measured to find the amount solution has absorbed. A highly concentrated solution will absorb more light and vice-versa. Well, an elaborated explanation is there in Wikipedia regarding Colorimeter’s working principle. Since I can’t explain everything in this article, I am giving you the link to that page
The colorimeter uses: As mentioned, this device is more portable than a spectrometer, so used for many applications. With portable ones, you can analyze brightness and color contrast of television and computer screens. So, you can adjust screen settings for optimum quality pictures. Widely used in the printing industry for color measurements. Diamond merchants measure optical properties of the stones with this device. Used in cosmetology for measuring the sun-protection-factor. Well, many more uses are there.
So, have you made your decision? I have highlighted some advantages of using a Colorimeter over a spectrometer. Anyway, for complex measurements; a spectrometer is a must to have. A spectrometer can cost $300 (lowest.) Well, most expensive spectrometers can cost up to $5,000.