Colorimetric versus Analytical UV-VIS Spectrophotometers


FAQ: “How should I best describe your colorimetric spectrophotometer relative to the analytical spectrophotometer I also have in my lab? My goal is to ensure that we discriminate the principle of your instrument from a standard UV/VIS."

Like two sides of the same coin, both colorimetric and analytical spectrophotometers measure light from a sample as optical information but there are differences in purpose. A HunterLab spectrophotometer attempts to answer the question “What color is it?” A UV-VIS spectrophotometer seeks to answer questions like “How much of my chemical of interest is in it?”

HunterLab spectrophotometers quantify the human perception of an item’s color, a psychophysical phenomenon, while the focus of UV-VIS measurements is correlation to spectral absorbance, a purely physical property. 

Here are a few points that distinguish a colorimetric from an analytical spectrophotometer:

  • Our sphere color spectrophotometers are designed for industrial color quality control. The footprint on our lab bench instruments isn't that much larger than most UV/VIS spectrophotometers but in general, they are more rugged, solid and flexible than most UV/VIS spectrophotometers.

  • Our instruments using a d/8 sphere geometry are more robust in measuring real world samples that slightly scatter than the 0/0 geometry of most UV/VIS spectrophotometers which are very sensitive to any sample scattering. Our sphere instruments can also quantify the degree of scattering in clear solids and liquids with a %Haze metric.

  • Our color spectrophotometers can make measurements in both reflectance and transmission of almost any product. Most UV/VIS spectrophotometers measure only in transmission and perform best on only transparent clear solids and liquids.

  • The viewed area of the sample using the LAV (Large Area of View) is 17.4 mm in TTRAN mode and 17 mm in RTRAN mode providing excellent area averaging of liquid color samples and a more repeatable reading. The viewed area of most UV/VIS spectrophotometers is typically 3 - 8 mm, at most.

  • The transmittance compartment of our sphere instruments is open on all 3 sides making for easy sample placement. Our instruments can handle any reasonably sized liquid or solid sample.

  • Our ColorQuest XE spectrophotometer reports measurements based on 10-nm data from 400 - 700 nm (UltraScan VIS from 360 - 780-nm in 10-nm intervals; UltraScan PRO from 350 – 1050 nm in 5-nm intervals).

  • Colorimetric spectrophotometers can measure in transmittance and reflectance using the same optical path.

  • The measurement time using the pulsed xenon lamp is under 5 seconds. The measurement time on most UV/VIS spectrophotometers is often much longer, as much as a minute. 

  • Our software is very flexible and has more color scales built into the software as standard than the software that typical comes with analytical spectrophotometers.  

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