Difference Between Spectrophotometry and Colorimetry

The main difference between spectrophotometry and colorimetry is that colorimeters use fixed wavelengths in the visible range (about 400-800 nm) while spectrophotometers use wavelengths in the UV/visible range (about 200-800nm).

Spectrophotometers and colorimeters are used to measure the absorption and transmission of components as a function of their wavelength. The Tristimulus colorimeter has color filters and a light source that only works with color sampling, while the spectrophotometer works with a tungsten lamp, a deuterium lamp and a monochromator to select the fixed wavelength as well than the UV/VIS range. .


  1. What is spectrophotometry?
  2. What is colorimetry?
  3. Difference Between Spectrophotometer and Colorimeter
  4. FAQs
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What is spectrophotometry?

A spectrophotometer is an analytical device that measures the transmission or reflection of UV/visible/IR (infrared) light quantitatively. Spectrophotometry measures the light intensity of a compound sample by passing a beam of light through it. These devices are used for color measurement and color accuracy control throughout the manufacturing process and in various disciplines such as chemistry, biochemistry, physics and molecular biology, etc.

Single and double beam spectrophotometers are the two types of spectrophotometers. A single beam spectrophotometer determines absolute light intensity, while a dual beam spectrophotometer measures the ratio of light intensities in two independent light paths, the reference standard and the sample.

What is colorimetry?

A colorimeter is light-sensitive equipment that determines the amount of light transmission and absorbance that occurs through a liquid sample. It measures the intensity or concentration of color that appears when a certain reagent is added to a solution.

Spectrophotometer and tristimulus colorimeter are the two types of colorimeters used to measure color. Determines the color intensity of the analyte and correlates it with the concentration of the sample. In colorimetry, the color of the sample is compared to the color of the standard in which the color is known.

Difference between spectrophotometer and colorimeter:

  • The basic difference between spectrophotometer and colorimeter is that spectrophotometry can use wavelengths of a wider range whereas colorimetry uses fixed wavelengths which are only observable in the visible spectrum.
  • The spectrophotometer's light source is a UV (tungsten, xenon, and deuterium) lamp that operates along the wavelength, while the colorimeter's light source is an LED that operates at a fixed wavelength.
  • The particular wavelength is selected in a spectrophotometer by means of a monochromator, while the particular wavelength is selected in colorimetry by means of a color filter.
  • A spectrophotometer consists of a sensor, a data processor, and a computer that provides data in a given format, while a colorimeter usually consists of a sensor and a data processor.
  • The spectrophotometer can be used for research, development and quality control, while the colorimeter is generally used for inspection and quality control purposes.
  • Spectrophotometry uses a wide range of wavelengths i.e. ultraviolet and visible regions while colorimetry uses a fixed wavelength in the visible range.
  • The data obtained by spectrophotometry indirectly provide psychophysical information, while the colorimetric data obtained provide tristimulus values.
  • Spectrophotometry is a more expensive and complex instrument than a colorimeter, while colorimetry is a robust instrument and less expensive and complex than a spectrophotometer.
  • Spectrophotometer can recognize color intensity and metamerism, while colorimeter cannot identify color intensity and metamerism.
  • The spectrophotometer determines the amount of light, while the colorimeter determines the absorption of light that occurs through a sample solution.
  • A spectrophotometer is more sensitive than a colorimeter, while a colorimeter is less sensitive than a spectrophotometer.
  • The spectrophotometric approach is a physical analysis, while the colorimetric approach is a psychophysical analysis.
  • A spectrophotometer measures color in the wavelengths of human-visible light, while a colorimeter measures the three main color components of light such as red, green, and blue.
  • In spectrophotometry, the data is displayed on a computer equipped with the appropriate software, while in colorimetry the data is displayed on a digital or analog output.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What is the best spectrophotometer or colorimeter?

The spectrophotometer is better than the colorimeter in terms of accuracy and adaptability. It is also best for more complicated color analysis because it can determine spectral reflectance at each wavelength.

Is a colorimeter a spectrophotometer?

Colorimeter and spectrophotometer are similar in that they are used to measure the absorbance of the sample to determine analyte concentrations.

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