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Spectrometer vs. Spectrophotometer: What's the Difference?

March 05, 2018

When customers are just getting started with color management, they often ask, "What is the difference between a spectrometer and a spectrophotometer?". With such a minute spelling difference, it's easy to make a quick typo and get the wrong answer for this color question. So...what's the difference?

Spectrometers vs. Spectrophotometers 


What is a Spectrophotometer?

A spectrophotometer is a color measurement device that is used to capture and evaluate color on just about anything, including liquids, plastics, paper, metal and fabrics. 

What is a Spectrometer?

A spectrometer is a device used to detect spectra, which are specific wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. 

What is their relationship?

All spectrophotometers contain spectrometers. Color spectrophotometers, like our X-Rite devices, are designed for and calibrated to detect the visible spectrum, or near visible like ultraviolet (UV) or infrared (IR). Advanced spectrometers can detect waves all over the cosmic spectrum, like radio waves, microwaves and alpha, beta, and gamma radiation, etc. 

If you're looking for more detail on the differences between these two devices, contact our team of color experts.

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