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What Is A Spectrophotometer? | Spectrophotometer Geometry, Uses, and DefinitionsA spectrophotometer is a color measurement device used to capture and evaluate color. As part of a color control program, brand owners and designers use spectrophotometers to specify and communicate color, and manufacturers use them to monitor color accuracy throughout production.

Spectrophotometers can measure just about anything, including liquids, plastics, paper, metal and fabrics, and help ensure that color remains consistent from conception to delivery

The spectral reflectance curve provided by a spectrophotometer is commonly known as the color’s “fingerprint”.

Watch our "What is a Spectrophotometer" video to learn more.

Spectrophotometer Types

There are three primary types of spectrophotometers. Your selection depends on application, desired functionality, and portability. Spectrophotometers come in a range of sizes, from portable devices to large benchtop instruments.


0º/45º (or 45º/0º) Spectrophotometer

0º/45º (or 45º/0º) Spectrophotometer The most common spectrophotometer, this instrument measures light reflected at a fixed angle to the sample, usually 45˚, and can exclude gloss to most closely replicate how the human eye sees color. These spectros are commonly used for measuring color on smooth or matte surfaces.


Sphere Spectrophotometer

Spherical SpectrophotometerSpherical spectrophotometers can measure light reflected at all angles to calculate color measurements that closely match what a human eye would see. They are commonly used for measuring color that has been applied to textured surfaces such as textiles, carpets and plastics, as well as shiny or mirror-like surfaces, including metallic inks, printing over foil, and other highly glossy surfaces.


Multi-Angle Spectrophotometer

Multi-Angle SpectrophotometerA multi-angle spectrophotometer views the color of a sample as if it is being moved back and forth, just as you would twist a sample to see the color at various angles. Today’s multi-angle instruments are used for specially coated pigments and special effect colors with additives such as mica and pearlescents, such as nail polish and automotive coatings.



The Benefits of an X-Rite Spectrophotometer

Spectrophotometers are used in every industry that requires accurate color. From cardboard packaging to laundry soap to carpeting and small plastic parts, these devices help ensure that the color being produced matches the color that was originally specified the first time, every time, reducing waste and saving you time and money.

“We consider X-Rite to be an important partner in our ability to grow and to continue to exceed customer expectations. Our past experience with X-Rite and GretagMcBeth products has been excellent, and the new Ci7800 is no exception. Having this next-generation instrument as an integral part of our operation is vital to our ability to continue to move our color critical business forward.” - Jim Walsh, Technical Director at Penn Color


Spectrophotometer Categories

As the global leader in color trends, science and technology, we offer a full range of solutions that control color consistently and accurately from inspiration to final delivery. Whether you’re looking to specify, communicate, formulate, and measure color, we’ll help you get it right the first time, every time.

  • Portable Spectrophotometers
    Rugged, accurate, and comfortable in your hand or pocket, X-Rite portables measure color anywhere in your operation. Browse solutions for an array of surface geometries and materials.

  • Benchtop Spectrophotometers
    X-Rite benchtops are the preferred choice for laboratory-based operations that demand the highest level of color precision and control.

Products Referenced in this Custom Page

X-Rite eXact Standard, eXact spectrophotometer, exact spectro

eXact Standard

Spectro for use on Paper & Paperboard

Ci7860 Benchtop Spectrophotometer; Meet Tightest Color Tolerances


For the Most Accurate and Precise Measurement



For 5 Angle Spectral Measurement


Featured Color Measurement Solutions

Find the X-Rite product that best fits your needs.

From a simple densitometer to a highly advanced spectral measurement instrument, for use with paper, film or other substrates, the X-Rite eXact family is the most accurate and consistent color measurement instrument on the market.

The Ci7000 series of benchtop sphere spectrophotometers sets a new standard for measuring, managing and communicating color with unprecedented audit trails and repeatable performance.

X-Rite's portable multi-angle spectrophotometers combine color imaging with multi-angle technology to deliver precise color measurements on special effect paints and finishes.

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