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Benchtop or portable: Which spectrophotometer is best?

Spectrophotometers are color measurement devices used to specify and communicate color and monitor accuracy throughout production. There are spectrophotometers to measure just about anything, from liquids and plastics to paper, metal and fabrics. Brand owners, designers, lab techs and quality control professionals rely on them to ensure color remains consistent, from the time it’s specified until final quality check, in just about every industry.

This Ci7800 benchtop spectrophotometer is measuring a fabric swatch.

Spectrophotometers come in many shapes and sizes. There’s the practical, convenient portable spectrophotometer, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and travel around the lab for on-site quality checks. Then there’s the larger benchtop device, standing ready to measure the most precise color for the most accurate specifications and tolerances.

Which is right for your color workflow?

Since benchtops are generally more expensive, many are left wondering if the investment is worth it. Today we’re comparing how portable and benchtop spectrophotometers perform in common color measurement scenarios so you can decide which is best for your needs.

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What is metamerism, and why should you care?

Have you ever walked out of the house wearing two black socks, only to arrive at work and realize one of them is navy blue? If so, you’ve been a victim of metamerism.

Metamerism is a phenomenon that occurs when two colors appear to match under one lighting condition, but not when the light changes.

Metameric Pairs

Metameric Pairs

This picture shows the same dyed wool swatches under U30 fluorescent (top) and A incandescent (bottom) light sources. Notice how the samples appear to change color? This, of course, is something manufacturers want to avoid. Metameric matches are quite common, especially in near neutral colors like grays, whites, and dark colors like these. As colors become lighter or more saturated, the range of possible metameric matches becomes smaller.

To manage metamerism during color production, you need to know what causes it.

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