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Colorimetry refers to the science of measuring and defining colors in a way that matches to how an “average” individual sees the color using a colorimeter machine. Precisely measuring and defining colors is required in chemistry, paint manufacturing, color printing, advertising and textile manufacturing. For instance, you wouldn’t want to purchase two colors of supposedly similar paint and find out that they are totally different from each other.
This science needs to give completely accurate colorimeter units, since people are believed to have the ability to recognize more than 16 million different colors. What that means is, if you are painting your house, your two cans of paint have to match exactly or you will likely notice the difference.
Measuring and defining colors is not easy. This is because each and every person perceives color a bit differently. Due to this, researchers have tested various individuals to ascertain how each one of them perceives color, and integrated their results to come up with a “standard observer” or an average person’s sensitivity to the various lights and colors.
Even with all the modern technology, it is still difficult to measure colors entirely because of the human element (somewhat different perceptions) and also the fact that a light source can lead to a perceived color change due to color temperature.
Metamerism is one other difficulty when it comes to color measurement. This term refers to the way two colors may appear to match entirely even though they could be significantly different when observed with special equipment, because they are made up of distinct spectral power distributions. To be more precise, due to metamerism and the light source, two colors that are different may look similar and two colors that exactly look alike may seem contrasting under different lighting conditions.
Color Measurement Instruments
There are four major classes of instruments that are used in colorimetry: the colorimeter, densitometer, spectrophotometer and spectroradiometer.
A digital colorimeter also known as lab colorimeter utilizes a light source of specified wavelength, colorimetry reagent, light detector and a color-changing to ascertain the concentration of a certain substance, normally in a water-based or aqueous sample. Laboratory colorimeters are largely used across different areas of work. Some of the colorimeter uses include clinical diagnostics, environmental testing, biochemistry and pharmaceutical analysis. In Particular, on-site environmental analyses use a portable colorimeter. Just like spectrophotometers, chromameters are utilized to determine concentration of some known solute from a sample because a solute’s concentration is proportional to its absorbance. The colorimeter filters are utilized to isolate a portion of visible light spectrum absorbed maximally by the particular sample during the process of colorimeter calibration.
A tristimulus colorimeter can be a multi-parameter or single-parameter. It can vary the wavelength of the visible light to measure various elements like fluorides, nitrites, nitrates, phosphorous, sulfates and others. Wondering what the colorimeter units of measurement are? Well, the colorimeter measures a substance’s light absorbance. It doesn’t have units as such, but the unit AU is sometimes used.
A spectrophotometer refers to a color measurement tool utilized by graphic arts professionals that need a high degree of color consistency and accuracy. This device utilizes a fixed source of light as well as a sensor to measure amount of light reflected by the media surface and inks. To sustain the highest levels of accuracy, the source of light’s wavelength is usually set to a notable reference point and a standard color, like white, and scanned first to calibrate the sensor.
Spectrophotometers have the ability to measure light over the whole visible spectrum as well as capture the entire range of reflective and spectral features for each color on the printed reference chart. This capability makes the spectrophotometer an ideal tool for gathering data required in color-critical environments that need objective color accuracy.
The Role of Spectrophotometer in Color Management
In graphic arts setting, color management is accomplished through a profiling process where each kind of print media utilized in the operation gets imaged using a reference chart with color patches then scanned using a spectrophotometer to measure color values that result. The color values are then used to prepare the adjustments required to get the desired state of consistency and accurate color reproduction.
When the scan operation of the spectrophotometer is completed, the data is analyzed using specialized software which finally compares the results to some set of standard values. Thereafter, the variance between the standard and measured values can be utilized to come up with a target profile for every media type and device used in the operation. Additionally, the profile-generation software considers the physical attributes of the media and the color gamut of inks.
Where and how the installation of the resulting profiles takes place will differ depending on the specific types of printers and devices used in a particular environment. For instance, in operations that uses the Canon iPFx400 large-format, the controller of the printer is directly loaded with profiles. This capability makes it possible for the profiles to be availed to all users immediately. In some cases, profiles may require to be copied to a printer driver on every work station, and this may lead to synchronization issues.
In operations that uses a RIP is for print and color management, the profiles are automatically installed into RIP database. However, regardless of the way the profile is installed, it will reproduce colors accurately only on printers which are properly calibrated.
The correct print color reproduction consistency throughout a run is mostly dependent on factors such as dot size, ink film thickness, ink trapping and registration. A densitometer can measure most of these factors. A press operator can use a densitometer to get greater color control throughout a run.
How a Densitometer Works
The eye is a good and very sensitive comparison device. It can identify shade variations and density and compare them to some known calibration standard which identifies the specific color standards. The eye cannot however, assign exact numerical values to the variations. On the other hand, a densitometer can assign numerical values to the density variations that the eye perceives by quantifying amount of light reflected from a printed sheet surface. The densitometer cannot measure color differences.
A spectroradiometer is a device designed to measure spectral power distribution of some source. From spectral power distribution, the photometric, colorimetric and radiometric quantities of light are determined in order to characterize, measure as well as calibrate light sources for different applications. Typically, spectroradiometers take measurements of spectral radiance and spectral irradiance.
Spectroradiometers are used in various applications including LED measurement, solar UVB and UV radiation, CFL testing and display measurement and calibration
Colorimetric analysis refers to a process of figuring out the concentration of some chemical compound or chemical element in a solution with the help of a color reagent. This method is applicable to both inorganic and organic compounds and may be used either with or without enzymatic stage. The method is extensively used in medical laboratories as well as for industrial purposes.
The equipment required for this process is a colorimeter, a suitable color reagent and some cuvettes . The process may be automated, like the use of Flow injection analysis or an AutoAnalyzer .
General Tips While Using a Colorimeter
Before getting colorimeter readings, it is important to determine maximum absorbance wavelength for that particular chemical in solution. This can either be done manually or using a graphing utility. To do it manually, a colorimeter cuvette that contains the colored solution is first prepared then inserted inside the colorimeter at a minimum wavelength. The absorbance is then recorded. This procedure should be repeated as you change the wavelength. Note the wavelength that offers the highest absorbance. To do it graphically, you can use a colorimeter app to instigate the calculation of a particular absorbance spectrum. Alternatively, if the above options are not feasible and one is using a common chemical, the maximum absorbance wavelength can be available online.
Buying a Colorimeter
Colorimeter cost depends on the type of device you are interested in. If you are looking to buy colorimeter, you can check for best deals from ebay, amazon and other sites by simply typing the words- colorimeter for sale in the search engines. You will also be able to get other devices like the colorimeter monitor, colorimeter tube from those sites. Of course you can get a much cheaper one if you buy it second hand. Call all the colorimeter manufacturers and compare their prices before settling for one.
Regardless of the price of colorimeter, which is the best colorimeter for monitor calibration,you may ask. There are many types of colorimeters including handheld colorimeter, led colorimeter, reflectance colorimeter, photoelectric colorimeter, chlorine Colorimeter, and pocket colorimeter among others. To know which one is best for you, consider the different scenarios where it is needed. Examples of these scenarios include: laptop monitor calibration, Graphic Art monitor calibration , medium and basic range monitors calibration , iPad from Apple calibration and Mac and iMac monitor calibration .
For proper colorimeter working, ensure you observe proper maintenance of your colorimeter. The good thing is that they require little maintenance. Most of them are portable and are used for on-site testing. You can always check from the colorimeter lab to get the correct procedure on how to use your colorimeter. Other questions that will be answered when you visit the lab include how to differentiate between display colorimeter and monitor colorimeter.