Accurate measurements of reflectance and color require spectrophotometers with prices often exceeding $3000. Recently, new “color instruments” became available with much lower prices, thanks to the availability of inexpensive colorimetric sensors. We investigated the Node+ChromaPro and the Color Muse, launched in 2015 and 2016 by Variable Inc. Both instruments are colorimeters, combining a colorimetric sensor with LED lighting. We investigated color accuracy compared to a high-end spectrophotometer from BYK Gardner. With different sets of samples we find for the Node an average value of dECMC
(1:1) = 1.50, and a maximum of 7.86, when comparing with the 45° geometry of the spectrophotometer. Utilizing measurement data on the Spectral Power Distributions of the LEDs, we developed three methods to improve color accuracy as compared to the spectrophotometer data. We used these methods on different sets of samples with various degrees of gloss, both for training the models underlying the methods and for independent tests of model accuracy. Average color accuracy of the Node+ChromaPro improves from dECMC
(1:1) = 1.82 to 1.16 with respect to spectrophotometer data. The percentage of samples with dECMC
(1:1) < 1.0 increases from 30.9% (uncorrected) to 64%. With the improved color accuracy, these sensors become useful for many more applications.
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