What isdensitometer

A densitometer is a device used to measure the darkness level or optical density of a reflective surface, semi-transparent substance, or photographic material. It works by using a light source aimed at a photoelectric cell, and the readings taken are used to calculate the density of the sample.

Measuring Photographic Film Density

A densitometer measures the density or degree of darkening of a photographic film or plate by utilising a photometric recording. Visual approaches use two beams of equal intensity – one is directed through the plate, while the other’s intensity is modified by changing the source, moving an optical wedge, or changing the iris diaphragm until its intensity is equal to the other beam, as determined by the eye or a photoelectric cell. After proper calibration, density can be directly read.

Measuring TLC Plate Tracks with a Densitometer

A densitometer, also known as a scanner, can be used to measure the tracks of a Thin-Layer Chromatography (TLC) plate by moving a narrow beam of light with a single wavelength across the plate and measuring the light that is reflected or emitted. This light is transformed into an electrical signal by a photomultiplier, which then displays the analogue chromatogram curve as a function of migration distance. After integrating the raw data, the peak height and/or area can be quantitated. Densitometry is a highly sensitive measurement.


What is the difference between a densitometer and a spectrophotometer?

A spectrophotometer and densitometer both measure the transmission and reflection of light through a sample. A spectrophotometer measures the entire spectrum of light, while a densitometer only measures a single colour. A spectrophotometer is widely used for colour measurement and analysis, while a densitometer is commonly used in the printing industry.

What are some applications of densitometry?

Densitometry has several applications, including measuring the opacity of an object, assessing the quality of printing by measuring the ink density, assessing the development of photographic films, and measuring the level of purity in proteins, to name a few.

What is a photomultiplier?

A photomultiplier is an electronic device used in measuring and amplifying light. It transforms light energy into an electrical signal that can be measured and analysed.


A densitometer is an incredibly powerful and sensitive tool used to measure the density of various materials, from photographic films to proteins. Understanding how it works, its applications, and how it compares to other spectrophotometry devices is essential for anyone working with reflective surfaces or photographic material.

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