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Gear & Apps

Datacolor Releases Spyder5 To Perfect Your Color Calibration With 3 Variants

By Kishore Sawh on April 8th 2015

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We as human beings, much less photographers, spend a great deal of time bathed in the glow of a monitor of some sort. As photographers, it’s just that much more, but to us, we have to be a bit more discriminate, because these screens, from the back of a camera to an iPad, computer screen or whatnot, are what displays our livelihood. It doesn’t, however, take a photographer to know that not all screens are either equal in quality nor rendition, and the variances can wreak havoc for your images, especially when time to print.

The solution? Using a device to color calibrate each screen to give you the most accurate color possible. Arguably, Datacolor is the company to go to for consumer/pro monitor calibration, and they’ve just released the Spyder5, which, in fact, is a new line of 3 variants of calibrating devices ranging in price from $129 for the Spyder5Express, $189 for the Spyder5Pro, and $279 for the Spyder5Elite.

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The company claims the Spyder5 is a marked improvement on the version 4 that came before it, with a totally redesigned optical engine with 7 optical detectors, and apparently there’s a 55% tonal response improvement which will result in better gradients and shadow areas.

With true screen color, photographers can more accurately edit their photos and achieve better print matching

The device itself doesn’t look all that different from previous versions and is around the size of a hockey puck. The use should be the usual straightforward operation, which involved hanging the device so it lays on the front of the monitor and cap is used as a counterweight in an indicated section as dictated by the accompanied software. Then simply run the software and let the device do its thing – all of this in my experience should take about 10-15 minutes.

From what I can tell so far, even if you’re the type to want the best of everything, there may be little reason to upgrade if you have the previous version, and more unto that, if you’re curious which one to of the new series to get, the Elite is likely not what you’re going to need unless you operate in a rather diverse and demanding studio environment. It has the highest level of ambient light measurement and if you leave it plugged in will alert you when the lighting conditions will affect how your monitor looks.

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The Express and Pro are more akin to each other, and for most hobbyists of those who just want accurate prints of family trips, the Express will likely be all that you need. The Pro, seems to be the one I would suggest most get as it has some Elite features like the ambient light sensor, is more precise all ‘round, and has an interesting option ability for importing your images for before and after evaluation.

[REWIND: CMYK vs RGB and Why You Should Care]

It’s probably good to keep in mind that prints are almost always going to look a little different than what your monitor shows even with a calibration tool such as these, due to the difference between reflective and transmissive light; especially if you’re not using speciality inks and base materials. You could also go as far as getting calibrated paper. But having your monitors calibrated is going to make a huge difference. You can get your Spyder5 Express, Pro, or Elite here.

Hopefully, we will be doing a proper review of one or more of these soon, so look out for it.

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    Color calibration is crucial for consistent work.

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  2. Danny Vanderbyl

    I’d also like to know if it’s worth having the latest Spyder5Pro / Colormunki Display to calibrate a 2009 Macbook Pro, or whether any calibrator would be fine. Do the calibrators deteriorate? Thanks!

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    • Joseph Wu

      Absolutely,

      Any type of color calibration is better than none. It’s only when you have high end wide-gamut displays where the different colorimeters standout against each other.

      As far as I know the i1DisplayPro doesn’t have a filter that deteriorates that significantly, I know the older Spyder3 did, maybe the Spyder4 as well. Hopefully Datacolor changes this with the Spyder5.

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    • AJ Luna

      I was concerned about the Spyder’s filter also. So I sold my Spyder4PRO and purchased the Spyder5PRO for the cap (practical protection and makes it more bag-friendly/portable)

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  3. Black Z Eddie

    How can you tell if your calibration tool isn’t advance enough for your monitor? I have the Spyder4Express and thinking of getting a new monitor.

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    • Joseph Wu

      Honestly,

      The spyder4 in comparison to the many other products out there now just falls short. The i1DisplayPro would be my first choice if you’re looking for an inexpensive but good solution, and are serious about getting accurate colors.

      The colormunki also has shown great results from my peers, although a bit slower, and not as accurate on a wide-gamut display.

      Spoiler: We’ll have a round-up of articles focusing on mid-high end monitors & calibration techniques soon!

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  4. Richard Bremer

    Still happy with my Spyder4 Elite. Great device on my relatively old monitor. As the monitor is slowly degrading after 7 years of use, I will be upgrading soon. If the Spyder4 is not up to the task, I’d really be interested in a comparisson of the Spyder5 Elite and the Colormunki Photo.

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    • Joseph Wu

      Hi Richard,

      The Spyder5 Elite would be more worthy to be compared to the i1DisplayPro. The Colormunki sits at the Spyder5 express range if I’m not mistaken.

      Comparisons will come soon!

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  5. Dave Haynie

    Still using my Pantone Huey… not sure things are changing all that rapidly in the world of color calibration. Maybe I’ll upgrade after I get a bunch of new 10-bit, 4K, quantum dot monitors….

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  6. Cameron McKinlay

    I purchased a color calibration system and I love how it makes my images look on screen. But for my clients, none of them have their screens (laptops, smartphones etc) calibrated. The colors look drastically different to them when they proof them on their systems but then they see them on my screen if they come into the studio and love it. How do you suggest I get around this issue? Calibrate with the standard apple screen color settings?

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    • Peter Nord

      Tell them you offer monthly calibration service as part of the deal. The first one is free.

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    • Eric Sharpe

      LOL! Awesome. New service offering.

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    • Joseph Wu

      This can be a combination of reasons.

      I would target sRGB color space and around 160CD/m if you want to color proof against most general consumers.

      It could also be your color calibration system having a slightly color bias, or even that your clients displays just have a strong color bias.

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  7. Joseph Wu

    Interesting.

    The Spyder4 was pretty much abysmal for use with newer wide-gamut displays. Would be interesting to see how the Spyder5 performs against the i1DisplayPro & Calman C6

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