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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2008 5:54 am 
Introduction

I've been looking to get a colour calibration device for a little while now and had been looking at a couple of different products, the Huey and Huey Pro and the Spyder2Express, which ranged in price from CAN$99 up to $159 at my local London Drugs, although no doubt available a little cheaper online.

Having been burnt a few times in the past from buying cheap, I decided against going for a budget device and thought I'd spend a little more and go for the best I could find, which turned out to be the Spyder3Elite.

This is purely a display calibration device, and if you want to calibrate your printer as well, then you'll be needing an additional device.

The Spyder3 improves on the Spyder2 quite considerably but essentially it's a more accurate device and the software has much more functionality but what attracted me to the Spyder3Elite was it's capacity to manage multiple monitors. I own a 17" MacBook Pro and a 23" Apple Cinema Display and wanted to ensure both screens were calibrated correctly.

And so I laid down my $299 (plus tax) and became the proud new owner of a Spyder3Elite. The other option was the Spyder3Pro, which would have saved me $100. However, it seems that the Elite software offers more features in the software - it allows you to manually change any of the settings and have more overall control of your colour profiles - and also supports calibration of projectors, which I have plans to purchase sometime in the future. The Pro and Elite hardware is identical and the main differences between the two packages is the software and the Elite version of the Spyder3 comes with a different stand. Worth the extra $100? That's perhaps debatable but I've paid my money and made my choice!

Out of the box

The Spyder3 isn't a huge device, and is fairly lightweight. It comes packaged with the software (more about that later) and a quickstart manual. The Spyder3 comes with a good length of cable - around a metre or so - and connects to your Mac or PC (the packaged software is for both platforms) via the USB port.

Software installation is very simple and takes a few minutes to do so. It installs the hardware driver and once the software is installed, you plug in your Spyder3 device and you're ready to go. The software consists of two parts, the main calibration application and a background utility, that uses the ambient light sensor on the Spyder3 hardware and adjusts your display dependent on the light level.

The basic wizard driven application takes you through around 10 steps to calibrate your screen. These include specifying the screen type (laptop screen, LCD, CRT and projector) and identifying controls on your monitor, such as brightness and contrast controls. The wizard suggests you reset your screen to the default settings before calibrating.

Once you have followed the wizard, you're prompted to attach the device to the screen. If you're using a CRT monitor, you may attach the Spyder3 more securely to the screen using the included suction cup, otherwise just drap the device over your screen and it's mostly held in place with a counterweight, which can be moved along the USB cable to suit your screen.

The first full calibration takes a few minutes to complete, perhaps 5 minutes maximum. You may recalibrate, which checks the screen calibration data for consistency and takes a minute or two, or you may do another full calibration.

I haven't fully explored the "Expert Console" mode, which lets you specify white point and gamma settings but will update this review as I become more familiar with the device and software.

Comparing the default colour mode with the calibrated colour mode in OS X shows a very significant difference. Calibration really does work and photos I had looked at only a day or two previously seemed to be entirely new photographs. Detail has really been brought out of my photos and the colours are much richer and much more natural looking. The few photos I have taken of people in particular show very natural colour in skin and eyes.

Conclusion

At CAN$299 plus tax (so $330), it wasn't cheap. However, the software makes calibration so simple, and it performs the task so quickly and effectively, it's something I could easily run weekly to ensure my screens are always calibrated and showing correct colour. This review has been written after less than a days use, so I'm still exploring what this device is capable of and am still yet to run it on both my monitors and explore the multi-monitor capabilities. I'll update the review as and when I learn more about the device.

So far, I highly recommend the Spyder3Elite. You may want to save some money and go for the Pro version as I believe that would probably be very suitable for most people's needs, and probably mine too. However, the projector calibration is something I would like to utilise and so if you don't envision yourself needing that functionality, then you could save yourself a few bucks.

http://spyder.datacolor.com/product-mc-s3elite.php


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:17 am 
I've got the Spyder 2 express, and I've just ordered a printer. I'm curious how big the difference on a non calibrated printer (although it's a pro photoprinter, the canon 9000) and a calibrated monitor will be...


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:41 am 
Here is a Picture of the calibrator on the screen during the calibrating process.

Image


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:16 pm 
Here are some photo's of my screen

Before Calibration:
Image

After Calibration:
Image


Last edited by Tomis on Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:12 pm 
Hi Tomis-

Do you feel like that colors "after" calibration are much closer to the "real" colors of the subject matter in your photographs?

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:02 pm 
Armanius wrote:
Hi Tomis-

Do you feel like that colors "after" calibration are much closer to the "real" colors of the subject matter in your photographs?

Thanks!


I do indeed. You can't tell as much in the photo's i took of the screen but the difference was huge! ...and while i haven't made a print after the calibration yet i plan to do so later today or perhaps next week and i'll post my results.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:17 am 
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Hi Tomis,

If you go back and reprocess one of your favourite pictures I'd be interested to see the original post-processed image side by side with the post-calibration post-processed version. Impossible to provide other than subjective results and, of course, the difference would be, er, different for each of us but a colour calibration device is one of those items I keep putting off and maybe your experiences might just, finally, push me to reach for my wallet. ;)

Bob.

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Leica D Vario-Elmar 14mm-150mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 ASPH.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:25 pm 
Bob Andersson wrote:
Hi Tomis,

If you go back and reprocess one of your favourite pictures I'd be interested to see the original post-processed image side by side with the post-calibration post-processed version. Impossible to provide other than subjective results and, of course, the difference would be, er, different for each of us but a colour calibration device is one of those items I keep putting off and maybe your experiences might just, finally, push me to reach for my wallet. ;)

Bob.


This was an image i processed for a wedding a while back. as you can see from the original below it didn't need to be adjusted.

Original: STRAIGHT FROM CAMERA
Image

Processed (on a non calibrated monitor)ADJUSTED IN PHOTOSHOP:
Image

But your monitor may not be as bad as mine was, if you think it could be off by much i would surely invest in this product. it was very easy to use and it worked the first time. however if you don't really care for exact color but just need a rough guess i have heard there are other free methods of calibrating your monitor.


Last edited by Tomis on Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:48 pm 
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Posts: 9822
Location: UK
Hi Tomis,

Thanks very much for that: the difference is quite startling. :shock:

As you say, some of us may have monitors that don't need as much tweaking as yours did but I'd argue that even if my monitor was only half so far off then calibrating is worth doing if one wants to share images. The reasoning is that the photo may be viewed on a monitor which is off in the other direction so the cumulative effect is just as great.

I suppose there's an argument that even if one's own monitor is perfect the images may be viewed on a monitor with a bad colour profile but that's not something one can predict and correct for.

Looks like there's another item to be added to my shopping list. :roll:

Bob.

_________________
Olympus OM-D E-M1 + M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8, Lumix 7-14mm f/4, Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH, M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8, M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm 1:1.8.
Leica D Vario-Elmar 14mm-150mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 ASPH.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:56 pm 
It seems like the photos in the calibrated monitor are brighter but have less color saturation. Would y'all agree with the observation?

I process my photos in a monitor that often tends to have more color saturation - so it seems. When I see the same photo later on in my laptop or at work, the same photo seems to lack color. So every time I am processing the photos, I am not quite sure what to do! Maybe spending $300 will solve that problem ... yikes ... another $300.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 3:44 am 
Armanius wrote:
It seems like the photos in the calibrated monitor are brighter but have less color saturation. Would y'all agree with the observation?


I think you might have it backwards, my non-calibrated monitor was way to bright thats why i processed my photos to dark.

the calibrated monitor has more saturation and its darker. either way its better to have a monitor that accurately displays the image.

The Spyder 3 Elite is available from B&H for only 225 USD.

Here is the link:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/5 ... ystem.html

If you do decide to buy support the site by purchasing through one of the price grabber links.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:29 am 
I'm definitely confused.

From the wedding photos, the first photo is what a non-calibrated monitor displayed? And the second (bottom) photo, which is darker, is from a monitor that was calibrated?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:01 am 
the first photo was completely unprocessed and looks fine to him (and to me) on a calibrated monitor. The second image has been adjusted to the point where it looked good on his UNcalibrated monitor.

That means his uncalibrated monitor was showing the picture too bright and with very low contrast and saturation - thus he compensated for that fact by adjusting them to where it looked good on his uncalibrated monitor.

I think it's usually the other way round though - uncalibrated monitors tend to display the image with way too much contrast and they look rather flat on a print or a calibrated monitor. And most of the time they are too bright.

I just printed an image from my calibrated monitor to a non calibrated printer and it looks like it's very very accurate - so I'm happy :)


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:05 pm 
Armanius wrote:
I'm definitely confused.

From the wedding photos, the first photo is what a non-calibrated monitor displayed? And the second (bottom) photo, which is darker, is from a monitor that was calibrated?


you have it opposite. this isn't the same as the comparison posted above.

The wedding pictures are not photographs of monitors. They are images files

1 is the original file from my camera. (the normal one)
2 is the one i adjusted on my non calibrated monitor (the dark saturated one)


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:41 pm 
I think the lesson for many is that the monitor is as vital a part of the jigsaw as the camera itself.

As for myself, I'm never secure of what I'm doing on an uncalibrated monitor, and only work on assignments with tuned monitors. The ColorVision range of calibration tools also have my recommendation.


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