Datacolor has a long history as colour experts and producing systems that enable us photographers to keep our machines displaying colour accurately.
The latest release is the SpyderX with two versions, the Pro and Elite. In this review, we’ve looked at the Pro version which has been designed for all photographers whatever their level and comes in at a very reasonable 179€/£156.
Outwardly the SpyderX Pro takes on much the same shape and size as the previous generation of Spyder devices, a colour change and smoothing of the edges bring the ergonomics up to date with a more stylish fashion.
Internally is where the significant changes have been made, the first of which is apparent as soon as the protective cover is removed.
A new lens based colour engine fronts, or backs, the calibrator and Datacolor, say this gives greater accuracy than ever before.
Once the software is installed and registered on your computer, you’re ready to calibrate. The device plugs into a spare USB port and after following the on-screen instructions; the SpyderX is hung over the monitor ready to read the quality of the display.
The software is clear and straightforward and guides you through the calibration process. There’s nothing tricky in the entire workflow, and after the set-up, the first calibration takes around five minutes and then around two to three minutes thereafter.
There’s no doubt the calibration process is fast, and although the interface for the on computer software looks the same as the previous generation, you can see there have been tweaks in the workflow.
If you’re in the market for a monitor calibrator, then the SpyderX Pro is an excellent choice. It’s fast with no fuss, and the results are excellent.
Monitor calibration has come out of the shadows and much of the fear and expense around the process has dropped away. Monitor calibration is now accessible to all photographers, and to be honest, it’s something we all need to do.
These days the price of decent calibration devices has plummeted, and with the likes of the new Datacolor SpyderX Pro coming in at around £150, there’s now no excuse not to get one.
The difference you’ll see in your work, whether photographic or video is striking, with shadows and detail on screen being drawn out.
All too often we look at our monitors at full brightness and oversaturate the colours for a more pleasing effect.
While the colour and brightness might look great on our monitor it often doesn’t look quite so good when it comes to printing or sharing with others.
That shadow detail can easily be lost, and those bright colours that you saw on your monitor can look decidedly lacking elsewhere. A quick calibration is all that’s the need to solve the issue, and the lastest calibrator from Datacolor aims to make the process quicker and easier than ever before.
The SpyderX Pro arrives in the usual compact box, it’s pretty nondescript with a large picture on the front of the device, and that’s about it.
Open it up, and there’s a small welcome slip inside, remove this, and there’s a small plastic tray and the white SpyderX sits beneath.
Outwardly aside from the change in colour, from black to white, there really is very little difference between this new device and the old Spyder5. It’s compact and neat. If anything the newly designed plastic outer does feel of a slightly higher quality, but that’s probably down to the finish.
Open the protective cap, however, and you get to see the real change. Whereas before there was a grill covering the sensor, now there’s a lens.
Datacolor points out that the lens based colour engine significantly increases the precision, colour accuracy and low light capabilities of the device. We’ll have to wait and see through the test and look at the result.
As with previous generations, the hardware of the Pro and Elite are the same, and it’s the software that changes the features. This approach means that you can buy the cheaper Pro version and then in the future, if you need the additional features then you can upgrade to the Elite.
The hardware is the physical part of the SpyderX, but then there’s also the software which is the engine for the calibration.
The SpyderX Pro version of the software is feature packed with a host of tools that enable you to calibrate your monitor quickly.
These features include a single click option that guides you through the process of calibrating your monitor. The software has been cleverly designed to recognise multiple displays and will enable you to calibrate each in turn.
One important feature is the ambient reader on the top of the device; this enables the monitor to adjust dependent on light changes within the room. This is especially important as daylight fades and room lights take over to ensure the colour temperature, and brightness of the monitor adjust.
One feature that always impresses is the before and after, so you can see if the calibration has had the desired effect, inevitably it will. It’s also great to show anyone who dismisses colour calibration or says that they can do it by eye, they can’t, and this is a great demonstration.
In the Tools section are display analysis options, and these can be used to check the health of the monitor. Is it fading or are there any issues with the output?
Finally, there are the calibration settings choices so that you can calibrate the monitor or monitors for different uses, such as photography, video or playing games!
For what is seemingly such as simple device there’s an awful lot to it.
Build quality and handling
The build of the SpyderX is one up on the Spyder5. It just feels like the quality of plastic has increased as has the finish, and the new glassy white gives the new device a great look.
Ergonomically the edges have been smoothed, and the device looks a little more stylish and up to date.
In use, the new Spyder works in much the same way as the older version. Initially placing the device on the desk so that it can read the ambient light in the room, then move over to the monitor so it can read the illumination.
After calibration, it then sits neatly by the side of the monitor to read the ambient light and if selected adjust the monitor automatically.
As with previous versions, I’ve always felt some type of case to keep the Spyder in would have been a good idea. I use the Spyder most of the time with my MacPro, and I’ve bought a case to keep the Spyder safe in my bag.
I also keep the Spyder5 on a stand to read the ambient light and always thought that a stand in the box would be a good idea, or at least an option.
I used to keep the Spyder under the monitor but then realised that shadow from the monitor was affecting the ambient reading of the room. Placing it on a stand by the monitor seems a better solution.
When calibrating the monitor the device sits flush against the screen, and as ever it’s advised in software that you tilt the screen back to get a flush fit.
This is where Datacolor SpyderX comes into its own. The software is well structured with easy to follow on-screen instructions.
Initial setup is easy with the latest version of the software being downloaded by following the links supplied in the box.
Once the download is complete, you can start the installation process that finishes with you entering the serial number that’s printed on the inside of the box, so don’t lose it.
Actually, if you do lose it or throw it away, then you can always locate you serial through the online account.
With the software open, it sets you a series of items to check. Have you allowed the monitor to warm up for at least 30 mins? checked the room’s lighting? reset your monitor? and finally, once all checks have been carried out it’s time to connect your spyder.
The ambient room light reading starts off the process before the software guides you through the monitor calibration process. Unlike the previous generation, the calibration is quick taking around five minutes the first time and then two-three minutes for each top up calibration.
In the end, it shows you the before and after and the results are stark. A new BenQ monitor I’m testing showed that when it arrived and factory reset it was far too warm.
The change shown on the monitors and laptops calibrated with the Spyder5 was far less, a slight change but nothing drastic.
Basic calibration was easy enough, and at the end, you get to save the settings.
When it came to calibrating the next monitor, all of which I connect through USB-C, each monitor appeared in the monitor selection dropdown and then the calibration process for each could be started.
The SpyderX Pro is one of those devices which from the outset simple to use, straight forward and works.
It’s designed to calibrate your monitor, and it does precisely that. You download the software, run it, and that’s it done.
It also features a regular reminder which means that you always keep on top of the monitor calibration. The fact that it now only takes a couple of minutes doesn’t even give you the excuse for an extended lunch.
The ambient monitoring is also a great feature and ensures that even if the light in your working environment changes then the Spyder software will make the adjustments necessary.
The fact that the calibration works on multi-monitor setups is a great advantage as well.
If you’re a keen photographer, then monitor calibration is something you need to do. The beauty of the SpyderX Pro system is that the only real thought you need to give to calibration is the thought behind buying it. Once that’s done, and it’s set up it handles everything else for you.
If you’re a pro working on one system then again the SpyderX Pro is an ideal solution, however, if you have a multi-machine studio or other photographers who also need to use the calibrator then maybe check out the Elite version.
Overall the SpyderX Pro is an excellent monitor calibrator. It’s easy to use and ensures that your monitor is always displaying the correct colours.
The SpyderX Pro is a must-have for any photographer editing and enhancing their photos at home.