Spyder5ELITE+ Snap Verdict
The Spyder5ELITE+ is DataColor’s top flight monitor calibrator and features a set of easy to use tools that will ensure that your images look as good off screen as they do on. One click calibration, soft proofing and StudioMatch makes the Spyder5ELITE+ one of the most complete solutions out there.
Colour management is rarely at the top of the list when it comes to imaging ‘house cleaning’. But however much we like to ignore it, it’s an integral part of the digital darkroom, so much so that most common imaging issues can be directly attributed to bad or even no colour management.
In the past calibrating your monitor correctly was a long drawn out process and much of the finer adjustment was left to the eye – no wonder then that few of us got it right. However, these days there are plenty of solutions out there that will quickly and automatically calibrate your monitor for you.
The Spyder5ELITE+ is one of a growing number of fully featured calibrators that will enable you to ensure that your monitor’s colour is correct without the hassle. The ELITE+ is one of three packages produced by Spyder with each aimed at a different level of photographer.
The best part of the DataColor approach is that the hardware is the same and it’s just the software that differs with each release, the three models are EXPRESS, PRO and ELITE+. This means that if you start with the EXPRESS then you can in time upgrade to either of the other two versions.
The Spyder5ELITE+ comes in two parts, the hardware that drapes over your monitor, and reads the illumination and the software that analyses the results and adjust the monitor to display the correct brightness, colour and contrast.
Unlike many cheaper monitor calibrators, the Spyder5ELITE+ packs in a variety of advanced features that will appeal to the high-end club photographer as well as professionals.
The entire setup process is fast and straightforward with the software being installed, the Spyder5ELITE being plugged into a spare USB port. Then all you need to do is follow the onscreen instructions and then pretty much leave the software to handle the rest.
Once the software completes you can then save and install the profile that has been created. Next, check the before and after view and set up the software to remind you to recalibrate at regular intervals.
Adjusting your images’ colour, contrast and tone through Lightroom or Photoshop may get your images looking great on screen, but it’s difficult to always know how they will look once they’re output.
In the past, once you’d finished your editing images then the usual destination would have been the printer, but now we also have to worry about mobiles, other computers and of course tablets.
The Spyder software includes a feature called SoftProof that can be used once the monitor has been calibrated. This feature simulates how your images will look on any printer and device and means that you can be sure that they will always look the way you want them to on any home printer, online printer mobile or tablet device.
Automatic Room Light Switching
Room lighting can be a real issue when it comes to image enhancement as different lights emit different temperature light. The effect of that light on the colours displayed by your monitor can be huge. If you’re working under a traditional tungsten light bulb, for example, then the light produced is warm.
This warmth will influence the colours on your monitor and in turn you’ll adjust them to correct it. Whilst they might look fine on screen initially, when you switch off the light or switch lighting you’ll probably notice that the colours seem to shift.
Automatic Room Light Switching enables you to set up several profiles for the different lighting sources that you may use in your digital darkroom. One for during the day when the room is lit by sunlight and another for in the evening when you light the room with artificial light.
As long as you have the Spyder5ELITE+ attached it will ensure that the monitor’s profile is adjusted to correctly match the ambient lighting which it reads through its ambient light reader.
Speed is often a high priority with any process that isn’t directly associated with the job in hand. DataColor has created the 1-click calibration option that quickly enables you to calibrate your monitor with… a single click.
Profile Management Tool
One issue that many photographers have is that they have a main computer in the studio/home and a trusty laptop that follows them around on shoots.
Whilst the laptop may always be with you, most of us end up sharing our main machines with others, usually family members who like nothing more than fiddling with the brightness and contrast settings.
The Profile Manager enables you to set up different profiles for different uses. One for image enhancement and another for watching movies or game playing.
When you want to change the profile manually, all you need to do is launch the manager and select the preset that you’ve previously stored. If each member of your family has a different login then the profile can be assigned at login, making the whole process far more streamlined.
Most photographers will have more than one computer, usually one in the studio/office and a laptop that they carry around with them.
The StudioMatch feature enables you to get each monitor calibrated so you know that they’re all displaying the same colours.