ColorVision Spyder2 Pro Studio
Straightforward calibration of CRT or LCD monitors for colour-managed output. . . [more]
ColorVision’s Spyder2 colorimeter allows digital photographers to calibrate and produce accurate ICC profiles for the displays they use for image editing. Compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems, it can be used with standard CRT displays and also with the LCD monitors used in many desktop systems and virtually all notebook computers. The device consists of a measurement tool (colorimeter), which is held in position by a counterweight attached to the USB cable that connects the colorimeter to the PC. Sensors and filters in the colorimeter detect colours in the light emitted by the monitor, and the software guides the user through the calibration process and produces an ICC profile for the display. This profile can be used to obtain accurate colours when images are printed.
Two versions of the Spyder2 are available, differing only in accompanying software, which controls the range of adjustments available. The Spyder2 Pro Studio version we reviewed has all the bells and whistles – and will be overkill for many users. For most photographers, the Spyder2 model (RRP $360) will suffice. An entry-level, Windows-only unit, the ColorVision ColorPlus (RRP $220) is also available.
Before you start, you have to disable any calibration software (such as Adobe Gamma) in the start-up menu and turn off all anti-virus, screen savers and energy savers on your PC so the screen remains active during calibration. The actual calibration process is made easy by wizards, which guide users through each stage, from adjusting the monitor’s initial settings – which involve adjusting tonal response (gamma), white point (colour temperature) and black-and-white luminance – through positioning the colorimeter to initiating measurements. Setting up an LCD for calibration is much more fiddly that a CRT display, especially when you have to adjust colours.
For LCD displays, the Spyder2 is held in place by a counterweight attached to the USB cable that connects the device to the computer. A honeycomb light channel controls light dispersal. For CRTs, the honeycomb light channel is detached and three suction cups hold the Spyder2 on the screen, allowing measurements to be taken directly. The calibration process involves measuring screen colours and intensities for a range of pre-set levels, starting with establishment of a reference black point and then individually measuring the red, green and blue components in the display across a series of levels from near black to the pure, bright hue, followed by a check of the grey (brightness) levels and a final verification of results. It took six minutes and 48 seconds to calibrate a CRT monitor in our tests and roughly 15 and a half minutes for an LCD monitor and there’s nothing you can do until it’s completed.
Following calibration, users can view ‘before’ and ‘after’ displays to see the effect of any changes. The software also creates a custom ICC profile, recording the current characteristics of your monitor for use with compatible imaging applications, such as Photoshop. This is stored automatically in your computer. If you calibrate two different monitors using the same white point and gamma setting, both should display a file with similar colour, making the Spyder2 colorimeter worthwhile for anyone who uses dual monitors or does colour-critical work with a notebook PC.
A significant difference between the Spyder2 and Spyder2 Pro Studio models is the software bundle. Whereas both are supplied with Pantone colorist software, which allows users of various software applications to work with Pantone’s colour matching system, only the Pro Studio has $260 worth of additional applications. These include DoctorPRO, which lets users edit output profiles using Photoshop’s global editing tools, and Colour Efex Pro 2.0 SE, a collection of 19 digital filter plug-ins that work with most high-end editing applications. If you think these applications are useful, the Pro Studio package is worth the extra $200. Otherwise, you’ll get all you need with the Spyder2 package.
We found calibrating with Spyder2 made it easier to produce consistent prints as the displayed image better resembles the printed output. However, it did not provide a total solution for printing all types of image files. Photographers will always need to fine-tune image colour, brightness and contrast settings to achieve the results they want. This is easier when you start with a calibrated monitor. Note: All monitors benefit from regular re-calibration and the Spyder2 software will remind users to do so every two to three weeks to correct for monitor aging and output drifts.
Spyder2 Colorimeter (with USB cable)
Spyder2PRO pro-level monitor calibration software (site licence)
nik Color Efex Pro 2.0 Standard Edition software
PANTONE colorist software
ColorVision DoctorPRO software
2 Year Spyder2 hardware warranty plus free technical support and software updates.
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