Spyder4Elite monitor calibration review

There are three really important colour management companies in the world: X-Rite, Datacolor, and basICColor. Of these three, CX-Rite and Datacolor are multinational companies, while basICColor still is relatively small. All three make hardware and develop software. Spyder4Elite is Datacolor’s monitor calibration and profiling solution. It’s the one we’re discussing here.

IT Enquirer rating

9/10

URL: www.datacolor.com

Pros
  • instrument accuracy compared to i1Display Pro
  • ease-of-use
  • software features
  • reminder utility
Cons
  • instrument is slower than i1Display Pro
Price (approx.): &eur;209.00

I tested the Spyder4Elite by comparing the instrument with the only other modern instrument I have — the X-Rite i1Display Pro. I compared the software and the complete solution with both X-Rite i1Profiler and basICColor display 5.0.3 (the latter accepts multiple instruments, including both the i1Display Pro and the Spyder4Elite).

With all evaluations you read hereafter, please bear in mind this to be my reference frame. As I lack lab instruments with which I can really test the accuracy of the instruments, I cannot tell if differences that I find in one instrument sompared to the other are due to the lack of accuracy in one or the other!

The Spyder4Elite measurement instrument has very nice design, with a blue LED on its back. The LED flashes when the instrument is measuring. There’s cradle as well, for when you calibrate projectors. The Spyder4Elite is slower than the i1Display Pro. Its accuracy, however, is identical. All readings that I tested it with were identical, except for ambient light measurements, where the Spyder4Elite consistently measured higher than the i1Display Pro.

Monitor calibration with the Spyder4Elite

The Spyder4Elite software is easy to use. It starts with a wizard that takes you through all the steps in a calibration process. The wizard does a good job, but if you know what you’re doing, it’s better to take control in your own hands. If you don’t know what you’re doing, but know the basics, the Help file offers excellent background information that will teach you enough to properly calibrate/profile a monitor manually.

Manual settings are abundant. You can control everything you need to control, and even some things that are not really necessary but nice to have. The instrument can take ambient light readings, and just as the i1Display Pro with i1Profiler, you can have it read ambient light continuously so it can adjust your monitor’s brightness to match the profile.

As I’ve said before, I don’t believe this to be very accurate, and instead you should dim your ambient light and leave your monitor undisturbed, but it’s there if you don’t care.

Spyder4Elite has multiple Tone Response settings including Gamma settings and L-Star, one of the best TR curves available. Combined with the other modules and utilities and the quality of the instrument, Spyder4Elite is a professional system.

Except for the calibration/profiling software, Spyder4Elite comes with a Spyder Utility that will alert you to re-calibrate after x weeks (you define the interval) and monitor your ambient light if you want it. There’s also a module to match multiple monitors across a studio. SpyderTune will allow you to fine tune your calibration.

SpyderProof allows you to proof your calibration results visually, which is not the best way to validate a profile or monitor calibration. However, validation itself is done by measurement and is called “CheckCal” in Spyder-talk.

Some 10 years ago I reviewed one of Datacolor’s predecessors of the Spyder4Elite and back then I found the system to be far below the quality GretagMacbeth could deliver. Today, I can conclude my review with the observation that you really can’t go wrong with Datacolor’s Spyder4Elite.

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