SpyderCHECKR PRO review

The SpyderCHECKR PRO by Datacolor is a tool to check and control a camera’s colour rendering. It is a better version of X-Rite’s ColorChecker Passport. Better because its plates can be replaced by new ones.

These SpyderCHECKR PRO allows photographers to colour calibrate their cameras, perform precision in-camera white balance and record known-colour samples.

Just like the ColorChecker Passport, the SpyderCHECKR PRO system requires you to capture the colour patches under as uniform as possible light conditions. Unlike X-Rite’s product, the SpyderCHECKR PRO system supports Hasselblad’s Phocus software, as well as Adobe LightRoom, Photoshop and Camera RAW.

The SpyderCHECKR PRO’s “hardware” consists of a folding (like a book) design with 48 spectrally engineered colour patches. The holder has two screw threads, so that the SpyderCUBE can be mounted on top. The other screw thread allows you to mount the SpyderCHECKR itself on a tripod. The software part is a calibration app.

As with X-Rite’s ColorChecker Passport, the SpyderCHECKR PRO assume your RAW workflow involves an Adobe product if you’re shooting with a 35mm dSLR. Luckily, Datacolor engineers also made the app compatible with Hasselblad’s Phocus. However, in both cases, you’re stuck with a DNG workflow.

I would have liked seeing a RAW workflow as per Capture One Pro or Apple Aperture. This is not supported, but unlike X-Rite, Datacolor does provide you with a downloadable image holding all patches and their numeric values in Lab, sRGB and Adobe RGB. If you export these figures to an Excel spreadsheet, you can create presets in non-supported apps by measuring the colour patches your camera captured.

The colour patch panels in the SpyderCHECKR PRO can be switched around inside the holder. This reveals neutral gray target and gray ramp cards for in-camera white balance and visual neutrality analysis. The spectrally neutral SpyderCUBE adds to that a consistent measurement of all lighting conditions in the field or in studio for easy white balancing and exposure corrections.

The SpyderCHECKR PRO cards furthermore hold extensive skintone samples for portrait and fashion photography, and they are made of durable, eco-friendly material. I found them much better than the ColorChecker Passport cards which are smaller and must be thrown away when fading.

Not only has the SpyderCHECKR PRO replaceable targets, it also has a fade strip indicator.

The SpyderCHECKR software is easy to use, and interacts with Hasselblad Phocus (not tested), Adobe Lightroom (not tested), Photoshop, and Camera RAW (both tried) to produce calibration presets, which fit directly into your digital workflow. Indeed, no DNG processing is required as with X-Rite’s system, while still allowing for multiple light source calibration.

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