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Resident expert Gary Wolstenholme settles the colours on his computer using the Datacolor Spyder Studio SR.
Datacolor's Spyder range of colour management solutions have long been popular due to their simplicity and ease of use. This particular bundle brings together a high-end colorimeter for calibrating your display and a spectrophotometer for creating custom print profiles with your specific printer/ink/paper combination. By using the two in conjunction with each other, colours should be reproduced accurately from capture through to output.
Being a bundled package, there is one software disc included containing the software for both screen and print calibration devices. Each device needs to be installed separately though, rather than it all being dealt with in one installation. Personally I would've preferred one streamlined installation process for the package.
Once everything has been installed correctly, the package recommends starting off by calibrating your display. The colorimeter supplied is the Spyder 3 Elite we reviewed in November 2008 which promises to work across multiple monitors, as well as to calibrate LCD, CRT and projector-based displays. An option for laptop calibration is also included, which makes allowances for the limited amount of control you may have over your laptop's display.
Calibration set-up for the Spyder Studio SR.
On my desktop calibrating a midrange LG monitor on Windows 7, I found the profile created looked neutral enough and I had no issues with the software loading its corrected profile after a restart. On my Phillips laptop, using Intel's GMA mobile graphics chipset, I found a strong green cast was repeatedly created by the calibration process, which leads me to believe that it may not get on too well with certain hardware.
Once the screen has been calibrated you can begin profiling your printer, ink and paper combinations. It's recommended to produce a separate profile for each combination, as each variable will have its own influence on the final output. The software requires you to create a name for each profile before you begin so that you can tell them apart easily when it comes to using the profile later on. A whistle-stop tutorial on colour management in included for those who find this kind of thing a daunting prospect, providing simple step-by-step instructions for producing prints with accurate colour using Photoshop. Those using other image editing packages are left to their own devices unfortunately.
Setting up the screen of your computer is a simple affair.
Setting the type of paper you're going to print to.
Once a profile name has been created, you will need to print out one of the measurement targets generated by the software and begin measuring it. To measure the colour patches, you simply drag the Spyder SR along the sheet of paper. The software produces clicking sounds when each target is read correctly, and warns you if something has not gone to plan. I found this process incredibly simple and easy to follow, although a little practice may be required in gauging the correct speed to move the device over the coloured patches.
The profiles created by the SR device appear to be pretty accurate, and most will notice an improvement over printing without the use of a custom profile.
Also included in the package is the Spyder Cube, which is a device to help make better white balance corrections in your RAW image processing software. The Cube has white and grey surfaces to help take better readings of the colour temperature of the ambient light conditions. Photographers who shoot in controlled conditions will find this device speeds can reduce their image editing time and produce more accurate colour. Those who don't will probably leave it in the case.
Datacolor Spyder Studio SR: Verdict
Datacolor's Spyder Studio SR is not only a complete solution for colour management, it is also quite reasonably priced, without skimping on features that advanced users require.
It is an excellent value and comprehensive kit, that is well worth considering if accurate colour from capture through to print is important to you.
Datacolor Spyder Studio SR: Pros
Calibration process is easy to follow.
Print profiling process is straight forward.
Good value for a complete colour management solution.
Datacolor Spyder Studio SR: Cons
Could not accurately profile my laptop screen (although this may be more the fault of the laptop, than the device)
|EASE OF USE|
Datacolor Spyder Studio SR: System requirements
|Windows XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Windows 7|
|Mac OS X (10.4 or higher)|
|Monitor Resolution 1024x768 or greater|
|16-bit video card (24-bit recommended)|
|128Mb of available RAM|
|100Mb or available hard disk space|
The Datacolor Spyder Studio SR costs £389 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Datacolor Spyder Studio SR