One of the main issues with digital photography is getting the photographs that look right on the monitor to appear from the printer looking the same. To do this well you have a few things to sort out or, as it's technically know, you need to calibrate your system. You should have your monitor, scanner, image editing software and printing drivers set up to ensure realistic prints. Most of us use our monitors at the factory settings and this is far from ideal. You can use software to make adjustments, but nothing beats a hardware calibration and that's what the SpyderPRO is designed for.
At one time these devices were so expensive that only professionals would use them but now they have been brought down to an affordable level.
The funny looking gadget is placed on your computer screen over an area that displays a series of colour patches controlled by PhotoCAL or OptiCAL software that you have running. The Spyder then reads the information and creates an ICC-profile from the measurements made. The Spyder has a seven filter system that allows its results to come closer to the requirements of the human eye than comparable three or four filter measurement devices.
The packaging is solid and very protective, but once you've taken the Spyder out its foam surrounds it's not easy to get back in again for storage. The box includes CDs for OptiCal and PhotoCAL software plus Adobe's Photo Album and an Adobe InDesign toolkit. There is a badly designed and basic guide sheet explaining what to do first. It's quite disappointing but does get you through the set up process so it's better than nothing. More details can be found on the Colorvision web site.
The first stage is a pre-calibration function that helps you balance your monitor's RGB guns to ensure you have the widest colour gamut your monitor can deliver. This process adjusts your graphics card to control the displayed colours. You then select a target for gamma and color temperature, and then connect the Spyder to your monitor.
The Spyder has a honey-comb baffle with two light paths - one optimized for CRT's and the other for LCD's - whereas conventional colorimeters are optimised for just one monitor type at the expense of the other. An adaptor with suction feet allows it to stick on a standard CRT while a hanging cradle with counter weight is used to position on an LCD to prevent damage.
Once in place click the Calibrate button and the software program OptiCAL does the rest! The display panel changes colour and the Spyder reads the information making swift adjustments. And it all happens automatically without any problems.
Those who like to dabble can go a stage further because OptiCAL includes advanced tools with a wide choice of gamma and colour temperature targets, curve manipulation, precision and expert control modes, as well as monitor focus, geometry and uniformity checks available.
Once the process is complete you have an ICC profile that you can name and then use with that monitor.
The SpyderPRO with OptiCAL takes so few steps to calibrate a monitor that it's easy to think...did that really just happen? All the mystification of monitor calibration taken in the hands of a bit of software and a funny looking plastic suction device!
With your monitor calibrated you can be sure of more accurate colour with your digital images. This is well worth buying if you struggle with your print colour accuracy or just want to know you're spot on. It's also ideal when you submit photos to magazines or books for publication because you know the results will be right.
For further information or to purchase SpyderPRO please visit www.colourconfidence.com