A correctly calibrated display is paramount for accurate image editing. The Spyder 3 Elite colorimeter is a reasonably priced solution aimed at professionals and advanced amateurs.
Datacolor Spyder 3 Elite: System Requirements
- Mac OS X (10.3 or higher)
- Windows XP 32/64, Vista 32/64
- Colour monitor resolution 1024x768 or greater
- 16-bit video card (24-bit recommended)
- 128Mb of available RAM
- 100Mb of available hard disk space
The Spyder 3 Elite is the replacement for the popular Spyder 2 Pro screen calibration unit and builds on the success of the previous unit by offering professional features, for a less-than-professional price tag.
Datacolor Spyder 3 Elite: In Use
Provided in the box are the Spyder 3 colorimeter, which includes a suction cup for attaching the device to a hard screen, a counterweight for softer LCD screens and a CD containing the software. Also provided is a two-step screen wipe set, including both wet and dry wipes, which I think is a nice touch.
Installation is as straightforward as it possibly could be. Simply insert the CD into the drive and press next when required. Once the installation process is complete, you will need to enter your serial number, which is provided on the CD sleeve and register the software. Once this is done, Windows users will need to restart their system before connecting the device.
To start the calibration process, first you need to specify what kind of display you're using. There are four options to choose from: LCD, CRT, Projector and Laptop. Having the ability to calibrate projection devices is a boon for those who want similar colour accuracy for presentations. The laptop option makes allowances for the fact that your display may not have as many adjustment options as a dedicated LCD display, as with mine, that only has a brightness control.
The next step is to attach the device to the display. The software asks whether you will use the suction cup or not as it provides instructions tailored to each attachment method. The suction cup on the device locks into a small clip on the device and is easy to remove when required. My only gripe with this system is that the cup itself is very small and I could see it being very easy to lose if you're not careful. On the other hand, the counterweight is very well designed, being permanently attached to the USB cable. To adjust its position, you simply slide along the wire where it will stay due to friction. After attaching the device, the software guides you through the calibration process, with simple step-by-step instructions. The directions it provides are so straightforward that only those who cannot read will have trouble following them.
This screen shot is of a page which gives you the option to see how the scene looked before and after calibration.
Once the process is completed, the profile can be saved and applied to your screen. You may be surprised by how big the difference is. After calibration, the Spyder utility loads the correct profile for your display on start up. I did notice the first time I restarted my system that the utility didn't appear to load the profile correctly, leaving my display with a strong blue cast. After restarting again, it seemed to do its job much better and has done ever since. Hopefully this issue was a one-off.
Datacolor Spyder 3 Elite: Verdict
The Spyder 3 Elite does exactly what it says on the tin with the minimum of fuss or complication.
Those who want a simple, easy-to-follow system for creating accurate colour profiles for their display will definitely want to take a look at this. The £150 price tag seems quite reasonable, although there are slightly cheaper alternative available that will offer similar performance.
Datacolor Spyder 3 Elite: Plus points
Simple, easy to follow instructions
Projector profiling ability
Support for displays with few controls, such as laptops.
Datacolor Spyder 3 Elite: Minus points
Cheaper alternatives are available
Spyder Utility didn't load the profile correctly on my system after first restart.
EASE OF USE
The Datacolor Spyder 3 Elite costs around £150 and is available from Warehouse Express here: Datacolor Spyder 3 Elite.