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SpyderCube by DataColor Review

John Riley reviews the new SpyderCube White Balance Cube by Datacolor.

| Datacolor SpyderCube in Exposure and Light Meters





SpyderCube by DataColor Review: SpyderCube by Datacolor





SpyderCube Introduction

Here we have a small cube that can be included in an image to aid adjustments in a RAW converter. It is claimed that this is a more accurate and versatile device than a simple white or grey card.

Is is simple to use but does it work as intended? Let's find out.

SpyderCube Features

The SpyderCube measures 37mm x 37mm per face and is made up of a series of black, grey and white areas. There is also a light trap on one face that is deepest black and a chrome ball to show specular highlights. The device is intended to assist in making adjustments in a RAW converter to ensure the maximum control and accuracy of all the available parameters.

There is a tripod thread on the cube base that could be used usefully in a studio situation plus an elastic hoop at the top that could be of use if the cube had to be hung on something suitable to make the test shot.

In any event, the cube is included in the image in identical lighting to the intended final shot, placed with the black trap at the bottom and with the white/grey faces visible. We are then ready to shoot.

SpyderCube Performance

For the purposes of this test I used a Pentax K20D with SMC Pentax-DA 16-45mm f4 zoom lens. The test was in daylight from a large window, diffused by a translucent white sheet.

SpyderCube by DataColor Review: JPEG reference image

A JPEG reference shot was taken at my usual settings followed by a RAW capture (DNG) with the cube included in the image.



SpyderCube by DataColor Review: RAW Adjusted SpyderCube

Photoshop CS2 was then opened and the images cropped for this review. The JPEG is unadjusted but does have +1 added to sharpness in camera. The white balance is set at Daylight which therefore reflects the general colour of the light as seen. This image is provided to give us a comparison to see if the RAW adjusted image has advantages in terms of accuracy.

The RAW image opens in Adobe CameraRaw and adjustments are made in the order of white balance and tint, exposure, brightness and blacks. This process is quick and easy, but should always be done whilst keeping an eye on the effects of the adjustments on the image of the cube and the overall picture.

The end result can then be saved in the usual way. The settings can be saved as a custom setting to apply to any other images shot in the same lighting conditions.


SpyderCube Verdict

Comparing the original to the two images, the JPEG is remarkably close although it does tend towards a very slightly green hue. The SpyderCube version is actually noticeably more accurate, with the yellows in particular being significantly closer to the actual book cover. For many purposes the JPEG is close enough, but if a high degree of colour accuracy is required then the adjusted RAW capture is noticeably better.

There is no doubt that the SpyderCube performs as intended, quickly and simply offering accurate results. Recommended.
SpyderCube by DataColor Review: ePHOTOzine Recommended








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Well no Chris, that's the whole point. With SpyderCube the process is more complex and measures various parameters, not just one. The results are better than with a grey card. In any event, a cheap grey card may be a mistake as the reflectivity should be very precise. There's little point using a precision technique with a card of dubious quality.

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