DataColor SpyderHD: Checking out Colour Control for Photo and Video

Written by Martin Regtien on . Posted in Digital Cameras

 

 SpyderCASE 1

Have you ever seen a row of monitors all displaying the same pictures but with slightly varying colours? Normally, when you're working with just one display you may not know how different it would look if the screen had been properly calibrated. How do you ensure consistent colours on all your devices?

We are having a good look (literally and figuratively) at the SpyderHD solution for colour management for photographers and video folk.

 

 

We have been using SpyderHD for quite a few years so we are quite familiar with the products from DataColor. This is the first time that all the top products have been put together in one brilliant aluminium case, something that the professional photographer would happily be taking to his next assignment location. That doesn't quite work like that for me as I work from a cramped aeroplane cockpit. So I have to do the calibrations in my office before I leave the ground.

There Is a Case for That....


We used to say "there is an app for that...".
Now that we have the apps and tools we also need a case for that. And a brilliant, bespoke case indeed it is! When you first open it up it looks like it contains a small computer tablet, however it is the SpyderCHECKR, which is a professional 48-color test chart. You can mount it on a tripod to get quick camera colour correction with SpyderCHECKR software.

The ingenious SpyderCUBE is a rather small calibration and white balancing tool for colour temperature and exposure settings. It has a multi-faceted design so that it can measure primary and secondary light sources in all situations. Again, you can mount this on a tripod as well.

The primary tool in this case is also a "Spyder" :the Spyder4ELITE which we reviewed not too long ago here.

The only difference with that one is that the one in this Spyder case comes with its own "SpyderWEB".... At least that's what I call it.
See the picture below to show what I mean.

 

SpyderWEB

This is quite handy for calibrating large displays and TVs. And, what is a spider without its web...?
All the bits and pieces are included in this case such as software CD, QuickStart guides a DVD and Blu-ray test pattern disc and even a screen cleaner.

Test Case

This will be a brief overview, seeing that we only recently paid a lot of attention to the key component of the system, which is the Spyder4Elite calibration tool.
We have used this one to recalibrate one of the Dell 24 inch monitors and our new ASUS N550 notebook.


There are a lot more calibration tricks that studio photographers can perform with this tool such as custom tuning for ambient lighting. What it all boils down to is spending an hour or so upfront to do a proper job of calibrating all your displays will save countless hours in postproduction trying to photoshop and match individual images. I know how difficult that is....

SpyderCASE 2

The second tool is the SpyderCHECKR.
This is to custom calibrate your cameras, both for video and photo work. This is a beautifully designed tablet with 48 colours displayed when you open it up. These palettes are reversible with an all grey scale palette by simply turning them over.


One clever feature is a "FadeCHECKR" , a deeply recessed batch of bright red....
The whole device is able to be mounted on a tripod, just like the next tool in the case.

All serious photographers would need a tool to capture the right white balance and exposure data at the scene. That's where the SpyderCUBE comes in.
It will help calibrating your RAW images and is much better than the old-fashioned grey card. With its many sides it will allow you to control better the highlights and shadows. The "black trap" on the cube defines absolute black, for instance.
After you have shot a photo with the cube under the lighting conditions you will be working under, you need to adjust the RAW images Lightroom or any other RAW conversion software.

SpyderHD kit

 

Conclusion


You can buy any of these tools individually but bringing them all together in a professional case and rebranding it as SpyderHD is a smart move from Datacolor. All photo and video professionals need to know that they are capturing and displaying accurate and brilliant colours in their work.


Having all these essential tools together makes sense. Personally, I would have wanted a slightly smaller case as there is a lot of generous padding to protect the gear.
Have a look at the Datacolor website and check out the excellent tutorials which will convince you that spending $465 is an easy investment.


Highly recommended!


Our thanks to DataColor and Kayell Australia who provided the gear for review.

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