Datacolor Spyder5 PRO Monitor Calibrator

 

This week it's a monitor calibration unit, datacolor's Spyder5 Pro!

In the field of wedding photography details are key, and the last thing you want is to misrepresent the colours a bride has spent her entire life imagining for her dream day.  To that end, calibration ensures that your bride gets to see the exact shades she planned for years to come both on screen and in prints.  But there are so many options in the field to choose from, how does one of the forerunners hold up?  Let's take a look.

Spyder5 PRO monitor calibration unit.

 

Single Sentence Summary

Perfect colours, great options, a bit to get used to.

Why I Bought It

Most people buy something like this to ensure their print colours will be spot-on, and while that was a good chunk of the reason I picked it up, it wasn't the main one.  The main reason I picked one up was so that I could ensure that what my eyes saw as a perfect final product was what all calibrated monitors would display.  This way if I move from location to location and screen to screen, I can trust the output of my product so long as the monitor is calibrated.  It also ensures that so long as your monitor is calibrated, you'll see the exact same image I do.

What I Like

As monitors age the colours they display change, sometimes dramatically.  So the first thing I'd say I like is the peace of mind.  Prior to owning one I just had to trust that my monitor was "close enough" to showing the right colours.  That's not professional at all.  Now that I've integrated monthly calibrations into my operations I know that if there's any issue with colour performance it's not on my end.

Secondly, I use this system in conjunction with my XRite ColorChecker Passport, which locks my image tones perfectly to ensure that everything edits and prints perfectly.  I no longer struggle using the eyedropper tool in Lightroom on people's shirts, ties, etc. to find the white balance, just to struggle again to get the prints to match the screen.  Everything is quick and easy now, which makes workflow so much more efficient.

Next I'd have to say I like the option to upgrade.  All three models (Spyder 5 Express, Pro, and Elite) use the exact same hardware.  This means that even if you buy a lesser model you can always upgrade the software to increase the features/function should you so need.  That way down the road if I need to go from the Pro features to the Elite I no longer need to buy a whole new unit.

Then there's the interface!  It's ridiculously simple to do.  Honestly a dozen clicks and it's done, and it's very straightforward.  There aren't too many technical details to wade through, if you're just looking for a basic calibration then it's painfully simple.

It's also pretty easy to store profiles for multiple monitors if you're using a network or a number of different screens.  I routinely use different network stations with completely different monitors, so having consistency and ease in shifting is nice.

What I Don't

Alright, prepare for occular impact.  The biggest and most annoying thing with this is how my eyes are constantly adjusting.  My main monitor was QUITE cold before its first calibration, and so when it was resolved suddenly everything looked REALLY warm.  I understand that I was just accustomed to the coldness, but the thing you have to realize is that calibration doesn't fix the problem per se, it just adapts the output to compensate.  Unfortunately, as the profiles get loaded after the login screen, when my computer boots up the profile isn't loaded the entire time.  So when I sign in I see a very cold loading screen and wallpaper before it loads the profile, then you see the profile click on and suddenly everything is drastically warmer by comparison. Because of the shift I pretty much feel like I'm working in a warm environment for the first hour after logging in.

Another shortcoming of this is that it doesn't transfer across user profiles.  This means that if I'm using a laptop with multiple profiles then I need to set them up for each profile.  A minor pain, but a pain nonetheless.

I also hate when companies hold back on options while using the same hardware.  I realize I mentioned the shared hardware in the section of "What I Like," but at the same time I feel kinda like you've already sold me the tool, holding back options purely for more money is just a bit brutal.  Why not just sell a product with all of the features?  If you're not offering more support, or upgraded hardware, it just seems like you're holding out on your customers, and I'm not a fan of that.

Finally, and this one is admittedly a bit superficial, but I hate startup splash screens.  If a program needs to run EVERY time you're logging in, then let it do so behind the scenes.  I shouldn't have to click the splash screen every time, and it seems like with this I do.  It may well be that I simply haven't figured out how to disable it, but I've searched, and it seems like I'm just stuck with it.

Bottom Line

To ensure quality you need to ensure consistency.  This package is a solid and consistent performer with a great interface and fantastic options.  It has its shortcomings in my opinion, but they hardly make me regret anything.  I'm glad to have this in my system.

Score

8.5/10

I'm not sponsored by Datacolor or anyone else.  I legitimately think that calibration is a must-have if you're truly professional.  Otherwise how do you know you're putting out the images you intend to put out?

-Wes.