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Spyder 4 Pro – Preview

CES is over, so enough about cameras. Let`s see something else every photographer should have in the toolbox!

If you take pictures you`re inclined to post-process them to whatever extent necessary, but the main concern is “are the colors right?”. Well, it depends!

Are the colors right for:

  • print?
  • online publishing?

The first one can easily be fixed without thorough calibration. You just pick 3 photos you like, go to your preferred printing company, make some prints, go back home, fiddle with the monitor until what you see on that paper resembles what you see on the screen. Hope they don`t change equipment often and … print away!

For online publishing, well, that`s tricky! Because even if you have everything calibrated, your pictures will look different on virtually every other screen. The people might not have their screens calibrated, the LCD panels might differ from one producer to another, the characteristics fade with time etc, etc, etc

But for us artists it`s crucial to put our best products out there and hope for the best.

So what I`m about to show you can and will be seen differently by each and every one of you. But don`t forget that the samples are as close to “how it should be” as possible.

The past 4 years I have kept my screens calibrated with Spyder 2 Pro and later on with Spyder 3 Pro (always borrowed, never owned) so it was high time to get myself such a product. The day I wanted to make my purchase (a Spyder 3 Pro) I called a friend to make sure what I was borrowing , was in fact what I was suppose to buy. That friend told me: “Don`t buy that! Datacolor is releasing a new Spyder in a few days”

Searched online … nothing! Not even on the company`s website.

“Ok, I`ll trust you!”, I said, and a week later they came out with Spyder 4 series. And now I`m the proud owner of a Spyder 4 Pro.

I chose the Pro package because I needed to calibrate at least 2 screens for the same workstation. (sometimes as much as 4 linked to two graphic cards) The Essential can`t do that.

Costed me less than 180$ and given the circumstances = “the best 180$ spent so far”!

But now for the quick and dirty part:

New fancy sensor technology. Slightly better than Spyder 3.

“Spyder4Pro features a patented, full-spectrum 7-color sensor that can accurately characterize a variety of wide gamut and normal displays. Spyder4Pro software lets you use the same sensor to calibrate your monitor, laptop computer, iPad and iPhone. No other calibrator has this capability. The fourth-generation sensor uses double-shielded filters for longer life and better performance. On average, accuracy and precision are improved by 26% and 19% respectively.”

At the moment the software package can`t be found online at DataColor website. I found this annoying .

I, for one, don`t have a CD / DVD drive at my workstation. Haven`t had one in 7 years ! I wanted to download the software from them, but NO … “One does not simply get software over the internet”. I had to get a laptop, copy the CD contents on a USB drive, haul-ass to my workstation and THEN get the stuff installed.

On USB 3.0 the computer didn`t recognize the Spyder device. I had to yank it out and try a USB 2.0 port to get it installed. Only then it powered up on USB 3.0.

Calibration OFF. Uninstall Spyder 3 software. Install Spyder 4. Calibrate!

My main screen is a Samsung T240HD – 4 years old. (DVI connection)

Had ~215cd/m2 the day I bought it. Under Spyder 3 analysis it topped out at 106cd/m2 Brightness after 4 years. Now, with Spyder 4 I can set it at 120cd/m2 and still have room for more. (140cd/m2 seems like hitting the ceiling)

Uncalibrated. Rollover to see the calibrated view.

My second screen is a Dell 2311H – 1 yr old. (DVI connection)

I have no clue what brightness level it had when it came out of the factory but now I set it to 120cd/m2 (to match the other one) and i`m at 52% brightness. So there`s plenty of headroom there.

Uncalibrated. Rollover to see the calibrated view.

The Spyder 4 Pro software comes with some new analysis features that I didn`t bother trying. (few will so why bother!)

But I did like the fact that it keeps me informed about my gamut range; and I can compare it to older calibration profiles. And this way I actually know why I keep using sRGB instead of AdobeRGB. I mainly process for the web so EVERYONE ELSE has a fair chance of seeing what I see.

Overall it was a good investment for me, because I was buying a new product, but for someone thinking of upgrading from Spyder 3, it`s not worth it. I would probably upgrade from Spyder 2 tho. Can`t really put my finger on the right reason but I can justify 180$ with “It`s old and we could use a new one!” phrase all the time.

I got mine from F64, with a “frequent shopper” discount and some points I recently won, so I took only half the hit you`ll probably take. 🙂

If you have ideas about stuff you want me to give my opinion on, please leave a message and I`ll gladly answer. I know is`t hard taking a decision based on marketing bulls*it so I`m here to help.

Take your camera with you everywhere!

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