[REVIEW] Datacolor Spyder 3 Elite, your desk goes pro studio
Datacolor Inc., a New Jersey based company (USA), might not strike many of you as a big name in the computer hardware business. Technically speaking they aren’t into the business of manufacturing computer components; rather they focus on creating solutions for creative professionals & digital photographers and industrial print calibration equipment. This said, Datacolor is one of worlds leading enterprises in the development of calibration hardware for various kinds of display, printing and projecting devices. Their products are high profile professional grade equipment, well known and respected by professionals operating in the creative industry.
Colorimetry, what & why?
The term “Colorimetry” is a technique used to determine a certain concentration of colored compounds in a solution. It’s performed by a device used to test the concentration of a solution by measuring its absorbance of a specific wavelength of light.
Colorimeters are essential devices needed to determine the concentration of a known solute in a given solution by the application of certain physical laws, who state that the concentration of a solute is proportional to the absorbance.
Professionals love Spyders
Spyder, a patented trademark to define Datacolor’s screen calibration devices, are very well known amongst the graphical industry professionals. They are oddly shaped devices, perhaps one could say they do resemble the creepy little wall crawling insects you might find around the house.
We went hands on with Spyder’s 3 Elite model, which is the ultimate kit for any professional photographer or studio out there.
Why get one?
From capturing images to digital editing your work, you can rely on consistent, accurate color throughout your studio and digital workflow with Spyder3Elite™. Designed for the way photographers work, Spyder3Elite is the next generation in calibration accuracy, precision and speed, allowing you to create profiles to your specifications and bring a new level of color control to your work.
Spyder’s 3 series provides calibration for CRT, LCD, Laptop screens and Projectors. Compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems.
They are actually the only way to go if you like your screen to resemble as close as it gets to natural colors like they come out of your printing device.
Box & requirements
The Spyder 3 Elite is the top tier model in the line-up of Datacolor’s display color management devices. We will briefly walk you through what’s inside the box and what you need to get the most out of your purchase:
- Spyder 3 Colorimeter (device) on USB2.0
- Desktop cradle/Tri-pod mount
- Spyder 3 Elite Software CD
- Screen cleaner
- Quickstart Guide
- 2-Year warranty card
- Windows (All starting from 2000) or Mac OSX (10.3 or higher)
- 1 free USB port
- Color monitor or projector with a minimum resolution of 1024×768
- 16-bit video card, but 24 is recommended
- 128 available RAM
- 100MB disk space
The software comes by default in multiple languages; check Datacolor.com to see if your language is included.
Spyder 3 Hardware Specifications
- Measurement Device: Datacolor Spyder3™
- Ambient Light Sensor (Built In): Yes
- Number of Filter/Detector Combination: 7 Filter/Detector Technology
- Accuracy (x,y typical): 0.0025
- Aperture Size: 27 mm Diameter
- Initial Calibration Time: 5 Minutes
- Recalibration Time: 2.5 Minutes
- Ambient Light Shield: 2 Inches
- Mounting Methods: Universal Suction Cup, Universal
- Counterweight and Tripod Mount
- Desktop Docking Base w/Tripod Mount: Yes
- Physical Dimensions: 1.5 in.(D) x 3.5 in.(W) x 4 in.(L)
Computer Connection: USB
- Hardware Warranty: 2 Years
The Spyder 3 Elite software is very different from the other Spyder packages. The Pro and Elite model are hardware-wise both the same, yet the software of the Elite is the only one that utilizes all the features of your Spyder 3 hardware. You can always upgrade to an Elite if you previously bought the Spyder 3 Pro, as the difference between them is purely software based.
Although the software of the Elite sports a lot of features which are just too many to describe every single one of them in great detail, we decided to stick to the essential requirements of every professional photographer or studio that’s looking to bring their productivity to the next level.
Ambient light measurement
The Elite model features a flawless 7 Filter/Detector Technology sensor, making it able to recognize multiple studio luminance settings and adapt your screen towards the light you’ll be viewing the photos in. Guaranteeing the fact that fine color details on screen are equally depicted on your final ink print.
The Spyder 3 Elite software allows the user to set an unlimited amount of gamma corrections, giving you the freedom to adjust the intensity as you please.
Multi display calibration
This is a must have feature for every serious pro or studio. The new Spyder 3 Elite software allows for multiple monitors (no matter if they’re CRT, LCD, LED,..) to be calibrated and adjusted to match as much natural photo realistic color profiling as one wishes. The killer feature here is that the software auto detects brightness changes in case of using different monitors with atoned brightness settings.
This feature closely works together with their StudioMatch technology that provides assurance that your monitors are matched to both brightness, natural color reproduction AND internal studio lighting.
The Elite package has a wide (as in: really wide) range of override and compare features. There is nothing that can’t be adjusted to user preference. From gray balancing, comparing gamut charts, mapping display evenness up to displaying the monitor’s tone response graphs, it’s all there. A bonus feature is the ability to compare various OSD (On Screen Display) settings and adjust when requested to users appeal.
Datacolor really pushed the standards in the graphical industry with this Spyder 3 Elite. The device is both user friendly on a non-geek level, as it is advanced enough to tingle the senses of even the pickiest professional studio out there. For 175€ (ex. VAT)(about 200$) you are getting a good deal out of it. Though you can go cheaper with the Pro model, the extra add-ons of the Elite’s software outshine the Pro’s in every way.
The custom override features are astonishing. Fact that there is no current professional display technology out there it can’t calibrate, makes it a very interesting and I dare say a “indispensable product” for anybody into serious photography or print graphics.