One of the most frequent questions we get asked is “how come I can’t print the same colours that I see on my screen”, the short answer to this is use colour management. The starting point for any colour managed workflow is to ensure that your monitor is displaying accurate colours. Of course you can tweak a display so it looks visually good, but this is not what colour management is all about. What you should be looking for is a profiled display and this involves measuring the on-screen colours with a colorimeter.
In this review we will be taking a look at Datacolor’s new colorimeter, the Spyder4 which is an upgrade to the popular Spyder3.
Just in case you are not familiar with how a Spyder (colorimeter) works, here is a brief overview. The Spyder comes complete with profiling software, once installed on a computer you are prompted to place the Spyder onto the screen. The software then displays a series of colour swatches, Red, Green, Blue, White and Black. Each colour is displayed in turn in a variety of densities and the value of each colour is measured by the Spyder. These values are compared to the data in the software and a profile of the monitor is created. Any adjustments that may be required are made to the graphic cards Look Up Table (LUT) which then compensates for any display inaccuracies. So for example if your screen has a slight blue cast, then the software adds more yellow to the LUT to counteract the cast. Think of it as overlaying a coloured filter to the image. In a fully colour managed workflow your image editing application will know from the profile how your images are being displayed. Of course this is a basic overview, there is far more sophistication to this. The Datacolor Spyder4 has many features to help you produce the best possible profiles from either a LCD, CRT, Laptop or Projector display. So let’s take a look.
In outward appearance the Spyder4 looks similar to its predecessor the Spyder3, albeit the shiny silver finished has now been replaced with a shiny black finish.
Below the bonnet there are several improvements including the next generation 7-channel sensor for increased stability, accuracy (+26%) and precision (+19%). Datacolor claims “the new filter design now closely matches the human eye”.
You can also use the Spyder4 to calibrate an iPhone, iPad and LCD screens that use backlit technology. Besides profiling your devices the Spyder4 has a comprehensive set of monitor performance analysis tools, these include; Adobe RGB Gamut, monitor quality rating report, uniformity of display in 9 zones and the ability to compare monitors. The Spyder software also gives the user greater control over colour management settings and fine tuning the calibration results over multiple monitors.