Review: Datacolor Spyder3 Pro Colorimeter

There’s a lot to be said for hardware color calibration. If you’re using a computer with a display that hasn’t been calibrated, you’re really fooling yourself. Why, you ask? Because even the best computers and displays (no matter how great they look) are not calibrated to any sort of standard. As a photographer, why should you care? Read on.

One of the biggest complaints that new photographers have when trying to print at home is getting their prints to match what they see on their computer monitor. And I agree, it can be very frustrating. The reason that “what you see isn’t what you get” is because the monitor and printer aren’t seeing color in the same way. If you would like to know more about color profiles then I recommend reading this article.

The Spyder3 Pro colorimeter by Datacolor is an awesome piece of hardware. Couple it with the really great software that comes bundled with it and you’re all set to calibrate. Right out of the box I was up and running in a matter of minutes. I really don’t think they could make it any easier. Be sure to clean your monitor before you start the process and it even comes with a one-time use kit to do just that.

Once you install the Datacolor software it prompts you to connect the colorimeter to one of your USB ports. Once connected, an image appears in the software that shows you where to place the Spyder3. You can hold it place by one of two methods: suction cup or weight. Neither one are really great, especially the suction cup. It wouldn’t stay in place no matter what I did. The weight wasn’t much help either, but it worked.

Once you click to start the process you just sit back and watch as the hardware/software combo go to work. It measures blacks, whites, reds, blues, grays, etc and then gives you a final result where you can switch back and forth for a Before & After comparison. I was blown away! The whole process took me about 15 minutes from opening the box to having a beautifully calibrated display. The software saves the color profile it created and loads it upon startup too.

The Spyder3 Pro goes for about $150.00 and it is money well spent. Even if you are only getting prints for yourself, you will be much happier with the results. If you’re selling prints or doing work for clients, the Spyder3 Pro is something you shouldn’t be working without.

Likes:

  • Very easy to set up and use.
  • Excellent results.
  • Price is very competitive.
  • Measures ambient light to produce the most accurate calibration.

Dislikes:

  • Clunky suction cup and weight.

All in all the Spyder3 Pro is something that any serious photographer should have as part of their hardware/software arsenal. Your prints will be much more accurate and what you see is what you’ll get.


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