ColorVision - Spyder2PRO Studio
Color calibration is nothing new to digital photographers trying to create accurate looking images. Color differences between the camera, monitor and printer can drive serious users crazy. Producing accurate images are also beneficial to those watching DVD movies on their PCs as more computers are being used more for general multimedia purposes. Unfortunately, few users take the time to calibrate their displays and beyond the simple black and white level adjustments that can be done with the naked eye, accurate color calibration requires a color analyzer and software to correct for gray-scale errors. Due to manufacturing variations, display colors not only differ from model to model, but also from unit to unit within the same model. In addition, displays typically change characteristics as they age, so the only way to ensure you are getting an accurate picture is to properly calibrate the display at reasonable intervals. Calibration equipment has typically been expensive and only used by professionals. Furthermore, many of the older color sensors only worked with CRT displays and were not accurate on newer flat panel LCD monitors. Fortunately, a company called ColorVision has been making color management tools for the industry for years and has recently released their latest Spyder2PRO calibration package. The new system leverages on the original SpyderPRO system that received much praise from users.
The Spyder2PRO Studio package includes an all-new colorimeter along with their pro-level monitor calibration software to create ICC profiles for CRT or LCD screens. According to ColorVision, the new colorimeter uses advanced photo sensors along with a color filter system to provide a 5-fold increase in color sensitivity and consistent color readings. In addition, the new precision-molded filter pack and light baffle produces accurate LCD display measurements. The result is superior gray balance and tonal response with accurate flesh tones. The sensor is attached to a long eight-foot cable with a standard USB connector on the other side. The Studio package includes ColorVision's DoctorPRO ($110 value), PANTONE® colorist ($49 value), and the nik Color Efex Pro 2.0 Standard Edition ($49 value). The new Spyder2PRO Studio package retails for an affordable $299. To put this price into perspective, my first color analyzer retailed for $2500 and it only worked on CRT displays.
The system defaults with a color temperature of 6500K and a gamma setting of 2.2, which is perfect for most users. However, these parameters can be changed by simply selecting different values. Contrast (White level) and brightness (Black level) monitor controls can be adjusted visually and is recommended for the best results. We commonly make these adjustments manually based on the viewing environment for our home theater screen calibrations. The software takes color readings as it goes through a series of red, green, blue and gray levels once the color sensor is attached. When the calibration is completed, the color temperature is verified automatically. The user can then compare the before and after screens to see the difference between the pre and post calibration parameters. In our case, the calibrated (after) screen was clearly better with excellent color balance and accurate flesh tones. The before picture was pushed towards blue and presented a higher color temperature. The new ICC profile is then saved and applied to the system.
We also ran the same calibration on our Sony Vaio laptop with its LCD screen for comparison. LCD technology inherently does not have the deep blacks that CRT displays are capable of producing. Therefore, one cannot expect the same performance in this regard when viewing photographs or watching movies. In addition, off-axis viewing greatly changes the quality of the image, so it is important to make sure the adjustments are made while being completely perpendicular to the screen. The calibration of this display resulted in a very nice color balance from our viewpoint.
We looked at some of our still images taken with our Fujifilm S602 digital camera and the colors were excellent. Rather than washed out looking images, the pictures maximized the dynamic range of the display. DVDs also looked much better on our laptop and PC once they were properly calibrated. Skin tones appeared natural without looking too saturated. Shadow detail was noticeably improved on the CRT monitor and LCD display.
PANTONE® colorist also packaged with the Studio version enables web and graphic designers to choose from Pantone Matching Systems colors. The software features the latest RGB and HTML values from Pantone's coated library and includes a scrollable palette of 1,114 Pantone colors. Some programs such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, Apple Keynote, Macromedia Dreamweaver and Flash will benefit from the software since they do not have Pantone's libraries built-in.
The nik Color Efex Pro 2.0 Standard Edition is also packaged with the Studio version. The software allows users to create impressive digital lighting effects that would otherwise require the use of a camera filter. A set of 19 filter options are included in the Standard Edition offering a variety of color/lighting enhancements.
We will follow up with a review of the PrintFIX (patch reader) that is included with the PrintFIX Suite. This package includes the Spyder2PRO Studio package and provides a complete color management solution.
- Kevin Nakano
- Sony VAIO
PCV-RX550 1.5 GHz, Viewsonic
G810-2 21" CRT Monitor
|Review - At a Glance|
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