ColorVision Spyder2PRO and PrintFIX PLUS
Part I Spyder2PRO
July 7, 2007 1:54 am
ColorVision Spyder2PRO and PrintFIX PLUS
Part I : Spyder2PRO
The Spyder2 is a hardware monitor calibrator. It is placed on the monitor and through a series of user choices and monitor readings, it develops a calibration profile for the monitor. It can be purchased with three separate software packages as Spyder2express, Spyder2 Suite, and Spyder2PRO. The Spyder2's goal is to deliver "superb gray balance and tonal response, flawless shadow detail and highlights, accurate and true-to-life flesh tones, and picture perfect landscapes."
All three versions work with CRT and LCD monitors and laptop monitors. I tested the Spyder2PRO on a brand new high end Dell laptop with a Quadro card. The reason I needed to color correct the monitor was that there was a bluish tint to the screen and the Nvidia driver for the card on the laptop did not have any color correction capabilities under Windows Vista Ultimate.
To make a long story short, the results were thrilling! I use a calibration set of images that I created many years ago. I remake it as necessary. One important component is the gray scale. Since the screen captures would not show the tint on other monitors, I created facsimiles for the review. Below are two sets of facsimiles: A before and after picture of my gray scale
and a before and after picture from Spyder2's exit screen.
Here is what the Spyder2 looks like.
I mentioned different software packages; below is a screen, that I hope is legible, describing the differences. More information can be found at: http://www.colorvision.com.
The multiple monitor support does not work with Windows if you only have one video card.
Before I used the Spyder2PRO on my new Dell laptop, I used it on my old Dell under Windows 2000. All the screen captures for this part of the review are from there.
What are some of the variables that the Spyder2PRO software package allows the user to adjust or choose when creating a profile? Instead of listing the choices, I did screen captures of most of the screens in order of presentation.
This first screen shows the choices I needed to make for type of monitor.
Next, I needed to choose a Target. Notice on the screen how the screen explains what elements are contained in a "Target". If that isn't clear, each screen comes with an additional help section that is excellent. Also, there is a PDF manual that is included and that is similar to the help sections but is altogether in one unit with a table of contents. It is very useful.
Below are some of the choices of targets.
For the next screen, which I need not show, I had a choice whether to have the Spyder2 measure ambient light. If I chose yes, then later in the process, it would measure the light in the room and adjust the profile accordingly.
The next screen asked me how to select the desired Luminance Mode: Measured or Visual. In the process, I, also, elected to have Gray Balanced Calibration turned on. The finished screen, before the actual measuring was to take place, looked like the screen below.
Once everything was in place, you leave the Spyder2 alone and various colors will appear on the screen. After you remove the meter, the before and after screen, as pictured above, will appear and you can see the difference for yourself.
There are other tools you can use. There is a curve for analyzing color channel by channel and an Information window which allows the user to review information about the calibration and profile. There is also a Colorimeter window for reviewing the color performance of monitors. Below is a screen capture of the Information window after the monitor was calibrated.
Lastly, one does not have to use only presets, one can create a target profile starting with a tonal response curve that can be edited according to color channels, for example. The examples below were just default settings.
Then, one can choose a standard white point temperature.
Or one can deal with custom white points through custom temperatures or CIE coordinates.
As you can see, the Spyder2PRO version offers a lot of choices for creating custom monitor profiles.
I did not have the luck I had with my laptop LCDs with my CRTs. We have three machines: One with one CRT (my husband's) and two with dual monitors (all CRTs.) I started by calibrating the single CRT (not part of a dual setup). I tried creating profiles a number of times, each time having to remove it and a few times having to ghost back my C drive because while everything looked good color-wise, the hour glass and pointer always appeared green. The monitor never had previously appeared to be very much out of calibration nor did it ever have a green hour glass or pointer.
Next, I found that I could not calibrate my dual monitors on one PC so I had to match the second monitor by hand. You can only calibrate the primary monitor on Windows when you have multiples if they have a single card. You can, according to directions, calibrate both if you have a Mac, however. I hit a few rough spots when I encountered some screens stating there were errors after I had created the profile and I had quit the session, but by hitting OK, I was able to continue on and finish the session. One even stated that there was no information for the profile created. However, when Windows opened, it did load the profile.On Windows XP Pro, the icm profile can be found under Windows>System 32>Spool>Drivers>Color.
I, then, turned on my other set of dual monitors which remained calibrated by hand. I realized that they looked a lot better than the CRTs that I had calibrated with the Spyder2PRO. Part of the problem, other than the green pointer on one of the CRTs was that the basic image in the white areas ( on the monitor of the dual pair) was so bright that it hurt my eyes to look at the screen. I could not lessen this by just lowering the brightness of the monitor for, then, it compressed the darker ends of the gray scale. This was not the first hardware calibrator that I had found that did not do that good a job on my CRTs. I removed the profile and the program and went back to my original calibration. It is possible that I prefer to work with a slightly darker screen than do other people. While it was possible that I could have used more of the tools available, experimented with the curves, the white point settings, etc. to calibrate the one monitor of my dual monitor setup to my satisfaction, it was faster to do it by hand.
My criteria for calibration were: how well did articles I photographed match in color on the monitor and in print to the original, how neutral were my grays, and how well do my monitors match under different Windows systems?
While I cannot say everything is perfect, I can say that they meet my very critical standards even though my Epson R2400 prints slightly darker than I like. However, PrintFIX PLUS can handle any printing deviations. Look for Part II: A review of ColorVisions' PrintFIX PLUS coming soon.
I highly recommend the Spyder2PRO for use on laptop LCD screens, especially if they have the blue tint to them. It removes that beautifully and creates a grayscale that is very neutral and incrementally even.
Requirements for Spyder2PRO are:
The cost is $249. But you can get it for less at retailers such as Adorama.com and Amazon.com among others.
For information on ColorVision products, go to their web site.
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The Paula Sanders Report is a regular Renderosity Front Page featured column, where Paula investigates and comments on graphic software, techniques, and other relevant material through her reviews, tutorials, and general articles.
Monitor calibration is one of the prime irritation for all CG artists. I would have loved to have had Spyder2PRO when I working with doing photo-restorations. Thanks for another outstanding review. Oh, yeah ... and thanks a lot for emptying out my bank account. When I quit posting to your reviews, you will know it is because I have a zero bank balance, and can't afford to "have to have" additional hardware and software due to your excellent and honest reviews. Until then, keep the reviews coming! :] Dee-Marie
Thank you for this quick and easy review. I have "Spyder2 Suite" and I love it for photo editing work, and it's great for Poser too. It’s not hard to setup the program, “very user friendly”. Sometimes I forget when looking through the Rendosity gallery, that everyone doesn’t have a system calibrator helping them to see their images correctly. “Some image are great, some are okay and some are really off color” But if at all possible, I highly recommend looking into this product. It really will make a big improvement to your work and printouts.