By David Cardinal – Professional Travel & Nature Photographer
Most photographers know they need to use a hardware device, like the Spyder®5, to help calibrate and profile their monitor to get the most accurate color they can, but may not realize that monitor profiling is only one of the places where calibration tools can make a huge difference in your image quality. Those tools can help you all the way through your workflow — starting even before you shoot.
Fortunately, Datacolor® has released a value-priced bundle of all its photographer tools for capture and editing – Spyder5CAPTURE PRO – including Spyder5ELITE, SpyderCHECKR, SpyderCUBE, and SpyderLENSCAL. Let’s walk through what you get and how each tool can be used to improve your image quality.
Fine Tune your Autofocus
SpyderLENSCAL is unique in Datacolor’s product line, as it helps with image focus, rather than image color or tone. A very simple device, it checks whether your camera and lens combination is focusing accurately. This is particularly important for those using a variety of equipment, as just because a lens focuses accurately on one camera body doesn’t necessarily mean it will on another. Fortunately, the SpyderLENSCAL is very light, folds flat, and can be set up on a flat surface or tripod mount. So you can test your focus anytime you have any worries. I bring one on all my photo safaris so my clients can check their lens focus and have confidence in their equipment before they start shooting. With many higher-end cameras now, you can even adjust the focus, so the SpyderLENSCAL can be used to help you tune your camera and lens to solve font-or-back focusing issues.
Color Correct Images & Calibrate any Camera
SpyderCHECKR provides a full, accurate color chart, as well as gray scale patches – making it perfect for achieving both accurate color and tonal range. SpyderCHECKR is a versatile tool that can be used either in advance, to generate a custom camera profile that allows Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, or Hasselblad Phocus to quickly get accurate colors from your camera, or during a shoot to allow the best possible color correction of your images. Its fold-flat, rugged construction and embedded tripod mount make it easy to use in a variety of situations, and it features a built-in FadeCheckr so you know when the color panels need to be replaced.
Perfect Exposure and White Balance
For serious photographers shooting in their camera’s RAW mode, it is essential to be able to set the white point, black point, and white balance of your images when you post process them. Relying on Auto modes in software is error-prone, as after the fact it is difficult to tell which highlights are real surfaces and which are specular reflections. Software can also only do an imperfect job of estimating white balance from an after-the-fact captured image.
Using a SpyderCUBE provides a reliable way to not only allow you to set the true white point and black points in an image, but its dual-surface gray patches allow you to separately estimate the white balance of both your primary and secondary light sources. Simply shoot a scene with one, and either crop it out later, or remove it from the scene, keeping your test images for reference. For more information, read my article on using SpyderCUBE in the field.
Scenes like this that emphasize a single color can give Auto White Balance tools issues. Using a SpyderCUBE is a great way to ensure accurate color rendering.
Color Calibrate your Display
The best-known, and most-essential, product in the Spyder family is the Spyder5 colorimeter and software. They allow you to get accurate color on your display, and serve as the basis for getting the best possible results out of your color correction. In addition to great visual results, by supporting a fully-color-managed workflow, you’ll be able to get predictable color whether you print, share your images online, or send them to clients or publications.
Datacolor keeps adding new features to Spyder, so even if you have an earlier version, there are plenty of good reasons to upgrade to Spyder5. I cover them in more detail in my full review of Spyder5.
Interested in learning more about Spyder5CAPTURE PRO or color calibration?
Visit Datacolor’s website for more information here: Datacolor Spyder