Review: Datacolor SpyderX Elite Monitor Calibration Tool

Canon Rumors Guy

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
7,745
369
Canada
www.canonrumors.com
A monitor calibration tool is something I’ve always recommended to photographers, from hobbyists to professionals. I’ve always been a bit taken aback by how many photographers I’ve run into over the years that don’t utilize a relatively inexpensive tool to get the most out of their monitors.
Full disclosure: Datacolor sent me a SpyderX Elite for free and they have been an active sponsor of Canon Rumors over the years.
Fuller disclosure: I am not a reviewer at the best of times, so this is an honest review of the feature(s) I use, and does not discuss every single feature available to you. I am not an expert on color science or printing. However, I do have eyes and matching my editing to third-party printing is very important to me.
I have been using Datacolor calibrators since the Spyder2 and I have always been impressed by their software and the performance of the calibration tools. I have always purchased or accepted each new version since the Spyder2.

This latest...
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Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,157
1,092
Alberta, Canada
My friend, who knew a lot more than me when I reentered the hobby of photography spoke very negatively against these devices. As I came up to speed I rationalized that they made a lot of sense but it wasn't until I started using a second monitor that did match well at all, that I finally bought one. I'd never be without, now.

Jack
 
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magarity

EOS 80D
Feb 14, 2017
182
94
A lot of the reviews on Amazon say to ditch the software it comes with and use the screen reader with a package called DisplayCAL. Is there anything to that advice?
 

LDS

EOR R
Sep 14, 2012
1,580
152
A lot of the reviews on Amazon say to ditch the software it comes with and use the screen reader with a package called DisplayCAL. Is there anything to that advice?
Ignore them. If your monitor supports hardware calibration, use the monitor tools. Otherwise use the software that comes with the device. If you buy one of the versions where the software is too limited, maybe (maybe) DisplayCAL could help.
 

gmon750

EOS T7i
Jan 30, 2015
76
34
I use Spyder every month and its a must-have in my quiver of photography tools. If you're not calibrating your monitor, then you're not serious about photography in my opinion.
 

Jethro

EOS R
Jul 14, 2018
251
126
I'm now interested - how often do you actually need to redo the calibration? What would happen in (for eg) the course of a month that would change the calibration? I'm also interested in the effect that the level of light in the room has - I take it from the review that you need to pretty carefully mange ambient light during the calibration process, but presumably the amount (and temperature) of the light you use would have an effect on your perception of colour on the monitor?
 

LDS

EOR R
Sep 14, 2012
1,580
152
how often do you actually need to redo the calibration?
Depends on your requirements. It can go from every week for critical work to longer periods. Usually every month is good enough. What may change is the ageing of the display components, and other environmental changes that can lead to slightly different behaviors. You may only see small changes, or no changes at all, between calibrations.

Ambient light is important, and some calibration devices can take it into account as well, and help you find the right amount of ambient light and monitor brightness.

Not only its brightness and temperature, but also its CRI is very important (especiall now that in many countries many types of incandescent lamps can't be sold any longer). Walls and other nearby large objects can influence the ambient light color too.
 
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LDS

EOR R
Sep 14, 2012
1,580
152
Unfortunately no Linux support.
DisplayCAL will work for Linux. Still, Linux CMS is less mature than macOS and Windows. And many photo printers aren't even supported (but buying TurboPrint drivers).
 
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bbb34

EOS T7i
Jul 24, 2012
70
54
Amsterdam
I
DisplayCAL will work for Linux. Still, Linux CMS is less mature than macOS and Windows. And many photo printers aren't even supported (but buying TurboPrint drivers).
Indeed, SpyderX is listed as supported by DisplayCAL. Thanks!

Let's not discuss the maturity of Windows, please.
 

gmon750

EOS T7i
Jan 30, 2015
76
34
I'm now interested - how often do you actually need to redo the calibration? What would happen in (for eg) the course of a month that would change the calibration? I'm also interested in the effect that the level of light in the room has - I take it from the review that you need to pretty carefully mange ambient light during the calibration process, but presumably the amount (and temperature) of the light you use would have an effect on your perception of colour on the monitor?
Monitors do go dim over time. It's not much, but enough to affect the color temperature and hence, your photos.

The room I do my photography work in has one small window which I keep the drapes closed most of the time and one single ceiling lamp that is not reflected anywhere on the monitor. This room is ideal as it is the same ambient late day or night so it's consistent. So the brightness on my monitor never changes.

I can say by experience that in my earlier days, getting photos back from a print lab was always stressful because I never really knew how the colors would look compared to what I saw on my monitor. I had a few prints I had to reject because of this. The first time I calibrated my monitor was a moment of enlightenment. I never knew how off my monitor really was until after it was configured. I do a lot of semi-pro underwater photography for clients and have expensive prints done. Calibration is an absolute must when dealing with prints that can cost several hundred dollars.

I recalibrate my monitor every month. To each their own. I have the Spyder Pro, but am considering upgrading to this new one if only because of the 2-minute calibration time. Mine takes about 15 minutes to do and I have two monitors so it's some time to do it.
 
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DWalla

5D Mark III
Mar 31, 2014
5
0
A lot of the reviews on Amazon say to ditch the software it comes with and use the screen reader with a package called DisplayCAL. Is there anything to that advice?
I'd definitely go with DisplayCal... I compared profiles and color accuracy between the native Spyder color tools and DisplayCal, and DisplayCal was considerably more accurate.
 
Aug 24, 2014
3
0
I'd be careful of the use of the word: colorimeter

For a brief look at the hardware involved and to avoid misconceptions, have a look here:
 

Freddell

EOS M50
Oct 2, 2014
42
2
What you should know and I wish I did before purchasing..


CIE DELTA E 2000SpyderX vs i1D3Spyder5 vs SpyderXSpyder5 vs i1D3
Totalpeak = 2.009, avg = 0.717peak = 6.851, avg = 1.301peak = 8.147, avg = 1.378
Worst 10%peak = 2.009, avg = 1.418peak = 6.851, avg = 3.315peak = 8.147, avg = 3.938
Best 90%peak = 1.196, avg = 0.641peak = 2.135, avg = 1.077peak = 2.466, avg = 1.094

"i1D3 (especially ColorMunki Display as direct competitor to the SpyderX) is still the best “bang for the buck” colorimeter at the current price point ($ 150-170 for ColorMunki Display, $ 170 for SpyderX). The SpyderX may become a choice, only for people on a tight budget, if and when its price falls considerably below that of the ColorMunki Display (or the latter increases in price)."

I have tried SpyderX with included software (joke) and more recently with dpsplayCAL and failed to get results that are close to the published icc profiles for my panels at notebookcheck.com. Hence I don't recommend Spyder X for color sensitive applications.