After our two reviews of DataColor Spyder products, the SpyderCube and SpyderLensCal, here we are now posting our take on of the product where DataColor is famous for, Spyder Express colorimeter (monitor calibrator). This 4th generation colorimeter is now called Spyder4Express.
The 3-legged spider colorimeter has received a design tweak by removing the suction cups. Looks like DataColor realized the suction cups were useless on most monitors. In spite of the missing suction cups the adjustable counter weight is still there that balances the Spyder4Express on your monitor. The size and weight is just like its predecessors making it still one of the most handy monitor calibrator around (if not the smallest and lightest).
4 means better for sure and this 4th generation colorimeter is equipped with a new improved sensor. DataColor claims that it has a 19% – 26% improvement over the old model. I can’t verify nor confirm this because we don’t have an old model to compare.
Using the Spyder4Express
Calibration with the Spyder4Express was easy and straightforward, it has a software wizard to guide you thru the whole process. The setup was almost perfect, I just had some trouble with the video card of my iMac 27” 2010 model but after restarting the computer the calibration went smoothly.
Just like any other colorimeter, you need to place the Spyder on the center of the screen. Since this model has no suction cups, it was suggested that you tilt up the monitor so it lays flat on the surface of the screen.
Connection is via the lengthy USB cable with the adjustable oval shaped counter weight. The counter weight was useful but it could have been better if they can develop something similar to Colormunki’s sand counter weight.
After approximately 7 minutes, the whole process of calibrating the screen was done. I profiled an iMac 27” and my MacBook Air both equipped with LED display technology. Colors seems to be displaying as accurate as I saw them in reality, I still have my Colormunki profile but its now expired and it would be unfair to compare the two. I noticed that the Spyder4Express profile displays a little greenish tint on the MacBook Air display.
There’s an extra goodies from DataColor. They made a calibration companion App for iOS called SpyderGallery. You can only view the calibrated photos inside the SpyderGallery App hence the profile is not implemented OS wide a primarily because of Apple iOS limitation.
Being the lowest model of the Spyder colorimeter tribe, Spyder4Express is fairly limited when it comes to measurement customizations. It doesn’t have the ability of profiling a printer and paper. Another missing feature is the option to measure ambient light. Color temperature and gamma are fixed too but they’ve provided stock settings for most common situations and equipment.
In the software side of things, the only annoying thing is that Spyder4Express profile is limited to one filename only, you can’t even save the profile with your own custom name. This is especially useful for comparing old profile to the new one. The SpyderProof is nice but it can only compare the standard “Color LCD” rather than a pre-defined profile.
Color accuracy needs to be taken seriously if you are serious about your photography. Not all displays are created equal, we can only achieve same accuracy when we buy the same exact model from the same manufacturer . The trial and error “Squinting Method” provides satisfactory results that sometimes leads to frustration a colorimeter will solve these problem.
Spyder4Express is the savior of every digital photographer’s display accuracy nightmare. Contrast, highlight, shadow and tint are very important things in order to have a standout polished digital image. Although all these aspects were not covered by the measurement features of the Spyder4Express it is still way better than having nothing. Price and the ease of use alone are the things to be praised about the 4th generation Spyder Express.
As I hinted above, it has some limitations like the fixed settings and the lack of ambient measurement, the Spyder4Express will still suit most average users most importantly if you don’t print your own photos. An advance photographer and printmaker should take a look at the Spyder4Elite or even the complete Studio kit for more advance requirements.
The iOS calibration is a good extra, but due to the limitation of Apple, you can only view calibrated photos inside the very basic and slow SpyderGallery App. It would be pretty cool if this is implemented OS wide and can be used with other photo apps.
The SPyder4Express comes in a nice retail packaging with a very basic but useful software. It could have been nice if DataColor included a pouch for safe keeping.
For P6,500 price tag this is already a good investment that will save you hours guesstimating with your unprofiled monitor. The Spyder4Express is available at Aperture Trading and Shutter Master which is the exclusive distributor of Spyder products here in the Philippines.
Rating (5 being the highest)
PICTURE QUALITY N/A