Color management guide by Arnaud Frich

Generalites about colors Monitor calibration Printer calibration Manage colors with Photoshop Resources on Color Management

Updated on November 22, 2015

Spyder4Elite & Spyder4Pro review - Datacolor

The direct competitor of the excellent i1Display Pro is definitely an excellent colorimeter but to take full advantage of it (Elite version), you should already be well aware of the display calibration process. The Pro version will be more than enough if you do not know what to do with the countless settings. Who said to many ?

Boîte Spyder4Elite de DatacolorThe new display calibration solutions for pros and experts, Spyder4Pro and Spyder4Elite from Datacolor - sold arround 139€ and 190€ - are solutions dedicated to amator and professional photographers, and of course to all people with the desire to see the "right" colors displayed on their display. They replace the Spyder3Pro and Spyder3Elite versions since January 2012. Few novelties with those products, but they are so much of importance :

- New 7 "full spectrum" filters to better measure all current display technologies including wide gamut monitors. Important novelty !
- Better filters protection for an increased durability, but still made of gelatin ... therefore we lack hindsight.
- More accurate (+26% based on manufacturer data) and more precision (+19% improvement).

Note ! Testing of my colleagues left to think that it is only a small update, that does not fundamentally change the quality of the calibration, which was already excellent with version 3. But Hervé Petit, from ColourConfidence, reported me that the after-sales service, that uses it on wide gamut displays, has now, only very small differences between all monitors, as the quality of the calibration has so much improved ...

As in the case of Spyder3Elite/Pro, both solutions use the same Datacolor Spyder4 colorimeter, so, their differences only stand in software differences. By the way, a Pro version can be upgraded to Elite. With these calibration solutions, you enter the world of qualitative display calibration, even on wide gamut monitor. Your choice will be based on the setting possibilities, calibration reports that both versions offer. Color management enthusiasts will get the Elite version, and photographers less concerned by the display Delta E will get the very Pro, Pro version ! This is good news : we can get high quality starting from 135€ and everything that is possible with a calibration colorimeter for only 210€ ! Welcome to the world of high demanding people.

Remark ! the Spyder3Pro or Spyder4Pro and Spyder3Elite or Spyder4Elite colorimeters allow you to calibrate an iPad.


Buy the Spyder4Pro

Buy from
£145.72 Buy from
CDN$287.00 Buy from





Buy the Spyde4Elite

Buy from
£160.02 Buy from
CDN$219.00 Buy from


Spyder4Pro / Spyder4Elite colorimeter presentation

New ! these monitor, projector and iPad calibration colorimeters are in their fourth release. They improve the calibration quality of the Spyder3 especially on wide gamut monitors. The ICC profiles generated will be of the same quality level between the Pro and Elite version but this fourth version allows more target values choice.

The calibration kit and what is in the box

The Spyder4Elite/Pro display colorimeter from Datacolor comes with a new seven-channel colorimeter called "fullspectrum", well manufactured, ​​with a wider colorimeter reading window and, like most monitor calibration colorimeters with a small weight on the USB cable. The colorimeter is again black. The kit typically contains drivers and the calibration software, Spyder4Elite or Spyder4Pro. Finally, the kit is completed with a desktop cradle/tripod mount for the colorimeter to calibrate a projector in its Elite version. Very few external and visible changes then.

Spyder4Elite colorimeter

As well manufactured as the last colorimeter version, the Spyder4Elite is sold with a desktop cradle/tripod mount to be able to calibrate a projector.

Key features and novelties (4 vs 3)

Really few novelties, but so much of interest !

  • Seven-channel "fullspectrum" colorimeter;
  • New filters and a 246 % wider colorimeter window;
  • Ambient light advanced management in the Elite version;
  • Numerous settting possibilities; really advanced in the Elite version.
  • Only one colorimeter to calibrate all your displays;
  • Accuracy and precision improved;
  • Allows you to calibrate an iPad !

Technical specifications

Spyder4 Pro/Elite
Average price : $295/£145
Average price : $214/£160
Datacolor Spyder4
Datacolor Spyder4
Color temperature
D50; D58; D65
Gamma choice
Yes - from 1,8 to 2,4
Yes - from 1,8 to 2,4
Multi monitor
Yes - Studio Match
Ambient light control
Yes - advanced
Beamer calibration

Download Spyder4Elite / Pro

Spyder4Pro et Spyder4Elite can be downloaded in WINDOWS 32 or 64 bits and MAC OS (compatible MAC OS LION) versions.

Application SPyder4Download Spyder4Elite / Pro from Datacolor Suivre
Access Pro / Elite product comparison Suivre



Calibrate : step by step

The Spyder4Elite and Spyder4Pro softwares allow you from the main window to characterize a CRT, LCD or a laptop display, but also a projector in the Elite version. The process is quite long and even if there is a simplified mode, it has very little value if you have chosen the Elite version!

Note ! the calibration procedure of the iPad is quite different and explained on the page : calibrate an iPad Suivre

Spyder4Elite / Pro software installation

It is simple and classic. Nothing special to say so ! When you click on the application icon, the language detection is now done automatically and the software will ask you to register. This activation is required. Then you can start by setting the preferences in the software (Spyder4Elite Menu / Preferences) to choose two or three interesting options :

Spyder4Elite Preferences

1 - colorimeter - If several calibration colorimeters are connected, the software will ask you to choose one. Here the new Spyder4Elite.

2 - Recalibration warning - You can choose more than a month and I have to admit that sometimes I only perform a calibration every six months ! A pro retoucher will perform it more often.

The others ... - Check for software updates - Why not activating it ? / Share calibration data with Datacolor - For statistics purpose / Note that "Show netbook controls " allows you to display really short menus that will not take too much place on the monitor.

3 - Advanced settings (dedicated to expert users)

Paramètres avancés du logiciel Spyder4Elite

The advanced settings will allow you to choose the option level (user interface) of the Elite Version : Basic/Classic/Advanced. I urge you to leave it in advanced mode, because the other levels will hide away useful options, which would be too bad as you chose to buy the Elite version. The rest is to leave to their default settings, if you do not know about them, but it is interesting to see how much the software is now configurable. Experts will appreciate the possibility to adjust black luminance for example !

Finally, the ICC settings is to leave as is with the default ICC Version 2.0 (Version 4.0 is still far from being a standard !) and chromatic adaption mode set to Bradford.

1 - Welcome !

Four classic recommendations (displayshot of the 4.54 version) to be checked :

  • Warm up of your monitor during at least 30 minutes;
  • Lighting conditions to verify the light of your room;
  • Display controls, reset your monitor settings and set the color temperature control to 6.500K;
  • And plug the colorimeter !

Welcome menu Spyder4Elite
A couple of classic recommendations ...

Click on Next ...

2 - Display type

Choose one of the four monitor types : LCD, CRT, laptop display or projector (this last possibility does not exist in the Pro version).

Choose the type of display Spyder4Elite

The software allows you to choose the display to be calibrated and the window will be placed on it automatically. Very practical !

Click on Next ...

3 - Make and Model

You will find two lists to select your monitor, so its technology. Calculations of the ICC profile will be performed differently depending on the technology and gamut.

Click on Next ...

4 - Display technology

A - Choose the gamut :

Choisir la gamme couleurs de Spyder4Elite

a - Normal gamut : corresponds approximately to the sRGB space. It is almost the case of all current monitors.
b - Dynamic range or wide gamut : corresponds to the monitor able to display, more or less, the Adobe RGB 98 color space. It is the case in particular of the recent graphic art monitors.

Trick : when monitors are wide gamut their manufacturers are proud and show it using stickers for instance !

Otherwise choose unknown...

- Then choose the kind of backlight of your display (it is used to calibrate your colorimeter or colorimeter) :

Rétroéclairage de l'écran

a - Fluorescent (CCFL) : corresponds to the majority of the monitors, manufactured before 2012.

b - White LED : already more advanced, your manufacturer will provide you this information. More displays since 2012 are made with this technology (Dell, Mac, for example ...).

Trick ! if the notice shows without further precision LED, then choose White LED. RGB LEDs are far less common as more expensive.

b - RGB LED : also more sophisticated, this technology will be indicated by your manufacturer and you will find it on rather high end monitors, as it is expensive.

How to choose your monitor technology ?

If your monitor is more than two years and nothing was said about its technology, it is likely to be a CCFL monitor.

If your monitor has been manufactured after 2012, it is probably LED. Look for an indication if it uses the LED technology, but without any additional information, it is white LED.

If your monitor is RGB LED, the manufacturer will always indicate it as it is so expensive and can be a commercial advantage.

Click on Next ...

5 - Identify controls

The software allows you to select which display settings (Menu included in the monitor), it will help you to calibrate with the colorimeter, in order to have your monitor in the best condition possible before characterization.

Identify Controls Spyder4Elite

My advice : on basic or mid-range monitors, set your monitor to a native color temperature of 6.500 K and do not try to fine-tune it, using the RGB channels adjustments. I suggest you then to uncheck "Kelvin Presets". Concerning laptops, I invite you to read my page on Calibrate a laptop display Suivre

Once selected the settings you would llike to adjust on your monitor, click on Next...

6 - Calibration settings - target values

As we have seen in the tutorials dedicated to monitor calibration, it is important to choose the target values of some calibration parameters. By default, you will choose the very classic :

  • Gamma : choose 2.2 by default and adjust if needed. Sometimes it is better to choose 2.0 or 2.4 for a given monitor, often not a very good quality one. Choose native if you calibrate a graphic art monitor.
  • White point (also called white point color temperature). 5.000K is often too yellow and do not bring warm tones, as basic monitors are set at 9.300K by default, and 6.500K is a bit cold. With the Elite colorimeter, it is even possible to select more precisely the value with the option "Other ...". Find a value that fits you all day and all year long. I like 5.800/6.000K ! even if it remains a bit red with some monitors on some part of a grey gradient. The colorimeter of the competitor is better on that point ...
  • Brightness : depends on your environment and if you print. In this case, choose 90/100 Cd/m². For web use only, 120 or 140 Cd/m² is preferable.

Calibration  Settings Spyder4Elite

Concerning advanced settings , you will be able to choose :

  • Preset targets;
  • To activate the ambient light control;
  • Grey balance calibration;
  • The Spyder certification.

Just follow the wise advices. We see that we are dealing with a profesionnal software because the colorimeter is able to check if a monitor follows the recommendations of a certification. Absolutely complete ... perhaps too much ! The real experts know that it is not necessarily essential.

6 bis - Expert console of the Elite version

It is even possible to go further in setting the target values, ​​by adjusting the black luminance and by activating or not the ambient light compensation.

Expert Console of Spyder4Elite

According to the lighting environment in which you work, it may be interesting to choose a black luminance (1) between 0 and 1 Cd/m² for example. The target is to achieve the widest dynamic range that can offer your monitor. This will require you to experiment a bit through successive trials...

Then uncheck "Ambient Light Compensation" (2). This is at risk and I prefer to leave it unchecked to secure my process. Changing the ICC profile according to this measure of light is sometimes worse than the problem to be solved, especially if you have a night light. Try but I do not like it.

Click on Next ... and place your colorimeter on the monitor.

The calibration starts. The software will help you set the brightness value, if you have selected this option : with the brightness buttons of your monitor (+ -) adjust it according to the indication of the software. It might be the same with the color temperature and contrast, if needed.

The process next step starts with the characterization, that last 45 minutes.

7 - Before/After Comparison and calibration analysis - SpyderProof

Once the characterization process is done, your monitor is calibrated and the software offers you a before/after comparison.

Comparaison Avant / Après calibrage avec Spyder3Elite

By clicking on the "Switch" button, you can see live the effect of your calibration. Click Next ... to save your profile and select a recalibration reminder.

The next window displays a report on your calibration and especially in the CIEXY space, the gamut of your monitor and new with the 4.0 version, the percentage of the sRGB space vovered by your monitor. I let you navigate through the many reports offered by the Elite Version. For number lovers !

Rapport de calibrage de votre écran par la sonde Spyder3Elite
Note that this window now displays the percentage of the sRGB space covered by your monitor.

Your calibration is over !


Use and verification of the ICC profile

As indicated on page Photoshop color preferences, it is prudent to verify that Photoshop is really using the new ICC profile to correctly display the colors of your monitor.



Conclusion and marks !

The Spyder4 Elite or Pro colorimeters have interesting novelties, if you have a wide gamut monitor (and there are more and more on the market). Very well positioned in price, they are really efficient and complete, especially in the Elite version, even if they do not beat their competitor. The best quality/price ratio for photographers still remains with the Pro model. At $99.00 it is unbeatable because you can calibrate your monitors, laptops and even your iPad !





Manufacturing quality
4 stars
4 stars
3,5 étoiles
3,5 étoiles
5 stars
4 stars
ICC profile quality
4,5 stars
4,5 stars
Quality/Price ratio
4 stars
5 stars
PROS ...
  • The calibration quality even on wide gamut monitors
  • The adjustment possibilities are impressive in the Elite version
  • Very well manufactured
  • For lovers of color management and numbers with the Elite version
  • Allows you to calibrate an iPad ! Such a nice calibration result, even on laptop displays.
CONS ...
  • Not so easy to choose among all the option combinations
  • Calibration not as nice and neutral as competition on basic or mid-range monitors, even if it is objectively already at a very good level; grey gradients are really nice even on low-end monitors
  • Still a little too contrasted and too red with a target value of 5.800K on mid-range monitors
  • Complete calibration a bit too long
  • Many (too many !) parameters to be set in the Elite version, but you know what you buy
  • The colorimeter does not stick well on the monitor
  • Software interface not as nice as the competitor one ! Some grey levels might not be fully neutralized but whose fault is it ? Very little in the end but still slightly behind its direct competitor ... and even fewer defaults than version 3.
8,0/10 Spyder4Pro
8,5/10 Spyder4Elite

My opinion : Excellent products, again improved, to buy serenely, especially if you have a wide gamut monitor. If you do not have this type of display, you may stay with the Spyder3Elite or Pro. Finally, note that the Elite version is really intended for experts who want to know everything about their monitor once calibrated or who want to be the masters on board of their target values, ​​as some settings are complex to choose. At this price it is still tempting...


Buy the Spyder4Pro - Datacolor

Buy from
£145.72 Buy from



Buy the Spyde4Elite - Datacolor

Buy Spyder4Elite from

Buy from
£160.02 Buy from


Summary > Monitor calibration > Spyder4Elite and Pro



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