Color management guide by Arnaud Frich

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Updated on April 16, 2017

Spyder5Express review

The situation is very easy to understand: before version 4, I would never recommend to buy the Express version as I found the results pretty random and, at best, just barely correct. How about this fifth Express version: version 5? A hint: the sensor is finally the same as Pro and Elite versions...

 

Spyder5Express box

 

The cheap solution by Datacolor to calibrate monitors for beginners or small wallets just got replaced. Datacolor announces the release of the Spyder5Express (Spyder 5 Express) - available for less than $120 - it's a version simplified as much as possible of 5Pro and 5Elite versions already reviewed on this site. You won't find any options to choose your target values, for instance, not even brightness/contrast?!

And until version 4, Datacolor sold the Express version with a sensor that was also simplified and admittedly with... very modest results, to the point that I preferred not to recommend it. Well it is the most interesting new feature of this Spyder5Express version: the sensor used is the same as for Pro and Elite versions! Yes, you read it right...

Important new feature! La Spyder5Express uses the same colorimeter as the Pro version and the expert Elite version. It is obviously a token of good quality, and above all a first in this price range!

Let's not waste anymore time and start reviewing it right away because even if many of you like to choose their target values and will thus choose a more "professional" version, even more of you want to be able to trust the sensor...

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Presentation and installation of the sensor Spyder5Express

This monitor calibration sensor (it can't be used for videoprojectors though) just reached its fifth version. It is still aimed at beginners or amateurs who don't want to hear about target values settings since the possibilities of custom settings are non-existant and the process is made as simple as possible.


The calibration kit and its box

The monitor sensor Spyder5Express by Datacolor is sold with a new colorimeter with seven very well-made RGB channels with a much wider reading window and, as for most calibration sensors. It should thus be noted and even emphasized because it's a striking new feature: the sensor is the same as for Pro and Elite kits. The kit contains quite simply the sensor and its USB cable, long enough, and... the serial number. The time when you also had a piece of software on a CD is now over. You'll have to go directly on the website of the manufacturer to download the last up-to-date version. Well done!

 

Box Spyder5Express
Very well manufactured, the new Spyder5Express sensor is sold in the same packaging as Pro and Elite version (here on the picture).


Main characteristics and new features

  • Last generation Spyder5 colorimeter: same as the Elite version!
  • 7 New filters.
  • Software made as simple as possible; no settings adjustment.

 

Technical specifications

 
Spyder5Express
Average price: $100.00
Colorimeter
Spyder5 sensor
 
Software
Spyder5Express
 
TC
D65 by default; no other options.
 
Gamma setting
No - 2.2
 
Multi-monitors alignment
No
 
Ambient light control
No
 
Videoprojector calibration
No
Company

Buy the sensor Spyder5Express - New!

   
Retailers
Price incl. taxes Spyder5Express
   
$109.98
   
Amazon.com
£107.90
    $109.99
         

Download Spyder5Express

Spyder5Express is available for WINDOWS, 32 or 64 bits and MAC OS (compatible MAC OS LION).

  Download Datacolor's Spyder5Express Suivre  
       

Installation of the piece of software Spyder5Express

It is simple and classic. So nothing to say in particular! When you click on the app's icon, the language is automatically detected and you're welcomed with a start message displaying the link of online help resources. It also precises what you'll be able to do with your sensor. Click OK!

Then, to go on with the installation, the software needs to activate your version , for which you're going to need to:

  • Plug your sensor in a USB port,
  • Get your serial number inside the box.

Click Next...

A preferences settings window opens:

 

Préférences du logiciel Spyder5Expres

 

If you want to, you can ask the software to remind you to calibrate your monitor every 2 to 4 months. It will be entirely enough and in line with the spirit of this sensor, which is to make monitor calibration easier. Click OK...

The software asks you the serial number... then connects to the internet.

You can make a manual connection later but to keep on installing your software, it absolutely needs a valid serial number right away.

Then the software asks you if you want to make an update research anyway. If you just downloaded the software, you should have downloaded the last version! And finally, the software asks if you want to participate into the software improvement program by sending your calibration(s) data to Datacolor's engineers.

The installation is finished!

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Calibration step by step

Spyder5Express software enables to characterize all recent monitors from its main window using a very easy process... even almost too simple since there's not even a brightness setting!!!

 


1 - Welcome screen!

Four classic recommendations:

  • Let your monitor warm up for 15 minutes at least;
  • Check the lightning of the room;
  • Reset your monitor and place its color temperature on TC 6500 K AND choose a brightness level you're comfortable using - Read below.
  • And plug the colorimeter!


Essential recommendation! The Spyder5Express version doesn't even enable to choose the brightness that your monitor will display after calibration!!! The sensor will only perform a colorimetric calibration of grey neutralization, in particular. I thus recommend, once you'll have reset your monitor, to choose the following values BEFORE LAUNCHING CALIBRATION:

  • Color temperature: 6500K
  • Brightness: around 60/75% on a recent monitor,
  • Contrast: around 65%.

It is an average setting but it will still be a lot better than factory settings because the monitors come out around 250/300 Cd/M2 by default. We only need 100/120!

 

Menu principal du logiciel de calibrage Spyder5Express
Several classic recommendations... this software is obviously aimed at beginners!


The software even allows you to check every step realized. Note that it is compulsory during the first calibration to be able to click the button "Next". It is indeed "amateur" software!


Click Next...


2 - Select the monitor you wish to calibrate...

In the unfolding menu, select the monitor you want to calibrate and the menu will place automatically on it, unlike in older versions, less convenient regarding this point.

 

Choix de l'écran à calibrer sur le logiciel Spyder5Expres

 

With this new version of Spyder5Express software, it is possible to calibrate several monitors very easily, but it won't be possible to match them, meaning to calibrate them harmoniously even if one monitor is "weaker" than the others. It is obvious that all monitors will still be calibrated the same way because the values are unique so it will still be a kind of default matching!

Click Next...

The software then asks you whether it's a desktop monitor (hence with brightness/contrast/etc. settings) or a laptop monitor for which you'll only be able to set brightness.

 

Choix du type d'écran sur le logiciel Spyder5Expres

 

Then, choose the make and model of your monitor. Above all, it is of use to Datacolor if you activated the "Data share" options in software preferences as we saw earlier.


3 - Place your sensor on the designated zone!

 

Fenêtre de calibrage de Spyder3Express

 

My recommendation! The Spyder5 sensor isn't ballasted anymore so you might have to tilt your monitor slightly for your sensor to stay flat against the monitor.


Click Next... Calibration launches and it is on for a little more than five minutes, which is quite quick for budget software. Once calibration is finished, you're invited to name this profile and save it on your computer.

4 - Saving your monitor's ICC profile

Once calibration and characterization are over, name your ICC profile and choose the date of the next calibration reminder.

My recommendation! If you own several monitors, be sure to identify them by naming them clearly and possibly note everything that could be of interest if you're making tests. Here, for instance, I noted that it is my right-hand monitor with Spyder5Express.

 

Placer votre sonde Colormunki sur l'écran

 

Click Save. The software lets you know where it stored the ICC profile.

5 - Before/after comparison

Very instructive most of the time!

 

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Using and checking the ICC profile

As said in the page about color preferences in Photoshop, it is wise to make sure that Photoshop uses this new ICC profile to display the colors of your monitor accurately.

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Conclusion and rating!

The sensor Spyder5Express is a new version but the surprise is huge: it uses the same sensor as top-range versions and, quite obviously, it works! If you own a low- or mid-range monitor, that you want to calibrate it correctly for a tight budget and you don't want to bother too much with the settings: go for it! No, I'm not drunk, I am really recommending you to buy this sensor!



Ratings

 

Spyder5Express

   
Manufacturing quality
4 étoiles
 
 
Robustness/stability over time
3 étoiles
 
 
Possibilities
1 étoile
 
 
Quality of the ICC profile
4 étoiles
- Brightness is missing but colors are beautiful  
 
Value for money
2 étoiles
 
 
PROS...
  • Same Spyder5 sensor as the Elite version!
  • Quality of the profile for this price range - never seen that before! (with a reservation for the inability to set brightness),
  • Very good neutralization of greys.
  • Nice grey gradient, unexpected at this price,
  • Few tone breakings,
  • Price,
  • Fast calibration (about 5 minutes depending on your computer),
  • Very easy to use (maybe even a bit too much!),
 
 
CONS...
  • NO BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST SETTINGS!
  • The colorimeter isn't well maintained on the monitor during calibration,
  • No custom settings but is it a real con since it is the point of this product...
 
 
OVERALL RATING
7.5 / 10
 

 

My opinion: Why didn't they include a brightness setting??? Because it's a first-price product and marketing did its job, or because beginners are considered real beginners! You're given a great sensor but brightness setting is reserved to upper versions, haha! Though frankly, let's not be bitter about it and if you follow my recommendation about brightness/contrast settings for your monitor, you'll be delighted and pleasantly surprised by the quality of this first-price sensor. It is great news and a first! Come on, Datacolor guys, fix up this pettiness and bravo!

 

 

Buy the Spyde5Express - Datacolor


Buy Spyder4Elite from Amazon.com


   
Retailer
Price  
   
$109.98
Buy from Amazon.com
   
Amazon.com
£107.90 Buy from Amazon.co.uk
    $109.99 Buy from Amazon.ca
         

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Summary > Monitor calibration > Spyder5Express
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