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Datacolor Spyder5Express review by Arnaud Frich


Review of Datacolor Spyder5Express

Published on October 12, 2012   |  Updated on December 02, 2019


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? A hint: the sensor is finally the same as Pro and Elite versions...

Datacolor's low-cost solution for calibrating monitors for beginners or small budgets has therefore just been replaced. Datacolor announces the release of the Spyder5Express (Spyder 5 Express) - sold for less than 130 dollars - this is a simplified version of the Spyder5Pro and Spyder5Elite versions under test on this site. You will not find any options to choose your target values for example, not even brightness/contrast?!

However, until version 4, Datacolor sold the Express version with an equally simplified sensor and it must be admitted that the result was... very average to such an extent that I preferred not to recommend it. Well, this is the most interesting new feature of this new Spyder5Express version: the sensor used is the same as for the Pro and Elite versions! Yes, you read it right...

Important new feature! The 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...


In a few words...



Second hand

For the first time, a range access colorimeter uses the same measuring instrument as its large Pro and Elite sisters, a guarantee of quality. The big difference is in the measurement of the brightness of your monitor, which is not included in this sensor - Read my conclusion  

  More offers...  



Introduction to the Spyder5Express - Datacolor

This Datacolor range access monitor calibration sensor is in its fifth version. It continues to address a rather amateur audience that is new to the field or does not want to hear about target value settings because the possibilities for adjustments are non-existent and the procedure is simplified to its maximum.

The calibration kit and its box

Datacolor's Spyder5Express display colorimeter is sold with a new seven-channel RGB colorimeter that is very well manufactured and has a much larger reading window. It is therefore worth noting or even repeating because it is a striking innovation: the sensor is the same as in the Spyder5Pro and Spyder5Elite kits. The kit contains very simply the colorimeter and its long USB cable and... the serial number. Gone are the days when you also found the software on a CD. You will need to go directly to the manufacturer's website to download the latest updated version directly. Well done because this way we are sure to install the latest version and it's more ecological!


Spyder5Express colorimeter

Very well manufactured, the new Spyder5Express sensor is sold in the same packaging as Pro and Elite version.

Main 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 : $130.00
Spyder5 - RGB + ambient light sensor
Spyder5Express 5.3 Mac / 5.2 PC
  Panel technology Automatic
Color temperature
D65 by default
  Gamma setting 2,2 by default
Ambient light control
  Multi-screen alignment Yes
  Projector calibration No

The installation of the Spyder5Express software (in its latest version)

Very important note! Download the latest version of Spyder5Express 5.3 or 5.2 in May 2018) in order to maintain maximum compatibility with the latest display technologies.


Download the latest version of the software !

The Spyder5Express software (PC and MAC), sold with the Spyder5Express, is available for free download in its latest version - Download Spyder5Express 5.3 or 5.2   (Spyder5Express works on Mac OS High Sierra but no Mojave).

Attention, the latest 32-bit MacOS 5.3 version is not compatible with MacOS Mojave.


Installing Spyder5Express software

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 on OK!

Then, to continue the installation, the software needs to activate your version of the software and for that you need to:

  • Connect your sensor to a USB port,
  • Take the serial number from the bottom of the box.

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

Click on next... because the installation is finishedest terminée !




Step-by-step calibration with Spyder5Express

The Spyder5Express software allows from its main window to characterize all the recent screens in a really very simple procedure... limit too much because there is not even a brightness setting!!!

Spyder5Express colorimeter

But first, let's set the software preferences

Open the "Preferences" through the "Spyder5Express > Preferences" menu. A window of preference settings opens:



Eventually, you can ask the software to remind you to calibrate your screen every day and up to six months.

My advice! With this beginner-oriented sensor, you can choose only every six months. This is quite sufficient and in the spirit of this model.

Then, the software asks you if you still want to check for updates. If you have just downloaded the software, you have just downloaded the last one! Finally, the software asks you if you want to participate in the software improvement program by sending your calibration data to Datacolor engineers. Leave the other two options unchecked.

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 30/35% on a recent monitor,
  • Contrast: around 75%.

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!

The software even goes so far as to ask you to tick each step performed in order to click on the "Next" button. It's definitely "amateur" software!

Click on "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.



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 on "Next"...

3 - Select the type of monitor you wish to calibrate...

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.



Click on "Next"...

4 - Choose the name of the monitor (to automatically name the ICC profile)...

By giving you the ability to choose the make and model of the monitor you are calibrating, the software knows what name it will automatically give to the ICC profile you are creating.

Tip! If, like me, you have at least two identical screens, it will be easy to add "_left" or "_right" to your screen template, for example, so as not to mix ICC profiles later.

5 - Place the colorimeter on the screen...

... on the designated zone! And click on "Next"...


Placer Spyder5Express sur l'écran


My advice! 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 on "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 ICC profile

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


Enregistrement du profil ICC avec Spyder5Express


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.

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

5 - Before/After comparison

Very instructive most of the time!


Comparaison avant/après sur écran calibré avec Spyder5Express


Calibrage avant-après avec Spyder5Express




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.




  Spyder5Express Datacolor  
Color fidelity 9,0/10
Implementation / settings 4,0/10
Manufacturing quality 9,0/10
Quality / Price ratio 6,0/10


  I like it very much...  
  • 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!),
  I regret...  
  • 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...
  My overall rating...  
  7,0 / 10  
  My conclusion...  

Colorimètre Spyder5Express sur écranWhy 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!

Another suggestion! All in all, I prefer the Spyder5Pro for a slightly higher price...

Spyder5EXPRESS - Datacolor


Here is my complete review of the Spyder5Express from Datacolor.  
- Review of the Spyder5Express - Datacolor
  - Introduction to the Spyder5Express
- Calibration with the Spyder5Express
- Conclusion and rating

- Why and how to calibrate your monitor?
- How to choose your monitor?


Calibrate your monitor with the best
colorimeter: X-Rite i1Display Pro !

Read my full review...


Calibrate your monitor with your favorite colorimeter : Datacolor SpyderX PRO !

Read my full review...










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