Color calibrating my budget ultrawide monitor


While working on a project recently, I found myself looking at an image with a lot of red in it and thinking something was wrong. After realizing that when I switched GPUs my color profile in Windows was reset, I upgraded to the latest SpyderX Elite as part of the SpyderX Capture Pro kit. Aimed at professionals working in print, photography and video, the Datacolor Spyder range helps ensure displays are color accurate. After calibrating my 49-inch Dark Matter display, I was quite shocked at how much of a difference it made. Be sure to click on the video below to see all the details.

What does SpyderX Elite color calibration do?

In its most basic form, Datacolor’s SpyderX Elite uses sensors to measure room lighting as well as the color and brightness that a monitor is capable of producing. It then uses these readings to create a profile that more closely matches the printed documents. For me, in practice, this made a huge difference in the red oversaturation my monitor was showing. When comparing the calibrated and uncalibrated sights, the difference was quite striking.

out of the box

Although I have the full Capture Pro kit which includes the Spyder LensCal, Spyder Cube and Spyder Checkr, I will only be using the SpyderX Elite to calibrate the monitor. We will see the other components later.

Softwares

First, you will need Datacolor’s Spyder Elite software. The kit included a card with codes to register the SpyderX Elite as well as the Spyder Checkr. I was able to use the same code and get the software on multiple computers.

Once SpyderX Elite is installed, launching the software will guide you through a setup tutorial that ensures the monitor is configured for the best settings. First, you’ll need to enter information about your monitor, laptop, or projector. Choosing the right settings can seem a little daunting if you don’t know much about your monitor, but there are helpful hints on the right side of the screen to help you make the best choices.

SpyderX Elite: video

After entering some information on the display, the next step is to select a workflow. Datacolor offers a simple step-by-step wizard option which is the fastest mode, studio matching to ensure color is matched across multiple displays, and an expert console that opens up more commands. Unless you need to fine-tune the display, the step-by-step wizard seems like the best option for most.

Calibration parameters

Moving on to the calibration settings, there are options to recalibrate the display, check accuracy, and perform a full calibration. I usually run the full calibration.

Then a few targets can be set for gamma, white point and brightness. The only thing that really surprised me throughout this process was the recommended brightness. In the next step, the SpyderX Elite will measure the ambient light and suggest a brightness setting, but in almost every lighting scenario in my office it was much darker than expected. The suggested brightness is 120, but setting it below 200 seemed overkill to me.

To get to a brightness level of 200 I had to turn my monitor brightness down to 19 out of 100. I can see where that’s coming from for optimal settings, but I like to have my windows open during the day and I generally want to set my brightness higher because of this.

Once these goals are set, place the SpyderX Elite on the desk and it will take an ambient light reading for some suggested ratings. You can then follow the recommended settings or keep your own custom settings. After that, the software will prompt you to detach the weight from the back of the color controller and hang the SpyderX Elite above the monitor so it is centered to take a light reading.

First, it will measure your monitor’s brightness and prompt you to use your display’s physical controls to dial it into the recommended settings. Once set, the software will run more color and brightness settings to create a color profile for the display that hits the brightness and white point targets.

Use the slider to display a before and after calibration

How does it look?

Once done, you can save the profile. Then a screen shows the difference between uncalibrated and calibrated settings, which was quite shocking in my experience. For my monitor, the whole image was oversaturated but the biggest difference was in the reds. While it might look good for watching media or playing games, oversaturated colors can really ruin your image when creating photos, videos, or other visual content.

For me, this oversaturation in the reds ruined my eyes mostly on skin tones. The oversaturated reds made my face redder than usual. The calibrated image looks much better to me when I’m editing and more closely matches what I think the image should look like based on the Lumetri scopes that monitor brightness and saturation in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Taken from 9to5Toys

If you’re a creative in photography, video, or imaging, calibrating your monitor makes a huge difference. Your eyes can be deceiving, and monitors come in a wide variety of settings. If you spend more money on calibrated monitors with better color accuracy, it might not be that far off, but in my opinion, calibrating a monitor is quite necessary and Datacolor makes it extremely easy to do.

If the $270 SpyderX Elite seems a bit steep, the SpyderX Pro, which is $100 cheaper and still offers easy to use monitor calibrationand worth the detour.


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