Datacolor Spyder 5 Elite Plus review
Monitor calibration: Datacolor Spyder5 Elite+ upgrade
Software upgrade for Spyder5Elite profiling system
Spyder 5 Elite+ is an upgrade for Datacolor’s Spyder 5 Elite monitor calibrator and profiling software. It uses the same sensor, but adds a number of functions to the profiling and testing options, including soft proofing and device simulation.
Keith has a detailed review and discussion of the Spyder 5 Elite calibration system, which might be worth looking over first if you are looking at calibrator purchase options.
The mid-range Spyder5PRO (and its ‘Plus’ update) are covered in Keith’s Spyder5PRO review.
We've reviews of many Datacolor products. See the Datacolor Category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.
The ‘Plus’ upgrade options
Both the Spyder 5 PRO and Spyder 5 Elite have upgraded ‘Plus’ options available. How relevant these are to your own work will vary, but I’ve a few examples further on.
Soft proofing is where you make use of a colour profile from another device (printer or phone for example) to give an idea of what a particular image will look like on that output media or display.
If like myself you’ve been using Photoshop for a few years, you may well be familiar with this way of checking images for print. Most useful for myself for being able to quickly drop a JPEG image onto the window, and seeing how it might look on a phone/pad
Taking more measurements can improve the grey balance of some displays – this isn’t guaranteed, so is something you may want to experiment with.
The monitor matching functionality is more flexible in the extended ‘Plus’ version. Think carefully about when you want or need this, since it’s not a good idea to match your one really good monitor (such as the BenQ SW320 I recently looked at) to a room-full of average ones or laptops.
For some monitors it may not be obvious as to what monitor settings are going to give optimal results once profiled and calibrated.
The Display Analysis tools of the ‘Plus’ version expand on the range of tests you can perform.
If you edit much video, you may want to set a monitor to a more common video editing standard.
One of the features of all Spyder Software is the ability to jump to specific parts of the profiling workflow.
Spyder5Elite+ includes all the options.
You also get the extras included in the Spyder5PRO+ pack.
Want to change your monitor setup as room lighting varies? – not an option I’d enable though.
Even faster calibration – useful if you’ve a room full of monitors to set up.
An easy way of checking and selecting monitor profiles – more for Windows PC users I suspect. I use the Mac’s system preferences.
Using the updates
I’ve shown a detailed run-through of using the Spyder 5 Elite in its own review, so will just show some examples of using the ‘Plus’ add-ons here.
You enable the update with a new serial number and the software activation function in the Spyder5 software.
There’s a very simple guide included with the software download.
A new startup view lets you go straight to the softproof/simulation section.
Before trying this out I remembered that my MacBook Pro (with a new SSD and more memory) was a clean install of OS X 10.11 and would not have a display profile for my old Sony projector.
I’ve tried a lot of projector profiling software over the years and for this laptop and projector, the best looking results came with the Spyder 5, so I quickly set things up and create a profile.
Note! I can make no claims for any other laptop/projector combination. It took quite a while experimenting with all the different projector settings as well as profiling, to find what worked best.
I’ve much more detail about actually making profiles in the original full Spyder 5 Elite review.
The advanced profiling settings include the optional room light check (where room lighting levels are used to suggest profiling options) and the option for taking more grey measurements in the profiling process.
There is always the ‘Expert Console’ if you know exactly what settings you want.
All the different settings can be set to what you need.
A quick check via the profile management tool reminded me how many profiles collect when you do regular reviews of different kit on a computer.
The particular one shown is for the BenQ SW320 – it was produced with BenQ’s own software, so as to make best use of the hardware calibration capabilities of the monitor.
The BenQ software works just fine with the Spyder 5 colorimeter unit.
Looking at the SW320 with some of the Spyder 5 Elite tools, I see that it is indeed giving me ~98% of the Adobe98 colour gamut.
Soft proof and Simulation
Selecting the SoftProof option covers using your own printer, using a third party print service and simulating different display devices.
As expected with Datacolor Spyder products, there is an excellent written help guide to the functionality on offer, that also includes information about -why- you would use certain options.
The display opens up with Datacolor’s standard test image (the default colour space for images displayed is Adobe98)
Note the small tips window as well – there is lots of helpful info like this, and Datacolor’s web site has videos too, if you like that sort of stuff…
There are also some sample ICC profiles available if you don’t have them.
I noted the iPad3 one – I do use our iPad for some presentations and demos, so it’s good to get an idea of how any images might look, given my day to day use of much wider gamut monitors
A quick check with the standard image shows areas likely to be affected (in grey).
With any proofing display like this (as in Photoshop) it’s important to remember that the grey areas are where there is a gamut limit – whether this will show up, and how it will show up in particular parts of an image is a different matter.
Switching between the A98 gamut image of my monitor and the simulated iPad one showed some differences, but not too many in day to day photos.
You can simply drop an image on to the window to add it to the soft proof list. The display can be expanded to full screen if you wish.
This view of the pier at Whitby looks fine on wider gamut (lustre papers), but as you can see is a little bit close when using a profile for a matte paper on an older printer.
Once again – part of the skill in soft proofing comes from an appreciation of what will cause problems and what can be ignored.
Remember that soft proofing can be a useful tool, but to use it effectively you need to appreciate its strengths and limitations, along with an understanding of rendering intents, BPC and other issues.
The help system is very good, but tools like this can give false confidence to the unwary.
That doesn’t stop the Spyder 5 being a very useful monitor calibration system, that I find easy to use and effective.
You’ll need to give some thought as to exactly what will best suit your needs and budget though.
Spyder 5 Elite + capabilities and conclusions
The Spyder 5 Elite+ adds some useful functionality to the basic S5 Elite package.
Even though I regularly use Photoshop, I found the Soft Proofing feature of use for checking images to show on phones/pads. Using a wide gamut monitor is great, but it’s easy to forget that other devices will look different – product shots on a phone readily spring to mind for me.
Datacolor have extensive learning resources on their web sites. These cover many different aspects of colour management, and along with webinars and other presentations are a good way of finding out more.
The Spyder 5 calibrator (colorimeter) is supported by several high end monitor profiling software packages – such as the one that comes with the BenQ 32″ 4k wide gamut monitor I recently reviewed.
Buying Spyder products (many available as bundles)
SpyderCheckr at Amazon.com | Amazon UK | B&H | Adorama
SpyderCube at Amazon.com | Amazon UK | B&H | Adorama
SpyderLensCal at Amazon.com | Amazon UK | B&H | Adorama
Spyder5 Elite at B&H | Adorama | Amazon.com | Amazon UK
If you buy any item via a link on our site, then we receive a small commission, which helps in the running of the site. We have no commercial connection with Datacolor, and believe strongly that readers should be aware how we run the site.
Spyder5Elite 5.1 Minimum System Requirements (from datacolor)
- USB port
- 24-bit video card
- Mac OS X 10.7+
- Windows 7 32/64, Windows 8.0, 8.1 32/64, Windows 10 32/64
- Colour monitor with at least 1280×768 resolution
- Please set your screen size to at least 1280×768. If your screen is set to a smaller size you will not be able to access all of the Spyder5Elite user interface.
- For Windows users, please make sure you use Default font size in your Display Properties. If you use “Large Fonts”* this may cause some cosmetic anomalies in the Spyder5Elite user interface.
- For Windows users, it is necessary to use a separate video card for each monitor. Multi-head video cards (one card that drives multiple monitors) will not work because Windows will not allow you to assign a different profile to each monitor.
*”Large Fonts” specifically means changing the setting in Control Panel-> Display-> Settings-> Advanced-> General-> Display-> DPI setting. Changing the font size in Control Panel-> Display-> Appearance-> Colour scheme or Control Panel-> Display-> Appearance-> Font size does not cause any issue.
The Spyder upgrades are interesting in that the Spyder 5 Elite+ ones look interesting, whilst the Spyder 5 Pro+ ones look somewhat less essential.
|Designed for||Hobbyist photographers seeking a simple monitor color calibration solution||Serious photographers and designers seeking a full-featured and advanced color accuracy solution||Professional photographers, studios, and calibration perfectionists seeking ultimate control of their color workflow|
|Software||Wizard, Interactive help, Advanced Features||Wizard, Interactive Help, Expert Console, Suite of Expert Features|
|Calibration Settings||Unlimited choices, user-defined, and Rec.709 for videography|
|Multiple Monitor Support||Laptops, Desktop Monitors, Front Projectors, Studio Match Assistant|
|Before & After Calibration Evaluation||Standard Datacolor Image, Imported User Images||Standard Datacolor Image, Imported User Images (Full Screen Mode)|
|Room Light Monitoring|
|Fast Recalibration Option|
|Color Temperature Choices|
|Custom Targets||Spyder5 ColorimeterNTSC, PAL/SECAM, ITU-R Rec.BT.709, ITU-R Rec.BT.2020, Cineon, L-Star*|
|ICC Profile Support|
|Multiple Display Calibration|
|On-Screen Interactive Help|
|Front Projector Calibration|
|Room Light Measurement|
|Custom B/W Luminance Control|
|Display History Utility|
|SpyderProof – Before & After Calibration Evaluation||Imported User Image||Imported User Image + Full Screen|
|Gamma Curve Editing|
|Continuous Profile & Calibration Check|
|L-Star Workflow Option|
|Curves Import Function|
|Improved Gray Balance|
|Web Activation & Automatic Update Checks|
|Encapsulated Optical Module|
|Integrated Tripod Mount|
|Sensor Lens cap|
|Initial Calibration Time|
|Mounting Methods||Lens cap Counterweight or Integrated Tripod Mount|
|Physical Dimensions||2.73 in.(L) x 2.93 in.(W) x 1.71 in.(H)||2.73 in.(L) x 2.93 in.(W) x 1.71 in.(H)||2.73 in.(L) x 2.93 in.(W) x 1.71 in.(H)|
|Hardware Warranty||1 Year (for countries of the EU, the period is 2 years)||1 Year (for countries of the EU, the period is 2 years)||1 Year (for countries of the EU, the period is 2 years)|
Comparing with the Spyder 3/4
For information about printers, paper reviews and profiling (colour management) see the Printing section of the main printers and printing page, or use the search box at the top of any page.
All colour management articles and reviews are indexed on the main Colour Management page - please do let Keith know if you've any questions, either via the comments or just email us?
Some specific articles that may be of interest:
- Why don't my prints match my screen? A short article showing why there is more to getting your prints to match your screen, than just calibrating your monitor. It's the vital first step, but you do need to consider some other factors for best results.
- Why are my prints too dark - some basic suggestions to this common problem.
Articles below by Keith (Google's picks for matching this page)
Buying anything from Amazon (not just what's listed) via any of the links below helps Keith and Karen keep the site going - thanks if you do! [Amazon UK]