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Datacolor Spyder 5 Elite Plus review

  |   Articles and reviews, Colour management, Datacolor, Monitor calibration, Review, Software review, Software update   |   No comment

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.

datacolor spyder 5 elite plus

Spyder5 Elite
B&H | Adorama | Amazon.com | Amazon UK
Spyder5 Pro
B&H | Adorama | Amazon.com | Amazon UK
Spyder5 Express
B&H | Adorama | Amazon.com | Amazon UK

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.

s5 upgrades

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

soft proofing simulation

Taking more measurements can improve the grey balance of some displays – this isn’t guaranteed, so is something you may want to experiment with.

improved grey balance

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.

match multiple monitors

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.

advanced display analysis

If you edit much video, you may want to set a monitor to a more common video editing standard.

video editing display setup

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.

expert control panel

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.

room light switching

Even faster calibration – useful if you’ve a room full of monitors to set up.

1 click cal

An easy way of checking and selecting monitor profiles – more for Windows PC users I suspect. I use the Mac’s system preferences.

profile management tool

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.

S5 upgrade options

A new startup view lets you go straight to the softproof/simulation section.

S5 elite plus startup

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.

profile Sony VPL-CX21

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.

s5ep advanced

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.

expert console

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.

profile management

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.

A98 gamut check

Soft proof and Simulation

Selecting the SoftProof option covers using your own printer, using a third party print service and simulating different display devices.

soft proof setup

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.

softproof help

The display opens up with Datacolor’s standard test image (the default colour space for images displayed is Adobe98)

test image

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).

iPad3 gamut

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.

sample image

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.

epson 4800 enh matte

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.

I’ve only addressed this briefly here, so do check the Spyder 5 Elite and Spyder 5 Pro reviews for much more about basic profiling.

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)

SpyderCapturePro at B&H | Adorama
SpyderPrint at B&H | Adorama | Amazon.com | Amazon UK

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

Spyder5 Pro B&H | Adorama | Amazon.com | Amazon UK
Spyder5 Express at B&H | Adorama | Amazon.com | Amazon UK
Spyder5 at Wex (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

Important

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Which Spyder?

The Spyder upgrades are interesting in that the Spyder 5 Elite+ ones look interesting, whilst the Spyder 5 Pro+ ones look somewhat less essential.

Spyder5 functionality for different versions
Feature
Spyder 5 express
Spyder 5 pro
Spyder 5 elite
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
Price (MSRP)
$129
$189
$279
Hardware
Spyder5 Colorimeter
Spyder5 Colorimeter
Spyder5 Colorimeter
Software
4 Step Process, Interactive Help
Wizard, Interactive help, Advanced Features Wizard, Interactive Help, Expert Console, Suite of Expert Features
Calibration Settings
Fixed (2)
16 Choices
Unlimited choices, user-defined, and Rec.709 for videography
Multiple Monitor Support
Laptops, Desktop Monitors
Laptops, Desktop Monitors
Laptops, Desktop Monitors, Front Projectors, Studio Match Assistant
Before & After Calibration Evaluation
Standard Datacolor Image
Standard Datacolor Image, Imported User Images Standard Datacolor Image, Imported User Images (Full Screen Mode)
Room Light Monitoring
not available
3 Ambient Light Settings
5 Ambient Light Settings
Fast Recalibration Option
not available
feature available
feature available
Display Analysis
not available
Basic
Advanced including Screen Uniformity
Feature
Spyder 5 express
Spyder 5 pro
Spyder 5 elite
Gamma Choices
2.2
1.8, 2.0, 2.2, 2.4
Unlimited
Color Temperature Choices
6500K
5000K, 5800K, 6500K, native
Unlimited
Custom Targets
not available
not available
Spyder5 ColorimeterNTSC, PAL/SECAM, ITU-R Rec.BT.709, ITU-R Rec.BT.2020, Cineon, L-Star*
ICC Profile Support
ICC 2
ICC 2, ICC 4
ICC 2, ICC 4
Multiple Display Calibration
feature available
feature available
feature available
On-Screen Interactive Help
feature available
feature available
feature available
Front Projector Calibration
not available
not available
feature available
Room Light Measurement
not available
Simple
Advanced
Re-calibration Wizard
not available
2.5 min
2.5 min
Expert Console
not available
not available
feature available
Custom B/W Luminance Control
not available
not available
feature available
Display History Utility
not available
not available
feature available
SpyderProof – Before & After Calibration Evaluation
feature available
Imported User Image Imported User Image + Full Screen
StudioMatch
not available
not available
feature available
Gamma Curve Editing
not available
not available
feature available
Continuous Profile & Calibration Check
feature available
feature available
feature available
L-Star Workflow Option
not available
not available
feature available
Curves Import Function
not available
not available
feature available
Improved Gray Balance
not available
not available
feature available
Web Activation & Automatic Update Checks
feature available
feature available
feature available
Feature
Spyder 5 express
Spyder 5 pro
Spyder 5 elite
Color Sensor
7 Filter/Detector
7 Filter/Detector
7 Filter/Detector
Aperture Size
27 mm
27 mm
27 mm
Encapsulated Optical Module
feature available
feature available
feature available
Integrated Tripod Mount
feature available
feature available
feature available
Sensor Lens cap
feature available
feature available
feature available
Initial Calibration Time
5 min
5 min
5 min
Recalibration Time
not available
2.5 min
2.5 min
Mounting Methods
Lens cap Counterweight
Lens cap Counterweight
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)
Computer Connection
USB
USB
USB
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

Spyder 4 and Spyder 3 comparisons

More colour management and printing related information

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.

 


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]

 


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