datacolor SpyderCHECKR 24 review
Using the 24 patch SpyderCHECKR 24 card
Keith first reviewed the SpyderCHECKR card quite some time ago. The multi patch device in that review is now the SpyderCHECKR 48. A simpler card with 24 patches on one side and greyscale adjustments on the other is the SpyderCHECKR 24.
Keith’s been looking at the latest version, with the software. It allows you to create adjustment presets for Adobe Photoshop, LightRoom and Hassleblad’s Phocus software.
There are some more details and examples, in the original review.
The 24 patch SpyderCHECKR card
Whilst cameras are pretty good at handling daylight and tungsten lighting, once you start using CFL or LED based lighting, all kinds of subtle colour rendition errors can occur.
The idea of the SpyderCHECKR (and similar products) is to provide a known photographic target that you photograph and use to create a set of corrections when processing your photos.
If you don’t change the lighting type, then these corrections will work as long as you continue to use the same camera.
I’ll show some examples on my desktop – I’m starting off with the normal tungsten bulb (yes I still use them).
Those little plastic cars will do for some colour.
The card comes in a plastic sleeve in the box – if looked after, they will last for years, but if left out in the light and dust, they will lose accuracy over time. They do not respond well to fingermarks or coffee.
On the back of the sleeve, in very small print, is the serial number you’ll need to activate the SpyderCHECKR software. You need to download the camera utility software from datacolor.
Here’s a a photo of the cars on my wood finish desk.
The camera, a Canon 100D, has picked my screen at the back for its white point.
Opening the RAW file in Photoshop with ACR, I use the WB eyedropper to pick part of the white lamp base to define white.
That’s better, but note how the screen has gone blue.
A more accurate white balance could use the grey card on the reverse of the SpyderCHECKR card.
If you’re setting up lighting, it’s worth creating a custom white balance in your camera, via a photo of the card. This varies by camera, but you should find details in the manual.
Your custom white balance will affect JPEG files from the camera, and when you view RAW files, you will see the white balance values pre-set at the custom value. You are however free to tweak this when processing your RAW files.
Making your custom pre-sets
You need to take a photograph of the target to create your master pre-sets.
It’s important that the image is correctly exposed and processed to get good quality data for making the adjustments.
There is plenty of well written help with the software, including information about -why- you do certain things not just a simple list of instructions.
I’m only showing basic adjustments for Photoshop here, but the user guide has lots more about using the card with other software and video (including Davinci Resolve 11)
I use the spot sampler for white and black parts of the card, to ensure that levels are what the software needs.
Remember that you only have to do this once for making your pre-sets, so take time to get it right.
It’s easy to get glare or uneven lighting, so actually look at the images you’re processing, with a critical eye.
Once the image looks OK, crop round it and save as a TIFF image.
Using the software
The Camera Utility software opens and lets you load your target image.
The software is the same if you were using the 48 patch target.
The image appears, along with some target markers. These need to be entirely over the appropriate colour patches.
I can now make presets from the target. There are three options which give slightly different looks to the results.
Which works best depends on your choice of subject.
After making a preset, you can quit or go back to make another.
The presets appear, in this instance, in my Adobe ACR presets panel.
Using the presets
How useful the presets are depends on what you’re photographing and the type of lighting you are using.
For the tungsten lamp, there was not a great deal of difference – this reflects my experience when I first tested the original software.
Where such adjustments can really help is with LED lighting or CFL panels. The more spiky spectrum of fluorescent lighting can give quite distinct colour shifts and imbalances.
In this animated example, I’ve replaced the lamp with a CFL ‘energy saving’ bulb.
First you get the original image and then the corrected version.
With this lighting the most obvious changes are in blues and reds, although I also notice the corrected warmer yellow of the old Kodak film container
This difference could be of no importance whatsoever, or of real significance. I’ve photographed products where slight differences of shade and hue made the difference between a shot you could use and one you couldn’t.
With the wider use of LED and CFL lighting in studios, creating a range of presets make it easier to match photos taken with different cameras and lighting setups. There are more examples in my original SpyderCHECKR review.
The software is easy to use although the need to manually rotate and crop your image before use seems a little awkward.
As I have come to expect from datacolor, the in-app help guides and supporting PDF guides are well written and explain why as well as how. Take time to read them.
If you need much more precise camera profiling, such as ICC camera profiles, then this solution is not for you. However I’m inclined to suggest that unless you really know why you need them and exactly how to use them, then you probably don’t need to.
I’ve a lot more articles and reviews connected with colour management if you’re curious about just how it will benefit your photography.
- Windows 7 32/64, Windows 8.0, 8.1 32/64, Windows 10 32/64
- MAC OS X 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, 10.11, 10.12, 10.13
- 128 MB of available RAM
- 100 MB of available hard disk space
- Adobe Lightroom v2 and higher or Adobe Photoshop CS3 and higher
- Windows 7 32/64, Windows 8.0, 8.1 32/64, Windows 10 32/64
- Mac OS X 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, 10.11, 10.12, 10.13
- 128MB of available RAM
- 100MB of available hard disk space
- Adobe Lightroom v2 and higher, or Adobe Photoshop CS3 and higher, or Hasselblad Phocus 2.8 and higher, or Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 11 and higher.
- Internet access for SpyderCHECKR 24 Software-Download and product activation
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