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ColorVision Spyder2 Pro Studio

Hardware-based color calibration suite By John Virata

Computer displays are the first place that digital media is viewed. It is created and viewed via the display, and if the display's color is off, usually the color of the final output of that art is also off. If you work in the print world, color calibration of your display is essential, because if what you see on screen is what you don't get at the service bureau, you are going to spend unnecessary time fixing it until you get it right. Same can go with your digital image output. That is where color calibration tools come in.

ColorVision, manufacturer of color calibration hardware, has released the Spyder2Pro Studio to enhance the color calibration process. In addition to the device's capability to color calibrate desktop and notebook displays, the Spyder2Pro ($299) can also calibrate digital projectors to ensure your presentation colors are as true as intended. The Spyder2Pro is targeted at designers, photographers, ad agencies, and other digital media creators who rely on their monitor to produce digital art. I've been using Datacolor's ColorPlus almost every month for about a year and it keeps my displays as true as possible. Within this review, we'll take a look at the Spyder2Pro Studio.

Installation and Calibration
Installing the Spyder2Pro involves setting your display resolution to a minimum 1024 x 768 and display color depth to 16 million colors, disabling Adobe Gamma, deactivating screen savers and power savers and, disabling anti-virus software, and for Windows users, setting hardware acceleration to full (instructions are provided in the Installation guide). After you've done all of the above you can install the SpyderPro2 CD-ROM into the drive and install Spyder2Pro. The software is available in English, Chinese, French German, Japanese localized versions.

The colorimeter will calibrate the following display values, 1.8-5000, 1.8-6500, 1.8-Native, 2.2-5000, 2.2-6500, 2.2-Native, Cineon (Kodak's film value), ITU-R Rec.BT.709, NTSC, PAL SECAM, Print Standard and sRGB. You can also create a more custom value based on your needs by creating a new target and selecting a custom Gamma, White Point, Black luminance, and White luminance. If at any time you want a more detailed explanation of the choices you make, click the help button and it will provide you with more information.

Select display value

Calibrating involves launching Spyder2Pro software and following the on screen directions. With an LCD display, you can just hang the colorimeter off the top and in the area designated by the software. The software then does the calibration of the colors and creates and saves a display profile that is used by applications that check display characteristics. The file also restores calibration data to the video card upon startup of the system. After the display is calibrated and you give the profile a name, Spyder2Pro shows a before and after view of your display, enabling you to switch between both for a better view.

Before calibration

After calibration

After you view the adjustments made by calibration, the process is complete. What the Spyder2Pro has done is detailed in the final window. In addition, the Spyder2Pro supports the following tweaks; PreCAL Routine, curve manipulation, measured luminance mode, whitepoint correction, custom target, gamma, whitepoint, and re-engineered gray balane and tonal response algorithms. 

The Spyder2 enables you to calibrate a DLP multimedia front projector via a tripod adapter that enables you to attach the Colorimeter to your screen via tripod. Since I don't have a projector, this feature went untested. A How To page is included that shows you how to set up the colorimeter for projector calibration.

Studio Bundle
In addition to the color calibration tools, Spyder2Pro Studio ships with DoctorPRO, a plugin for Adobe Photoshop that enables you to tweak the color printing characteristics of your printing by editing the ICC, RGB and CMYK printer profiles; nik Color Efex Pro 2.0SE, a Photoshop plug in that enables you to adjust the following nik image values via sliders; Brilliance/Warmth, Graduated Blue, which enables you to adjust an image's Color set, opacity, blend, vertical shift, and rotation; Monday Morning Violet (grain, brightness, smear, and color), and Pastel (diffuse, saturation, and contrast); and Pantone Colorist, which enables you to work with the right colors in virtually any design environment, be it web or print- based. The application enables you to choose from the Pantone library of colors in Pantone coated Adobe 1998, Pantone coated sRGB, Pantone Web safe, and Windows color picker.

System requirements are a Macintosh computer running OS X 10.2 or higher or a Windows computer running Windows 200 or XP, a USB port and a CRT or LCD display. The software includes a site license so you can calibrate all the displays in your organization with the single colorimeter.

If you absolutely need the most accurate color possible, then you need to calibrate your display often, at the least once a month. A display's color changes over time as it ages and even through the course of the day as the display heats up and powers down. Software calibration tools such as Adobe Gamma is more subjective and tuned to specific applications, while a hardware calibration tool, such as the Spyder2 Pro eliminates any color subjectivity. Remember that a non-calibrated display will not show the true colors of an image shown on the display, hence the need to calibrate often. If you are working daily with digital photographs or any other digital art, the Spyder2 Pro Studio system makes it really easy to keep your displays color calibrated. For more information, visit


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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at [email protected]
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