Product Review: Page (1) of 3 - 06/04/04 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

Pantone/ColorVision Spyder Pro with OptiCAL

Colorimeter and monitor calibration software By Dave Nagel
OK, I admit it. When it comes to monitor calibration, I've been eyeballing it for years. Well, in my defense, I do work primarily on the Web, and most of what I produce is only as accurate as the color on your end, which is likely quite poor. (Peecee users, I'm looking in your direction.) And what print work I do these days mostly comes out of printers I'm experienced with, so that I can get "close enough"--that is, close enough to keep me from shelling out the cash on a hardware calibration system. (Can you feel a "however" coming up?)

However, precisely four things have recently changed my perspective on the issue of software calibration versus a hardware/software solution.

1. First is the growing awareness that my favorite monitor--a high-def (1,920 x 1,080) CRT display, one that I don't want to replace any time soon--slips out of calibration faster than I'd realized. (Actually, all monitors lose their color accuracy and should be calibrated regularly.)

2. Coupled with No. 1 is the fact that I'm not a huge fan of the new calibration system in Mac OS X 10.3. While I'm sure the increased controls make it more accurate than previous versions, getting it just right and balancing all those controls is a bit like trying to adjust wheel alignment with a tape measure. (For those of you who don't know, that would be quite difficult.) And I just don't want to have to go through that every few weeks.


Does the Apple logo look "neutral?" Only four more of these adjustments to go!

3. I work with multiple monitors, including an LCD display, and it's a nightmare--some might say impossible--to calibrate LCDs without hardware help, let alone to match one to your CRT.




4. I've become aware that there now are good, professional hardware solutions available for very little money.

In particular, for the last month or so, I've had the opportunity to explore some of Pantone and ColorVision's color calibration, profiling and color management solutions, including the Pantone/ColorVision Spyder Pro colorimeter coupled with ColorVision's OptiCAL, the software component for this calibration system. What I discovered after using this system for a while was that my previous stance on "close enough" color was deluded. Spyder Pro with OptiCAL not only gives me a better monitor calibration than I could ever do with a software-only system, but it also does it quickly and effectively for both CRT and LCD displays and helps me to produce consistent color, saving me time and precious ink.

Hardware: The Spyder colorimeter
The Spyder colorimeter is the core hardware component of the Spyder Pro with OptiCAL system. The device is actually available in several bundles, including a base unit with basic calibration software for $149. The Pro version with OptiCAL, which we're reviewing here, runs $229 and is targeted toward the general pro design market. Both configurations support Mac OS 9, Mac OS X and Windows.

The colorimeter itself is a USB device with a half-inch, seven-filter sensor, as well as suction cups and a hangar for attaching the sensor to the monitor.




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Related Keywords:pantone, colorimeter, spyder pro, optical, photocal, color management, calibration, color sensor

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