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Which are the best monitor calibrators and why?

To ensure that we continue to offer the best colour management products available, we have put our products to the test and evaluated them against the latest Spyder5 products from DataColor to determine how they compare, and what the benefits really are for your customers.

 BasicBasicIntermediateIntermediateAdvancedAdvanced
Product Spyder5EXPRESS ColorMunki Smile Spyder5PRO ColorMunki Display Spyder5ELITE i1Display Pro
Calibration Speed 6 mins 7 Mins 6 mins 5 Mins 6 mins 2 Mins
Colors Measured 70 50 70 70 70 118 - 462
Monitor Gamma Fixed (2.2) Fixed (2.2) Multiple Multiple Unlimited Unlimited
Monitor Temperature Fixed (6500k) Fixed (6500k) Multiple Multiple Unlimited Unlimited
ICC Profile Support ICC 2 ICC 2 ICC 2, ICC 4 ICC 2, ICC 4 ICC 2, ICC 4 ICC 2, ICC 4
Brightness (Luminance) Control Native Only Native Only 120Cd Standard Presets 80Cd - 140Cd Unlimited Unlimited
RGB control calibration N N N Y Y Y
Multiple monitor matching N Y Y Y Y Y
Ambient light measurement N N Y Y Y Y
Projector calibration N N N Y Y Y
Profile Validation N N N N Y Y
L-Star Workflow options N N N N Y Y
Automatic Display Control (ADC) N N N Y N Y
Flare Correct N N N Y N Y
Mobile Device Calibration Discontinued Y - ColorTrue Discontinued Y - ColorTrue Discontinued Y - ColorTrue
Supported panel types CCFL, LED, 4K display technologies. CCFL, White LED CCFL, LED, OLED, 4K and other display technologies CCFL, White LED, RGB LED, Wide Gamut, New Future (Field Upgradable) CCFL, LED, OLED, DLP and other display technologies CCFL, White LED, RGB LED, OLED, Wide Gamut, Plasma, New Future (Field Upgradable)
Free support Y Y Y Y Y Y
Warranty 24 months 24 months 24 months 24 months 24 months 24 months
Retail price GBP (ex VAT) £81.24 £70.00 £122.28 £116.00 £177.24 £173.00
Retail price EUR (ex TAX) € 99.00 € 85.00 € 149.00 € 139.00 € 216.00 € 209.00


Quality, speed and features have been detailed within our report as these are key factors that people consider when purchasing calibration products.

Quality

The quality of results is a crucial factor when profiling a monitor and Spyder5ELITE does demonstrate an improvement over Spyder4ELITE in the gradation that can be seen across the monitor however, in the tests that we conducted, there was still some visible banding present. The X-Rite i1Display Pro continues to produce consistently smoother gradation results.

Speed

We encourage regular calibration to ensure that a monitor is displaying consistent and accurate results. Therefore another key factor to consider is the calibration speed.

Spyder5 products measure at the same speed throughout the range and they still take over 6 minutes to calibrate and measure the 74 patch chart against just over 2 minutes to measure 118 patches with the X-Rite i1Display Pro. Datacolor have listed their calibration times at 5 minutes however as the calibration time takes 1 minute 10 seconds and then a further 5 minutes to measure the profile, resulting in a 6 minute 10 second overall calibration/profiling speed.

Overall, X-Rite solutions are still significantly faster, except for the ColorMunki Smile which takes 30 seconds longer than its equivalent product from Datacolor.

To put it simply, if we compared calibration times between the i1Display Pro and the Spyder5ELITE on the basis that a user calibrates once every 2 weeks over a 4 year period, they would save themselves a whole working day, sat in front of their display, watching the calibration process!

Features

Features are important as they can increase productivity and give greater flexibility and control. X-Rite calibrators have more features at each level (entry, intermediate and professional) than the new Datacolor Spyder5 range. An important point to note is that Spyder5 products no longer support mobile device calibration and only Spyder5ELITE supports projector calibration which is a standard feature for the ColorMunki Display and i1Display Pro.

The Spyder5PRO has a limited number of brightness level pre-sets where the choices are Default, Native or the “Measured ambient level” in comparison to the ColorMunki Display where you can select from a range of pre-set brightness levels. The Spyder5ELITE does not include multiple target sizes and flare correct when compared to the i1Display Pro.

The ColorMunki Display and i1Display Pro benefit from Automatic Display Control (ADC) which allows the software to control the display which gives a more accurate result rather than colour correcting manually using the monitor settings which may not be as accurate. This feature is not available with Spyder5 solutions.

Spyder5 Software User Interface

The Spyder5 User Interface is identical to that of Spyder4 except for the removal of a few options in the ‘advance calibration’ of Spyder5. Understandably the option to calibrate an older CRT monitor has now been removed and the identification of monitor panel type has been simplified from a two-stage process of selecting monitor brand and panel type, to just selecting the brand.

Conclusion

Colour management is a critical part of the photographer’s workflow and any attention that helps to educate and inform photographers of this fact is welcomed by us. The introduction of the Datacolor Sypder5 range has highlighted the importance of colour management and the time and quality benefits that it can bring.

Datacolor’s new range has seen changes to the look and packaging and continues to offer another choice within the marketplace. However, X-Rite products still give more in terms of quality, speed, features and price than the Spyder5. This is largely due to X-Rite having almost 60 years of colour management expertise and their ability to refine and perfect their products over the years.