Display Calibration 101: Step-By-Step With Datacolor's Spyder4Elite

Spyder4Elite How-To: Setting Up

The Calibration screen splits off into three sub-sections: Choose Settings, Ambient Light, and Place the Sensor.

Choose Settings

Assuming this is the first time you're running the Spyder4Elite software, you must perform a full calibration.

If this isn't the first time you're running the Spyder4Elite, your screen will appear as the screenshot below, with options for ReCAL, CheckCAL, and FullCAL. ReCAL is a regular recalibration, while CheckCAL measures your current calibration. To continue following this guide, check FullCAL.

On this screen, you can specify the desired Gamma, White Point, and Brightness levels. By default, the Spyder4 software recommends a Gamma of 2.2 and White Point of 6500K (as do we), and a Brightness setting of 120 nits. However, you are free to manually adjust all three of these options, and each has a handful of typical settings handily available in the dropdown menus. Should you choose the Native option for brightness, the following ambient light reading will be skipped, as will the additional brightness-adjustment stage during the actual calibration.

After settling on your Gamma, White Point, and Brightness, click Next.

Ambient Light

Since the Spyder4Elite is equipped with an ambient light sensor, the software can make custom Gamma, White Point, and Brightness recommendations based on your specific working environment.

Here you are instructed to place the Spyder4 in its cradle/mount and adjust the room lighting to your typical working level. Clicking Next, initiates the ambient light reading.

Once completed, the software will rate the ambient light in your work environment, with a short description of how good or bad it is for graphics production.

Depending on your ambient lighting, the Spyder4 software may recommend adjusting the target Brightness, White Point, and/or Gamma settings that you chose in the previous step. At this point, it’s up to you whether to Accept suggested settings, or Keep current settings. Check the appropriate radio button and click Next.

Place the Sensor

This screen displays a target in the outline of the Spyder4 sensor and instructs you to place the Spyder inside the outline. Depending on the size of your display, you may need to adjust the weight either higher or lower on the USB cord. Even then, we suggest tilting your monitor back so that the sensor lays flat against the screen.

Keeping stray light out from the sensor head is critical to accurate measurements. If you can’t get it to lay flat on its own, gentle hand pressure is OK. The measurements only take a few minutes and the payoff in correct readings is worth it. You will not be happy with a calibration performed by a dangling sensor.

Once the Spyder4 is secured atop the on-screen outline, click Next to begin the calibration process.

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  • Menigmand
    I still don't understand why we have to buy a $250 device just to get a proper picture on our screens. Why are they not factory calibrated? After all, in these days, the input is digital, so the display data should be 1-to-1 identical to (for example) game RGB data... I'm sure I'm wrong somehow, but about what?
  • mi1ez
    That was actually a genuinely interesting article! Good work Tom's.

    885869 said:
    I still don't understand why we have to buy a $250 device just to get a proper picture on our screens. Why are they not factory calibrated? After all, in these days, the input is digital, so the display data should be 1-to-1 identical to (for example) game RGB data... I'm sure I'm wrong somehow, but about what?


    The problem is twofold:

    Variance in the panels. Each panel would need to be calibrated individually adding time and cost

    The WOW factor. Many manufacturers will ship monitors with the saturation set too high so when you fist set it up it gives you the wow factor. I believe. This second one might not be 100% true and more of a showroom trick.
  • Will P
    A great article, a good introduction on an often overlooked aspect of the PC setup. Every screen I have ever bought has had a ridiculously high brightness out of the box, which I suppose could be put down to a 'Wow factor' for sure... The kit is expensive though, but if it is going to make every screen you own 20% better and last for 5 years it starts to look like a good investment.

    I was wondering if the re-calibration of the cheaper units (such as the Spyder) can be done with the Spyder itself or do you need specialist kit?
  • timbozero
    It is IMO ridiculous to suggest the spending of near the cost of a monitor to calibrate it.
    There are several Blu-ray Discs (Disney World of Wonder for example) that will achieve 80%+ of the levels of calibration for 10% of the cost.
    Was the author sponsored by DataColor or, just wildly out of touch?
  • mi1ez
    249904 said:
    It is IMO ridiculous to suggest the spending of near the cost of a monitor to calibrate it. There are several Blu-ray Discs (Disney World of Wonder for example) that will achieve 80%+ of the levels of calibration for 10% of the cost. Was the author sponsored by DataColor or, just wildly out of touch?

    How does a blu-ray calibrate a screen then?
  • timbozero
    142373 said:
    249904 said:
    It is IMO ridiculous to suggest the spending of near the cost of a monitor to calibrate it. There are several Blu-ray Discs (Disney World of Wonder for example) that will achieve 80%+ of the levels of calibration for 10% of the cost. Was the author sponsored by DataColor or, just wildly out of touch?
    How does a blu-ray calibrate a screen then?


    Is short (for the example I mentioned) , you get several display patterns shown and adjust your screen until they display as they should. You will need to do this a few times for each as some will impact others (you would have to with the Datacolor as well unless it can adjust your monitor automatically afaik). The colours are adjusted the same way but with a filter used by you to help 'understand' the data.

    This is a link to typical testcard used by the Blu-Ray http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=16216&position=2
    This is a link to a review of the Blu-Ray on the same site http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Disney-WOW-World-of-Wonder-Blu-ray/16216/

    Hopefully that will help
  • mi1ez
    249904 said:
    142373 said:
    249904 said:
    It is IMO ridiculous to suggest the spending of near the cost of a monitor to calibrate it. There are several Blu-ray Discs (Disney World of Wonder for example) that will achieve 80%+ of the levels of calibration for 10% of the cost. Was the author sponsored by DataColor or, just wildly out of touch?
    How does a blu-ray calibrate a screen then?
    Is short (for the example I mentioned) , you get several display patterns shown and adjust your screen until they display as they should. You will need to do this a few times for each as some will impact others (you would have to with the Datacolor as well unless it can adjust your monitor automatically afaik). The colours are adjusted the same way but with a filter used by you to help 'understand' the data. This is a link to typical testcard used by the Blu-Ray http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=16216&position=2 This is a link to a review of the Blu-Ray on the same site http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Disney-WOW-World-of-Wonder-Blu-ray/16216/ Hopefully that will help


    So do you have like a physical card to compare with what's on screen?
  • timbozero
    142373 said:
    249904 said:
    142373 said:
    249904 said:
    It is IMO ridiculous to suggest the spending of near the cost of a monitor to calibrate it. There are several Blu-ray Discs (Disney World of Wonder for example) that will achieve 80%+ of the levels of calibration for 10% of the cost. Was the author sponsored by DataColor or, just wildly out of touch?
    How does a blu-ray calibrate a screen then?
    Is short (for the example I mentioned) , you get several display patterns shown and adjust your screen until they display as they should. You will need to do this a few times for each as some will impact others (you would have to with the Datacolor as well unless it can adjust your monitor automatically afaik). The colours are adjusted the same way but with a filter used by you to help 'understand' the data. This is a link to typical testcard used by the Blu-Ray http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=16216&position=2 This is a link to a review of the Blu-Ray on the same site http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Disney-WOW-World-of-Wonder-Blu-ray/16216/ Hopefully that will help
    So do you have like a physical card to compare with what's on screen?


    No, the only physical item (other than the disc) is a blue tinted filter which is used for one of the several tests.
    Brightness (as an example) displays a test strip and you adjust the brightness until your screen shows certain details but not others (as instructed by the previous 'chapter' of the 'film').
    There are several levels of testing and reading the review I linked will give you more of an idea.

    I did the setup for TV, projector setup (Datacolor products won't work on projectors as the device blocks the very image you need to measure) and my monitor. The projector wasnt far out and made a small difference, my monitor and TV were 'miles' out and the tuning with the disc worked wonders :)
  • mi1ez
    249904 said:
    142373 said:
    249904 said:
    142373 said:
    249904 said:
    It is IMO ridiculous to suggest the spending of near the cost of a monitor to calibrate it. There are several Blu-ray Discs (Disney World of Wonder for example) that will achieve 80%+ of the levels of calibration for 10% of the cost. Was the author sponsored by DataColor or, just wildly out of touch?
    How does a blu-ray calibrate a screen then?
    Is short (for the example I mentioned) , you get several display patterns shown and adjust your screen until they display as they should. You will need to do this a few times for each as some will impact others (you would have to with the Datacolor as well unless it can adjust your monitor automatically afaik). The colours are adjusted the same way but with a filter used by you to help 'understand' the data. This is a link to typical testcard used by the Blu-Ray http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=16216&position=2 This is a link to a review of the Blu-Ray on the same site http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Disney-WOW-World-of-Wonder-Blu-ray/16216/ Hopefully that will help
    So do you have like a physical card to compare with what's on screen?
    No, the only physical item (other than the disc) is a blue tinted filter which is used for one of the several tests. Brightness (as an example) displays a test strip and you adjust the brightness until your screen shows certain details but not others (as instructed by the previous 'chapter' of the 'film'). There are several levels of testing and reading the review I linked will give you more of an idea. I did the setup for TV, projector setup (Datacolor products won't work on projectors as the device blocks the very image you need to measure) and my monitor. The projector wasnt far out and made a small difference, my monitor and TV were 'miles' out and the tuning with the disc worked wonders :)


    It's very much subjective still, rather than absolute. While I agree for most people this is pointless, if you need it calibrated you need it done properly. I wouldn't surprised if you could rent one of these if you looked hard enough.
  • timbozero
    It is not at all subjective, you need to use it to realise that it is 'absolute' but, it is not as accurate as digital metering (only close to).
  • mi1ez
    249904 said:
    It is not at all subjective, you need to use it to realise that it is 'absolute' but, it is not as accurate as digital metering (only close to).


    If you're using your eyes, then it is subjective. You can't say that everyone's eyes are the same, 20/20 or not.
  • timbozero
    *sigh* Think how you will , I am not here to change your mind.

    The brightness test (for example) is done with a graduated display thus :-
    http://static.highdefview.com/wp-content/uploads/review/wow/wow_brightness_thumb.jpg.pagespeed.ce.JIxKCdd3ek.jpg
    There is only 1 point on the brightness adjustment where the correct graduation will match and the only 'downside' (which you could even remotely call subjective) is that it will not be spot on (as a digital meter might be).

    There is another for contrast etc., etc., etc.. Once they are all completed .....

    Ah hell, try it or don't. It made a massive difference to my cinema room and for only 25$ which is a bargain compared to the digital meter (which was my initial point, that it's overkill to buy a meter)

    Peace, Out :)
  • mi1ez
    249904 said:
    *sigh* Think how you will , I am not here to change your mind. The brightness test (for example) is done with a graduated display thus :- http://static.highdefview.com/wp-content/uploads/review/wow/wow_brightness_thumb.jpg.pagespeed.ce.JIxKCdd3ek.jpg There is only 1 point on the brightness adjustment where the correct graduation will match and the only 'downside' (which you could even remotely call subjective) is that it will not be spot on (as a digital meter might be). There is another for contrast etc., etc., etc.. Once they are all completed ..... Ah hell, try it or don't. It made a massive difference to my cinema room and for only 25$ which is a bargain compared to the digital meter (which was my initial point, that it's overkill to buy a meter) Peace, Out :)


    We'll agree to disagree.
  • Flyfisherman
    Very interesting and much needed article, keep up the good work!

    But there is one thing that comes in mind, about the licence of the S/W.
    Is it possible to install the S/W and the colorimeter on more than one computer, or is it locked to the first computer once one has entered the activation code?

    Because I have several computers at home and really would like to use the equipment to do this calibration on them all.

    I assume that there should not be a problem to calibrate two monitors on the same computer?

    Best Regards from Sweden.