Color management guide by Arnaud Frich

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Updated on August 01, 2018

Spyder5Elite review

Box Spyder5Elite / DatacolorThe new direct competitor of the i1Display Pro is unarguably an excellent sensor, noticeably improved, but to enjoy it fully, you really need to be well informed about monitor calibration since the options offered by its related software are numerous and sometimes unclear. The Pro version, which uses the same sensor but a slightly restricted version of the software, will for most people be entirely enough. Now, what has been improved and does it enable it to catch up with this famous i1Display Pro?

The new monitor calibration solutions for beginners, professionals and experts - Spyder5Express, Spyder5Pro et Spyder5Elite de Datacolor - available at the prices of £90, £140 and £215 - are solutions aimed at amateur or professional photographers and of course at any person wishing to see "real" colors displayed. They replace the Spyder4 versions, released in January 2012. Here are the main new features:

  • New colorimeter, much lighter and very well-manufactured,
  • The same sensor for the three models, a definite proof of quality!
  • New version of the 7 filters sensor in order to improve calibration. Important new feature!
  • Better protection of the filters for an improved reliability in time but still made of organic matter... Yet the Spyder4 have given us feedback and it's positive,
  • Better accuracy (+55% according to the manufacturer) especially visible in low lights and in the quality of grey gradients.

Striking new feature! Unlike former versions, the three Spyder5 models now use the same 7-filters colorimeter! It's a striking new feature and probably a token of a clearly improved calibration for the basic version: Spyder5Express and Pro.

However, the software is pretty much the same, even if some windows have been adapted to new monitors, of course.

The Elite version enables to calibrate a video projector.

Colorimètre Spyder5 et la boîte de la Spyder5Elite




Introduction to the sensor Spyder5Elite

New! The Elite version uses the same new colorimeter Spyder5 as the Pro and even Express versions so the differences lie in the software. Evolution can happen! So you won't find the program inside the box but only on the website.

The calibration kit and its box

The monitor sensor Spyder5Elite by Datacolor (as Pro and Express versions) is sold in a particularly good-looking new box, very qualitative and, by the way, a lot lighter. In this box, you'll find the new sensor and its cable, still long enough, and... the serial number. That's it! The program is quite naturally available on the web nowadays.


Contents of the box Spyder5Elite


Maybe even of a better manufacturing quality, the last Spyder5 sensor is sold without a supporting device for video projectors calibration because the fastening system (not a Kodak one) is placed on the side of the colorimeter as you can see below. Finally, note the difference of size between Spyder5 vs Spyder4.


Spyder5 system of fixation on tripod


Main characteristics and new features (4 vs 5)

Few new features but very interesting ones!

  • New 7 filters detectors;
  • New filters and 27mm aperture;
  • Ambient light management for the Pro version and improved one for Elite;
  • Numerous settings possibilities; very advanced for the Elite model.
  • One sensor to calibrate all your displays;
  • Accuracy and stability noticeably improved;
  • Very quick re-calibration: 2.5 minutes!
  • The Elite model enables to calibrate a video projector

Technical specifications

  Spyder5Elite (S5EL 100)
Average price: £215
Datacolor Spyder5
As many as you want!
Gamma selection
Yes - from 1.8 to 2.4
Alignment of several monitors
Yes - StudioMatch
Control of ambient light
Yes - 5 settings
Video projector calibration

Download Spyder5Elite / Pro / Express

Spyder5Express, Pro et Elite are available in WINDOWS 32 and 64 bits and MacOS versions. You'll find the download link in the box.

Buy the sensor Spyder5Elite Datacolor

Price incl. taxes Spyder5Elite




Calibration step by step

The program Spyder5Elite enables to characterize a desktop monitor, a laptop monitor and a video projector from its main window. The process is quite long the first time because you need to select a certain number of options, however, it will only last two minutes and a half during the next re-calibrations. It offers a simplified mode that doesn't have much interest if you're picking the Elite version in my opinion!

Installation of the program Spyder5Elite

It is classic, hence simple. Nothing particular to say! When you click the app's icon, language will automatically be detected and the program will require you to register online. This activation is compulsory.

First launch...

At each launch, the program connects to the web to check your licence. (I didn't try to open it without a working connexion). Then you can start by reviewing the "preferences of the software (Menu Spyder5Elite / Preferences) to select two or three interesting options:


Rappel de l'étalonnage Spyder3Elite

1 - Choice of the sensor - If several calibration sensors are plugged, the software will ask you to pick one. Here the new Spyder5.

2 - Choice of the re-calibration reminder - You may choose never or from everyday to every six months and I'll confess that it sometimes happens to me not to do it for six months!

My recommendation! A professional editor will have to do it more often, of course, as well as if you're working with a monitor that is more than five years old because it can "break" quickly.

The rest... - Look for software updates - Why not? / Share your calibration data with Datacolor - For statistics / Note that the button "To calibrate a mini-laptop"e; enables to display very short menus that take a lot less space on the screen.

3 - Advanced settings - (To the attention of advanced users) -


Paramètres avancés du logiciel Spyder4Elite


Advanced settings will enable you to choose the level of Delta E warning hence synonymous of too important a gap with the norm.

My recommendation! Leave it at 3.0 because it is just a warning. If you set it below, except on a top-range monitor, there are risks it will start ringing soon!

Cliquez sur "ICC settings..."



My recommendation! Finally, the ICC setting should be left at its default value: ICC 2.0 version (The 4.0 version is still far from being a standard and causes real displaying issues, and that's still true in 2017!) and Bradford chromatic adaptation mode, the most powerful.

1 - Welcome screen!

Four most classic recommendation (Caution with the monitor version 4.54) you have to check:

  • Warming of the monitor for at least 30 minutes;
  • Check the lightning conditions in your room;
  • Reset your monitor and place its color temperature on 6500K;
  • And... plug the sensor!


Menu principal du logiciel de calibrage Spyder3Elite

A few classic recommendations...

Click next...

2 - Selection of the monitor to calibrate

Select the monitor you wish to calibrate.

My recommendation! Note that you can rename them in order to identify their ICC profile more easily.

Choix du type d'écran sur Spyder3Express


The program will enable you to choose the monitor to calibrate and the window will go place itself on it automatically. Very convenient!

Click Next...

3 - Choice of the type of monitor to calibrate


Display type - Spyder5Elite


Nothing special to say except that the program will crawl its database in order to identify your monitor and possibly know more about its "usual" correction curves (next window).

4 - Choose the monitor's make and model

You'll find two unfolding lists to choose your monitor hence its technology as well as the response curves already known. Your data will be shared with Datacolor if you haven't changed the preferences of your program.

Click Next...

5 - Identification of your monitor's controls


Identify controls on Spyder5Elite


You just have to check the settings available for the monitor you want to calibrate.

My recommendation! With experience, I noted that I wasn't a big fan of color temperature settings directly on the monitor. I'd rather choose the factory settings that come closest to my target value and the ICC profile will do the rest.


Note about types of technology

Please note that you don't have to choose the technology used by the monitor to calibrate (CCFL, white LEDs, etc.) anymore, nor the gamut range (sRGB or wide gamut). Now do you believe me or not when I was telling you that it didn't change anything in version 4 anyway?!

Click Next...

6 - Advanced calibration settings

The program now enables you to choose what is called target values:


Advanced calibration settings Spyder5Elite


  • Target gamma: by default, choose 2.2 and adjust if necessary. Sometimes, it is better to choose 2.0 or 2.4 for a given monitor, often not of an outstanding level of quality. Choose Native if you're calibrating a graphic arts monitor.
  • White point (or white point color temperature); 5000 K is often really too yellow and not warm with basic monitors, often set at 9300K by default and 6500 K is a bit cold. With the Elite sensor, it is even possible to choose this value with improved accuracy with the field "Other..." in the unfolding menu. Find a value that suits you all day and all year long.

    My recommendation! I like it between 6250 and 6500 K with Datacolor sensors because the rest of the time, they're a bit redder than X-Rite on basic monitors with an IPS screen panel.

  • Brightness: depends on your environment and if you're printing or not.

    My recommendation! In this case, choose 90/100 Cd/M2. For a use on the web only, 120 to 140 are preferable.

With advanced settings (at the extreme bottom), you'll also be able to choose:

  • A selection of predefined target values, possibly; You just have to follow the wise recommendations of the program. It shows that it's a professional program, because the sensor is able to check if the monitor follows the recommendations of a certification. Absolutely exhaustive... maybe even too much!!! Real specialists know it's not necessarily compulsory.
  • Activate control of the ambient light;

    My recommendation!
    Personally, I don't like to activate the measurement of the ambient light because thanks to experience, I figured target values which, globally, suit me well all day and all year long.

  • Calibration of grey balance;

    My recommendation! I choose "the best" in order to get the most "beautiful" grey gradients, meaning the more progressive ones and without color predominances.


Click Next... and place your sensor on the monitor.


To place the Spyder5Elite on your screen to begin the calibration


Click Next and calibration starts. The program will help you set the brightness target value if you checked the option above: using the brightness keys on your monitor (+-), adjust it according to the indications of the program. (You can do the same with color temperature and contrast if needed. So don't worry if you don't need to adjust these two options).

Characterization goes on and lasts 4-5 minutes. When it's over, click "Finish" to name the ICC profile.

My recommendation! Give it a name that makes it easily identifiable, with a date in particular and possibly with the target values or the sensor used.

7 - Before / after comparison and analysis of the calibration

Once the characterization process over, your monitor is calibrated and the program offers you to compare the before and after states.


Before/after calibration with Spyder5Elite


By clicking the button "Swap", you can see the effect of calibration live. Click Next... to save your profile and possibly select a reminder.

The next window show a report about your calibration and in particular the CIEXY space, the gamut of your monitor and, new 5.0 feature, the percentage of sRGB space of your monitor. I'll let you crawl across the many, many reports offered by the Elite version. For figures lovers!


Profile overview Spyder5Elite

Note that this window now displays the % of sRGB space of your monitor.

Your calibration is now over!

Use and checking of the ICC profile

As said in the page about color preferences in Photoshop, it is wise to check that Photoshop indeed uses this new ICC profile to display the colors of your monitor.


Conclusion and my rating!

The sensor Spyder5Elite is a major novelty because this product is really professional and improved. The difference with its competitors - on low- and middle-range monitors - will lie in the details like, for me, the interface that looks less professional than iProfiler's or maybe a slightly redder streak and gradients that look a bit less "neat". It shows how little I have to reproach to this new product. Congratulations to Datacolor's engineers who, even if they didn't create a new reference - which remains the i1Display Pro to calibrate top-range monitors - have really improved their calibration sensor though and offer a real alternative!



Manufacturing quality
4 étoiles
Robustness/ stability over time
3,5 étoiles
Uncertain because of the organic filters.  
5 étoile
Quality of the ICC profile
5 étoiles
Value for money
4 étoiles
  • Excellent calibration quality, visibly improved even to the naked eye compared to versions 4, especially for low- and middle-range monitors,
  • Impressive settings possibilities in Elite version,
  • Excellent finish and reduced bulkiness,
  • For color management and figures lovers in Elite version,
  • Enables to calibrate your video projector,
  • Very good calibration even on a laptop with mostly the same tone breaks as X-Rite (for these monitors).
  • Its price: £215 as starting price for the Elite version and £140 for the Pro one,
  • Compared with X-Rite, the monitors might appear a bit redder... so X-Rite slightly greenish and still, it will depend on your light environment: I'm quibbling here!
  • Grey gradients that look less smooth than with the sensor i1Display Pro, which remains the reference, on top-range monitors,
  • Not so easy to choose among all the options combinations in advanced modes,
  • Full calibration a bit too long (numerous (too numerous!) settings to adjust in Elite version but you know what you're buying)
  • Interface of the program less beautiful than its competitor's!
  • Still not at the level of competitors, even if this last version is getting closer and closer!
9.0 / 10


My opinion: A product that has been even more improved, that you can buy without a second's thought, especially to calibrate low- and mid-range monitors. Very good novelty that can't bypass the reference in top-range monitors calibration though.


Buy the sensor Spyder5Elite

Achetez la sonde Spyder5Elite chez

Price incl. taxes Spyder5Elite





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