A correctly calibrated display can make a big improvement to your photo editing workflow. It means less struggling to get the versions you print or share look as good as they should.
There are a few major options for calibrating your display. They all use a combination of hardware and software to test the colors and tones that your display is putting out. They then create a profile that your computer’s operating system loads that compensates for any differences. The objective is to get your display to show a tru and accurate version of the colors and tones of the image.
Spyder5PRO vs Spyder5ELITE
Fundamentally, each of the Spyder5 colorimeters do the same thing. They all use the same hardware. The difference comes down to the software, with the higher models offering increasingly fine control for expert users. That is, if you stick to just the basic walk-thru mode, you should end up with the same profile from all of the Spyder5 devices. But as you move up the range you get more options to tweak the settings. And while they’ll all work with standard desktop and laptop displays, only the Spyder5ELITE can also profile projectors.
Since I’ve already covered the Spyder5PRO in depth, rather than rehash all of that I’m just going to focus here mostly on what’s different between the ELITE and the PRO models.
After the first calibration, you’ll have the chance to choose your color calibration workflow. Here you have more control than you do in the other Spyder5 models. The choices are:
- Step-by-step Assistant (walk-thru)
- Studio Match (matching all the displays in your studio as closely as possible)
- Expert Console (skip the hand-holding entirely)
The Expert Console, for example, puts all the controls on the screen at once, like this:
In the Display Type options, in addition to the Desktop and Laptop options, both of which are also available with the Spyder5PRO, there’s also a Projector option.
Under the Calibration Settings, the Advanced button opens up some extra options with custom targets, room light, and gray balance calibration.
The profiling routine on both appears to be identical. It scrolls through a preset routine of colors and tones, comparing what the colorimeter actually sees with what its software expects to see.
Once you’ve finished the calibration process and saved your new profile, you’ll get a selection of sample photos to see visually the effects of the new profile, and you can switch between the profile and an uncalibrated version. With the Spyder5ELITE, you also have the option to use SpyderTune, which gives you some old-fashioned sliders in case you want to manually tweak the hue, gamma, or brightness. You also have the option to show these screens full-screen, which isn’t available in the Spyder5PRO.
Map Color Profiles
You can then compare the newly generated color profile with sRGB, NTSC, and Adobe RGB profiles. With the ELITE, you’re also given the option to compare your new profile with another custom profile you’ve previously generated (this last option available with the PRO).
Using the walk-thru workflows on both, I found no visually detectable difference between the color profiles generated on the same display within a few minutes of each other using the Spyder5PRO and Spyder5ELITE. Overlaying them in the comparison screen confirmed this. So the fundamental quality of the basic color calibration is the same. So if you’re after the simpler–and less expensive–option and aren’t using a projector display, the Spyder5PRO will give you excellent results (as will the cheapest model, the Spyder5EXPRESS, for that matter, if you’re willing to give up even more control).
What the ELITE version gives you though, is the addition of projector profiling, studio display matching, and more control over manually fine-tuning the controls.