Spyder 3 ProThe Spyder 3 Pro, available for £102 from Amazon UK, provides quick and easy monitor calibration as well as an ambient light meter, and is designed for photographers.

“Serious photographers and creative pros require a high degree of color accuracy; from capturing images, to digital editing and printing, Spyder3Pro™ delivers. This third generation colorimeter comes equipped with new state-of-the-art optical design and photo-centric user interface providing accurate, reliable and consistent color. Spyder3PRO™ gives you more precise control over white point and gamma, new ReCAL option cuts re-calibration time in half and SpyderProof™ function brings you a new level of color control to help you save time, money and achieve color excellence.”

Click here to read the full Spyder 3 Pro review.

Installation: This was surprisingly easy, just insert the disk, install the program, connect the Spyder using a free USB socket, then start the program up. This took around 5 to 10 minutes.

What’s in the box? Free screen cleaner! Software CD (and serial key), 4 step quick start guide, 2 year warranty, Spyder3 calibration tool, and a stand for using the ambient light monitor built into the Spyder3.

Spyder 3 Pro

Calibrating the screen: The program asks you several questions such as screen type (LCD, CRT, Laptop, Projector), what options are available on your screen, and then recommends resetting to factory defaults. It also checks what options you have with your screen, one problem is that the wizard doesn’t allow you to select RGB, these are only available in the advanced mode – using this mode can extend the length of time it takes to calibrate the screen – and the software suggests that you may get better results by not using this feature (once switched on it seemed impossible to switch this feature off). Calibration takes roughly 10 – 15 minutes, and shows a before and after view at the end of calibration.

Spyder 3 Pro Before

Results: My monitor on default settings was overly bright and yellow and didn’t show bright gradients very well, as shown above. My own attempts at setting the contrast and brightness manually had made photos appear somewhat harsh and overly cold. The calibration from Spyder 3 appears to have worked well. It’s now possible to view the individual blocks in the grayscale chart used on a lot of websites (eg at the bottom of DPReview) and as shown in the example photos shown. Previously the whites were too bright and the dark shades weren’t dark enough – the results shown below show better contrast as well.

Spyder 3 Pro After

Using the program: The program installs an icon in the taskbar, from this you can launch the main program. In preferences you can select whether you have a reminder about recalibrating your screen, and can switch on auto updates, and advanced options. On the SpyderProof section you can view a number of photos as thumbs or zoom in to view the photos individually and the program will show you before and after results.

Spyder 3 Pro

Overall: The Spyder 3 is probably one of the default choices when looking for a monitor calibration tool, and it’s easy to see why, as the system is easy and quick to use with some good results. Getting into the advanced options can complicate calibration and it may be best to leave all the settings to the software. The system is priced in the middle compared to the competition, however I can’t help feeling that the Pantone Huey offers almost identical features for a much lower price, and for that reason I find it hard to recommend the Spyder 3.

Pros:
+ Easy and quick to use
+ Sits on the top of your computer as an ambient light meter with glowing blue light
+ Alerts you if you need to recalibrate the monitor
+ Results look good

Cons:
– Suction cup small and device prone to falling off the screen half way through calibration.
– Software recommends you reset brigtness / contrast and everything else to defaults leaving the software to choose the “optimum” settings for you, however, you may find white overly bright if you’re sensitive to screens being too bright.
– Expensive compared to competition? – same features available in the Pantone Huey for £40 less.

Available for £102 from Amazon UK

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