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The Datacolor SpyderCheckr target shown with one target sheet partly removed. Photo provided by Datacolor. Datacolor SpyderCheckr: color calibration for digicams
(Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 20:08 EDT)

Datacolor has announced a new tool aimed at achieving consistent color from one or more digital cameras, dubbed the Datacolor SpyderCheckr.

Currently being shown at the Photokina tradeshow in Cologne, Germany, the SpyderCheckr is available alone, and in a SpyderCheckr Pro bundle that also includes the handy Datacolor SpyderCube white balance tool. The SpyderCheckr itself is reminiscent of X-Rite's ColorChecker Passport, and folds closed in a similar manner to protect its targets, but there are some important differences.

Perhaps most significant is the size -- where the ColorChecker Passport is designed to be pocket-friendly, the new SpyderCheckr is a fair bit larger, making it perhaps less portable, but allowing a greater number of target patches, with a greater size per patch. The ColorChecker Passport has a total of fifty patches, of which 24 patches are used for automatic calibration, and the remainder are used to control clipping, confirm color fidelity, and add intentional mild color casts for creative reasons. By comparison, the Datacolor SpyderCheckr's 48 target patches are all used for calibration, potentially yielding a more accurate result.

The Datacolor SpyderCheckr also features tripod mounts on both ends of its central hinge, where the ColorChecker Passport isn't tripod mountable -- but unlike the Datacolor product, the X-Rite variant is designed to be able to stand by itself on a flat surface. The ColorChecker Passport also has a neck strap attachment with bundled strap, something that's absent in the Datacolor SpyderCheckr design.

Both products are designed for use in a raw workflow with Adobe's Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Photoshop Lightroom products, on the Windows and Macintosh platforms, but the manner in which they work differs. With the new Datacolor SpyderCheckr, the image must first be straightened and cropped down to a set of white marks on the SpyderCheckr, then handed off to the provided software. If the target point locations aren't quite correct, you can adjust this, and then an ACR preset is returned which applies HSL adjustments to images. This approach makes it simple to see what changes have been made for a particular preset, and to make manual adjustments as desired.

Datacolor's SpyderCheckr target. Photo provided by Datacolor. Click for a bigger picture!

Datacolor's SpyderCheckr target.
Photo provided by Datacolor.

By contrast, the software bundled with the X-Rite product automatically detects the target location, although if this can't proceed for some reason, you're prompted to locate the corners of the target manually. The software then creates a DNG profile, which can't directly be adjusted. Instead, adjustents are made by basing white balance on two rows of targets, five intended for portraits, and five for landscapes.

Both Datacolor and X-Rite's products are capable of creating dual-illuminant profiles that can attempt to interpolate and correct for light sources in between those that were profiled. They also both include a larger grey card useful for setting white balance in-camera, although to access the Datacolor grey card requires that the target sheet be removed from the case and turned over. A couple of other notable features of the Datacolor SpyderCheckr aren't included in X-Rite's ColorChecker Passport, though.

Datacolor has included a patch it calls the "FadeCheckr", which is designed to change color upon prolonged exposure of the target to sunlight, indicating when the target itself needs to be replaced. After the equivalent of 30 days of full sun in the US Southwestern desert, this patch changes from red to yellow, suggesting that either the target should be replaced, the target patches remeasured to take account of any fading that's occurred. X-Rite's competing product doesn't provide any automated manner in which to gauge the life of the chart, and instead simply provides a space in which to write the date on which the chart was first used, with a recommendation that it be replaced after two years.

The Datacolor SpyderCheckr also allows replacement of the target sheets without discarding the SpyderCheckr housing itself, a rather more environmentally friendly option than that of the X-Rite product, which must be replaced entirely once its targets have reached their useful life. No information on pricing of the Datacolor replacement target sheets is yet available, but we understand that they'll be ready to purchase from early 2011.

The Datacolor SpyderCheckr and SpyderCheckr Pro both ship in the US market from October 15, 2010. Suggested list pricing is set at approximately $130 for the SpyderCheckr, and about $170 for the SpyderCheckr Pro. (By way of comparison, X-Rite's ColorChecker Passport shipped in September 2009, priced at around $100.

The Datacolor SpyderCheckr target shown folded, with target sheets removed. Photo provided by Datacolor. Click for a bigger picture!

The Datacolor SpyderCheckr target shown folded, with target sheets removed.
Photo provided by Datacolor.

Original Source Press Release:

Datacolor Introduces SpyderCheckr™ and SpyderCheckr Pro™ Color Reference Solution

Offers Photographers Precise Color Balance Throughout Digital Workflow

Lawrenceville, NJ and Photokina (Hall 4.1, Booth E010/F019) – September 21, 2010 – Datacolor® (www.Datacolor.com), a global leader in color management solutions, today introduced SpyderCheckr™, a new color reference tool that allows photographers to obtain consistent, accurate color within a standard RAW processing workflow, perform precision in-camera white balance, create custom camera calibration and record known color references. SpyderCheckr features 48 scientifically engineered color patches in a wide range of spectrally neutral colors and user-friendly profiling software that enables photographers to achieve consistent, predictable color control from capture to edit.

Datacolor SpyderCheckr captures accurate color when shooting and delivers results effortlessly into a photographer’s digital workflow with RAW import software. With high-consistency standardized color patches and easy-to-use calibration software that allows photographers to create custom camera profiles, SpyderCheckr decreases post production time by eliminating trial and error color adjustment. By correcting color automatically as part of the image import workflow, the SpyderCheckr takes the guesswork out of precision color balancing.

“Every camera make and model records color in a different way, so an easy-to-use color reference tool is vital to account for these variations,” said Christoph Gamper, Vice President, Consumer Business Unit. “By adding color management with SpyderCheckr into the capture state of a digital workflow, photographers can guarantee consistency and accuracy from day-to-day as well as from camera to camera.”

Features of the Datacolor SpyderCheckr include:

  • Consistent color control for RAW workflow, giving a color standard for any camera and decreasing post production time

  • Neutral gray target and gray ramp for in-camera white balance and visual neutrality

  • Extensive skin tone samples for portrait and fashion photography

  • Durable, eco-friendly self-casing construction for easy transport and field use, with replaceable targets, first-in-class tripod mount and an innovative built-in fade strip indicator that issues a warning when target inserts need replacing

  • Easy-to-use software that interacts with Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Elements and Camera RAW to produce calibration presets that fit directly into a digital workflow

“Using SpyderCheckr I am now able to create accurate calibrations for each of my camera bodies, assuring that my RAW import software will interpret the color data with the truest color rendition,” said professional photographer John Blaustein. “With its intuitive user interface, calibrations can be generated in less than five minutes, allowing me to easily modify the camera calibration to suit my particular needs”

Also introduced today is the Datacolor SpyderCheckrPro, a bundle package that includes the SpyderCheckr along with the Datacolor SpyderCube for capturing custom white balance, neutrality data from multiple light sources and correcting highlight and shadow details. This pocket size RAW calibration tool eliminates the need for traditional 18% gray cards and includes a Black Trap for shadow detail control for absolute black and white. Together, SpyderCheckr and SpyderCube offer a comprehensive solution for camera and scene color control.

Availability and Pricing
Datacolor SpyderCheckr and SpyderCheckr Pro are available at a suggested list price of $129.00 and $169.00 respectively from www.Datacolor.com/spyder or at participating resellers. Pre-orders for SpyderCheckr and SpyderCheckr Pro begin today with its official worldwide launch to take place at Photokina in Cologne, Germany, from September 21-26, 2010. An introduction video to SpyderCheckr is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV7k5_f3eM8w.

The Datacolor SpyderCheckr Camera Utility software in use. Photo provided by Datacolor. Click for a bigger picture!

The Datacolor SpyderCheckr Camera Utility software in use.
Photo provided by Datacolor.

About Datacolor
Datacolor is a global leader in color management solutions and color communication technology. The world's leading brands, manufacturers, creative professionals and consumers have been choosing Datacolor's innovative technology and solutions to consistently achieve the right color for nearly 40 years. A Swiss held company, Datacolor's global presence encompasses a sales, service and support network serving customers in more than 65 countries throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia, along with 13 worldwide operation and production facilities. Industries served include apparel and textile, paint and coatings, automotive, plastics, photography, home theater and others. For more information about Datacolor and its products or services, visit www.Datacolor.com.


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