This tutorial discusses using the Spyder5Elite to calibrate screens which have no adjustability other than their brightness. This includes:
– All Macs
– All laptops
– Those all-in-one PCs that are trying to be Macs

It might also include very cheap desktop screens with no buttons or menus to control their color.

Before you begin, please make sure you’ve read this article first.

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Been here before?

If this is your first time running the Spyder5Elite using my instructions, keep reading this page. It’ll take you through the process step-by-step.

If you have successfully calibrated using my instructions in the past, and are here for a quick refresher about the monthly recalibration process, go straight to the ReCal page.

Part 1: Screen setup

Warm up

Make sure your screen has been turned on for at least half an hour before starting this process.

Light

Make sure you’re in good light. Viewing prints in dim light is a futile exercise. It needs to be bright enough, and white enough. Read this if you haven’t already done so.

Adjust brightness to match prints

Compare your prints to your screen, and adjust the screen’s brightness to get an acceptable match. Remember, don’t hold the print close to the screen – it must be out to the side, so you have to turn your head to compare.

Please don’t agonise over this brightness step. Near enough is good enough.

If you’ve never adjusted the brightness of your screen before, it’s likely to seem horribly dim to you at first. Don’t worry, you’ll be used to it in no time at all, and you’ll wonder how you ever tolerated it so bright before.

Keep the brightness adjustment screen open!

Don’t close the Display window where your screen brightness slider is. You’ll need to access it again later.

Check your lab’s website in case there are specific calibration instructions

This is quite rare, but it’s a good idea to check. You see, almost all labs adhere very sensibly to the modern calibration temperature standard of6500K (sometimes also called “D65“). Sadly, however, there are some labs out there which still stubbornly cling to the 1990s standards of 5000K/D50 or 5500K/D55. Millers and Mpix are most notorious for this foolish setting.

So, check your lab’s website to see if they give specific advice in this regard. Most labs won’t mention it at all; in which case you can assume 6500K. Some labs will specifically say 6500K, which is great. If you happen to find that your lab specifies a different temperature, consider switching labs in the future, but for now, write down the number they advise. We’ll need it later.

You might be wondering why this matters. It matters because if your lab forces you to calibrate your screen to a too-warm color temperature, it means that when you’re browsing the web, everyone else’s photos will look too warm to you, and your photos will look too cold to everyone else. Not good. 6500K is the web color standard, and since the web rules the world, it is unavoidably the photography standard too. Most labs get this – Millers and Mpix do not.

Part 2: Install software

Calibrators no longer ship with disks. That’s fine, because the disks always used to be out of date before we got them anyway.

So when you open the box, the first thing you see is a notice to visit the DataColor website to download the software. On that page you’ll see a video, which I encourage you to watch, because it will demonstrate the installation process.

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I don’t anticipate you’ll run into any problems during this process. You’ll be guided through download, installation, plugging in the device, entering the serial number, and activating the software. Finally, the software will tell you to plug in the device, then launch for you in readiness for your first calibration.

Part 3: Setup

If you’re running a dual-monitor setup, make sure you drag the Spyder software window onto the screen you’re wishing to calibrate.

Preferences

As soon as the software launches, choose Preferences from the Go menu:

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Set the Recal warning for “1 Month”, then click the “Advanced Settings” button:

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“Check for software updates” should be turned on by default. “Share calibration data” is up to you.

The “Show RGB sliders” box should remain unchecked. Click the “ICC Settings” button:

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At the time of writing this, Version 4 profiles are still flaky. Make sure yours is set to Version 2:

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Press OK a bunch of times to get back to the main welcome screen.

Check all four checkboxes, then press “Next” at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to continue:

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If this isn’t your first time running the software, those checkboxes might not even be there at all! It seems to only ask you to check them on the very first time. That’s weird, but whatever. Just press Next to continue.

Part 4: The Display

Depending if you’ve run this software previously, there are two options for what you might see next.

Option 1:

If you see this screen, choose “Step-by-step Assistant” and press Next; then click here to go to Part 5 on Calibration Settings.

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Option 2:

Or, you might see this screen:

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I chose “Laptop” because that’s what I’m using. If you’re calibrating an iMac or an all-in-one PC, choose “Desktop”.

SPECIAL NOTE: On every screen, on the right-hand side, there’s a handy help panel. It’s great, and if you want even more in-depth explanation, you can click on the link at the bottom:

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Their help really is helpful, I’m very impressed with it.

Make and Model

As far as I can tell, this screen is only relevant if you chose to share your calibration data with DataColor. Anyway, go ahead and enter your computer’s details:

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Next, if you get this screen, tell it you only have Brightness control:

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Part 5: Calibration Settings

This screen is the hub of the whole operation:

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Your screen might look different from mine. If yours gives you these three choices, choose “FullCal”:

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These three settings should (probably) look like this:

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I said “probably”, just in case your lab is Millers or Mpix or another foolish lab that doesn’t recommend 6500K for the white temperature (as I discussed in the first section at the top of this page). If your lab requires a different temperature, select it from that menu.

Gamma should always be 2.2, and Brightness can be 80 for now (we’ll tweak it later if needed). The software’s recommendation for 120 in the Brightness section is crazy – Datacolor seems to think people’s offices are lit by football stadium floodlights!

At the bottom of that screen, press the Advanced Settings button:

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Advanced Calibration Settings

The first section summarises the settings you chose on the previous screen. The Room Light setting should be turned off, and the Gray Balance setting should ideally be on “Better”.

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If you’re in a screaming hurry, “Faster” gray balance calibration might be adequate. But I hope you’ve allowed enough time to do this process properly.

Press “Next“, then Click here to continue the instructions.