How to Calibrate your Monitor with the Datacolor SpyderX Elite

Screen calibration is one of those topics that I know is important, but it's not something I do frequently. Or ever. I've always assumed the displays that I buy are calibrated out of the box, so the colors on the screen are natural as long as I'm not using any custom color settings. In the back of my mind, I knew that probably wasn't exactly right but I didn't have any way to calibrate my monitor to say otherwise, so I just stuck with the default settings. For years. I've never color-calibrated my monitors, I've actually purchased pre-color calibrated Asus monitors before to get around doing this. I also used my Macbook Pro screen as the "source of truth" when it comes to colors.

The fact of the matter is, screens tend to change colors over time as you use them. They never stay calibrated forever, if they are even calibrated out of the box. I have a few different monitors, and in this article, I'm going to calibrate them and show you the before and afters of each monitor, including my Macbook Pro screen and my pre-color-calibrated Asus ProArt screens.

This article and video was prompted by Datacolor and their Spyder X Elite. The company emailed me and asked if I would like to review one of their Spyder X Elites. A comment came to mind that I received a few months ago asking how to match colors from their computer to their Sony Bravia TV. While I'll touch on that a little later in this article and video, as soon as Datacolor reached out to me, I said I'd love to review one of their screen calibrators. As always the company has not seen this article or video before posting, or told me to say or not say anything about this product. All these words are my own, they did not pay me to make the article or video but there will be affiliate links here if you'd like to learn more and support my future reviews.

Calibrating Macbook Pro with Datacolor SpyderX Elite

Let's start off with my Macbook Pro. I thought this Macbook Pro screen was as color-accurate as it could get. It's a laptop screen, I thought it should be exactly replicating the colors on the laptop. Let's walk through the process of calibrating this screen and show you just how wrong my assumption was.

To start were going to go to the URL on the card in the box. This is different from model to model, but for my SpyderX Elite, it's this link that is on screen now.

This page tells us to warm up our monitor for 30 mins, ensure no direct light is falling on our monitor, reset the monitor to factory settings, and disable auto-brightness.

On a Mac, go to displays and make sure you're on the default profile.

Next, we'll download, install and activate the software. I've already activated my Spyder X Elite, but it's a really simple process. Startup the software, plug in the device, select your model and input the serial number and you're done.

Next, we'll plug our Spyder X Elite into the USB port and begin the calibration in the software.

If you have more than one monitor, like I'll show you later, the software will select which monitor you're calibrating. Mine showed up as generic names, I renamed mine to something more recognizable to me. If you want to switch monitors, selecting a different monitor from this dropdown will select the other monitor.

After selecting what kind of display you have and following the on-screen prompts, you'll get to the point where you have to hang the calibrator over your screen in a certain spot. Depending on how large your screen is, you'll have to pull the excess cable to get the proper fitment.

After the proper alignment, start the calibration and the screen will begin to check the brightness, then flash different colors on the screen. After about 30 seconds, that's it, the calibration is complete. You'll be able to save your new profile, after calibrating a few different monitors, I found naming the monitor model number hyphen date was the most efficient way to do this. On the rename screen, you'll notice that the software will remind you to recalibrate your screen. Crazy to think I went years without calibrating and they want me to do this every month as the default. I left mine on a month, and on the next screen is the satisfying example screen. Here you can preview your uncalibrated monitor's profile and your new calibrated profile.

To make sure your monitor is using the correct color profile, on a mac - go to displays, color, and select the color profile you just created. On windows, search for color management, and select the correct ICC profile.

And that's it. You now have a calibrated monitor. It's a pretty easy process, and it's nice to know you have a fully color-accurate monitor that will be a true representation of what you want your final output to look like.

I've previously calibrated my Macbook Pro display and my main windows pc display, but I have my Asus ProArt displays and an LG Ultrawide that is supposed to have pretty accurate colors. I'd love to color calibrate these monitors to see just how color-accurate they really are. So let's just do that really quickly, and show the before/after results.

Calibrating Multiple Screens with the SpyderX Elite

Check out my YouTube video to see the difference in my Asus PG279Q, Asus 27in ProArt displays and LG Ultrawide. The results are all over the place, but after the calibration, they all look the same!

It's crazy to see the difference in colors from before and after the color calibration, I use to view my videos and designs on multiple screens to see how they would look, but now I know that the screens I calibrated them on are how they should look.

This SpyderX Elite can also calibrate projectors, measure lighting conditions, make more fine-grain adjustments and also let you know how your monitor's colors are skewing over time. I haven't used these features, but in the future, I'm interested to see how my monitor colors are changing over time.

In regards to the comment, I received about how to make colors match between a computer, phone, and a TV. It's something that can be done to get the colors close, but I don't think there will ever be a 100% match between devices. Especially with TV and computer monitors.

TVs and monitors seem to have a lot of custom color profile options, that you may not even realize you're using, and they can really throw off your colors. Most of the time to make your movies look more contrasty and saturated. Even using displays at their stock natural, or neutral color settings will have different results based on device and backlight intensity. It can seem like a daunting task to have your colors look the same on all devices, but it all starts with having a color-calibrated monitor that you're creating your content on in the first place. If you're sure that the monitor you're using is correct, you can be sure your content will look correct on other screens as well.

Well, if the other screens are using custom color profiles - they will look different, but the content will look consistently different on their screen compared to what they are used to seeing. There is nothing you can do as the creator about that, short of asking someone to remove the custom color profiles from their device, which is probably not going to happen.

Think of it like audio, a producer creates music using a flat studio monitor or headphones to create the music how it's supposed to sound. But if the user wants to use a custom equalizer to boost the bass and reduce the mid-tones, there isn't anything the producer can do about it.

The use of custom color profiles isn't as obvious to the people that are consuming your content, so this can be frustrating to creators who like to color grade their footage, like me, and then see it on someone else's device and the colors are completely out of wack.

Again, it all starts with having a properly calibrated monitor to begin with. Another example is if your monitor's greens are more saturated when you export a color grade that looks great on your monitor, the greens will be desaturated on a properly calibrated monitor.

The SpyderX takes care of color calibration for you, so you can be sure your colors are correct.

About Keith Knittel

I'm a designer from Cleveland, Ohio and love to shoot photos & videos. I made my first website in 2004 to show friends photos & videos (before YouTube/Flickr/Instagram were things) and have been shooting and designing ever since! I have a deep passion for making and helping others create.

View my full About Me

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