• Price: £115

  • Company: Datacolor

  • Pros: Robust colour target that should withstand repeated use; replaceable swatches promised early 2011; affordable; quick and efficient

  • Cons: Requires existing editing/processing program that offers Raw support; seven-step installation process

In the realm of the photo enthusiast/semi pro Datacolor’s SpyderCheckr arguably sets an industry standard. It’s the Photoshop of colour calibration devices, if you like, the means by which photographers can aim to achieve consistency throughout their workflow.

Primarily aimed at those shooting and self-processing Raw files – so owners of high-performance compacts or digital SLRs – SpyderCheckr aims to provide rock-solid consistency from the outset. It helps create a specific colour profile or preset for whichever camera the photographer is using at the time. Once the initial calibration process is completed – carried out with the supplied 48-patch colour chart and SpyderCheckr software, compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 onwards – a preset for that camera can be subsequently selected when using Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw, via Photoshop or Elements.

SpyderCheckr aims to provide precision in colour every time you edit/process Raw files from a particular camera

This can then be applied to one image or a batch, as required. SpyderCheckr’s most obvious application would be for, say, a fashion photographer, for whom it’s crucial that the colours of a dress don’t vary from shot to shot, or a portrait photographer wanting to maintain consistent skin tones through all images from the same shoot.

The fold-out colour chart – roughly the size of a hardback novel but as slim as an iPad – is constructed from hardwearing plastic and has a screw thread for tripod mounting. Initial target shooting and installation is a seven-step process. While that may sound wearisome, once you’re underway setup is quick and efficient, the camera calibration data eventually popping up as a preset in the settings dialog box of, in our case, Camera Raw, ready for future selection. Online help is provided if you’re new to this, though we managed to muddle through with just the Quick Start pamphlet.

SpyderCheckr best benefits those who already own the Lightroom and/or Photoshop products, shoot mainly Raw images and are serious about colour consistency. That said, its cost means that the sale of a single image will pay for it outright, and puts it within reach of the serious amateur.