• Price: 369

  • Company: Datacolor

  • Pros: Great calibration; affordable.

  • Cons: Printer calibration can be fiddly; more expensive than ColorMunki.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Let’s not pretend that colour management is fascinating – still, it’s not as dull as having to repeatedly colour-correct your work trying to get your screen and printer to play nicely. The Spyder3 Studio SR opens up colour management to illustrators, photographers and designers with high-end colour needs but shoestring budgets – it’s £200-odd less expensive than many rival systems.

It consists of three devices: Spyder3Elite, for monitors; Spyder3Print SR, for printers; and SpyderCube RAW, for cameras. They’re all housed in a heavy-duty metal case that protects the delicate parts when you store them.
You’ll use the SpyderCube RAW every time you shoot. It’s a plastic cube with white, black and 18 per cent grey sides that you can photograph in the studio or on location alongside your project files to capture – then use this data to set the white, black and grey points in your software.

Even if you don’t use SpyderCube RAW, the Spyder3Studio is great value for money. The Spyder3Elite monitor calibrator is one of the best on the market, delivering precise calibration through simple to use software.

Unlike rival systems such as the X-rite’s ColorMunki Photo, the Spyder3Print SR is a separate device to the monitor calibrator. It uses a plastic strip holder, where you print out a sheet of coloured patches in strips, place it under the runner catch and manually swipe the Spyder3Print SR device along the runner to read the strips. Tugging the printed page under the runner isn’t as quick as using the ColorMunki, where you place it on your desk and swipe.

The ColorMunki is about £60 cheaper than the Spyder3Studio SR, but Datacolor’s calibration is better.