Best Monitor Calibrators

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These are the best colorimeters you need to ensure colour perfection.

As a digital artist or designer you know that the more colours in your output, the more guaranteed you are of smoother colour gradation.

The specific range of colours that can be represented in a given photo is called a colour space, with the two most common offered by monitors being sRGB and Adobe RGB. Adobe RGB gives a wider range of possible colours (although the difference between individual colours is bigger than in sRGB).

But how do you know whether your day to day monitor is ensuring total colour accuracy? As a creative you’ll probably want to invest in the hardware option of a colorimeter device. This is a device that you attach to your screen and plug in via USB, which then cycles through various colours as part of the included software, ensuring your screen is optimised for each part of the gamut.

Datacolor are the market leaders in this field with their long-running Spyder series, but you may be confused by their options of Elite, Express and Pro models.

Also of possible confusion to bargain hunting creators is the fact older Spyder models come in at the same price as the newest Datacolour range, 2019's SpyderX collection.

You may also find terms on Google such as Spyder Pro+ or Elite Pro+, but note that these are simply software updates and not actual hardware goods.

While Datacolor may be market leaders, there are rival products from X-Rite and even monitor manufacturers Eizo which may seem like safe buys. Some of them are classed as mobile calibrators, while others may be photographer kits that include something called a ColorChecker. This make-up kit-esque device is designed to deliver true-to-life colour reproduction with an array of over 20 scientifically formulated colour targets.

While such devices are suited for photographers and cinematographers, designers and artists can safely ignore these in favour of simple monitor calibrating devices - the best of which we've ranked below in this best buy guide.

We've also included our favourite self-calibrating monitor for those creatives looking to invest a new screen and save some money by not investing in a separate calibrator. This option is safe, too, as are all of our expert choices below.

Best Monitor Calibrator - SpyderX Elite

Datacolor SpyderX Elite

If we can riff on the arachnid names of Datacolor's calibrators for a second, let's think of the previous Spyders as Peter Parker in his black Symbiote suit, and the latest SpyderX models as Spidey when he temporarily joined the Fantastic Four in a slick white suit.

White is the look of the sleek SpyderX Pro and Elite twosome, which were released earlier in 2019. The Elite comes at the highest price point with features that certainly warrant it: full colour calibration in under two minutes, multiple monitor support and calibration options for video, cinema and projectors.

The latter options are especially useful for motion graphic creators or animators. If multiple monitor support is the only thing that catches your eye from that list then you're safe to plump for the SpyderX Pro below, but note you'd be with the unlimited calibration setting choices offered by the Elite.

Whether designer, photographer or animator, the Elite ticks all boxes and stands out as the best colour calibrator out today. Read our full review of the device here.

Best Budget Monitor Calibrator - SpyderX Pro

Datacolor SpyderX Pro

A trusty workhorse and all-rounder, 2019's SpyderX Pro first wins out over budget rivals such as the X-Rite i1Display Pro and ColorMunki Display which haven't been updated since 2011/12 (that's pre-Trump era, folks).

Secondly, we're used to using Datacolour products for all our monitor reviews and know that for all price points they have everything you need in a colour calibrator - room light monitoring, a Before and After option and an easily decipherable display analysis.

While it may not have the calibration options for video, cinema and projectors of the Elite, the SpyderX Pro still has the essentials for any designer or artist.

Quick note - Bargain hunting designers/artists may be curious if it's worth buying the much beloved previous gen of these calibrators, the Spyder5 Pro and Spyder5 Elite. The answer is yes, but only if you manage to find one cheaper than the X models.

We say this as current prices online for the Spyder5s are actually no different to the latest models. This is because they've been discontinued for a few years, and with calibrators being relatively specialist equipment, it's not like there's countless amounts out there waiting to be sold on the cheap.

But if you want to save around 40 pounds, then the Eizo EX3 Colorimeter is a safe bet. Released in 2016, the model is essentially a Datacolour Spyder5 repurposed by monitor brand Eizo for some European markets.

Best Monitor Calibrator for Photographers - X-Rite i1Photo Pro 2

X-Rite i1Photo Pro 2

It's a lot of money - but the X-Rite i1Photo Pro 2 is more than just a monitor calibrator.

This mobile calibrator from Datacolor's main competitor calibrates not only monitors, cameras and projectors but also allows printer profiling and comes equipped with the X-Rite Graphic Arts Standard to make it quicker and easier for users to adhere to ISO standards.

Its high-tech profiling means you can print the target colours you need and measure the colour value for each patch using a metal ruler and base that comes with the bundle (hence the high price tag, as this is more than just a calibrator in a box).

It also has a positioning detection sensor that allows for measurement of smaller patch sizes as low as 7mm and those from low-quality printers.

Finally there's also a self-cleanable aperture protection glass to keep your calibrator clean from dust and dirt.

Best Self-Calibrating Monitor - Eizo ColorEdge CG2730

Eizo CS2730 27 inch ColorEdge Monitor

Did you know that some monitors can calibrate themselves?

Our favourite of this sort has to be the Eizo ColorEdge CG2730, a 2017 model that we recently crowned as the best monitor for art and design.

A self-calibrating sensor pops out from the monitor to attach itself to the screen, and can be set to a timer for calibrating while you sleep or leave the studio/personal office.

Find out more about the monitor in our hands-on review. 

Read next: The Best Monitor for Art and Design

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