REVIEW : Datacolor SpyderELITE 5+

The Datacolor Spyder5

The Datacolor Spyder5

If you edit your photos, particularly your RAW images AND you print OR you make large JPEG images for live display AND you do not regularly calibrate your editing display, you are not getting the image quality that you could get and should be getting.

The Idea

About two years ago, I switched from my proven Colormunki Photo to the Spyder 4 series from Datacolor.  About a year later, I upgraded to the Spyder5.  Every change was a hardware refresh.  I loved the Colormunki and it still functions, but the manufacturer had not refreshed the software since 2009.  Today as I was working, I got a notification from Datacolor that I could upgrade to the Spyder5 ELITE + from the Spyder5 ELITE that I have been using.  My initial reaction was "great, another few hundred bucks"

I was wrong.

Datacolor has delivered an enhanced set of functionality to the gear that I already own through a software upgrade.  It is a version upgrade, and there is a cost of about $30 USD.  Registered owners may be able to take advantage of an upgrade promo.  I did and got the upgrade for $19.99USD plus tax of course.

What's New

One of the biggest challenge in any calibration scenario is the ambient light in the room where you do the work.  I try very hard to keep the lighting level in the room where I do editing very consistent, but even with slat blinds, the amount of light does change.  Not as much as many folks face but it still changes.  My computer is a Mac Pro and so I do not have to contend with hardware settings that constantly want to change the screen brightness by some arbitrary amount when the light changes.  I coach folks in my mentorships to turn automatic display brightness off and check the setting after every software update, because manufacturers insist on turning it on.

The new Plus versions of the Spyder software take room brightness into account and now automatically control screen brightness based on the ambient light.  Folks who had vastly different ambient light scenarios would often make multiple display profiles for different lighting conditions and times of day.  The new software obviates the need to do that.

The Plus upgrade also provides for a faster "one click" calibration and adds more functionality to managing your profiles.

Install the software and activate it.  Relaunch the SpyderUtility if it was running and you will be ready to calibrate or recalibrate.  The first pass takes a bit longer than follow ups.  You can still choose to create profiles that are not attuned to changing room lighting, but I confess, I have not concluded why one might choose to do so.


If you aren't calibrating and you are editing with some level of seriousness and if you are printing, you need to be calibrating.  I was not a fan of the Spyder family in the past, but since the Spyder4 am very pleased.  Do note that many entry level options do NO assessment of room brightness at all, and in my opinion, that's  better than nothing, but really only the first step in a proper calibration workflow.  So if you have no calibration tool, get yourself a Spyder5, and I recommend the PRO+ or ELITE+ versions.  The BASIC is that entry level offering.  If you already own a Spyder4 or Spyder5 you can get the current software for your unit as a free upgrade, and the PLUS upgrade is a minor charge.  I think it's worth it and recommend it.