Datacolor Spyder Checkr Photo Makes Color Correction A Breeze

Datacolor Spyder Checkr Photo

If there is one constant in the world of photography, it’s the endless list of accessories and gear we spend our money on. The number of cameras, lenses and lights can quickly add up, but the most important thing (besides getting the shot in the right focus) is making sure that the colors are exactly what we expect. The Datacolor SPyder Photo is here to help.

Full Disclosure: This story brought to you by Datacolor.

The newly launched SpyderCheckr Photo was created to assist creatives in achieving consistent, accurate color correction across all their lenses, cameras and sensors. As a reference, you can simply use the Spyder Checkr Photo Color Target Cards during your shoots.

Ideally you should do this for every camera and lens combination. Personally, I also do it whenever I have to change the lighting or location. Then, the SpyderCheckr Software will automatically color correct your images by creating an HSL (Hue, Saturation, and Luminance) preset to use whenever you choose for fast color correction.

White Balance Card RAW

White Balance Card Corrected

The tool itself comes with a rigid outer casing to protect the color swatches carried inside. The case (and cards) are small, lightweight, and even have a removable lanyard making storage and transport of the system incredibly easy to do. Inside, the system includes a set of four interchangeable cards that feature 48 color targets with an expanded skin tone offering incredible accuracy that is ideal for portraits.

In addition to the 48 color targets, the updated Spyder Checkr Photo includes 14 expanded and large-scale grey balance targets to allow for greater depth and detail in the images. Both sets of cards are printed with an ultra-matte finish on long-lasting, ink-printed, museum-quality paper (made from 78% bamboo) that allows for the “truest color renditions and deepest black” possible.

What’s nice about this new addition to the Spyder Checkr lineup is the cards are completely interchangeable and easy to replace, or even add new cards as color offerings are expanded. Allowing creatives an even greater customizable solution for their post-processing.

So Why Is This Important?

Color management, and specifically this tool, is far more important than many creatives realize. Put yourself in a position when you’re shooting a product line or clothing line from a brand where specific colors and highlights are critical for the ad campaign. Without proper color correction, the red, green, blue, or whatever the color of the object being photographed is will likely be a wildly different color in the photograph versus what you see in person. Your client will be unhappy if you deliver a collection of images that are completely retouched with all the colors missing.

The added benefit of using Spyder Checkr Photo as a reference photograph with product(s), being photographed, is that you have “real-life” color references you can use at home and the color corrections on the screen. It will allow users to view colors in a literal manner and share them with clients.

In addition to finding “true color,” the Spyder Checkr Photo will help creatives maintain consistency across multiple shoots, cameras, lenses, and locations. Using the Datacolor software to create color correction profiles and presets will help speed up your workflow by automatically color correcting each set of images based on the “test image” captured for each camera, lens, and location used. It can be used correctly to create consistent looks for clients.

According to the company, “Datacolor’s commitment to color accuracy was key in every aspect of Spyder Checkr Photo’s development; from the selection of premium paper that conforms to ISO 9706 standards, meeting exacting requirements for age-resistance, to high-quality inks that offer long-lasting color integrity. Our precise quality control processes and attention to every detail allows us to deliver an outstanding tool for photographers that provides exceptional color accuracy and workflow efficiencies to the palm of your hand.”

How It Works

Using the Spyder Checkr Photo is easier than it seems. Users simply need to take a “test photo” that includes the Spyder Checkr Photo’s 48-swatch color grid laid out as straight as possible (preferably near the beginning of your shoot and any time you change to a new lens, camera, and light combination).

Then, once you are back in front of your computer ready to start editing, you need to crop the test image down to show just the Spyder Checkr Photo and then send it to the SpyderCheckr software from Datacolor to create a correction profile to import into the app of your preference to ensure you have accurate and consistent colors throughout the rest of your images.

Above I mentioned ensuring the Spyder Checkr Photo is photographed as straight as possible. The Datacolor Spyder Checkr Software can be very simple and straightforward to use. However, the software cannot adjust the colors swatch patterns to align patches. This happens if the card is at an unusual angle or any color targets are not covered. You can flip and scale the swatches with the software, however, this may make it difficult to align your image with the swatches if you don’t have the card fully open.

It is a good idea to take the Spyder Checkr Photo straight, with as much detail as you can see. But once you’re back at the computer and in Lightroom, you can use Transform tools to perfectly align the swatches using the guides, and then crop the image so it’s as tight as possible. Before you save the image for Datacolor SpyderCheckr, make sure you have set the white balance with the Spyder Checkr Photo. More information on this can be found in the User Guide here.

Once you’ve opened the software and you have your cropped image of the Spyder Checkr Photo, simply drag it into the Datacolor Spyder Checkr software to start lining up the color swatches.

From here you select the “mode” for portrait or saturation (yes there is a difference) and then “Save Calibration” to create the preset for the app of your choice. In my case, Portrait mode was selected and Adobe Lightroom Classic. It will be displayed as an “User Preset”, with the name that I have given it.

Spyder Checkr Profiles

At this point the app will tell you the calibration preset/profile has been created and saved, letting you either create another calibration or prompting you to exit both the Datacolor software and Lightroom so that it can load the preset(s) into them.

Now that the Portrait preset has been loaded into lightroom, you can apply it to the images taken during this set to make white balance and color calibration incredibly fast throughout the rest of the processing.

Below are several portraits and event images captured and edited using the Datacolor Spyder Checkr Photo:

Obviously, retouching is subjective and will vary for each client and project, but the bottom line is as far as color accuracy is concerned, you can be sure that your images are accurate and consistent across every project when captured with the Spyder Checkr Photo. From personal experience having used the Spyder Checkr 24 and several other previous generations of color charts, the new Spyder Checkr Photo is a massive improvement in usability.

The new system is much more compact, durable, and easier to carry and travel with safely. Additionally, using the Spyder Checkr Photo before and during light and lens changes on set may seem like a bit of a workflow speedbump at first, but it is a massive time saver when it comes to post-production, especially when dealing with clients and products where the colors have to be 100% accurate.

The Spyder Checkr Photo from Datacolor is now available for purchase for $99. 99 directly from Datacolor and multiple retailers worldwide.

Full Disclosure: This story brought to you by Datacolor.