If you're looking at an image of the sky on your screen, how do you know that the particular hue of blue is really what you're seeing? When you're looking at a white background, how true is this shade of white?
A color-calibrated display gives users the confidence to know that the tones of colors that they see on a screen is accurate. To achieve this, studio displays designed for graphics and production work come with built-in colorimeters, but these solutions are often costly. Datacolor makes a range of tools under its Spyder5 series, with costs starting at $129 (£83, AU$165), that work with existing laptops, monitors and projectors. The Spyder5 Elite is at the high end of the spectrum at $279 (£180, AU$356).
The Spyder5 Elite competes in the same colorimeter segment as the X-Rite ($189, £122, AU$241) from Colormunki, though that product hasn't been updated in a while.
Given the amount of time graphics and video professionals spend in front of a display to get the perfect images and video edits, it's surprising that more studio displays and mobile workstations don't come with built-in color calibration hardware.
For users familiar with prior generations of the Spyder series, the biggest change on the Spyder5 Elite is that the design has shrunken from an elongated stick to a black-hued hockey puck-sized tool. The Spyder5 Elite measures 2.73 (L) x 2.93 (W) x 1.71 (H) inches (6.93 x 7.44 x 4.34 cm), and the device is affixed to a USB cable that plugs into your computer.
The solid plastic construction gives reassurance that the Spyder5 Elite will survive being crammed into a mobile photographer's gear bag for work in the field or at client sites.
The Spyder5 comes with a tripod mount for use with projectors and a detachable cap, which is also attached to the USB cable. The cap serves as a counterweight for hanging the colorimeter over a display to calibrate and take readings. The cap protects the sensors, and the padding on the colorimeter helps protect your display against scratching when you're placing the device on your monitor to take measurements.
There is also an ambient light sensor on the top of the colorimeter for reading the lighting levels in your room. I found that I got the most accurate color readings when using the colorimeter in a dark room with little to no ambient light.