Photographers have fully embraced the iPad for its myriad of uses. I’ve written a number of articles and blog posts about how I use the iPad, but something I’ve always wondered about was how to properly calibrate the iPad screen. Over the last year, I’ve also had a number of people write me to ask about calibrating the iPad, but I’ve never found a great solution … until today!
Datacolor has been in the color calibration business for a long time and their current line of Spyder 3 calibration tools work very well. I’ve been calibrating my monitors using their tools since 2007 and have been teaching workshops (printing and workflow) for many years. Datacolor’s most recent product is called Spyder Gallery and is designed for calibrating your iPad screen. The app is free and it works like a charm.
I downloaded the iPad App this morning and calibrated the iPad a few minutes later. It is really easy to use and makes a noticeable difference on the iPad screen. Now, I won’t have to wonder if the colors of my pictures are accurate. In order to see or show the calibrated images, you’ll need to display the images inside the Spyder Gallery. In other words, if you look at your pictures in any other application (i.e. slideshow or viewer), they aren’t calibrated.
In addition to the iPad application, you’ll need to already own a Spyder 3 series calibration tool. I own the Spyder 3 Elite model and used it for this article.
Here’s a quick tutorial on how to download, install and use Spyder Gallery.
The first step is to download the iPad App from iTunes. Search for Spyder Gallery at the iTunes: http://www.itunes.com/appstore/
Once you’ve added Spyder Gallery to your iPad, open the app and follow the instructions on screen. The first time you use it, you’ll need to set up the software to communicate with your main computer system. This requires downloading a small utility from Datacolor called SpyderGallery Desktop Server. This tool allows you to use your Spyder colorimeter calibration tool on the iPad screen.
The software will then guide you through the system setup as shown below.
After you’ve downloaded the Desktop Server on your main computer, you can then continue the setup on the iPad. It will ask you to identify the main computer so it can then communicate with the Spyder calibration tool.
After the software runs through all the colors and shades of gray, it computes a new color profile.
In order to see the calibrated images, you’ll need to view them from the Spyder Gallery application itself. To do this, click on “Go To Viewer.” If you view photos in any other program on the iPad, then they aren’t calibrated from this DataColor procedure.
Here are some examples of images as they look in the Spyder Gallery viewer.
The next two images show before/after of a scene I photographed last year on the Olympic Peninsula at Crescent Lake. The top image is without calibration and the bottom is with calibration.
So, the big question at the end of the day is, “Does it work?” The answer is yes. I found that when I viewed my images without calibration that they often looked too saturated. When I viewed them with calibration, they looked a bit more realistic. I also held my iPad next to my calibrated computer monitor (an Eizo) and found the colors to be a very close match visually.
I think that Spyder Gallery will be more important for viewing portraits and studio work than for viewing travel/landscape photography. Even so, I think it is always important to know that your colors are accurate, even on a tablet screen like the iPad.