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Review: Átomos Spyder monitor calibration system

Quickly and easily calibrated to Rec 709 from Mac or Windows.

Last year I published a short article when Átomos announced its Spyder monitor calibration system. Now I am privileged to have received one to review. With it, we can quickly and easily calibrate any calibratable Átomos monitor/recorder (i.e. Shogun, Samurai Blade, or Ninja Blade) to Rec 709 color space with a D65 white point (6500 degrees Kelvin). This is a special offering of Datacolor’s Spyder, with special software and a LANC cable. Details ahead.

Why should I care if my monitor shows ITU Rec.709?

image See my 2009 article Why should I care if my monitor shows ITU Rec.709?

Both Mac and Windows software

Unlike the situation with the original DreamColor Monitor, which unfortunately required Mac users to create a makeshift Windows environment to calibrate the monitor, Átomos is fortunately offering direct support to both Windows and Mac. In the case of Windows (which I did not test), they are offering a separate version of the app for Windows 64-bit and for Windows 32-bit. As of the publication date of this article, the current version of the software (for any of the three mentioned) is version 1.0 from December 4, 2013. I made my successful test using Mac OS X 10.9.5 (Mavericks). It is not yet clear whether it also works with 10.10 (Yosemite) since I have not yet updated my MacBook Air to that version, and Átomos has not yet published notes about 10.10 Yosemite. In any case, the latest version can be downloaded at any time from this link, for any of the mentioned platforms. [The new Z27x DreamColor from HP (my review is pending) allows calibration by plugging the calibrator directly into the monitor, without the need of any computer at all, but that is a 27 inch monitor for fixed use, not a portable, battery-powered monitor/recorder like the ones from Átomos.]

How to calibrate your Ninja Blade, Samurai Blade, or Shogun

After you have downloaded and installed the software, this is the procedure:

  • For best results, Átomos recommends that you let the monitor warm up for thirty minutes prior to running the Átomos Calibrator program.
  • Plug the Átomos Spyder into a USB port on the computer.
  • Plug the Átomos LANC adapter cable into a USB port on the computer.
  • Run the Átomos Calibrator program.

  • Plug the LANC cable into your calibratible monitor (Shougun, Samurai Blade, or Ninja Blade). You should see the Samurai Blade’s unit name appear in the program, as shown above. If not, click on Detect. In my case, I tested it with a Ninja Blade, which is abbreviated in the program.
  • Place the Spyder calibrator onto the display, ensuring the sensor is sitting flat on the center of the screen. The foam ring around the sensor must sit flat on the LCD.
  • Press the Calibrate button as shown above, the screen of the Ninja Blade, Samurai Blade, or Shogun will flash colors and the software will display progress messages, like shown below:

 

 

  • Wait approximately 2 minutes for the procedure to complete.

 

 

 

The message calibration complete will appear with an OK button. Átomos says that if something goes wrong either to press the Reset button or to run the calibration again. In my case, it worked perfectly the first time. Once calibration is complete, you can view the graph and press the next button to get additional details of the result.

 

 

 

 

Those include Display LUT and Grey Scale/Color Temperature, as shown above.

Átomos recommends calibrating every two weeks.

What about C-Log and S-Log in Átomos’ products?

Starting in AtomOS 5.1, the recorders from Átomos gained the capability of switching instantly between Rec. 709 and C-Log/S-Log. The calibration done above works for either REC 709, C-Log, or S-Log, although those are camera-dependent.

Átomos Spider pricing

  • In the European Community, Átomos Spider costs €109.
  • In Japan, it costs ¥18,000.
  • In the United Kingdom, it costs £89.
  • In the United States, Átomos Spider costs US$149.

Conclusions: What I love, and what I would like

I love that the software is available for Windows and Mac; that it is so quick and simple to use; and that the final profile is stored in the monitor, not in the computer.

In some future version, I would like the calibrator to be able to be plugged directly into the monitor, to eliminate the need for any computer at all, as in the case of the Z27x DreamColor I’ll be reviewing soon.

What if you already own a Datacolor Spyder?

If you already own a Datacolor Spyder (not the one branded and sold by Átomos), you can still download the software free from this link. However, you’ll need to purchase an Átomos LANC to USB cable for about US$70.

Links to my past articles on Átomos monitor/recorders

Very soon I’ll be publishing reviews on the Ninja Star and the Shogun (4K with balanced audio input).

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Books, consulting, articles, seminars & audio programs

Contact Allan Tépper for consulting, or find a full listing of his books, articles and upcoming seminars and webinars at AllanTepper.com. Listen to his CapicúaFM and TecnoTur programs. Search for CapicúaFM TecnoTur in iTunes or Stitcher Radio.

My latest book (paperback + ebook)

My most recent book is available in two languages, and in paperback as well as an ebook. The ebook format is Kindle, but even if you don’t have a Kindle device, you can read Kindle books on many other devices using a free Kindle app. That includes iPad, Android tablets, Mac computers, and Windows computers. Although generally speaking, Kindle books are readable on smartphones like Androids and iPhones, I don’t recommend it for this particular book since it contains both color photos and color comparison charts. The ebook is also DRM-free.

In English:

In English, it is currently available in the following Amazon stores, depending upon your region:

 

Or in your favorite bookstore by requesting ISBN–10: 1456310232 or ISBN–13: 978–1456310233.

En castellano:

En castellano, está disponible actualmente en las siguientes tiendas Amazon, según tu región:

o en tu librería preferida al solicitar el ISBN–10: 1492783390 ó el ISBN–13: 978–1492783398.

FTC disclosure

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs.

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The articles contained in the TecnoTur channel in ProVideo Coalition magazine are copyright Allan Tépper/TecnoTur LLC, except where otherwise attributed. Unauthorized use is prohibited without prior approval, except for short quotes which link back to this page, which are encouraged!


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Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is an award-winning broadcaster & podcaster, bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994,…

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Jon Hillenbrand

FYI, this does not work with a Spyder 3. You have to have at least a Spyder 4 (if you don’t purchase the Atomos branded Sypder). I tried my Spyder 3 and got an error (Spyder 4 not detected).