Sunday, January 13, 2013

Datacolour Spyder 4 pro

Finally, it is here. A proper colour calibration tool!

Colour calibration tool you ask? Yes, it's a hardware+software based tool to calibrate your displays to achieve more consistent and accurate colours, tones, dynamic range,etc. Basically, whatever your monitor displays.

So here's the thing, there are various types of displays in the world that would exhibit different colour characteristics, for example an AMOLED display is known to feature rich, vibrant and saturated colours whereas something like a IPS panel might be more towards more accurate and natural colours. Even within the same type of panel, manufacturers can also tune the colours of the display to their liking. In short, there is a huge inconsistency in colours displayed in most monitors in the entire world. What I see in my monitor might be very different from what my friend sees on his laptop. Thus, in order to be confident and be very sure that what you're working with is the accurate and right one, you have to use a colour calibration tool. It won't be 100% accurate but it will be a very good base to start with. Bear in mind that the end result also depends on the capability of your monitor such as type of panel, base colour gamut, etc.

Now I can edit my pictures with confidence knowing that my monitor is displaying a lot more accurate colours! I'm using a Dell U2311H IPS monitor which is a great monitor btw (IPS monitors are always great :P )

Initially the colours seemed a little reddish (maybe like a slight red cast) but this is because my eyes were too used to the inaccurate colours before calibration. Right now, after using it for 1 whole day already, I could say I'm already fully adapted to it. Colours look brilliant now!

Not only that, black levels and white point have improved tremendously. I can notice deeper blacks and sometimes notice unwanted stuff in the shadow areas like some gradient banding in some people's pictures. Totally didn't notice these sort of things before :P

I totally passed this test :P

How much did I pay for this? A big RM660 for this awesome thing. I got this from

By the way, Spyder's official website also did mention that "Prints often do not match display. Display calibration provides a base for better print matching. I am definitely planning to do some printing now knowing that I have a colour accurate monitor and that the prints shouldn't be that off...even if it does, it should provide less headaches than before haha

Datacolour offers several types of Spyder calibration tools, namely the Express, Pro and Elite. Spyder4 Express is a lot more affordable at around RM400+ only whereas the Pro version goes for RM600+ but the reasons why I opted for the Pro version is due to 2 things:

1) Ambient light sensor - Detects the ambient light and then recommends you the level of brightness you should be using
2) Able to be used on multiple computers - With this, you can install on different computers using the same given license code.

I definitely thought ambient light sensor function in the Pro version was definitely indispensable. During the set up process, it detects that my room has a brightness level of 200nits. Thus, it suggests that I set my monitor brightness level to the same value. But the thing is that 200nits is very bright, so bright that it is very straining for my eyes and totally uncomfortable. I asked some of my friends for advice and most of them recommended me to set the brightness level to whichever I'm comfortable at. I found myself setting the levels at 100nits instead haha

And the capability of the Pro version being able to use it on different computers makes it great especially if you have several devices that needs colour calibration. I don't have a laptop for now as I've just sold my old one, but might have a one in the near future.

Well, in conclusion, this is a really good buy for anybody who is taking photography seriously, be it enthusiasts or professionals. But honestly, for professionals who make an income from photography, there's no excuse for not having one of this. Definitely a great buy for me, thoroughly recommended =)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Brand New Year

Happy New Year 2013 to all my blog readers =)

This time round, I'm determined to try taking pictures of fireworks celebrations. Didn't quite bother doing so for the previous years partly because I wasn't well equipped. Didn't have a tripod. Also, wasn't really into landscapes/nightscapes and all, but I was still amazed at all those shots you see online.

Met up a few friends (who are lowyat forumers) to shoot the fireworks display together. We decided that it was best to shoot at less popular places as it will be really packed with people (KLCC). Not to mention the enourmous jam you have to endure on your way back home. You might also run into some party goers, some of them equipped with spray cans!

So, it was decided to be at 1Utama, just a stone's throw away from the Curve. The fireworks would be fired just above The Curve building according to past events. We were at the 1Utama car park, 5th level, a great spot, to capture the entire scene.

From left: Myself, Legend, Melvin and Kien Seng. Small group, partly because it was a last minute meet up.
As this would be my first time shooting fireworks, I wasn't really familiar with the timing. I knew that your camera had to be set to bulb mode, Aperture around f/8 to f/11 (just make sure that your overall exposure for the entire image has to be more than 4-5 seconds), ISO set to ISO100. Use remote trigger, for the record, I'm using an Aperture Flash trigger that comes with a wireless remote as well.

Thanks to the guys for giving me some tips regarding the shoot. What I know is, you have to keep on firing your shots with about 1-2 seconds interval from the next shot. If you want to see the trajectory of the firework firing up to the air, make sure you open the shutter when you see it shooting up. When to close the shutter? When it explodes and starts to subside, immediately close the shutter. You can have varying effects while playing with shutter speed. I myself used a 1-2 seconds Shutter Speed for each firework. I did have a tendency of prolonging the shutter open because there were continous fireworks exploding at the same time, but the result wasn't really pleasing. It was mostly overexposed and the formation of fireworks wasn't nice. It was mostly blurry. What you want to achieve is tact sharp fireworks.