I've been using a Spyder Pro 3 for over a year now and it does the job very well. If you're getting into doing your own prints, a calibrated screen and good ICC profiles for your paper are critical. I prefer to get paper with good ICC profiles for my printer (Epson 3880) to avoid the added cost and trouble of separately calibrating printer and paper as well.
I have a Spyder 3 and it works well for my main display (regular LCD), but my Cintiq uses a different type of display (not sure what's so different about it, but I just can't get it to calibrate properly for my life) that isn't supported by the Spyder 3 and it's not able to calibrate it properly - which makes me regret it a little. I have to use a preview on my main monitor to tell whether my colors are looking right.
BUT if you don't plan on using a Cintiq with your Spyder you should be set.
Before I had my MacBook calibrated with the Spyder 3, I thought everything was fine and dandy. Then I had it calibrated, and went back to examine my photos. Cringed awesomely. I would definitely recommend the calibration, if you've never had it done before-- changes your look on your photos completely.
Just bought one on Thursday. I didn’t get a chance to use it prior to my shoot on Friday, and I’m a few hundred kilometres away from home at the moment, so I’ll let you know how it goes when I get back. In general, it’s a good idea to get some sort of calibration unit regardless of which one it is, but it’s utility is going to be limited if you’re calibrating a laptop screen. The best monitors for viewing photos (in terms of overall gamut) tend to be CRTs, although some of the newer models of desktop LCD displays with in-plane-switching are getting close.
Remember also that if you’re planning on calibrating your monitor because you want to be able to make your prints more accurate, you’ll need to cross-calibrate with your printer and whatever paper you plan to use. A Spyder is only for calibrating your screen; you’ll need a colour photospectrometer if you want to calibrate your output device, but you may be able to rent one when you need it instead of forking out the £700 or so you’d need to buy one.
I've two screen a 28 LCD and a standard iMac24, when I started printing a few samples I noticed they were too saturated and the magenta/reds seem to be very deep, which lead me believe my screen was off. That occurred to me too, all wel sorting out the screen but if the printer's profile is not correctly aligned, then surely it too will be out. At the moment these prints are purely for my own "amusement" at the moment so I will have to simply wing it by eye for own stuff but if I can at least get the screens right, that's better than guessing which what I am doing at the moment.
I’m glad you reminded me; I’d almost forgotten to come back to this thread. I finally got a moment to update the calibration on my laptop as well as my external monitor yesterday. The actual process went pretty smoothly for both screens (although it was a little more involved for the CRT than for the laptop LCD), and while the two screens are in the same general range, I can clearly see where the CRT outshines the LCD in terms of colour and tonal gamut. I used to use a different calibration tool that I rented, but the Spyder seems to have done a better job of creating consistency across both displays. I suppose if I knew what I was doing I could get them even more in line with one another, but I can live with “close enough” for now; I don’t shoot anything colour-critical.
As for your prints, make sure you’ve got the most recent printer driver from the manufacturer, and try to get profiles that pair up your printer with whatever paper type you use (for example, I tend to favour Moab Entrada Natural, by Legion Paper, and they make a profile specifically for my printer, an Epson R3000). If you’re printing from Photoshop, make sure you select that as your printer profile, and use Relative Colorimetric as your rendering intent. That way, it’s attempting to match what’s on screen, and if your screen is calibrated, it should at least get your prints close to that.
That's great to know and thanks for coming back with the info. I ordered the Spyder3Pro this morning, so should be able to get cracking next week when the post picks up after New Years.
I tell you I've worked in IT close on 25 years and me and printers have never seen eye-to-eye! I hate the bloody things, standards like proper Windows/Mac drivers and USB interfaces have solved a lot of problems, back in the day with parallel ports the number of printers I could have kicked from one end of the room to the other!
I did some tests with the basic supplied Epson profiles through PS just to see the differences and I did actually end up thinking that "Relative Colourmetric" seemed the closest to what I was looking for, albeit slightly too saturated which is my obviously my fault.