on January 20, 2014
1) It attaches to a light stand. I don't have to ask the person to hold anything during portraits. Looks professional.
2) It is non-reflective - Shiny grey cards are almost useless to me when using flash.
3) Tri-tone: I tend to color adjust in lightroom using the Spyder using the grey. Once in a great while I will need to use the white instead of the grey.
4) Shadow hole There is a hole on the black part that allows you to set the darkest point in the picture. Very useful when are trying to get a "true" black in the histogram. Useful for color-correcting black and white images.
5) Small and fits easily in a camera bag. No fold/wrinkle marks.
Those starting out with photography often make the mistake of investing a large sum of money in "high quality" lenses and camera bodies, but fail to invest even modest amounts of money into the accessories that will allow them to get their most out of their equipment.
The Datacolor Spydercube SC200 is an accessory that is definitely worth having if you wish to take your photography to the next level, as it is the ultimate white balance/grey card tool. It is unique as not many manufacturers are making what is essentially a 3D white balance tool. Simply, all you need to do is take a picture with this device in the scene prior to taking the photo you intend to take, and then use software in post to correct white/color balance following this.
Using the Datacolor SC200 one can obtain an incredibly accurate whitebalance as the 3D nature of the cube gives your photo processing software more information than a flat grey card would - as it will essentially allow you to consider angle of light source. In addition, it will help prevent crushing blacks and blowing out whites given the multiple shades of color on the cube.
The SpyderCube SC200 includes a tripod mount and also a loop to hang the device, giving you a number of options in placing the SC200. The only other product I know of like this does not offer such flexible mounting options.
The only downside to this product is that it may not be practical for all photo applications. Every time you change the position of the camera or light source, you would need to take another photo with this in the scene. So if you are frequently changing the location of the camera/scene, using this may be impractical. However, for studio shoots or times when you will leave the camera in one spot for most of the shoot, this is an invaluable device to have in your arsenal.
on October 9, 2012
I wanted one of these for a long time, since they first came out. I was playing around with testing dynamic range and finally decided to go ahead and get it.
It has a nice spot in my closet, along with all of the other gadgets that supposedly will dramatically improve my photography but do not.
It was interesting to use for the first few times, then I discovered that I was adjusting contrast and brightness in my photos as to what looked best for the scene on my monitor, not what levels were presented by the SpyderCube. Also, it is much too tiny to spot meter on, even with a dedicated 1 degree spot meter, and I found myself relying on my cameras's histogram anyway.
I'm a really geeky photographer, I use a Colorchecker Passport, LensAlign, Spyder 4, and even a Sekonic Profile Target to improve my photos and editing. The big difference is that all of those actually do something that I cannot do by eye, this does not.
on April 14, 2014
I find this very useful, although a bit more difficult to carry than a card because it's not flat. But the multiple surfaces make it very useful as mixed light sources are often striking the image (e.g. natural light from a window, and artificial light from a bulb) and this allows you to measure two sides. It can be easily mounted to a light stand and seems to give more info than a flat card which I have used before.
While I am still learning how to get the full use out of this gadget, I must say I have been impressed with it so far more than I thought I would be. I have used traditional white balance cards in the past. However, this tool is much better than cards for several reasons...
(1) the SpyderCube provides all relevant light information - because of it's 3-D shape, it goes beyond what traditional white balance cards do - the SpydeCube provides me with a true black (the circle black trap at bottom)... a true white (the brightest side which indicates where my light source is coming from)... with WB cards, you only have the flat image and it does not portray the light source, shadows, highlights, etc correctly. The 3-D shape of this tool really is growing on me and I find it much more useful!
(2) Additionally, the chrome ball helps show overexposed areas (measures catchlight)... the grey faces measure color temperature and midtones (they are neutral 18%)... if you have the right kind of software, these measurements can come in handy during post edit.
(3) nice quality - it's small, made of durable material, and fits nicely in my camera bag. Even comes with a soft case bag to store it in. The bottom of the cube is threaded so that you can screw it on a tripod.
NOTE: I do not have "Adobe Lightroom", which appears to be the most useful software to use to get the most out of this tool... However, I have used other RAW converter software and am finding the tool very useful. To be honest, I am still learning, but overall, have really enjoyed using the SpyderCube much more than I thought I would and definitely use it more than my traditional white balance cards for the reasons I noted above.
Every once in a while, I promise myself that I will become a more serious photographer, one who turns out perfect images.’
I read articles, I buy books and, of course, I buy gadgets.
A few years ago, I bought an expensive color checker, a little book with color patches. As many photographers know, you include this in one of your shots and use it to adjust your colors. It is small and I put it in one of my camera bags – and have ever, not once, used it. Most often, I simply forget that the color checker is in my bag. Often I’m just carrying the camera, without the bag. Most of my photography these days is either grab shots, not rising to the level of street photography, or of family. Not exactly the kinds of situations in which you can haul out a color checker.
Enter the SpyderCube. This brilliantly designed gadget screams out be used. It provides solid references for 18% grey, white, black and true black. The product is designed primarily for RAW shooters who use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. (If you don’t know what RAW is and don’t use Lightroom or Photoshop, the SpyderCube won’t be as helpful as it could be.)
The SpyderCube is roughly 1.5 inches square, has a tripod socket on the bottom and a strong string loop on the top. Your subject can hold it or you can loop it over something or stick it on a tripod, lightstand or use one of those versatile extendable poles. Because the Spydercube has multiple-facets, it is receiving light in 3-dimensions, which is key to its considerable power.
Take your reference shot(s) with the SpyderCube in the picture, keep the same settings and shoot away.
When you’re ready to process, you’ll see that the grey sides neatly distinguish key and fill lighting, which is an incredibly powerful feature. The same is true of white values. There’s a hole in the black face, another piece of engineering genius, that provides the basis for a true black measure. Using Lightroom, setting color properly is amazingly simple, once you learn how to do it. Create a preset using Lightroom and apply the preset to the rest of the shots in that series. Fantastic stuff.
That’s the trick: learning how to use SpyderCube effectively. The instructions ae essentially useless. Instead go to YouTube and watch the videos. (Search on “SpyderCube”.) You’ll find a few from Datacolor which will take you from the basics to advanced (and, frankly, mindblowing) advanced techniques. There a surprising number of videos on using the SpyderCube. Many of them are useless, which you’ll pick up on in seconds. But there are a number which are quite informative and inspiring.
And that is the ultimate problem: the SpyderCube is one heck of a useful tool when coupled with Lightroom.
The catch is that you have to use it. Having had that color checker in my bag for years and never using it doesn’t augur well.
This cube is for optimizing camera and software lighting settings for digital photography. The cube measures 1.5 inches square and weighs 1 ounce. It has 3 black sides, one fully grey side with the Spyder cube logo printed in white, and 2 sides that are diagonally half grey and half white. The cube is designed to be screwed onto a tripod mount by the bottom corner, which is surrounded by the 3 black sides. One of the black sides should face the camera when in use; this side has a ½ inch hole designed to act as a black trap. In this orientation the 2 half and half sides will be facing up and meeting at the corner pointing to the camera, with the white sides lower and the grey sides above, meeting at the top corner of the cube. On the very top of the cube is a plastic ball painted shiny silver (or maybe it's some sort of metal rather than plastic) with a black elastic loop sticking out the very top. Also included in the package are a nylon carrying pouch, a black neck strap with a quick release clip, and a paper insert in Italian, German, French, Spanish, English, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and 2 versions of Chinese. The instructions say “Place the Cube in lighting conditions under which you will be photographing. Orient the cube so that the lower black face, containing the black trap, is at the bottom front, and the two split white/gray faces are both visible. Take a photograph that includes the Cube. This photo will capture important information about the shooting conditions, to be use in making basic RAW adjustments.” After you take all your photos in the location where you set the cube, you go to your digital processing software, such as LightRoom, and use the photo of the cube as a reference to adjust white balance, exposure, brightness and blacks. One way to do this is by using the eyedropper tool in your software and clicking on the photo of the better lit (lit by primary light source) grey face of the cube, since it is 18% grey, or the black trap of the cube to set black levels. Thus, the cube works much like an 18% grey card, but with the greater sophistication of the silver ball to hunt for catch lights and the black trap for finding absolute blacks.
I really didn't know what to expect when I ordered this cube. I had expected some bit of software or plugin, given the price of the product, but coming up with how to use the information captured in a photo of the cube is really up to you. I thought the cube would work like a grey card, but would have the added convenience of greater portability. Since the cube really needs a tripod to stand on its own, that may mean using a second tripod, which rather negates the portability advantage. Overall, I found the printed instructions extremely obtuse and hard to follow. On one side of the instruction page are some drawings without words. If you study the drawings for a while, you may figure out what they are trying to say. The drawings do convey some important information not covered in the textual instructions, however, such as the need for a tripod to mount the cube on. Neither the drawings nor the textual instructions mention the included neck strap with the quick release clip. I have no idea how the strap is intended to be used with the product, or what the quick release clip might clip to. At the end of the sparse verbal instructions is a link that says “For more information: www dot datacolor dot com slash sypdercube.” That link leads to a webpage that points to an article on using the cube posted on another website; the linked article is now defunct. So, you're on your own. If you know enough about photography to appreciate the design of this little plastic cube and how to use it, you may find it very useful. For instance, if you already rely heavily on grey cards, this could take your exposure adjustments to a new level. But if you don't know how to use a grey card or you already get good results without one, you may find this little plastic cube bewildering.
I'm a photographer that shoots mostly outdoors where the lighting conditions can change dramatically from spot to spot, hour to hour. I don't always have time to use a grey card as my subjects tend to move, but when I do, I'm a bit of a gadget nut as I think many photographers are. Many of my "had to have" gadgets never see the light of day after one or two uses. I tend to carry all of my equipment with me and anything that isn't useful doesn't make the bag so I can keep the weight manageable. I had been looking for an alternative to the standard white balance card which always seems to get dirty in the field because I lay it on the ground, or against a tree, etc. I saw this cube that is was from Spyder who I trust to keep my two monitors calibrated to each other and the way I want them. I have used a Spyder calibrator for a couple years and can recommend it. Anyway, when I first got this little cube, however I was skeptical. It's pretty small and I wasn't sure you could get a good sample using such a small item, but I did. (Do go to YouTube and watch the demonstration. It is much better than the instructions.)
If you have an extra tripod or monopod you can screw it onto that, or have someone hold it, but it's easier just to hang in on something in the photo. Only problem with that is, if the wind is blowing very much it will swing making it harder to get a clear shot. For a test, I decided to take photos of individual bright yellow flowers which are always a challenge for me to get the right color balance to show their true, natural glory. I took some shots in RAW and then processed them using Aperture for Mac. Since I don't do extreme editing, Aperture works perfectly well for me. I used the white balance eye dropper to choose a spot on the cube to use to create a preset. You can chose either the side that was in shadow or light depending on where your subject was in relation to the light. When I first used it, I thought that having a side in shadow wasn't good, but later realized that it is very good since some of the flowers were in light and some in shadow. There are very subtle differences in the grey and white even on the same side depending on the direction of light, but it's so close that it's not a big deal. I really love the pure black hole and the little silver ball. The silver beads shows your reflective highlights so you can tone them down if you need to with the preset. Once I adjusted the photo with the cube, I simply used the stamp tool to apply it to the other photos which only takes a few seconds each. The results were very good so it made the bag. I also like that it has a little drawstring pouch to protect it from bumps as it hangs on the outside my bag for easy access.
on September 16, 2014
This item is designed to help you adjust your white balance, blacks, and exposure in the editing process and then apply these changes, en mass, to all the photos you took. I have a Canon 70D and I always shoot in RAW.
To use this product you first take a picture with the SpyderCube in your shot. You can then put the SpyderCube away and then proceed with your photo shoot. The SpyderCube is so small it hardly takes up any space in my camera bag. Ideally, you would use this product with a color checker too, which fortunately I already own. After importing your pictures into your computer and you will need to edit your pictures in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. You apply your editing to the picture that has the SpyderCube in it. You adjust your grays, whites and blacks using the SpyderCube and then you can apply these same settings to all the pictures you took in that light setting.
A nice feature of this SpyderCube is that it is designed with a hole to give you the blackest black. I thought this was a really clever design feature. It is blacker than the black square on the cube or on my color checker.
on September 14, 2014
This is an item that is hard to assign a star rating to. I gave it 5 stars because it really is the perfect tool for a specific job. From the silver ball on top that helps evaluate specular highlights, to the hole on the bottom that gives you absolute black, to the shape that allows proper evaluation of primary and secondary lighting with the white and gray areas, it really seems like they have thought of everything you will need to adjust a RAW file for exposure and color balance in Photoshop (or a similar program) . It also has a string to hang it around a neck or anywhere else and a tripod mount on the bottom that makes it easy to place anywhere. The handy pouch and a strap to hang it around your subject's neck are also welcome additions.
While I gave it 5 stars, I would prefer if it had some way to fold it out and flatten it for a bag because it is a bit bulky and I wish it was a bit cheaper. However, those are minor quibbles when you need the perfect tool for the job.