SpyderCube: Light Balance Perfection
Fortunately the new SpyderCube is neither a Spiderman themed Rubik’s cube nor a Halloween offering from OXO: It’s the ultimate white balance tool for every photographer who loves accurate colour.
Picture the SpyderCube as a grey-card on steroids: In addition to an 18% grey surface there are areas to measure a catchlight, highlight, and shadow value plus a ‘black trap’ to capture absolute black.
SpyderCube Zone Map
- 18% Grey – The 18% grey area is used to set the colour temperature & measure mid-tone response.
- Catchlight – The chrome ball measures any catchlight (the specular highlight from a light source, like a reflection in a person’s eye).
- Highlight – The white area defines highlights, relative to the catchlight.
- Black Trap – The black trap defines absolute black.
- Shadow – The black area defines shadows, relative to the black trap.
How do I use a Spyder Cube?
There’s a great video detailing how to use the SpyderCube:
Part 1 – In the Studio, On Location, Anywhere!
Place the Spyder Cube in the scene you are about to photograph, with the black trap pointing down and the two split white-grey surfaces facing the camera. It can be hung with the strap (included), placed on a flat surface, or mounted on a tripod via the integrated 1/4 inch thread.
Remember to remove the SpyderCube before proceeding with the photo shoot – otherwise you’ll be spending a lot of time with the clone brush!
Part 2 – RAW Processing
Once you’ve loaded the control image (the photo with the SpyderCube) use the white balance tool / grey-point eyedropper on the brighter of the two 18% grey areas. This sets the colour temperature and tint.
The next step is to adjust the exposure slider while watching the Spyder Cube white area for reference (to obtain brighter whites without clipping). A similar process can be used to adjust the black value, using the black trap for reference (whilst maintaining a visible difference between the black trap and the shadow area).
After grabbing the values from the measuring surfaces and making adjustments to the control image, in many RAW processing programs it’s possible to apply the same settings to all the subsequent images. This is a real time saver and the settings form the starting point before each image has any individual adjustments.
Why should I use a SpyderCube?
The SpyderCube allows you to:
- Achieve consistent & accurate white balance.
- Maximise the dynamic range of a low contrast scene without clipping highlights or shadows.
- Speed up your RAW workflow.
The SpyderCube has some convincing reasons to be used, if not adored, by many photographers. Combined with a calibrated screen and a good printing lab or colour calibrated home printer you should be well on the way to images and prints with superb light balance!