The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: datacolor

Can ColorReader measure color?

Imagine, you have painted your living room a long time ago in a great and even mixed color, you have to renovate now and want to have exactly this color again. Or the piece bought at the flea market needs a paint repair in matching color.

Now you are standing in front of the question:"What color or color is it?"

You reach into your pocket, pull out the ColorReader from Datacolor, start the app on your smartphone and scan the existing color. Then it goes to the hardware store or the specialist and you can buy from the scanned color a suitable replacement.

So far, at least, the theory. Whether it's really that easy in practice, we'll find out in the test.

Wrong ideas and what I had to learn about mixing color

Who - like me - "plays" a lot with graphics programs, the abbreviations, such as RGB, CMYK or Lab are probably a term. These are general color codes, according to which a color can be determined very accurately.

My idea was that with the help of a colorimeter, a color code can be determined, I can go with this color code in the hardware store or to the paint dealer and I there exactly this color is mixed. Unfortunately wrong and I had to screw my expectations down significantly. The problem here is less the determination of the color, but rather the mixing devices that are used in the.

TheMixing a specific color is complicated and requires far more than just the three primary colors to stir in a certain ratio. Even the base color white, which is always needed, contains different color components that influence the mixing result. Therefore, it is neither possible in the hardware store nor the paint dealer to mix a color after a color code. How it is still possible to implement color measurements, explains the next paragraph.

From the color measurement to the desired color

My first thought for testing the ColorReader was to compare its color measurement with the result of a professional device in the hardware store. The willingness to help in the Bauhaus was immediately there, but the answer to my request sobering. "Although our color mixing device has a color scanner, it is not possible to have a color code output."

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: datacolor

At the Bauhaus I learned a lot about color matching and application. The test carried out here proved that the proposed color matched the surface well.

I was also happy to explain the function of the mixer. This scans a color sample and compares the measurement result with fixed color tables - the RAL or NCS color fans. These are often in the hardware store and are known to everyone. If a similar color is subsequently selected based on the color guides (the color mixing device offers suggestions), it can be mixed in the device according to a preset preset. Alternative colors are only possible through additional programming by the manufacturer.

It is a pity, but this is the way all mixers work, as confirmed by endless phone calls to hardware stores and paint retailers. A paint dealer even told me that they should not call the color mixing device with scanner according to the manufacturer's specifications "color meter", but must use the term "Farbtonfinder". The device does not output a measurement result, butsearches in the stored color tables for the most suitable shade.

The same applies to vehicle paint finishes, except that the RAL or NCS color charts are not used here, but the scanned result is compared with the color charts of the vehicle manufacturers. In short, there is (almost) no possibility to compare the ColorReader as a test device with a color scanner from the professional segment. Nearly! But later.

Installation of the "Datacolor ColorReader App" and connection with the ColorReader

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: test

A rather moderate rating, but the app with the required permissions holds back strong.

So far, there has been a lot of dry theory, which has little to do with the actual test of ColorReaders. However, this is necessary to understand the device and to be able to evaluate the method of operation.

Let's start with the installation of the app. It is available on Google Play and the App Store and should be usable on many devices. However, there are limitations in the system requirements.Requires Android 5.0 or higher and Bluetooth 4.0 is required - requirements that are easily met with a Samsung S5. The reviews of the app are difficult to judge, since there are so far 1000 downloads, but only 10 reviews and a comment. Conclusions are difficult to draw from this.

The download and installation of the app is quite fast thanks to a small file size of 9.5 MB. Permissions must accept site access, access to media and files, Bluetooth connection information, and device status. The location access is not yet comprehensible for me, but overallkeep the required permissions within limits.

The first start of the app immediately searches for the ColorReader and displays the device ID for the connection. In addition, a firstRegistration necessary, which refers however only to the ColorReader and also with a connection with other Smartphones not again requested. The questions are general and can be answered without any big secrets.

That was all about the installation and the ColorReader app establishes the first connection to the ColorReader.

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: color

1. The ID of the found ColorReader is displayed.
2. It is a simple and fast Regiestrierung necessary.
3. Manageable settings for the app and for communication.
4. The user profile is merely informative and does not affect the app.
5. Very quickly the ColorReader app is ready for use.

The first connection did not go without problems

After the very fast installation the first connection is established - or not.

My test combination consists of theColorReader and a Samsung S5 (SM-G900F) with Android 6.0.1 and all the latest updates. Nevertheless, a connection was not possible, although the device is found and detected. But it seems to be exclusively due to communication problems. The reasons are:

  1. The smartphone recognizes the ColorReader and can pair easily.
  2. The ColorReader app recognizes the ColorReader and can read out the ID.
  3. If the ColorReader is off or out of range, the connection attempt will terminate properly with a corresponding message.
  4. If the ColorReader is switched on and within reach, the app remains permanently in connection mode, but does not connect.

It can be seen that the ColorReader is found and recognized, but no proper connection can be established. The curious thing about the connectivity problem is that connecting to a completely identical model with the same software (all sorts of model and software data were compared) was easily possible. Presumably, the first model denied any permissions needed to connect. Despite an intense search, however, I could not find anything.

A similar problem occurred with a nearly new and still "unplayed"Samsung S8 on. Here was even theCoupling of the devices not possible, In further experiments, there were no connection problems with a Huawai P20 and a LG X power2.

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: datacolor

1. 2 out of 5 smartphones had connection problems.
2. After the connection a calibration is necessary.
3. The calibration guide is a bit flawed.
4. After calibration, ColorReader is ready for use.

For further tests, I have now decided for the second Samsung S6 and the Huawai and the app expects a calibration after the successful connection.

Here, the app still makes a small mistake, but rather makes for a smile. "Please place the cap with the calibration standard (white measuring area) on the end of the device where the red stripe is located." If you follow the instructions, a logical error message appears, because the side with the red stripe is the one USB port and not the lens. However, if you proceed logically, it should be clear to everyone that the small white area for calibration must of course be located where the colors are measured. Everything else would make no sense and I instinctively did it that way. The error in the description I noticed much later when viewing the screenshots.

Presumably, no one has noticed it and will now be changed at the next update. I regard it as a "typographical error" and not as an impairment of the device.

The ColorReader in direct comparison with a professional device

At the beginning I wrote, that it is not possible to compare the ColorReader with the measuring devices of the color mixing machines in the professional range, since these have no color code output. In my research, however, I found the painter-master Baier, who has already acquired a similar instrument for the performance of his activity some time ago. The advantages meanwhile also appreciate his colleagues, who are only too happy to borrow the great tool.

Instead of painstakingly comparing the color on the wall with standardized shades with umpteen thick and heavy color fans, the device is set up and immediately alternatives are proposed from many color tables. In principle, a ColorReader, but with its own display but no smartphone needed and priced it is much higher settled.

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: color

Result and color suggestion of both devices are identical.

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: colorreader

The smaller ColorReader requires a smartphone.

In direct comparison of the measurements with both devices both showed identical colors and suggestions for alternative colors.The ColorReader from Datacolor is therefore equal to the professional device.

Interesting applications with the ColorReader from Datacolor

The typical application of the ColorReader is to find and combine comparable colors in a color fan.

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: colorreader

For planning, different shades can be saved and compared in a separate palette.

For this purpose, the app offers the possibility of different color palettes, such as RAL, RAL Design, NCS and others in the preselection to take or deselect. These selected color boxes are compared to the scanned color and offered the most suitable color possible. This makes it easy to buy identical or similar colors.

But it is also possible, theSave color suggestions and create them in a separate color palette, If you are planning the design of your living room, you can easily see the color combination of wallpaper, wall paint, flooring or furniture at a glanceeven send your own color palette via Facebook, WhatsApp, Mail or other means, This also enables agreements with partners, architects or customers, who do not have to be involved in color measurements and planning.

However, I think it's a pity that you can only create your own color palette from the color shade suggestions. Unfortunately, it is not possible to further combine the original scanned colors or to save them in a palette. But if you use the overview, the last color measurements, you can see these over each other.

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: color

1. The used color fans can be pre-selected or deselected.
2. Based on the color fan, comparable colors are offered for scanning.
3. In the measurement overview, all scans can be recalled and compared.
4. Custom color palettes can only be created from the suggestions.
5. The created color palette can be shared on the known channels.

Make meaningful color combinations

A color that pleases is quickly found. But how can she be combined? How can harmonic color contrasts be achieved? With such decisions, many are struggling and in the end only similar colors are combined to a color scheme.

Again, the ColorReader helps with various suggestions and color combinations. These are generated according to given rules and even explained.For example, complimentary colors create a high color contrast and can set very good accents. Too large areas of two complementary colors, however, should not be used, since the combination then appears very "restless". Used properly, this creates a 3D effect, as you can see in the second picture. The orange hue (center) stands out clearly from the turquoise and it even looks like the color cast a shadow. In the third picture, this effect is at theanalog colors not to be seen. These act like themonochrome colors rather calm and harmonious.

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: datacolor

1. The possible color schemes are explained in detail.
2. The Complimentärfabe achieved a high color contrast.
3. Analog colors are color mixtures with adjacent colors.
4. Grades of the same color are monochrome colors.
5. The quality check compares the paint with the original.

Quality check of the newly mixed color

Colors fade, gray and pollute. If an old surface is repainted or repaired, even if it is the exact same color then arise. The same applies to the glazing of wood - with every coat the wood darkens.

Nevertheless, in order to achieve as identical a color as possible, the color can be slightly changed or the number of glaze layers can be varied. For this purpose, theQuality check of the ColorReader used, which compares the new color with the original and indicates the strength of the deviation. If the result is correct, he gives his OK and a color difference is barely visible later.

Color measurement with the ColorReader and comparison in Photoshop

Even if the ColorReader was certainly not intended, I already had an idea when selecting the test device that had been burning my mind for a long time.

In my reviews are always many pictures to see and who often works with graphics programs and photos knows that colors are not always displayed as they were actually taken. Just the lighting plays a big role here. Checking or retrospective customization can only be limited, as monitors can distort the image.So what possibility is there to check the color fidelity of the recordings? Correct, by measuring the color tone on the photographed object and comparing it with the graphics program.

For this I searched two objects in the garden, photographed, measured the color on the object with the ColorReader and compared it with the pipette function in the graphic program. With the result that my camera captures the colors very well. Was used for this purposeLab color spacewhich refers not to the pure color but to the perceived color under a standard lighting condition. However, this means that the Lab color can change with the lighting conditions. The ColorReader can not be influenced by its own calibrated lighting, the camera already, since it absorbs the colors depending on the lighting conditions.

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: colors

This can be clearly recognized by the higher L value, which indicates the brightness. The color (a, b) is almost identical.

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: colors

The brightness was adjusted by the camera due to the dark background and the pool was brighter.

It can be clearly seen that the camera adjusts the lighting conditions and brightens the image of the pool by the much darker background.The hue (values ​​a and b) is approximately identical, the blue in the photo but much lighter (L value = 0 - 100, black to white). This can already be seen clearly when comparing the big and the close-up. The close-up was brightened because of the dark hedge behind it, the close-up just shows the pool and the brightness has not been adjusted - the blue looks darker.

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: test

There are reflections of the lawn and sky, which explain a slight color shift (a, b).

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: colors

The recording provides a uniform dark tone and was not "corrected" by the camera.

The recording of the device house offers less contrast and was therefore not "corrected". The brightness value L between recording and measurement with the ColorReader is almost identical.There are slight deviations in the colorwhat the reflection of the green lawn (greater negative value a = green) or the sky (greater negative value b = blue) can have provided. The pool with its matte surface is less affected by reflections.

Conclusion: The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test

Anyone redesigning their home will sooner or later have to choose the right colors. Which colors harmonize and which not? And do I personally like the compilation? Here you can get ideas, but how do I know which color was used and where do I get exactly this color? This is where the ColorReader from Datacolor comes in.

Instead of making their way through furniture stores with thick color fans, which usually have to be purchased, and compare colors for hours, write down the corresponding names and finally lose track, an app and the handy little ColorReader are enough.

The ColorReader from Datacolor in the test: colorreader

With the ColorReader can beRead in colors, with known onesCompare color fans and in your ownSave color palettes, So you will not only find the right color name in no time, but also has the ability to control how different colors work directly next to each other. If you still lack ideas, ColorReader can even suggest you and share them with your contacts.

The task masters the ColorReader with flying colors.The required app is installed quickly and works very reliable. Thanks to a very clear structure, it can be used well and above all intuitively. Long training periods are not necessary and with just a few clicks, they can really serve and use everyone.

The big advantage lies above all in the function as color finder, which compares the read-in color with colors from known color fans (RAL, NCS...) and proposes identical colors as far as possible. On the basis of these suggestions colors can be bought ready or mixed in almost every hardware store or at the specialist dealer. Again, there are no shortcomings or limitations.

Unfortunately, I can not neglect that with two smartphonesconnection issues which led to the ColorReader being unusable. Since one of two identical Samsung S5 refused to connect but the other did not, I'm guessing a problem with the smartphone. The Samsung S8, however, I see a "real" problem, as this is very new and so far no settings have been made, which could affect the connection. For that I have to deduct half a star.

Overall, the ColorReader from Datacolor convinced. Small, handy and fast, he realizes his tasks and spares so much effort to find suitable colors or combine.For apartment planner, designer or color viewfinder my absolute buy recommendation.

Review: Riccardo Düring

Photo Credits:
  • all pictures: Riccardo Düring

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Video Board: Der Colorreader im Test