Our review of the i1 Pro 2 – display profiling, printer profiling, and more.

Calibrating your screen and profiling your printer are extremely important for the professional workflow.

It’s also important to have a reliable device that will make the calibration accurate and easy. We had the pleasure of testing the newest product of the X-Rite family: The i1Photo Pro 2.

As long time users of the original i1 Pro, we were excited to see what’s changed and improved in this new device.

The i1 Pro 2 comes in three different editions: i1Basic Pro 2, i1Photo Pro 2 and i1Publish Pro 2. In this article, we’ll cover the i1Photo Pro.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

The package contains: Carrying Case, Tripod Holder, Ambient Light Measuring Head, Protection Cover, Display Holder, Positioning Target, Calibration Plate, i1Pro 2 Spectrophotometer, Backup Board, Ruler, ColorChecker Proof, ColorChecker Classic, User Manual, Software DVD, USB Cable, and the Certificate of Performance.

The i1 Pro 2 has an entirely new appearance. The Matte Black and Silver casing gives it a very sleek look. The device fits well in the hand and feels very sturdy. The rubberized surface makes it easier to get a good grip of the device. Located on the side of the unit is a Measurement Button, which is used when calibrating, measuring color charts or ambient light.

On top of the device is the Device Status Indicators. These indicators provide feedback on the current status of the device and guide you through the measurement process. Lights have three basic states:

  • solid white – device needs to be calibrated
  • flashing white – the device is ready
  • solid or flashing red lights – re-scan/re-calibration needed

A great improvement is also the combination of both the standard lamp and the UV cut in one device. You no longer have to switch out hardware if you’re profiling media that contains Optical Brightener Additives (OBA’s).

The i1Pro 2 can be used with the new i1iO table (it includes a footplate to fit the device), however to use it with the first generation i1iO table, the table must be retrofitted.

We noticed a significant change in the Calibration Plate as well: the new plate includes a sliding cover, that helps keep the white calibration patch clean and dust-free.

The Backup Board and Ruler also went through a makeover. The Ruler slides very easily, which allows for smooth travel when reading in color charts. The i1Pro 2 fits perfectly in its designated spot and is just as easy to remove.

The Tripod Holder is used when calibrating Projector Displays. Located on the base of the Tripod Holder is a light measuring head that is used for Ambient Light Measurement.

The Display Holder resembles the ColorMunki Photo Holder. The i1 easily fits into the mount and fits over your display monitor securely. The rubber bottom keeps the unit in place on the monitor.

The i1Photo Pro 2 package comes bundled with i1Profiler. This software is easy to use and right away we can tell where the particular functions are. I1Profiler operates in two modes: Basic and Advanced. In the left panel, there are 3 main options (if you’re in Basic mode): Display Profiling, Projector Profiling and Printer Profiling. Advanced mode offers a lot more options to further dial in the settings and color on your devices.

On the bottom of each window, you can see the entire Workflow. This gives you a good understanding of which step you’re on and what’s coming up next. Training videos are available from the software, which outline each function of the software. With that even novice users will be able to achieve great color right away.

DISPLAY PROFILING

The process of Display Profiling is quick and easy. Select your display, White Point and Luminance. In this window you can also select the option to use the Ambient Light Control. If you select the Ambient Light Measurement option, i1Profiler will display instructions on how to attach the special plate that makes the measurement possible.

The i1 fits well in the Display Holder and the units fit well over the monitor. The profiling process takes about 10 minutes. During that time, the software displays a series of different colors on the screen. i1 measures what values are being displayed and builds the profile.

After the profile is saved, a 3D model of the color space is displayed. You can also see a preview of some test images to compare the before and after results. Seeing these results shows the importance of calibrating your monitors and doing so on a regular basis. Keep in mind, all monitors “drift” over time. In order to keep your images and prints consistent, it’s important to calibrate your screen on a regular basis. A very nice option in the software is an automatic reminder that will prompt you to re-calibrate every 1, 2, 3 or 4 weeks.

PRINTER PROFILING

We ran the printer profiling test using our Epson Stylus Pro 9900 and Lyve Canvas. On the first screen the software lets us choose the test chart size. We have 3 different chart sizes to choose from: Small (400 patches), Medium (800 patches) and Large (1600 patches). The Large patch set takes longer to scan, but there’s definitely a benefit here. The color reproduction, shadow and highlight details are significantly improved.

The color patches are smaller (7mm vs. 10mm) which allows us to fit for more patches in a smaller space, thus saving media. You can print the charts directly from the software or you may choose to save the patches to TIFF files.

The Backup Board has a built in clipboard that holds the charts in place. The design of the ruler makes for smoother travel over the substrates we are profiling, reducing paper getting scuffed by the ruler. On our previous scanning ruler, it was not uncommon for the i1 to occasionally “stick” or not travel as smoothly at times, which caused misreads. We did not experience this once with the new ruler kit. X-Rite has certainly taken user feedback and applied it to their new design.

The profiling software allows us to measure each row in each chart with a single or dual scan. In single scan mode, the i1Pro measures No Filter, UV-included measurement that is equivalent to ISO type M0. In Dual scan mode, the i1Pro uses UV-included (type D50); equivalent to ISO type M1, as well as the UV-excluded, or UVcut measurement that is equivalent to ISO type M2.

The dual scan results were more accurate than single scan and are recommended for best results. Scanning process took us about 15 minutes (using the 800 patch sets). The i1 has a built in positioning detection sensor which allowed us to complete the scan with no errors. A very helpful feature is the beeping sound the device makes once the scan of a row is completed or if a row was scanned too quickly and needs to be re-scanned. The sound is accompanied by flashing of the lights on the i1Pro.

After those profiles and test prints on Lyve Canvas were completed, we moved on to profiling Vibrance Gloss. Not having to switch to a UV cut device helped us build the profile quicker. The end results were better in this case too. The colors were more saturated, compared to the profiles from the old device and the blacks were much richer.

We used the Medium, 800 patch set to profile our Lyve Canvas, Vibrance Gloss, and Pura Smooth, and the results were stunning. The prints looked crisp; colors were well saturated and reflected what we saw on the screen perfectly. When compared to photos printed using profiles built with the old i1Pro, the new profile resulted in sharper, more accurate images.

WHY SHOULD I GET THIS DEVICE?

If you want to be able to calibrate your monitor/projector and create your own printer ICC profiles in a very easy, accurate way, this device is for you. Its simplicity and ease of use will make the profiling process quick and easy. At the same time, if you’re a more technical user and want to have a lot of options available to further fine-tune your workflow, this device is a great choice and should satisfy even the most demanding user.

Current users of the original i1 Pro should at the very least test a few ICC profiles created from the new i1 Pro to make side by side comparisons. Any user that wants to improve their color and output should also consider this device.

X-rite definitely put a lot of research and user feedback to work in this package and it shows. We’ve already made the switch, and any Breathing Color user can expect improved print quality and color accuracy moving forward.

About the Author

Nick Friend, President of Breathing Color, Inc., is a principle-centered entrepreneur who has over 15+ years of experience in developing and executing innovative sales and marketing strategies as well as building, training, and leading national and international sales forces. His ability to recognize market opportunities, build successful business models, and lead organizations has been demonstrated with multiple business ventures. Mr. Friend was honored by the Orange County Business Journal's "Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards" in 2007 & 2008.

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