i1 Pro 2 Hands On Review

by Nick Friend on July 18, 2012 · 9 comments

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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.

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  • Stopherking

    It sells for $2000. Breathing Color should make the rounds to their customers and do custom profiles for breathing color products

    • Terry Wyse

      Just to clarify, the i1Pro2 is sold in 3 different bundles: i1Pro2 Basic, Photo and Publish. Basic includes the instrument + display software, Photo includes that plus RGB output/printing profiling and Publish adds CMYK profiling. It’s only the Publish version that sells for $2,100….the other versions go for (Basic) $1,200 and (Photo) $1,550. 

      I suspect most Breathing Color customers would only need the Photo version for creating RGB profiles through their standard printer driver. Publish is only required if you have a CMYK RIP such as ColorBurst X-Proof/X-Photo

    • Terry Wyse

      Hit the “post” button too quick…I also wanted to comment on Stopherking’s comment that “Breathing Color should make the rounds to their customers and do custom profiles for breathing color products”.

      That’s a nice idea…but it would likely violate the EULA of the i1Profiler software included with the i1Pro2. They’ve tightened up the EULA to the point that it’s virtually illegal to create profiles and distribute them to other users, especially if you’re charging for them. It would behoove Breathing Color to check with XRite on licensing fees before offering up “free” profiles on their website. It’s certainly not in XRite’s best interest to allow unlicensed distribution of their ICC profiles as this cannibaizesl sales of their products. I know users would like “free”-everything but it’s not even in the best interest of end-users if this is allowed since it thwarts funding and further development of their software and hardware. 

      Terry

      • http://www.breathingcolor.com/ Paul Morales

        Hi Terry,

        Thank you for your input, and you certainly make some valid points. 

        We actually have a great relationship with X-Rite. They are fully aware of all of the equipment we own and what we are using it for. We have never charged for ICC profiles. We use our profiling equipment to create profiles for each large format printer that customers are using so they get the best possible results in terms of accuracy and dmax.

      • http://www.breathingcolor.com/ Paul Morales

        Thanks Terry.  We have a very close working relationship with Xrite.  They are a great partner of ours, and are fully aware of all the equipment we own and what we are using it for.  

        • Terry Wyse

          I didn’t mean to imply that Breathing Color was unaware of the consequences of providing free profile downloads for their media…I’m sure you’ve worked out an arrangement with XRite for this. I was merely commenting on the expectation by some that this should be provided as a free service for all your customers.

          As a color management consultant, I need to point out that “canned” or generic profiles, even for a specific media, are just that. They can be adequate for some users but they’ll never be as good as profile created from YOUR media and YOUR printer. Casual users (or non-users) of color management and profiles sometimes forget that not all media and printers are created equal….nothing beats a good custom profile. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/daviddrufke David Drufke

    Does this mean we’ll be seeing new profiles on the site soon?

  • Chuck Mintz

    As someone who bought my I1 Photo less than a year ago, I am not impressed by their offer to upgrade for $1200 and throw in a bunch of features I do not need. I understand that it is good they upgrade their products but I would hope that the small guy for whom this stuff is a stretch would be treated better than this.  I know this is not Breathing Color’s fault but I also know you are talking to photographers (like me). Great companies are more than the guys with the best gizmos…..

    Chuck

  • http://www.printmanagers.net.au/ Printing Brisbane

    Wow. Pretty awesome setup right there. I love the new features and how it helps my cause. Thanks for the share. I’ll definitely look more into all this.

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