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i1 spectrophotometer from x-ritei1Photo LT (i1Basic)
- Update Review

Monitor and printer profiling, with ambient light measurement

Note - this product is now known as the i1Basic (see notes in the Conclusions for all the renaming of X-rite products)

The i1Photo LT is the base level package for acquiring an i1 spectrophotometer.

We've reviewed most of the parts of the package before, but thought that now X-rite have launched it under their own name, we'd give an overview of what you get, along with links to our detailed reviews of the constituent parts.

Monitor/printer Profiling

I often get asked about profiling. It's essentially about getting better and more consistent results when dealing with images, whether viewing them on a screen, printing them out, or sending them to other people.

It's about getting things right first time -- more often.

I'm going to assume that if you are reading this review then you've probably decided you need some form of colour management...

However just in case you are still wondering just what this 'Colour management' stuff is, I've a very short guide to colour management page that might be of help - it includes links to other articles on this site and elsewhere. There are also links to further information at the end of this article.

What do you get

i1 spectrophotometer from x-riteThe i1Photo LT from X-rite comes in a convenient carry bag, containing all the items you need to profile printers and monitors.

i1 photo lt itemsThe i1 system is designed so that you can add modules and additional devices to increase functionality.

The i1Photo LT covers monitor calibration (multiple monitors supported), ambient light measurement, and RGB printer profiling using a small set of test patches.

Note that if you are using the normal printer driver then inkjet printers count as RGB devices, even if they do use Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks.

I'll cover the utility of the printer profiling later, along with the various options in the different i1 kit options.

The picture below shows the holder and counterweight for securing the spectrophotometer when measuring screens, the i1 spectro on its base, and the adapter for ambient light measurement in its box)

i1 photo kit

Note the small white patch on the spectro base unit - this is a calibration tile.

You also get a measuring 'table' for holding printer profiling test patches in place, while you scan across them with the patch reader

measurement table

You also get a clear plastic guide to make it easier to use the spectrophotometer for spot colour readings

spot measurement guide

It's shown below on the supplied 'scan target'

This particular piece of paper isn't actually any use - unless you upgrade the software to cover scanner profiling, which as you've probably guessed isn't free ;-)

scan target

You can update the software via the i1 diagnostics - shown below as part of the installation process.

The software licensing info is actually held inside the i1 device itself.

software installation

You'll notice that there are 3 installation options. i1 Match is the main application used for profiling, while i1 Share is a piece of software I'll cover later...


I'll show an example of profiling my laptop screen.

The spectro is fitted into the holder and hangs over the screen

laptop profiling

  • Note the giant laptop they seemed to have used when they created the graphics for the application - by my estimate it must have at least a 23" screen. ;-)

Coupled with the quite stiff lead, you need to be careful in making sure the spectro is in good contact with the screen.

The view below shows the coloured patches you get while the profiling process is going on.

laptop screen calibration

For more details on the process see:

At the end of the profiling process you get to name your profile and save it. The graphs give an idea of the relative size of your monitor gamut, and how much correction the profile is applying to your display system.

gamut and accuracy

Apple laptop

screen gamut

Apple 23" monitor

The big monitor not only has a wider gamut (range of colours), but needs much less correction applied.

Note too, the 'Help' at the right hand side of the window. Whilst this could sometimes do with options for giving a lot more detail, I found it generally well placed and definitely worth following

lcd screen profiling

LCDs are much easier to measure if you tilt them back. The USB cable is of solid construction.


The i1 LT offers basic printer calibration using a smaller set of coloured patches than used in more advanced packages.

print out test patches

You print out the coloured patches, measure them with the i1 and then a printer profile is created.

With the i1 LT it really is very easy...

I've got much more detailed coverage of this process (and links to related articles on colour management) in the other i1 related reviews

For a comparison between different i1 packages, see the diagram in the conclusions section of this review.

Advanced features

You can keep a record of the calibration of your monitor, while checking the accuracy of your profiles.

Monitors change over time, but any rapid variation might be useful in giving warning of impending failure, or just let you know that it's time to get a new better quality monitor...

This is covered in more detail elsewhere:

calibration accuracy

Record accuracy and variation over time for your monitor calibration

i1 Share

Share is a free bit of software that allows you to make ambient light measurements and measure spot colours.

It brings together all the functionality of measuring light and coloured objects. It offers mechanisms for saving sets of colours together and sharing them with others.

Whereas Eye One Match felt comfortable for me as a photographer, this package is firmly aimed at the graphic design and printing industries.

measuring light from a desk lampThis is the functionality listed: (from X-rite)

If you use it in conjunction with an i1 device you can:

I've written more about this in my original i1 Design review, where I also discuss some of its slightly quirky interface features.

The picture to the left shows an i1 with the ambient light measuring attachment, being used to measure the light from a small desklamp.

light spectrumThe ambient light measurements can be used if you are building printer profiles with the more advanced Profilemaker software. Thus it's technically possible to balance your printer profiles to particularly awkward lighting.

The circular display shows a spectrum (red line) of an energy saving light bulb compared to daylight (black line), and shows why they might be good for the planet, but are absolutely useless for quality of light if you are evaluating anything.

The software also allows you to estimate the CRI (colour rendition index) or 'quality' of a light source for accurate colour rendition (daylight is 100)


The i1 Photo LT is really the package to get if you just want a good spectrophotometer and the associated hardware.

Color Management bookI often get asked for suggestions about learning more about the nuts and bolts of Colour Management.

My usual suggestion is Bruce Fraser's Real World Colour Management. My own copy is well thumbed. It's my first port of call if I'm asked a question and I feel I don't quite understand an issue well enough to be absolutely sure of an answer.

Check latest price/availability from or

RWCM 1st Edition RWCM
RWCM 2nd Edition RWCM

Other Amazon sites
Amazon France / Amazon Germany / Amazon Canada

See some other books Keith has on the shelf, on our Books Page

The spectrophotometer is widely regarded as -the- industry standard and is a precision instrument (i.e. take care of it and keep it in the bag when not in use) The device comes in a useful carrying bag with its various accessories.

The i1 Match software supplied is easy to use and also has interactive training info on the CD.

For monitor calibration it works very well, while the ability to make spot measurements of colours is useful in some areas.

For printer profiling you are limited to the small test target in this version of the i1 range (see below). There is some debate as to just how good this actually is for different printers, but it can give good results for -some- modern high quality printers. In general, if you've had profiles built for you or used manufacturers profiles (with their ink and paper) then the small patch count target is unlikely to give you much of an improvement. The i1 spectrophotometer is widely supported by other profiling packages, so do your homework before deciding this particular vaviant of the i1 collection is what you need.

In the profiling package, I did find the lack of attention given to finding the best media settings before profiling, a serious omission. I've found profiles supplied by paper manufacturers that have been made at the wrong media settings, using much more expensive equipment.

If I'm building my own profiles, I either use the i1 (with the iO) or the i1 iSis to make my measurements, but even if I'm measuring 5000 patches I always do a thorough check for optimal media settings first.

The i1 Share package does have real uses (ambient light measurement and spot readings) but as a former researcher in usability and HCI, I really dislike it's interface and general disdain for best practice in interface design.
It does good stuff but you may have a job finding how to do it in the first place.

  • Yes, this aspect of bad software design is a personal hobbyhorse of mine! :-)

If you want better profiling there are a range of additional options available, either with the Eye One Match software or even the much more advanced ProfileMaker software.

This package is the ideal one if you actually just want a spectrophotometer to use with your own profiling software, using the supplied software for monitor calibration (something it does very well)

The following graph (from X-rite) gives an idea of the range of options.

-but see below for 2008 updates/renaming

range of i1 options

You can buy the additional functionality (such as scanner profiling) as you need. There are various upgrade options and vouchers included with the i1 LT, which you can then use to work out what you might need and how much it might cost.

June 2012 - X-Rite are shipping updated i1Pro 2 with i1Profiler 1.3
Reviews: i1Pro 2 Basic - i1Pro 2 Photo

April 2010 X-Rite ship V1.0 of i1 Profiler - Full i1 Profiler reviews and information

May 2010 X-Rite annouce new profiling software for Q4 2010 - i1 Match and ProfileMaker Pro will be superseded by i1Profiler later in 2010. We have some notes and press info in the X-rite information section of the Northlight blog. For purchases after April 1st 2010 here will be free upgrades, along with other offers when the software is available.

Sept. 2008 X-Rite and the i1 range

From Sept. the range is simplified to two options. The functionality is the same as we have reviewed, but exactly what you get varies. As a result of this rationalisation, the i1Photo, i1Photo SG, i1Proof and i1XT have all been discontinued, and the i1 range now consists of:

With the i1XTreme you can calibrate and profile:

*Requires Digital ColorChecker SG Chart - available separately.

Buying the i1

We make a specific point of not selling hardware, but if you found the info on our site of help, please consider buying an i1 (any version), or any other items at all, via our link with Amazon.
Amazon UK link / Amazon Fr / Amazon De
Amazon USA link / Amazon Canada link

It won't cost any more (nor less we're afraid) but will contribute towards the running costs of our site.

Purchase From B&H (also helps us)

The range of i1 options may be a bit bewildering, but that's one of the reasons I've included links to all the detailed reviews I've written covering different aspects of the packages. One size does not always fit all :-)

Check carefully to see what it is you really need for your colour management requirements, since i1Photo LT may be just the package you are looking for.


Entry level package from X-rite for the i1 Spectrophotometer and its associated hardware.

In the UK RRP for the i1Photo LT is £550, while in US distributors are offering a rebate off the MSRP which comes to $895 with the $200 rebate. It also contains a 50% discount coupon to upgrade to any module you like, i.e., full test RGB or the Beamer (for projector calibration)

The software has the following requirements:



X-Rite i1Pro Device Specifications

Before calibrating your monitor on Windows PC systems, you should check to see that Adobe gamma is turned off if it was installed. We've got a short guide to removing Adobe Gamma that might be of help.

More Info

The views in this article represent those of Keith Cooper.
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