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i1Pro2 - the new profiling equipmenti1Basic Pro 2 review

The new i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer

Product details
- basic package

X-rite have released new version of the i1Pro Spectrophotometer, the i1Pro 2.

Keith Cooper has been reviewing the different packages available, which include the i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer and differing levels of software functionality.

This review covers the i1Basic model and describes the equipment and software that you get.

Given the complexity of the product, there are a series of different reviews that cover the different levels of functionality.

More software details are listed/reviewed at our i1 Profiler main page, where we'll include links to other reviews and any useful resources we come across.

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Available to buy from:
Amazon.com, B&H Photo


... or try at Adorama

If you're relatively new to colour management in general I'd suggest starting with my ColorMunki Display review, which covers more of the fundamentals. If you're new to printer profiling, then I'd also suggest reading my older ColorMunki review, which addresses more of the 'why should I do this' issues relating to colour management.

The examples that will be shown are using Apple Macs, but the software generally works in the same way on Windows machines.

i1 Pro - a new spectrophotometer

I've used an i1Pro spectrophotometer for several years. Indeed, mine is an original Gretagmacbeth model from Switzerland.

It's a USB device that measures both reflected and emitted light.

The light to be measured is split up into its constituent colours and measured in small increments of wavelength.

Changes from the original i1Pro

The device immediately feels a bit more robust, with it's extruded aluminium body and smooth top plate.

the new and old versions of the i1Pro spectrophotometer

Internally there are a wide range of differences aimed at increasing the versatility and range of possible measurements.

The addition of a UV light source allows the one device to replace both Non-filtered and UV-cut versions of the i1Pro.

It's worth noting the differences between the measurement modes, known as M0, M1 and M2

The 'M' modes are part of ISO 13655-2009: Spectral Measurement and colorimetric computation for graphics arts images.

  • The information below (from X-Rite) is just for an overview of these modes, see more info at X-Rite

The M series of measurement illumination conditions has been defined by the International Organization Standards [ISO] to standardize illumination conditions appropriate for different applications when substrates contain brightening agents.

M0: Most existing spectrophotometers and densitometers used in graphic arts have incandescent lamps with spectra close to Commission Internationale de l’Eclariage [CIE] Standard Illuminant A, with a colour temperature of 2856 K, ± 100 K. This is the expected illumination condition for M0. M0 is limited in its definition and does not fully define either the measurement illuminant condition or the UV content of the source.

M1: This was defined to reduce variations in measurement results between instruments due to fluorescence, either by optical brighteners in paper or fluorescence of the imaging colorants or proofing colorants. Note there are two sub definitions for M1 (it can be thought of as M0 with a properly defined UV content - it's much closer to a D50 viewing cabinet).

M2: An ISO standard that defines what UV exclusion (variously known as UV-cut, No UV, or UV-filtered) should be in a measurement tool. M2 also provides a test to ensure compliance to the standard. Instrument manufacturers now have a defined way to provide agreement when customers require an instrument that does not contain UV.

An overview of why you might choose different measurement modes (from X-Rite), however, do note that the i1Pro 2 does not offer M3 mode (which includes polarisation specifications in addition to M2)

different measurement modes for the i1Pro 2

An overview of i1Pro 2 vs. i1Pro functionality.

Measurement Illumination Conditions i1Pro 2 i1Pro  
M0 (ISO 13655-2009) Tungsten (NoFilter) X Unfiltered  
M1 (ISO 13655-2009) D50 X  
M2 (ISO 13655-2009) UV excluded (UV-cut) X UV-cut  
OBC X-Rite Optical Brightener Compensation Technology  
Reflectance Measurement
Minimal patch size: Scan measurement
Spot measurement
7 mm
4.5 mm
10 mm
4.5 mm
Smaller patch sizes when scanning allows for more patches per chart, use of smaller process control wedges and more data points per sheet, resulting in higher profile accuracy, faster measurements and savings on consumables.
Filterless dual scan measurement technology X  
Patch detection based on colour differences between patches
Positioning detection sensor
X

X

X Enables more robust scanning, even on critical substrates or low resolution prints, removing virtually all user errors, requiring less operator skills. This technology also enables the ability to measure M1 and M2 conditions, as well as Optical Brightener Compensation (OBC) measurements.
Full floating guide rail for optimised sample to instrument distance X  
Aluminium ruler with improved solvent ink resistance X  
Scanning measurement speed (Hz) 200 200 Rev B-D

100 Rev A

 
Emissive Measurement
Measurement range on typical LCD display (cd/m2) 0.2 - 1200 0.2 - 300  
Sensor with enhanced temperature drift compensation X  
Adaptive integration time based on patch luminance X Reduces noise to attain better accuracy for measurements on dark patches.

Measuring instruments

The device is supplied in a solidly built cloth covered carry case.

The top half contains the target holder for measuring profiling targets (for creating printer profiles), whilst the bottom half contains the spectrophotometer, its calibration base, and other measuring accessories.

Move your mouse over the image to see inside of top of the case.

new i1pro 2 carry case

An important accessory is the calibration tile. The white tile is used to calibrate the i1Pro 2 every time you want to use it.

The spectrophotometer fits directly on top of the base (move mouse over image to see).

Note that you should always use the base with the same serial number as the i1Pro 2 device.

i1pro 2 calibration base

It's important to keep the tile clean, so there is a sliding protective cover (move mouse over image to see)

cover on base to keep tile clean

Another improved feature is that the measuring head, and cover window, can be removed for cleaning.

(move mouse over image to see)

removable head cover, for cleaning

The device also has an additional light detection function built in to the underside (move mouse over image to see), in that it can measure a striped positioning band, on the measuring ruler.

This improved positioning allows for smaller patches to be read on targets (down to 7mm) and for multi-pass measurements of targets.

top and bottom views of the i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer

Multi-pass measurements are part of what is a considerable advance in the new device.

The old i1Pro came in what were known as UV and UV cut versions. There was a single source of light (a filament bulb) that put out a rather small amount of UV.

How you decided which device you needed depended a lot on what software you were using and whether you regularly measured papers with a lot of Optical Brightening Agents (OBAs) in them.

At Northlight I generally use an i1iSis for measurement, which has dual light sources that allow for different measurement modes (one light is a UV LED). This has allowed me to make use of i1Profiler software, and compensate for OBAs in paper.

  • I tend to use papers with little or no OBAs in them, so this hasn't been too important for my general work. I have written up a report of how you can compensate for OBAs with the iSis, however I'd suggest you read the section on OBAs in my new i1Photo Pro 2 review first.

The new device allows for 3 standard measurement conditions (ISO 13655 M0: Tungsten; ISO 13655 M1: D50; ISO 13655 M2: UV Cut) plus Optical Brightener Compensation (OBC) without changing filters or needing a second instrument.

The new device is generally more robust and built for ongoing accuracy, so there is built-in 'wavelength calibration technology' that allows for self-diagnosis of the position of the optical grating in relation to the sensor during white calibration (with automatic correction and notifications).

If traceability of your calibration matters, then the i1Pro 2 uses the: "X-Rite Graphic Arts Standard (XRGA) to make it quicker and easier for companies and professionals involved in digital production printing to adhere to ISO standards"

The LEDs on top of the device can communicate all kinds of information, through a combination of colour and flashing (I've been testing the device for a few weeks though and still can't remember what code means what - more on this in the i1Photo Pro 2 review).

Software Installation

The main installer will place i1Profiler software on your system, whilst there is an optional install for the Pantone Color Manger software.

software installation

There is other software on the disk.

ColorChecker Passport is for camera DNG profiling (covered in our original Passport review)

ColorPort is software for creating and reading profiling targets independently of i1Profiler. On the Mac, do make sure that you have at least v2.0.5, since there was a fatal installer bug in the copy on the disk. The software is freely available at the main X-Rite web site.

I've looked at ColorPort in some more detail in an accompanying article covering using it and the i1Pro 2 for linearising black and white printing modes in some printers.

additional software on disk

Whilst on the subject of downloads - why can't the installer check for a new version before installing? Is it just me that finds new update info immediately after installation a tad irritating?

software update alert

Minor gripes apart, the software installed perfectly well on my main desktop machine and Macbook Pro laptop.

Software licensing uses the i1Pro 2 itself to store licensing info. Updates can be applied to the spectro using the i1 Diagnostics software.

Monitor calibration and profiling

The i1Basic Pro 2 package supports display profiling for all sorts of monitors.

It's often been suggested that spectrophotometers are less accurate than colorimeters for monitor profiling at low light levels, however I note that the i1Pro 2 is specifically run in a longer integration mode at low light levels to accommodate this.

  • If you want to see a more detailed discussion concerning aspects of projector and monitor profiling using the i1Profiler software, I'd suggest that you also read the lengthy i1Display Pro review.

The spectrophotometer needs attaching to a special holder before taking any measurements (move your mouse over the image to see)

holder for i1Pro 2 for screen measurement

The soft bag acts as a counterweight, and should go behind the screen. The base of the unit is felt covered to avoid marking your screen, and to keep stray light out.

The software has what are known as 'Basic' and 'Advanced' modes of operation. I'll start off with monitor profiling in the basic mode - note that this is not referring to the 'Basic' in the i1Basic Pro 2 name, just the software mode.

software usage modes

The rash of green ticks on the shot below indicates that my i1 is licensed for all modules. The i1Basic Pro 2 package will only have a subset of these enabled. Note too how the software supports the original i1 Pro device too.

software licensing display

I'll start off with selecting the illuminant that I want to use for my monitor - D65 in this instance.

If you're less familiar with monitor profiling you might also want to look at my i1Display Pro review, which includes many more details of i1Profiler functionality.

settings for display calibration

I'm also setting how bright I want the screen. Don't set it too bright, since this is probably the most common reason for the problem, when people write to me asking 'why their prints are too dark'.

screen brightness settings for display calibration

I'm not including the option to base profiling on ambient lighting conditions - I'm minded to say that if this improves things, then you should perhaps try and alter your work environment...

Before starting though, the device needs calibrating on the white tile in the base unit.

There is a brief guide as to what you need to do.

i1pro2 calibration on supplied white tile

The standard set of coloured patches is displayed. Your screen will display these during the calibration process.

display calibration target and settings

Here's the device plugged into my MacBook Pro

i1pro 2 plugged into MacBook Pro

The display brightness can be set automatically, or through manual adjustment, using the spectro.

adjustment of display brightness

Here's the spectro in front of the screen, ready for measurements

the calibration process for screens

Once all the coloured patches are measured, the target display shows the measured values.

measured results after profiling

Next up is to create the monitor profile from these readings.

Unless like me, you're doing lots of testing of different profiling kit, you might as well accept the default name given.

I've also turned off the profiling reminder, but I'd suggest that every few weeks is more than good enough for most users.

reprofiling reminder for monitor calibration

Advanced Mode

The basic mode probably meets the majority of user's needs, but there are a number of profiling refinements you can add, when in the 'Advanced' mode.

Custom setting of contrast ratios is a useful feature in some applications, but this is very much one of those "If you don't know what it's for, you probably don't need it" settings.

The software also includes what X-Rite call 'flare correct' which adds measurements of your screen from a distance, so as to allow more for ambient lighting conditions.

screen settings in advanced monitor profiling mode

You can up the number of coloured patches that are measured, but it makes the profiling process somewhat longer.

longer profiling time for longer targets

Here's the large 478 patch target after measuring.

results of 478 patch measurement

There is plenty of information about the resulting calibration and profile.

details of screen calibration data

A number of test images are available for 'before and after' comparison.

before and after test images

To my mind there are just too many such images, with names that are really not that helpful. My suspicion is that like most before/after displays in profiling software, it's more aimed at reassuring novice users that their investment in profiling kit, really did make a difference.... ;-)

Display QA

The software offers several ways of seeing just how good your monitor is after calibration/profiling.

The colours of the ColorChecker Card are displayed and how close they matched, on your monitor is noted.

setup for display QA workflow

There are a number of different formats for the measured data

display QA measurement results

You can also record the output, every time you run the test.

A great way of spotting the steady decline of your monitor over time...

storing display QA results for trend analysis

Of course, there are much bigger targets you can use.

very large cmyk it8.7-4 target for display QA

You can also measure how much your monitor varies over its display area.

display uniformity measurement

Readings are taken in different parts of the display.

measurement for different parts of display area

However, the i1Pro 2 is not a small device, so you might want to tip smaller screens on their back for this (although why I'd be particularly bothered with slight variation in my laptop screen is not clear).

laptop screen compares to i1pro2 device

Reports show variations in white point...

white point uniformity results

...and variations in luminance.

luminance uniformity results

In the past I've often heard it suggested that a colorimeter such as the i1Display Pro is better for screen setup, since spectrophotometers don't perform so well at low screen brightnesses.

The i1Pro 2 has improved performance in this area, although my own monitor on the test machine isn't really good enough to show this in any meaningful way.

I will probably be replacing it later this year, when I'll be looking for a good monitor that won't break the bank.

Projector profiling

Projectors can be a bit of a challenge to get good results from. Indeed I've spent some time adjusting our Sony one via the projector setup menus, before even attempting profiling.

Different makes and models will be very different in performance, but do remember that some devices won't give ideal reproduction to photographic images, no matter how much you profile them.

For projector profiling you attach the i1Pro 2 to the measurement stand (mouse over image to see)

i1pro2 holder for monitor calibration

The spectrophotometer measuring aperture needs to be pointed at the centre of your screen (remember that a profile is for the projector/screen combination).

i1pro 2 set up for screen measurement

The metal base can be removed, to reveal a standard tripod socket in the plastic base, if you'd not got somewhere for it to stand.

Here's the new i1Pro 2 and mount next to an original i1Pro and i1Beamer stand.

Note that the original i1Pro will work just fine with the i1Profiler software if you have the appropriate license.

spectrophotometers set up for measurement

They're standing on the Sony VPl-CX21 projector that I've used for a few years for presentations and lectures.

Since I work from home, my wife is grateful that I don't have a large auditorium for my presentations (one more reason I do our training work on-site for clients)

Here's my old slide projector screen, in front of the piano. I'll turn the ceiling lights off for profiling/calibration...

I also like to make sure that any projector has been on for at least 15 minutes before profiling.

room setup for profiling

projector profiling workflowThere are two workflows for projector profiling, basic and advanced.

The basic version offers only one target for profiling, whilst the advanced offers more options for whitepoint and calibration parameters.

I'd note that there is more coverage of i1Profiler's monitor and projector calibration in the i1Display Pro review.

Using the smaller target only took about 7 minutes on my MacBook Pro.

The screen flashes solid colours, just as with monitors, and the i1Pro 2 measures the light reflected back.

Before any measurement, you need to calibrate the i1Pro 2 on the base with the white tile - so no bonus points to the likes of me who set up the spectro on its base right at the start...

i1pro 2 internal calibration alert

There is no 'dark shutter' such as used in the i1Pro/i1Beamer - you need to use the tile.

Given that the software insists on calibrating afresh for -every- set of measurements, I quickly discovered that it worked fine if you just pressed the tile holder up against the i1Pro 2.

Once I'd put the lights out, I started profiling.

First up, the display instructs you on pointing the i1Pro 2

how to position i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer

The screen flickers through some test patterns and will tell you if the spectro can't see the screen.

checking device setup

The software then steps through your chosen target colours.

profiling underway in dimmed room

The screen really is a lot brighter than any residual room light (it was a grey cloudy day)

After a few minutes, the familiar before/measured display appears

measured projector patches

The profile is created in the same way as for monitors.

The native white point is used in the default settings.

At around 7700K it might seem excessively blue for normal use. One reason you don't tend to notice this is that in a darkened room, your visual system very readily adapts to this blueish white.

profiling results target vs actual

My projector is rather close to the screen, so the luminance is high, but note that relatively low contrast ratio, much lower than you'd typically see on a monitor.

Note the fairly good output curves in the profile info.

Native WP in this context makes for a brighter screen, and less chance of visible banding.

LUT curves for projector

In experiments with a few projectors, I've noticed that taking time to get the display looking good 'by eye' via the on-screen adjustments is rewarded with better profiles.

If you know that you are going to be using the display in a room with some lighting, then it might be worth experimenting with a set whitepoint that is closer to the ambient. Different projectors often work in very different ways - remember that my results here are just based on the particular Sony projector I'm using.

Projector QA

Just as with monitors, you can check out how well your projector manages the colours of a test target.

QA workflow

You can also use targets related to print workflows.

choice of QA targets

One thing I tried was using the QA function after profiling with different initial patch numbers (mouse over image to see the difference).

different target options

After running the longer (27 minute) measuring process, I ran each profile through the QA process.

Move your mouse over the image to see the results - the 'L' profile is the larger target one.

comparing profile performance with large targets

A slight improvement I'd say. Whether there would be a change with your projector and computer, or anyone would ever notice, I don't know.

Anyway, the i1Pro 2 profile is more than good enough for my work, and what's more, is noticeably better than the i1Profiler ones created with the i1Display Pro (and i1Pro) I looked at last year.

Whether this is down to the extended integration times at low light levels for the i1Pro 2 or the newer software, I couldn't say.

Here's one final projector profiling shot, showing the same Datacolor* test image on the screen and my MacBook Pro.

  • *Sorry X-rite - I just think their test image is so much more useful than the collection of small ones in i1Profiler.

Note that the two images (roll mouse over to see) have been white balanced on the two different displays, to give a much better feeling for how it looks by eye.

comparison of projected image with laptop

It's a good match - the laptop (LED backlit LCD) has more contrast, but what you see on the big screen is a pretty good representation.

Spot colour measurement

There is software supplied that enables you to measure individual (spot) colours - rather more use to people in the graphics arts than to myself.

PANTONE Color Manager (X-rite info)

To make measurements, you use the spot measurement guide.

spot measurement i1Pro 2 holder

With the guide attached, you just lower it into place to take a measurement - by pressing the button on the side of the device.

measuring spot colours

The i1Pro 2 can also be used to measure ambient lighting (intensity and spectral information).

The sensor needs to be covered with the special diffuser unit, which is hidden away safely stored in the base of the projector profiling holder.

Move your mouse over the image to see.

base unit holds ambient head unit

I cover ambient lighting measurement in more detail in the printer profiling review covering the i1Photo Pro 2 package.

General Observations and conclusions

The i1Pro 2 feels a solidly constructed device immediately you take it from the case.

The range, accuracy and long term reliability of the spectrophotometer have all been improved, whilst retaining compatibility with the original i1Pro.

Whereas there used to be two models of the i1Pro available, the functionality of each (and more) is now found in the i1Pro 2.

It is the multimode measurement capability that will be most welcome to professional users, along with such things as XRGA traceability - which I'll admit, matters not one jot for my own use, other than in that it potentially makes my profiles and measurement data more consistent if I wanted to share it.

  • Remember though that I'm first and foremost a professional commercial photographer, who prints mostly my own work - that's why I first got into colour management. I don't have much connection with prepress and proofing, and rarely ever work in CMYK...

Both monitor and projector profiling worked very well with the i1Pro 2, indeed the results for the projector profiling looked better than I was able to obtain last year when testing the i1Display Pro.

  • Note that I'm using a newer release of i1Profiler software, which may explain this.

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 Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

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

One question kept occurring to me whilst I was testing the display profiling?

Who would buy the i1Basic Pro 2 kit?

If I just wanted monitor/projector calibration, then i1Display Pro is pretty good.

If I had other profiling software (such as part of a RIP) and needed a spectrophotometer on its own, then the i1Basic Pro 2 looks just the thing.

If I wanted to use free profiling software such as ArgyllCMS, then I'd not need the printer profiling aspects of i1Profiler - however, before you all rush out for it, just remember that it's entirely command line driven and written for people comfortable with that (i.e. extremely few photographers or graphics people in my experience) ...YMMV ;-)

  • Note - X-Rite is releasing a software development kit (SDK) for the i1Pro 2, so you should start seeing support for it in RIPs and other systems which currently support the i1Pro.

For most photographers who print their own work I'd suggest that the i1Photo Pro 2 is vastly more useful.

I've reviewed it, looking at printer profiling and the new Optical Brightener Compensation (OBC) profiling functionality.

Both work very well - indeed it's what I use for some of our profiling needs here at Northlight Images (we've got the i1iSis spectrophotometer too).

For higher profiling workloads you should consider the automated i1 iO 'robot arm'. We've one here for measuring thick media (review) although ours currently won't support the new i1Pro 2 without a modification to the device holder (to allow for the slightly different dimensions of the i1Pro 2) - we hope to have more info on this later this year.

If you do want to use the i1Basic Pro 2 kit for printer profiling, then do have a look at the i1Photo Pro 2 review since it addresses use of the device for print profiling.

If you've any questions or comments - please let us know

Article History - first published June 2012

X-Rite supplied information

System requirements

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Macintosh

Windows

The full range of i1 options

range of x-rite profiling options

i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer specifications

SPECTRAL ENGINE

OPTICS

REFLECTANCE MEASUREMENT

Data Format: Spectral Reflectance [dimensionless] Measurement Conditions:

EMISSIVE MEASUREMENT

AMBIENT LIGHT MEASUREMENT

OPERATING CONDITIONS

INTERFACE, DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT

Physical dimensions

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