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Scanner profiling with i1Profiler and Colourchecker SGi1 Profiler Scanner profiling

V1.4 of i1 Profiler adds scanner profiling

X-Rite has recently released version 1.4 of i1 Profiler.

As well as some general improvements to the code, it marks the return of scanner profiling, a feature left out when Profiler first appeared.

I've carried out some quick tests of this new functionality with the Digital ColorChecker SG card I originally looked at with i1 Match software several years ago. As yet, there is no equivalent camera profiling available.

I'm testing the software with a fairly basic desktop scanner, although the software is aimed at very high quality scanners, including those for film negatives and positives,

Other i1 Profiler functionality is listed at our i1 Profiler main page, where we'll include links to other reviews and any useful resources we come across.

  • Note that you need a licensed version of i1Profiler that supports printer profiling for this functionality. It does not work if you have the version that just does monitor calibration.

The examples that will be shown are using Apple Macs, but the software generally works in the same way on Windows machines (Win8 is supported).

Note: This review updated after I found that my original Colourchecker SG card was faulty

... or try at Adorama

i1 profiler for scanner profiling

Scanner profiling involves scanning a known colour target and comparing what should be seen by the scanner, with what it actually produces in the scan file. These differences are used by the software to build an ICC colour profile for your scanner.

When I last looked at scanner profiling with the i1, there was a custom target supplied (eye one scan target 1.4) which you scanned and fed into the program to generate a profile.

This target (printed sheet of coloured patches) is not supported in the current software, but it does allow for using both the standard ColorChecker card and the more complex SG version. A number of third party scanner targets are also supported.

Scanner profiling adds another workflow option to i1Profiler

new workflow selection

It's pretty easy to use - you scan a target, and drop the image onto the window.

initial profiling screen

Quite a few specialist targets are directly supported.

supported target types for scanner profiling

The input screen initially offers advice on scan requirements.

requirements for scanned images

The procedures for creating profiles are very dependent on your scanner software, so I've gone for the very basic 'Image capture' application, that's included as standard on any Mac.

The main requirements are to be able to scan without the software attempting any image correction - you can see that I've turned off all the various options.

capturing scan of target card

Scanning the SG target gives me a TIFF file - but it doesn't work.

software needs uncompressed TIFF files

OK, I'm just going to cheat, by opening the file in Photoshop and resaving in uncompressed format - if the compression is lossless in the scanned TIFF file then it won't make much difference (I'd also like to have scanned at 16 bit, but this is just a quick test)

The new file is accepted, and the software attempts to match up the patches with what it expects...

orientation of scan

Rotating the image matches up the green squares with actual coloured patches.

scan image recognised

The software doesn't flag an error, but after I spotted that the scan above was upside down, I rotated it 180 degrees before moving to the profile making.

The only thing I really need to do next is give the profile a name when it's created.

setting profiling options and icc scanner profile name

All is not well though. The profile is created, but with warnings.

profilie creation warnings

It turns out that my SG card actually had a wrong colour patch, which threw off the measurement process.

Here's the scan of a brand new card...

scanned card image loaded

Trying a new card, I got this result - without the warning.

results with second SG card

I decided to have another go at scanning, with the standard ColorChecker card.

using colorchecker card for scan profile creation

It's detected by the software, from another scan with 'Image capture' (also converted to an uncompressed TIFF)

software identifies patch areas in image of card

This time, the software is happy with the data quality.

successful building of profile

I now have two profiles for the scanner, one made with each target (I have the third profile made with the SG card with the faulty patch)

Using the scanner profiles

Your scanner software may be able to directly make use of the created profile, but with the very simple software, I have to assign a profile in Photoshop, to any image file I want to work with.

icc profiles for image files

If you assign a profile, it doesn't change the actual numerical values of each pixel (it changes their meaning according to the profile)

However, it's much better to work in a consistent colour space for your editing. I might use sRGB for web use, or Adobe98 when I'm printing.

Do note that your scanner may exceed the gamut of the space you are using. Move your mouse over the image below to see a warning (in red) of areas that are outside of the sRGB gamut.

testing scanner gamut

I've opened a scan file and assigned the scanner profile. The warning comes from changing my proof setup in Photoshop to another space, and selecting the gamut warning option. The red bits are areas of the scan that are outside of the gamut of my selection (sRGB in this case). It's worth noting that using Adobe 98 gave no warnings.

Remember too that I deactivated all the various scanner software adjustments, so the scan has not had its levels optimised.

Move your mouse over the image below to see the results of a simple levels adjustment.

levels adjustment to correct scan

This review is not intended to be a rigorous test of the accuracy of the profiling, since I'd have wanted to use a better scanner and more capable software.

Even this fairly quick test shows benefits with my office scanner.

Take for example, this scan of the front/back of my business card (it's a 6 'page' fold out one that works exceedingly well for the sorts of work I do, where I want people to know that unlike lots of pro photographers, I don't do weddings!)

quick scan of business card

The blue tinge of the scan is very noticeable.

The scan files do have what is called a 'scanner profile' attached to them.

The screen shots below show the file with no colour management, the default profile, and lastly with the one I'd created using the ColorChecker card and assigned to the file opened with no colour management.

three different versions of a scan, showing the benefit of a profile

Roll your mouse over the image below, to see the effect of applying the profile (created with the new SG card) to the scanned image of the card.

Conclusions

The profile gave a vast improvement to the output from a basic desktop scanner, although I did need to be careful to scan without colour correction, and needed to cheat a bit with the TIFF files.

I'm assuming that for more accurate work you'd be using much better kit all round, but you still have to take care with your workflow and ensure that you are actually profiling just the scanner and not the scanner + various processing enhancements from the software.

Setting profiles for subsequent scanning

This will vary considerably with your software, but with the very basic 'Image capture' software on my Mac, I can go to 'ColorSync Utility' and set the default (current) profile for the scanner (which is reflective only)

setting profiles for scanner

The difference is immediately visible when I scan my business card again.

corrected scanner output

The simple ColorChecker card initially produced a more consistent result than the more complex SG card.

It turns out that the SG card I'd been using (albeit nowhere near as often as the various ColorChecker cards I have) had a faulty patch.

If you move your mouse over the image below you will see a considerable change to patch [3,F] (plum colour) as the profile tries to 'correct' it.

coorrections applied to an image of a colourchecker sg card

Comparing my original SG card to the one shown on X-rite's web site, the SG card is shown (below) with a blue patch at 3F

So, the software was expecting blue... this explains the warnings during the initial profile construction.

The colourchecker digital SG card

i1 Publish upgrades

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Both cards produced good profiles, however, with the scanner and software setup I'm testing I'd not expect the greatest of precision.

The software is easy to use and effective and even identified problems with my SG card.

I don't do much scanning or camera profiling, which might explain why I've only just noticed the difference in my SG card ;-) Where I'm creating profiles for photography I generally have my ColorChecker Passport with me for creating DNG profiles.

The bottom line is that I was definitely impressed by how much even the basic ColorChecker could improve my old scanner.

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

  • Article History - first published January 2013. Updated with new SG card testing, Jan 2013
Requirements - V1.4.2 release notes

The following features and improvements have been added for this release:

Scanner Profiling  - Added support for the following scanner targets:

CGATS Functionality - Improved the support for "SampleID", "SAMPLE_NAME", and "Sample_Loc" column types.

Made enhancements for custom output column selections. Made location information content optional in "SAMPLE_NAME" column.

Added support for P2P and other popular single-page colour control wedges.

Dropped support for MacOS 10.5.x (Leopard.)

Installation and Registration

Administrative rights are required to install and uninstall the software.

Do not connect measurement devices until the software installation is complete and the system has restarted.

The i1Display or the i1Pro 2 must be connected in order to register your i1Profiler solution.

Minimum suggested hardware requirements:

Macintosh:

Windows:

The views in this article represent those of Keith Cooper.
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