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print profiler kitColour Confidence Print Profiler review - updated

Using the Profiler kit for monitor calibration and making your own printer profiles

We recently reviewed the Print Profiler from Colour Confidence and found that although it was a solid bit of kit (using the respected i1 spectrophotometer), the software included left a great deal to be desired from a usability point of view.

Print Profiler

Well, as we said at the time, Colour Confidence were concerned about this, and recently lent us the 'All new improved' Print Profiler.

Keith has been looking at the kit and discusses some of the welcome changes.

digital black and white logoFYI: I've set up a LinkedIn group (~6600 members) for people interested in all aspects of Digital Black and White photography: Digital Black and White

What do you get with the Colour Confidence Profiler kit?

print profiler kitI'll cover some of the changes in the latest version of Print Profiler here, rather than go through the operation of the software in detail.

Please do have a read of the original review for more information.

The profiling software works in the same way as before, with the big difference that it's now a lot easier to use, more consistent, and has lots of genuinely helpful help features.

The box is just the same...

The bag contains an i1 spectrophotometer from X-Rite, a chart measurement tray, and a plastic device to make it easier to take individual spot readings with the i1.

The spectrophotometer is a USB device and has a base, which incorporates a white calibration tile.

  • Right - The Profiler Kit from Colour Confidence

Note that the device is designated an ES-1000 from EFI.

It also still says GretagMacbeth (GMB) in small print at the back (now X-rite).

efi es1000 spectrophotometerSince the measurement parts of this kit are from GMB, I've listed my individual reviews of GMB hardware and software at the end of this article.

In those articles I also cover a lot more of the details about making profiles and what it is you are actually doing.

If you are new to colour management, I've also included some of my introductory articles explaining more about why you would want to use it and what the benefits are.

The kit now only contains one CD with the latest version of i1 match for monitor calibration, and the Profiler software.

Gone is the EFI Verifier software and its activation dongle.

Given that this particular software was of no conceivable use to almost any purchaser of the kit, it's no great loss.

  • Note that the EFI software is actually very good, and has very particular uses - just not here...

The monitor calibration software is now up to date - see my review of using Eye One Match for more details of features and compatibility.

As before, the i1 measures patches on your screen to create a monitor profile.

In the picture below, you can see the device hanging by a special strap over my Apple 23" monitor

screen measurement for profiling

You can also see some nasty moire effects caused by the interaction between my camera's sensor and the dot pitch of the screen.

The dark rectangle in the middle is the colour currently being measured.

printer type selection - old versionCalibration relies on displaying different colours and then measuring how they come out on your screen. This information is used by the software to build a display profile.

Using the printer profiling software

The Printer Profiler software (V2.4.3 tested) has had some appreciable work done in order to make it easier to use.

Various interface options that should have never appeared in the original, have gone and a comprehensive set of help files and information is now available.

The old interface is shown to the right. with a non functional button and a few lines of 'Help' text.

The updated screen looks similar, but the giveaway is those lines of blue text and what they link to.

  • Note that we were looking at a not quite finalised version of the software and the help text is in the process of being further refined.

printer selection - updated interface

The most welcome addition is the 'Media evaluation' section (note the big '?' button as well)

I've pointed out for some time that the PrintFIX PRO software package was the only one that emphasised the importance of getting the correct media settings before starting the profiling process - this step will definitely help you get better results from your printer.

  • If you are curious as to why this is so important I've written an article with lots more details on Media evaluation.

The Print Profiler package now includes lots of helpful information on this stage of the process

A test image is included for this step.

You print it out at different settings and see which is best. This evaluation not always a straightforward choice, so expect to try several settings (and not just the 'obvious' ones) You might wish to print the target at a reduced size so as to save the amount of paper needed.

The actual printing and measuring of test prints for profiling is as before, so I'll not go over it again here, however I found the package capable of producing good basic icc profiles that could certainly improve your print quality.

The software has been gone over quite carefully to help make things clearer - or example the old package provided you with a whole load of cryptic information on 'profile quality', the new version helps make sense of this.

Conclusions

Most welcome changes in what was a good product seriously let down by its presentation.

The help files and documentation are now genuinely helpful, and someone new to colour management would not feel the complete bewilderment that some aspects of the old package might have induced.

Colour Confidence have listened to feedback and a much better package has been the result. As a former usability researcher I have a low tolerance for bad usability in software and welcome the work that is being put into the product.

Some of the core elements of the software are still quite old, so it doesn't support 64 bit on PCs. It claims (32 bit) Vista compatibility, but I can't verify that since Northlight is a Windows free area ;-)

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Summary

Can produce good profiles for printers and monitors, it is now much improved from the version I looked at earlier this year (May 07)

The review kit came from Colour Confidence in the UK.

It is currently (September 07) on offer at £589 (Inc. VAT) The price on the site is also in Euros and US Dollars. Colour Confidence ships worldwide

Includes:

System Requirements:

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The views in this article represent those of Keith Cooper.
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