X-Rite i1Photo Pro 3 review
Review:X-Rite i1Photo Pro 3
Using the i1Pro 3 spectrophotometer with i1Profiler
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The I1Pro 3 spectrophotometer is a new version of the i1Pro 2 which Keith Cooper has used and written about for several years.
The device is available in a number of different kits, using the i1Profiler software. The software has different functionality enabled in different versions, these being: i1Basic | i1Photo | i1Publish
In this review Keith is looking at what you get with the i1Photo Pro 3 kit – which would be the version of most use to photographers wanting to profile their own printers/papers.
Most i1Photo functionality is covered in detail in the i1Pro 3+ review, which should be read in conjunction with this one if you are interested in the i1Pro3 and i1profiler.
The iPro3 is a new device, the latest in a series of measuring devices going back to the original i1Pro
It’s a USB powered spectrophotometer (specs at the end of the article)
- New illuminant design offers full-spectrum LED light source, allowing for single-pass scanning and improves device reliability and accuracy
- Measure up to 5000 nits for correct calibration on high brightness displays
- Measures M0, M1, and M2 simultaneously in a single pass, cutting scanning time in half and reads smaller patches than the i1Pro 2
- Faster measurement rate
- XRGA (X-Rite Graphic Arts Standard) equipped to make it quicker and easier to adhere to ISO standards and have confidence that data sent or received is reliable and repeatable, reducing waste and rework
The version I’m testing here is actually a late beta model – the only significant difference is that the baseplate/slide shown in some photos is not the final shipping version, although it works the same.
The device is somewhat larger than the i1Pro 2. The i1Pro 3 is shown here attached to the stand used for projector profiling.
The aperture (top) is pointed towards the screen and light goes through it to where the measuring sensors reside.
There are actually several other sensors on the underside of the device used to detect the cover and measure movement along the striped part of the profiling target holder slide rail.
The cover is removable, showing the sensor (centre) and lighting unit (deeper inside).
The cover showing measurement aperture (which is smaller than the i1Pro2). There is a filter in place that will keep dust out in normal use. It unclips for cleaning.
The device needs calibrating and comes with its own matched base unit.
The base unit has screw holes for attaching to a desk/workplace, whilst the spectro has a Kensington style security slot.
There is also a matched external cover that is used as a diffuser for ambient light measurement.
The two new spectrophotometers are very similar – why would you want the i1Pro3 over the i1Pro3+?
First up, the i1Pro3+ has a much larger measuring aperture and a larger sensor assembly inside.
It also has an additional aperture cover that allows for making measurements using polarised light (M3 mode)
The polarised light is useful for reducing problems caused by specular reflection such as some fabrics, ceramics and glossy media – that’s potentially very useful for some commercial applications. The downside if you’re making printer profiles with the i1Pro3+ is that it has a much larger minimum patch size. That means that your old i1Pro2 targets won’t work, whilst the i1Pro3 lets you use them, as well as make new ones with a smaller patch size. The measuring backplate for the i1Pro3+ is quite a bit larger.
The i1Photo Pro 3 plus package includes profiling for lightboxes and transparencies, which is shown as an unlicensed ‘Demo’ option in i1Photo Pro 3 (check X-Rite for upgrade options/costs).
So, for most photographers/fine art printers the i1Photo Pro 3 is likely the more useful option, especially if being used with the new version of the i1iO robot arm.
There is a a comparison chart i1Pro3+/i1Pro3/i1Pro2 at the bottom of this article
I1Profiler V3.2 drops all support for revisions A through D of the original i1Pro
V3.1 does support the original spectrophotometer, but X-Rite recommends updating to V1.8 before updating to V3. The update is free and existing licenses will still work.
V3.2 fixes some problems in using custom illuminants for profiles that appeared in V3/3.1 This means that if you have an original i1Pro and use custom illuminants, then stick to V1.8.3
Obviously this shouldn’t be an issue for commercial users, but I know photographers are far more likely to keep old (but still perfectly fine) equipment. X-Rite might suggest yearly calibration of your kit, but at the prices charged, it simply isn’t going to happen for a significant chunk of our readership. Just remember that like old lenses, getting equipment fixed when broken may not be easy.
Most operations of i1Profiler are similar with the i1Pro 3+, but the patch size does make a difference for printer profiling, so I’ve included this example, making a profile for Innova IFA-11, one of my favourite smooth rag papers, which I’ve used for many years in many printers. There is more about it (and profiling/testing) in part of my lengthy Epson P5000 printer review.
There are standard profiling targets available in i1Profiler, which vary depending on what device you are using.
This 800 Patch set will give good results on a single A4 sheet – although as you can see it leaves quite a bit of space on an A3 sheet.
The bottom workflow indicator shows that I’m using the basic profiling setup, rather than the advanced mode I’d normally choose. All following examples are in the more capable advanced mode.
The 1600 patch target needs two A3 sheets.
Note how the patch order is scrambled. The i1Pro 3 does not need this when using the measurement baseplate with the striped slide bar (this is a feature of the older i1Pro 2 as well).
A target needs a patch set defining for it, so I decided to see how many more patches than the 1600 would fit on two sheets of A3.
Note the more detailed ‘advanced’ workflow indicator.
2033 patches gives a good coverage. Note how increasing this to 2034 removes the neutral patches – this behaviour has been a bit of a mystery for years. I like to have some of the neutrals present, so when creating a target I up the patch numbers to a point just before this switch, and low enough to fit the number of sheets I need.
For my i1iSis XL scanning spectrophotometer I have an A3+ (13″ x 19″) single sheet that contains nearly 3k patches.
If I want to use it again, I can save the chart data. It will appear in the i1Profiler lists at the left side of the application in advanced mode.
The chart has two pages – note how they are not scrambled.
I can save the targets at TIFF files to print out, or send to someone to print.
You can print from within i1Profiler, however on my Mac I usually use the ColorSync Utility, which has a ‘Print as color target’ mode which prints ‘without colour management’, as required for profiling.
Once printed and left for a good time to dry, it’s time to measure the patches.
Before measurement, I can set my preferred measurement method for profiling.
The new device can record measurements for all three data types at the same time, rather than in multiple scans as before. This data can be saved for later use or simply used to create a profile right away.
Multiple measurement types in the data let you try different profile creation choices/options.
The targets were printed on 17″ width paper, so need trimming. They are held in place with the black spring loaded clamp at the top of the measuring board.
The i1Pro3 clips onto the slide rail after calibrating it on the white tiled base.
The rows are scanned by pressing the side button, waiting for a beep and gently sliding the spectro across to the other side and releasing the button. The next row can be scanned the opposite direction, speeding things up.
A successful measurement elicits a beep and green light on the top of the i1Pro 3. A red light and multiple beeps indicate some form of measurement error.
I did get a few errors, which I’d put down to operator inexperience, although as I mentioned, the slide rail was not a production model.
Make sure you’ve enough desk space for when working across the bottom of the target.
Once measurements are taken, it’s possible to check the data.
Here’s the readings for the media. The similarity between measurement modes confirms the lack of optical brightener in the paper. Any OBA tends to show up as peaks in the spectral response for the media.
Here’s the data for a green patch.
I can save the data at this point and/or proceed to making a profile.
I’m just using the default settings here. There is more about this in the i1Pro3+ review and the i1iO review including things like the OBC workflow, which you might choose for papers with a lot of brightening agents in them or when using custom illuminants.
There have been no significant changes in this aspect of using i1Profiler for many years…
The data is then used to create a profile.
At this point I’d normally just leave it there and note that the profile should be given a meaningful name.
However, during my first attempt at measurement, I must have made some errors in sliding the spectro over the target, since this display of a profile shows bumps and pits.
I’ve often noted this as something that signifies problems, but this is the first time I’ve seen it as obvious as this.
Now you could just remake the profile with the same measurement data, but just up the ‘smoothing’ setting in the profile options, but really, it means you need to re-measure the chart.
The new i1Pro 3 offers an increase in speed and flexibility in profile making that will appeal to commercial users. The optional transparency profiling that I looked at in the i1Pro3 plus review can help fix something that’s long caused difficulties for people making use of such media.
The new spectrophotometer feels more robust and the smaller minimum patch size coupled with a faster sampling speed should help with profiling consistency.
The software is easy to use and produces very good profiles from relatively simple profiling targets. The new instruments are capable of more accurate and consistent results than before, an important feature if your print workflows require certification and traceability.
The i1Profiler software continues development, but still works essentially the same as when I first reviewed it nearly a decade ago. It works well and produces excellent profiles for my own work and when I’m testing printers and papers.
My ongoing complaint is that there just isn’t much detailed documentation to go with the software and that once you get beyond basic profile making, you’re not going to find out what any of the profiling setting adjustments actually mean or why you would use them. I’d also note that the video training links still expect me to install Adobe Flash on my computer – something I know that many corporate IT departments would (rightly IMHO) ban absolutely.
If you’re a photographer using the i1Pro or i1Pro2 and getting good results, then there is probably no pressing reason to upgrade, but if you are a commercial user of the equipment, many of the features of the i1Pro3 and i1Pro3 plus are aimed at you.
Don’t forget that there is much more i1Profiler usage info of specific relevance to the i1Pro3 (screen calibration, OBC, profiling settings etc.) in the i1Pro3 + review
These contain a lot of detailed information about using i1Profiler for different functions.
- i1Display Pro Plus review – monitor calibration
- Review of the X-Rite i1Photo Pro 3 Plus
- i1iO review – the i1Pro 3 uses a new design of i1iO, but works the same as described here
- i1Photo Pro 2 review
- X-rite i1 Profiler product overview and reviews
- Using the i1iO for black and white linearisation
A link to all of our many X-Rite reviews/articles
- i1 technology with built-in wavelengths check
- Spectral analyzer: Holographic diffraction grating with 128-pixel diode array
Spectral Range: 380 – 730 nm
- Physical sampling interval: 3.5 nm
Optical resolution: 10 nm
Spectral reporting: 380 nm to 730 nm in 10 nm steps
- Measurement Frequency in scanning mode: 400 measurements per second
- Measurement geometry: 45°/0° ring illumination optics, ISO 13655:2017
Measurement aperture: 4.5 mm (0.18”) diameter (effective measurement aperture during scanning is depending on the patch size and measurement speed)
- Light source: Full-Spectrum LED Light Source
- M0 -UV included – ISO 13655:2017
- M1 – D50 – ISO 13655:2017
- M2 – ISO 13655:2017
OBC: Optical Brightener Compensation (OBC) with i1Profiler software
Calibration: Manual on external ceramic white reference
Measurement Background: white, ISO 13655:2017; for measurements on backup board
Minimal Patch Size in Spot Mode: 6 x 6 mm (0.24” x 0.24”) (Width x Height)
Minimal Patch Size in Scanning Mode: 6 x 7 mm (0.24” x 0.28”) (Width x Height) with i1iO; 7 x 7 mm (0.28” x 0.28”) (Width x Height) with sensor ruler; 10 x 7 mm (0.40” x 0.28”) (Width x Height) without sensor ruler
Maximum Scan Length: 260 mm (10.24”)
Inter-instrument agreement: 0.3 ∆E00 average, 0.8 ∆E00 max. (deviation from X-Rite manufacturing standard at a temperature of 23ºC (73.4ºF) on 12 BCRA tiles (D50, 2º))
Short-term repeatability: 0.05 ∆E00 on white (D50,2°, mean of 10 measurements every 3 seconds on white)
Measurement range: 0.2 – 5000 cd/m2 on a typical LCD-Monitor
Short-term repeatability: x,y: +/- 0.002 typical (5000°K, 80 cd/m2)
AMBIENT LIGHT MEASUREMENT
- Data Format: spectral irradiance [mW/nm/m2], illuminance [lux]
- Type: Cosine-corrected diffusor light measurement head
INTERFACE, DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT
- Interface: USB 1.1
- Power supply: Device powered by USB. No additional charger or battery required. USB 1.1 high power device.
- Operating Conditions
Temperature: 10°C (50°F) – 35°C (95°F)
Humidity: 0% – 80% non-condensing
- Storage Conditions
Temperature: 0°C (32°F) to 45°C (113°F)
- i1Pro 3 device: Length 162 mm, width 69 mm, height 64 mm (6.4” x 2.7” x 2.5”)
- i1Pro 3 Ruler: Length 337 mm , width 102 mm (13.3” x 4.0”)
- i1Pro 3 Backup Board: 355 mm x 265 mm (14.0” x 10.4”) folded or 355 mm x 400 mm (14.0” x 15.7”) unfolded
- Weight i1Pro 3 device: 285 g (10.1 oz)
Comparing i1Pro version (from X-Rite)
A comparison of features – click to enlarge
Keith’s connection with X-Rite
Thanks to X-Rite for lending me the i1Pro3, which I’ve been testing as part of their beta test programme.
Northlight Images specifically does not sell hardware or software and has no financial relationship with X-Rite. I am a member of X-Rite’s Coloratti program, but make a point of testing and reviewing products from different competing manufacturers in as independent a manner as I can. (see our review policy)
If you’ve any questions, please do feel free to email me or ask via the comments below.
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