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Eye One Design review

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The Eye One Design (i1Pro)

A package of software to go with the Eye One Spectrophotometer (i1Pro)

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The Eye One spectrophotometer from GretagMacbeth is a sophisticated measuring device that can measure detailed spectral information from emissive sources (ambient light or a CRT/LCD display) or reflective sources (print samples or just about any coloured object)

It is available with different software options which enable different functionalities in the supplied software.

i1pro swiss made

April 2011 – The basic i1 package now comes with i1 Profiler software, which offers printer profiling
June 2012 – See also our i1Basic Pro 2 review for the new i1Pro 2

2020 For all X-Rite articles/reviews, see the X-Rite Category in the dropdown list to the right

Eye One Design

GretagMacbeth provide a range of colour management hardware and software aimed at professional users.

The product that Keith looks at here is the ‘Eye One Design’ package, which offers monitor calibration, emissive and reflective source measurement and basic RGB/CMYK printer profiling.

We also have a review more advanced printer profiling in the Eye One Photo package elsewhere.

What do you get?

I’ve used a Spyder Pro colorimeter for calibrating and profiling monitors for some time and have been very happy with the results.

The equipment here is quite a step forward in capabilities (and price).

The ‘Eye One Design’ package provides a spectrophotometer and numerous accessories, pictured below with my Apple 15″ G4 PowerBook prior to profiling it’s screen.

Feb 06 — The ruler design has been updated and the equipment now comes in a new carrying bag – we’ve got a short review covering the changes.

If you are completely new to colour management I’d suggest you might like to have a look over my Introduction to colour management article and Spyder 2 Pro review on this site before going too much further into this review.

However, I have added links to articles and information on this site and others explaining some of the concepts mentioned here.

Photo contents from left to right

  • Holding device (with strap and weight) for LCD monitors
  • Positioning device (spot measurement)
  • Box with ambient light measurement attachment
  • Patch strip reader guide
  • Software (CD)
  • CRT attachment device
  • USB Spectrophotometer on stand (includes reflective calibration target)

You also get a reflective target for profiling scanners, but since the software isn’t included (it’s an upgrade). I assume it’s just there for marketing purposes ;-)

Since it is not included in the basic package I’ve done a separate review of Eye One Scanner Profiling.

Note – If you just want monitor profiling and ambient light measurement, there is the Eye One Display 2 package (reviewed here) which is a colorimeter (like the Spyder) and not the Spectrophotometer shown above. (Article on what the difference is between a Colorimeter and Spectrophotometer)

Profiling and Calibration?

Color Management book

I 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 Amzon

RWCM  2nd Edition RWCM 

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

There are two main aspects of getting your monitor set up correctly:

Firstly, how do you characterise the actual performance of the display. For example…

  • How red is bright red
  • What colour is displayed at R=127,G=127,B=127 (should be a mid grey)
  • How linear is the brightness output with changing input values

This is ‘Profiling’ your monitor

Secondly, making the monitor perform as a ‘standard’ device

  • What gamma do you want to have (I use 2.2 for my displays now)
  • What colour temperature do you want (I usually use ‘native’ settings on my laptop or 6500 on CRTs)
  • What black and white point luminances do you want

This is ‘Calibration’

It’s worth remembering that you are actually measuring the whole monitor/display card combination, since some aspects of monitor display can depend on the capabilities of your video card.

Installing the software (Eye One Match) is a simple operation, and opening it up gets you to a common interface for printer and monitor profiling. It also shows more things your software can’t do (without upgrades :-) as well.

Eye one match set-up

Here, I’ve selected monitor profiling. You can pick an easy ‘set it all up for me mode’ or a more advanced set of options giving control over many more calibration parameters. There is useful help available throughout the process.

I’ve an example of using this software in advanced mode in my review of the Eye One Display 2 calibrator

screen type selection

Next I’ve selected my monitor type, in this case I’m profiling my laptop.

You need to calibrate the unit with the white patch in the base.

base and calibration target

Sensor and calibration target

The LCD attachment device rests the sensor up against the screen. It usually helps to tilt the screen back a bit to get better contact.

Don’t use the CRT attachment device (a big suction cup) with LCDs — you will probably damage them.

Calibration in progress

The process takes a few minutes, so be careful to disable any screen saver that might cut in and ruin the calibration process. The screen should have been on for a while (at least 20 minutes) to stabilise.

At the end, you get a graphical representation of the LCD response curve and an indication of Gamut. The profile is calculated and you can save it and make it the default monitor profile.

Response and gamut for Apple 15″ G4 PowerBook

Response and gamut for Apple 23″ LCD Cinema display

Note the better response and larger gamut of the high quality Cinema Display. As I write this I’m using that 23″ display and since the screen shots were captured in the screen colour space and converted to sRGB for this web article, the colours are more intense in the lower of the two pictures above.

The easy defaults I’ve accepted for my LCD monitors are ‘Native’ whitepoint and a gamma of 2.2

Advanced mode is shown below where you can pick more details about how you want your screen calibrated.

advanced mode

You also have the option of checking the ambient lighting in order to get a guide to the suitability of your lighting for comparing prints. There is a desk lamp near my own monitor which I checked (details below) — you should be able to see why I keep it switched off most of the time I’m working :-)

When you check the ambient lighting in Eye One Match you need to calibrate the sensor for ambient lighting

ambient light calibration

and then check the lighting

ambient light measurement

The information is in a simple guide format. From the picture above you can see that the colour temperature of 4500K is within reasonable bounds (the green part of the bar graph), but working area is a bit bright at 136 Lux. The help panel explains more about these values and where they come from (article on ISO 6664 and viewing standards)

Simple printer profiling?

I’ve gone into some detail on printer profiles in the review of the ColorVision PrintFIX I’ve written, but essentially they are the translation between the image you want to print and the capabilities of the printer you are using. If the printer prints out greys a bit too blue, then the profile ‘corrects’ this to give an even neutral grey. You generate profiles by printing out coloured patches of known colour and then seeing what colours appear on the print. Software takes the measured values, compares them to what they should be and generates a profile. Of course, it can get a lot more complex than this in real life, and profile building is a skilled job needing plenty of patience. One of the nice features of the PrintFIX was how it automates this process and makes the generation of profiles quite simple. This software and hardware is considerably more expensive, so I was keen to see how it worked in the real world.

I should add that I’m just looking at the ‘Easy’ profiling process that you get with the Eye One design package. Some of the more detailed options are covered the review of Eye One Photo printer profiling.

Selecting the print profiling option brings up the reduced colour patch chart for ‘Easy’ profiling. This is quite a reduction on the 700+ patches of the PrintFIX solution. In general, the more patches you measure, the better the profile is…

…but it does depend on how the colours are chosen, measured and analysed by the profiling software.

The ‘Easy’ RGB target.

For a printer I picked my Hewlett Packard K80 fax/printer which is networked with a ‘JetDirect’ box and driven using the HPIJS drivers and the CUPS printing system on my Mac (OSX 10.3). The printer is not officially supported on the Mac by HP, but works a treat using the open source drivers (available here). I printed the pattern above using a setting of ‘Photo – Photo paper’ and some cheap (unbranded) photo paper that I had a pack of laying around.

After letting the print dry (this is important) I placed the guide template over the print and followed the instructions on the screen.

The software prompts you to make measurements, and will complain if a strip is not scanned correctly, so you can do it again.


The plastic guide ensures that you scan a single row of the target at a time.

Each row should be scanned in 4-5 seconds. It is important that you start and end each scan on plain paper.

Reading the coloured patches.

Before long, I had a profile, which I saved with a suitable meaningful name (do remember this, and also to write down paper, ink and printer details).

I then printed a test image from within PhotoShop, setting the output as ‘same as source’ for the first non profiled print, and then printing with the new profile I’d created using perceptual rendering intent (more info on rendering intent and what it means).

I knew that the K80 was very prone to printing greys with a distinct cool blue tone, so I was not surprised with the first print.

Note. The pictures below are photos (in sRGB) of the actual prints viewed in daylight. The image is part of the Kodak Colour Management test kit I’ve reviewed elsewhere on this site.

K80 original

Those icy cool greys were an inspiration for me to write an article a while ago on using PhotoShop curves to create good greyscales. Not a printer for my finer work!

The example below shows the results using the ‘Easy RGB’ profile

K80 EasyRGB profile

Not at all bad overall, but rather too much contrast. The shadows are blocked and the highlights burnt out.

A simple contrast (reduction) adjustment to the image before printing produced a much more pleasing result

For reference, I also photographed the test print, but bear in mind that this is a slightly darker paper and very glossy (hence the slight reflections, since I couldn’t find where I’d left my polarising filter :-)

Kodak test print

Notice the RHEM strip on the test print – this shows up bad lighting conditions (more info)

Note — Thanks to Thomas Holm for reminding me that the RHEM strips are for visual use (ie looking at them by eye) and other devices (scanner, film, digital camera) may ‘see’ stripes where none are visible or vice versa.

Now, I’m not going to be using the K80 for exhibition quality prints, but that was pretty good for a small target patch number. The point was to take any old printer, with any old driver (actually very good) and see how the profile turned out.

With that done, I turned to ambient light and coloured patch measurement. This is handled from another software package called Eye One Share…

Eye One share

This is a different software package and brings together all the functionality of measuring light and coloured objects together. 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.

This software is actually available for free download and I quote from GretagMacbeth

You can:

  • create custom colour palettes and email them to your coworkers, project team members and clients
  • import those palettes to your favourite design applications-no more rebuilding palettes in each program
  • create, evaluate and convert colours
  • choose from a library of predefined colours -including Pantone

ambient light reading

If you use it in conjunction with an Eye-One device you can:

  • scan any colour, from any source and add it to your palette
  • get the full Pantone library
  • use it with the ambient light head to measure and incorporate ambient light
  • use it to build lighting libraries and add lighting to your palette
  • the new Light Tool lets you check the quality of light in light booths or working environments to determine the quality of any light source.

I decided to test some light sources to see how good they were.

First a desk lamp with a blue ‘Daylight craft bulb’

The spectrophotometer has its ‘ambient’ light measurement attachment fitted.

Before measurements are taken you must calibrate the sensor with a light proof cap

The results are shown as part of the Eye One share interface

desk lamp readings

Not terribly good. Poor CRI (detailed info on what this is) and a spectral response not even warranting a colour temperature (more info and links)

Pointing the device out of the window (blue sky, no direct sun) we get the following

out of the window readings

The spectral response curve shows you a lot about your light source and is very useful in showing why not all light sources look the same and render colours in different ways (think yellow sodium streetlights for an extreme example)

The spectral curve of an ‘Energy Saving’ light bulb in the main hallway of my house.

It shows no stripes on a GATF/RHEM strip (see example above) yet is completely useless for any meaningful evaluation of colours.

The light just looks wrong as well, which is why it’s in my hallway rather than any room I spend time in!

The software also includes spectral data on several Pantone colour sets which can help you decide how they will change under different lighting conditions.

Very useful for checking out lighting conditions for prints. Although I check locations and alter print profiles use accordingly, it has always been a bit hit and miss – this could well be useful :-) If you use the much more expensive ProfileMaker Pro software then you can include the spectral information when building your profiles to allow for lighting. This however, is far beyond what we are discussing here…

The range of solutions

The package reviewed here is the Eye One design. You can add modules as needed. When you need additional colour profiling functionality, you can purchase an access code for:

  • RGB Output (more complex patch sets and profile generation) (review)
  • CMYK Output (more complex patch sets and profile generation)
  • Scanner (produce a scanner profile — Keith’s review of this feature)
  • Projector (calibrate just like a monitor)
  • Digital Camera (camera profiles are useful for some work, although I’ve heard camera profiling described as an exercise in futility :-) … see Keith’s results in this review
  • Profile Editor – (Keith’s review)


Note, this was the first of my Eye-One related reviews, written in 2005.

In subsequent years I’ve learnt a lot more about colour management, but I’ve left the articles as written.

Whilst I’d not suggest the 45 patch profile targets for serious profile generation, it does produce an improvement for many printers.

There are many more products in the market now, so do have a look on the main Colour management page for all the equipment and software we’ve looked at.

Oh and I still think the interface design of Eye One Share sucks !

The monitor profiling is easy to use and produced excellent results. People are bound to ask how the profiles compared with my SpyderPro, and I’d say there was very little difference, slightly more difference on the laptop (but I wouldn’t want to use a laptop for colour critical work anyway) The differences were minimal on the 23″ Apple Cinema display – there was a slight difference, but without some detailed measurements I’d be hard put to quantify it.

The printer profiling greatly impressed me with both its ease of use and quality of profiles. I even tried it with plain photocopier paper on the K80 and it produced a real improvement (but with the enhanced contrast as in the examples in this review). If you want better quality printer profiling then you might want to consider the more expensive Eye One Photo package (Keith’s review) although the design package does contain an upgrade voucher for special upgrade deals (check with your dealer for details).

March 2006 — GMB have updated the Eye-One Match software with some extra functionality – more details

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. 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:

  • The i1Basic – i1Pro measuring device with monitor profiling software
  • The new i1XTreme – professional monitor, RGB and CMYK printer, camera, scanner and projector profiling, plus profile editing

With the i1XTreme you can calibrate and profile:

  • Monitors – LCD, CRT and laptops
  • RGB output devices
  • CMYK output devices
  • Scanners
  • Digital projectors
  • Digital cameras*

*Requires Digital ColorChecker SG Chart – available separately.

Interface Style

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)

Eye One Match is simple to use and passed my obviousness test (based on how intuitive the interface is and how often I need to read the manual) It was nice to use – if I came back to it after two months, I’d remember how to use it.

The interface for Eye One Share is an all together different matter, it is full of icons and options with various settings all over the place. The software has a lot of (useful) functionality and extensive help files too. Unfortunately the interface falls into the ‘Clown car’ style school of interface design. User interfaces are not the place to try out novel designs, without an awful lot of usability testing. Look at the two examples above. Do you have any idea what the small light bulbs or the ‘lightning bolt’ are for? no, neither did I. Download it for free and see what you think — I have a low tolerance of poor interface design (it gets in the way of actually doing stuff) — your mileage may vary! I used to do usability research and consultancy – and yes, this one irritated me :-) :-)


Lovely piece of kit, it even feels nice to hold :-) Good monitor profiling and excellent ‘quick’ printer profiling. I’m currently also using it as a densitometer for measuring some specialist inks for black and white printing. This is covered in my review of the PermaJet MonoChromePro ink set.

Eye One packages are available from a wide variety of suppliers. It is available for Macs and Windows PCs

Note – I’ve seen companies advertising on the web, offering profiles made using Eye One Match. My own opinion is that if you want someone to make you a profile, you would do far better to spend your money with a company that uses professional grade profile making software and knows how to use it. The Eye One spectrophotometer is a top quality bit of equipment, but to consistently make -really- good profiles you need both the advanced software and the skills/understanding to use it. If you see someone selling targets made with the 45 patch ‘easyRGB’ target, then the alarm bells should ring. The 45 patch target is quite good for what it does, but I just wouldn’t have the nerve to try and sell such profiles – others are not so scrupulous …

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Enjoyed this article?

More colour management and printing related information

For information about printers, paper reviews and profiling (colour management) see the Printing section of the main printers and printing page, or use the search box at the top of any page.
All colour management articles and reviews are indexed on the main Colour Management page - please do let Keith know if you've any questions, either via the comments or just email us?

Some specific articles that may be of interest:  

  • Why don't my prints match my screen? A short article showing why there is more to getting your prints to match your screen, than just calibrating your monitor. It's the vital first step, but you do need to consider some other factors for best results.
  • Why are my prints too dark - some basic suggestions to this common problem.

Articles below by Keith (Google's picks for matching this page)


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