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i1Studio calibration and profiling review

  |   Articles and reviews, Black and white, Colour management, Hardware review, Monitor calibration, Printing, X-Rite   |   14 Comments

X-Rite i1Studio calibration and profiling review

Monitor calibration, printer profiling and more

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Keith has been trying out the new i1Studio colour management kit from X-Rite.

The i1Studio spectrophotometer is based on the ColorMunki Photo [Keith’s review]. ColorMunki Photo users can upgrade to the i1Studio software without charge.

Full details from X-Rite (inc. s/w for CM)
i1Studio overview and resources

Important update: V1.1 of the software adds the ability to save measurement data and offers ICC V2/4 support. This fixes my major gripe with the original software

i1studio and colorchecker card

Buying the i1Studio: Any purchases via a link here helps support the site
B&H | Adorama | Amazon US


The boxed version of i1Studio comes with a soft case, USB lead and a ColorChecker24 card.

i1studio boxed

The device itself is a spectrophotometer that measures light, splitting it up into a large number of small spectral bands (colours).

This light can come from a screen, projector, ambient room lighting or reflected off any material from the internal light source.

It’s these measurements that are used for calibration and profiling.

The device also comes with a ColorChecker Card, with 24 standard coloured patches. This can be used for creating profiles for your camera or a scanner (other targets are supported).

i1studio and colorchecker card

The large strap is weighted and lets the device hang in front of your monitor for calibration and profiling.

What does it all do?

X-Rite give this list of features.

  • i1Studio Device: The all-in-one i1Studio spectrophotometer lets you profile monitors, projectors, scanners, mobile devices and printers.
  • NEW i1Studio software for Displays, Projectors, Scanners and Printers: The i1Studio software, based on X-Rite’s i1Profiler software, provides an interface that delivers calibrated and profiled monitors (including video pre-sets), projectors, scanners and printers, including a new dedicated Black & White print module for creating custom profiles for five different B&W looks.
  • ColorChecker Calibration for Cameras: The included industry standard 24 patch target lets you create custom camera profiles, set a custom white balance and have a neutral starting point. (Also includes Adobe Lightroom Plug-In)
  • ColorTRUE Mobile App for iOS Devices: A simple way to calibrate Apple iOS mobile devices for a true mobile to desktop colour match of all images. (Downloadable from Apple App Store)

I’ll look at these functions in some more detail and link to articles where I may have more in-depth coverage of features.

The i1Studio device

The spectrophotometer mechanism is central to the device and rotates for different uses.

i1studio spectro

The white bar is pointing to the projector icon at the right.

Looking through the clear window, you can just see the measurement aperture of the spectrophotometer.

The bump at the top is a diffuser for ambient (room) light measurement.

i1studio spectro projector

The bar (which lights up in use) now points to the measurement aperture, used for measuring the coloured patches on paper profiling targets.

i1studio spectro patch and spot

The little flap is an aid for placing the device at a particular position for making spot measurements of colours.

Software installation

The software is downloaded from X-Rite for Mac and PC. A short quick-start guide is available (PDF only)

i1Studio handles Monitor/projector/printer setup, whilst the ColorChecker Camera calibration software lets you create DNG profiles. ColorTRUE is an iOS download for mobile devices.

For more info about ColorTRUE – see my ColorTRUE review of using it on an iPad with a Camranger a while ago. I don’t have a new enough phone to test it with the i1Studio.

You should install i1Studio before plugging in the device.

All of i1Studio’s functionality comes via the startup screen:

i1studio software startup

Monitor calibration and profiling

I’m going to assume that if you’re in the market for a device like this then you don’t need me to explain the benefits of a calibrated and profiled monitor. For more info. about monitor calibration have a read of my i1Display Pro or ColorMunki Display reviews.

Before measuring my screen, I need to specify some profiling settings (and select which screen if I’ve several).

Click to enlarge

monitor startup

The options range in complexity, with the simplest ‘photo’ setting at a whitepoint of D65 and a luminance (screen brightness) of 120 cd/m2.

‘Video’ offers a number of preset whitepoint/brightness options.

video options

Gamma can be set as you want.


‘Custom’ offers a few fixed options for brightness and white point.


‘Native’ or uncorrected is most useful for projectors.


Tone curve is best left at 2.2, unless you know why you need something different.

tone response curves

It’s possible to use the i1Studio for ambient light measurement, to set a screen brightness.


The picture shows the device right in front of your screen.

Perhaps not the best place to measure how bright your room is (or does the screen contribute?) then again, this auto setting style of configuration (which appears in a number of manufacturer’s products) has always struck me as more of a marketing feature than of any genuine use ;-)

The measurement is displayed.

ambient measurement

If you want to make use of the measurement, then write it down, since in common with most functions of i1Studio, there is no facility to save measurements whatsoever.

flareOne other checkbox you might note is the ‘Flare’ option, where you need to point the i1Studio device at the screen form a distance.

This is aimed at bright shiny screens in fairly bright environments, where the device gets to measure both light emitted and reflected from the screen.

An interesting idea but from my POV of similar utility to automatic setting of screen brightness.

I guess you shouldn’t sit in front of such a screen wearing a brightly coloured hat whilst calibrating….

Once you’ve decided on all your settings, the device needs to be slung over your monitor to measure the screen.

Depending on your screen you may need to adjust the screen brightness manually.

device in place

Don’t forget to open the little cover built into the soft case.

Your screen will change colour as measurements are taken.

large screen

Once the process is done (a few minutes) you will be invited to name the profile, and it will be saved.

There are a number of test images that you can view before/after versions of to show how you monitor has been set up.

check calibration

Don’t be discouraged if your monitor doesn’t change much – some new ones are quite well set up. Similarly, if you prefer the old version, then that may just be because you are used to it – go away for a bit, have a drink and return.

Note: You might spot that I’m using my MacBook and Apple Cinema display in the example photos – that’s because the more advanced hardware profiling software supplied with the high end BenQ monitor [SW320 review] won’t work with the i1Studio (or ColorMunki) devices. This is due to a device support policy from X-Rite, not BenQ.

Projector calibration and profiling

Projectors are handled very much like monitors…

With projectors I’d normally choose to use a native white point, since white on the screen is likely to be the brightest white people are looking at and their visual system will adapt to this. It’s also likely to be the brightest display with less tendency towards banding.

set target

With the Sony projector I’m using, I spent quite a while adjusting it by eye (trying different display modes) some time ago, to find the setting that worked best with calibration.

projector setup

As with monitors, a set of coloured patches will be displayed to measure.

patch set for projector

The device needs pointing at the centre of the screen.

There is no attachment for a tripod mount or any other way of fixing it in place. Fortunately I had a cardboard box nearby…

projector measurement

After measurement, the results show some quite noticeable differences between what was displayed compared to the targets.

This is quite normal for many older projectors (it works well, so isn’t going to be replaced any time soon).

measured patches for projector

There are a number of test images in the software package – they give a good feel for the change from calibrated to non calibrated.

test image

As an aside, all these test images can be found inside the software package that’s installed on my Mac – tiling them all together on one A4 sheet makes for a very useful test image for printing.

I can also see a few numbers related to the performance of the projector.

projector cal results

Remember that it’s the combination of screen and projector that you’ve generated a profile for, and that ambient light affects things too.

For my work, showing the odd photo in lectures and workshops, this is just fine. If you’re using a projector to compare photos, then you may want to take more care with initial setup and experiment with different settings.

Scanner calibration

With monitors, the software displays the coloured patches to measure, with printers, you print them.

For scanners, you need a known printed target, such as the ColorChecker 24 card supplied with the i1Studio.

You’ll need to create a scanned target image for the software to work with.

Just drop this on the window to start to analyse it. [click to enlarge]

scanner file input

There are a few things you need to be careful of here.

I tested this with my old Epson1200U scanner, on my Mac. The default scan software can save as a TIFF file, but not uncompressed, as demanded by i1Studio.

Fortunately, if you open the TIFF file in Photoshop and then save it as ‘uncompressed’ it will work in i1Studio.

The software supports quite a lot of standard scanner targets:

target types

These are likely to be of more use with advanced scanners, but you will need to check your scanner software to ensure that images are correctly exposed and have not had some ‘default profile’ already applied to them.

If you need to change the target reference data, you can load it directly.

Here’s a scan of the more complex ColorChecker SG card.

sg card scan

Whilst the software can auto-detect some targets, this one needed rotating and manual placement of corner markers.

card scan setup

The important thing to note is that those little squares need to fit completely inside the patches.

The software will tell you if it thinks the scanned image was not good enough.

faulty scan

The software has quite good help and support notes available.

This example refers to saving scan profiles.

scanner help

This part of the i1Studio package is identical to that found in i1Profiler, so if you’d like some more info and a lot more examples, have a look at my original scanner profiling with i1Profiler review.  I’ve also used this software when profiling the Epson V850 scanner in my review, which also addresses the problem of using up to date target reference files.

Camera Profiling

You’ll note that this isn’t listed in the i1Studio software.

That’s because the software you use is the ColorChecker Passport software, with the supplied ColorChecker24 target.

Rather than make this review any longer, I’ll just suggest reading my ColorChecker Passport review.

Note that the profiling is for creating Adobe DNG profiles – NOT camera ICC profiles.

Camera ICC profiles have not been a feature of any X-Rite software for many years – last time I looked at this (and to be honest found them likely not worth the trouble for many people) was with i1Match and the CC SG card. I do keep a CC Passport in my camera bag though, where it’s good for shots in mixed lighting (think factory floors) even without making DNG profiles.

Printer profiling

Printer profiling requires you to print a pattern of coloured patches and then read them in with the i1Studio. After this, the software creates a second set of patches to print and measure.

The full set of measurements is used to build a printer profile for the paper and printer you used.

This profile is used when printing to produce a ‘better’ print.

In the case of i1Studio there are also options to produce profiles optimised for black and white photo printing.

The software works for any RGB printer. All photo printers are treated as RGB ones, even those with CMYK ink sets. The RGB refers to the driver. If you know what CMYK profiles are and need them, then I’m afraid the i1Studio is not the solution for you.

The colour targets can be printed on different paper sizes, but I chose A4, since it prints easily on the 17″ roll paper I’ve got loaded into the Epson SureColor P5000 I recently reviewed.

The colour profiling workflow starts with you identifying the printer, and giving a name for the paper you are using. [Click to enlarge]

print workflow

It is possible to export the target image as a TIFF file, if you don’t want to print from within i1Studio.

save tiff file

I’m printing from within i1Studio using the normal print driver (colour management is turned off for me, as required for target printing).

If you are not printing from i1Studio, then make sure that no colour management is being applied, since this is a surefire way to break your profiling.

print setup

Not long after, I have a print – it needs to dry thoroughly.

One note here…  I’m printing on Innova IFA 23, a textured bright white art paper. I know from previous testing that the USFA media setting is best for this printer and paper. If your paper is not an OEM one (Epson in this case) then make sure you are using the optimal media setting for your printer. Most manufacturers will provide this information, but you may have to guess. This is especially important if you are using 3rd party inks, no matter how ‘compatible’ the salesperson told you they were… Quite a while ago I wrote some notes about choosing media settings, the printer involved is long gone, but the principles are still relevant if you are curious.


dryingThe software says to leave inkjet prints for 10 minutes.

Experience in making high quality ICC profiles for many different papers tells me that in general this is completely inadequate.

Yes, there are papers that will be dry enough to profile in 10 minutes, but an hour is better for many high quality papers, and for some art papers I’d want to leave them overnight.

Not only will the surface be more resistant to marking, but with some papers, it takes a while for full shadow detail to develop.

Eventually you’ll need to measure the target.

First up, your i1Studio device needs calibrating.


The device can internally calibrate itself, but you need to turn the dial to the calibration position.

This takes a few seconds, after which you turn the dial so that the i1Studio can measure what’s underneath.

ready to measure

You’re now ready to measure the chart.

This is very simple – simply place the paper on a solid surface. Note how I’m using some paper under the print – I don’t want the wooden desk influencing measurements.

scan target

Position the device at one side (I’m right handed) just before the start of the row.

Press the button and move the device smoothly over the strip, releasing the button when at the other side.

Be sure to start and finish your measurement run on plain unprinted paper.

As each strip is successfully measured, the measured data will appear on the screen.

Here I’m about to start measuring the second row.

target part measured

Don’t worry if the measured patches look quite different to the colours on the screen, this is quite normal, and the software will alert you if anything is wrong (such as measuring a target ‘upside down’).

first set complete

The next stage is to let the software decide what it wants to print for the second measurement set.

It takes a minute or so to generate new targets to print.

second chart

Print these – wait for them to dry – and measure as before.

profile generation

You now get to name your profile before it’s generated

Choose a meaningful name. – you will be glad you did this at some time in the future.

I generally include at least the printer type, the paper name and the media setting.

I’ll also include any special reminders, such as ‘mk’ to remind me that the profile is to be used with matt black ink as opposed to ‘pk’ for photo black.

Now I’ll have a look at the B&W profiling, since it’s essentially the same process, with a few different options.

B&W printer profiling

The workflow for B&W looks very similar

bw workflow

The first chart is the same, but the second chart immediately shows three columns of uniform colour at different brightnesses. These help refine the B&W and near neutral behaviour of the profile.

bw second chart

The second page continues this.

bw second chart 2

When it comes to naming the profile, I get several ‘style’ options which reflect different uses for the profiles.

bw profile type

‘None’ here

bw profile 1

I do perhaps question the use of the word ‘none’ here?

bw profile help

This is what the notes say the profile types are used for.

Don’t quit i1Studio at this stage.

You still have measurement data and can build profiles of all four other B&W types just by selecting a style and providing a new (unique) name.

If you quit or go to a different section of i1Studio, your measurement data will vanish.

Here’s a new profile being created, after I’d made a sepia one.

extra profiles

Remember that i1Studio will not let you save -any- measurement data, so finish making profiles for a paper before going on to creating 2nd stage charts for any other paper.

A quick techy diversion

I’ve tried to keep tables and charts to a minimum, but if you’ve read any of my printer reviews, you’ll know that I’m always keen to try out B&W printing, and especially how linear it is. My ideal B&W print setup starts with bang on neutral greys and a linear response (i.e. no shadow crunch).

Few print setups get really close, and I’ve looked at making correction profiles and curves that even up print linearity. I’d note that this isn’t essential and quite often the as-is B&W print capability is close enough (see my recent Epson P5000 review for more about this).

B&W print fans will see the functionality of i1Studio and wonder if it’s what they have been waiting for?

Well, here are two linearity curves measured with my i1iO – (article explaining more) One with the ‘standard’ BW style and one with ‘none’. They are for a textured matt fine art paper with quite a bit of OBA (I’ve shown M2 readings to simulate what the i1Studio device ‘sees’)

First the ‘standard’ B&W mode.

standard M2

This has better shadow detail than many normal colour profiles I look at and is actually better than I often see from both Canon’s and Epson’s custom B&W print modes (such as ABW for Epson).

A bit of an ‘S’ curve will boost contrast a bit, but it’s actually quite good.

Now the ‘none’ version which you’d use for colour if you wanted to optimise neutrals – or use with a lightly toned/tinted image.

none m2

This is a much more familiar shape – the crunched up blacks of the 90%-100% zone are typical of what I try to even out.

OK X-Rite … I want the option to generate tone responses like the ‘Standard’ version above in i1Profiler – I don’t want sepia or cool. I want a slider that offers me a range of options and includes a dead flat version (i.e. ‘standard’ without the slight ‘S’ curve)

Optimising profiles

Profiles can be further refined by creating a new patch set, which when measured, is used to refine a profile’s accuracy.

You can get the software to extract colours from an image…

extract colours from picture

Or you can add spot colours by measurement.

add spot colour

In this example, I’ve added the yellow from an old Kodak film canister.

spot colour measurement

After this, you can generate a chart, print, dry and measure it, and get a new improved profile.

optimising chart

The optimisation can help, but don’t expect it to fix everything.

An example would be colours that are out of gamut for what your printer/ink/paper combination can handle. It’s quite possible that an image edit is all that’s needed – remember that the best looking image on a screen does not always equate with the best looking print.

Ok, that’s a lot of stuff covered – how did it all work?


The i1Studio is pretty much the same physical device as I reviewed several years ago under the ColorMunki name. The old device will work with the new software (so worth trying).

At the time I thought it a great device, but for more advanced users, hampered by aspects of the software package workflow limitations.

The good bit is that the software has been completely re-written and is essentially based on X-Rite’s mainstream i1Profiler package.

The not so good bit…? Well I’ll come to that in a bit, since it very much depends on what you want to do with your i1Studio and how much advanced functionality you feel you should get for your money.

Let’s look at the basic functionality and what it does for you.

Monitor calibration

Both my Apple 24″ Cinema display and MacBook Pro looked a lot better after calibration – this shouldn’t surprise me, since I’m effectively using the same software code, that I’d normally use for calibrating them with an i1Display Pro or i1Pro 2.

The flare option might be worth considering if you are using a bright shiny screen in a bright environment, but that’s hardly ideal viewing, and if the environment is changing much, you’re being rather optimistic anyway…

As long as the settings you want are available, or you’re happy with default options, then the monitor profiling and calibration works very well.

Projector calibration

Simple to set up and use, it produced a noticeable improvement in image quality for my ageing Sony projector.

Scanner Profiling

It works very well if you take care with how you capture the scan file that is to be used.  Once again this is the same (underlying) software as I’d use in i1Profiler scanner profiling

The supplied ColorChecker 24 target is great for improving your basic scanning, but you will need a good quality scan target for more advanced work.

Printer Profiling

My feeling was that the profiles were a tad better than with the ColorMunki software. Certainly target scanning seemed easier and less error prone, than with the old chevron targets.

If you were hoping for lots of charts and graphs comparing gamut volumes and other profile data, then this probably isn’t the review (and maybe product) for you. Firstly, I regard any such charts that are included without a -lot- of explanation on how to interpret them and decide what numbers are relevant, as more decorative than useful. My approach to evaluating the colour profiles favours printing a few known test images and seeing how the photos look. Are the profiles I’ve made good enough for prints I’d sell? Actually yes they are… I’ll address some of my issues with the software in a bit, but profile quality isn’t amongst them.

Most papers produced quite acceptable profiles and benefitted little from a further optimisation stage.

This could partly be because printer have advanced quite a bit over the years. I was testing this time with the Epson P5000, using Epson UltraChrome HDR inks, compared to my original ColorMunki Tests using the Epson SP4880 with UltraChrome inks.

Colour profiles worked well and didn’t show any problems arising from the spectrophotometer being equivalent to the old UV Cut versions of the i1Pro. Not having UV light in the light source is one approach for handling OBA issues in papers.

The B&W profiles

The B&W profile options give 5 basic options for B&W printing. Three print ‘straight’ B&W, whilst the other two give sepia and platinum style print effects.

The ‘none’ setting is actually a colour profile that optimises neutral colours – so will print a B&W image as B&W but a colour one in colour.

The different results can be previewed if you enable soft proofing in your print software (I’m using Photoshop CS6 here).

The profiles are meant to be used with the perceptual rendering intent – they do work with RelCol (BPC should be enabled)/saturation and offer a normal colour profile.

Here are 3 soft proofs of my standard B&W test image. Screen shots from printing with a ‘B&W’ profile.

high contrast

‘High Contrast’  As the name suggests this compresses highlights and shadows.


‘Standard BW’

bw none


All three are set to show ‘paper’ colour – the paper (Innova IFA23) is a bright white textured art paper (Mk ink) – why the dull colour? That’s because it has optical brighteners (OBAs) in it – we see it as bright white, the spectrophotometer of the i1Studio doesn’t.

Of course, the actual prints are bright white…

Here are some prints, drying on top of the P5000

test prints

I tried papers with and without OBAs and didn’t see any obvious issues with the profiles.

If you looked at the couple of charts included earlier, you’ll see that one of the profile types ‘Standard’ has a noticeably different type of tone curve and does not crunch up shadows to the extent that many B&W print solutions do.

This is genuinely useful and I look forward to a more advanced (i.e. adjustable) version being available for i1Profiler [2020 – still waiting! ]

What’s not to like?

With monitor calibration, I have a relatively limited selection of White Points available in the custom section – if you want one of the video settings, then there is no adjustment of luminance that I can see. I don’t use video enough to know if these settings are optimal. For more advanced profiling you’ll need an i1Display Pro (cheaper) or i1Pro 2 and i1Profiler software (more expensive).

The i1Studio was of no use for calibrating the BenQ SW271 4k HDR monitor I was looking at on my main Mac, for a review – why? Well, that monitor comes with specialist profiling software to enable hardware calibration. This works with a wide range of measuring devices (from different manufacturers – see the review), but not the ColorMunki, and as yet not the i1Studio device either.

The software lets you measure ambient light, but then you can do nothing with the data other than to use it for setting luminance, through some arbitrary conversion.

i1Studio has no facility for measuring individual colour patches and saving data. Indeed it’s this wholesale lack of ability to save any measurements that most irked me during testing. It puts paid to the method of generating QTR profiles that I tried a while ago with the ColorMunki…  If you are upgrading just the software for your ColorMunki Photo device, don’t ditch the old software.

The software creates only V4 ICC profiles (there is no V2/V4 switch option) – whilst was not a problem for me, I understand that some older print software may have had issues with them. [fixed in V1.1 update]

Let’s say I have 5 papers I want to make profiles from (not unreasonable if you do much printing and want to go to the trouble of making your own profiles)  I can print the first sheets and let them dry.

I now need to measure each one to produce the second sheet(s) for each paper. When I print the second sheets, I need to wait for them to dry before measuring them and making a profile.

I can’t get on with producing the second sheets for another paper, since the profile generation needs the measured data from the first sheet -and- second sheets.

If only I could save measurement data, then I could run the process in parallel and leave prints to dry for a good amount of time.

[Note: see Feb 2018 V1.1 update for significant improvements here, with a ‘Data Save workflow’ option added]

How long? Well the software suggests 10 minute which frankly I regard as ‘optimistic’. I’ve come across papers that you could get a decent set of measurements from after 10 minutes, but one art paper I recently tested didn’t truly show its best shadow detail until after an overnight drying.  If you have gone to the expense and trouble of making your own profiles, then why skimp on one basic aspect of the process that could mess up your results?

An overnight wait means keeping the software running between first and second measurements, or remeasuring the first sheet and hoping that there has been no change that affects 2nd target values.  Why would this change? Did you leave the first sheet long enough? Is it a fragile surface that could have been marked?

Black and White

bw profile help

The B&W profiles are an interesting idea, but the choice of just a few simple settings make them less useful than might first seem.

This is from the software…

If you’re into B&W printing then I’m pretty sure you are not going to trust the conversion of colour to B&W to your printer profile.

Similarly, a ‘one setting fits all’ approach for sepia or ‘platinum’ is a recipe for poor use of such toning.

These are effects that need subtlety and a light touch, not an on/off control.

This is the sepia setting on a fine art paper – tastes may vary, but the ‘soaked in coffee’ look is not one I’d ever want…

sepia print

The B&W profiling really could benefit from some adjustment sliders – If your B&W printing is advanced enough to consider making your own specialist profiles, then this software is quite possibly not advanced enough to be useful to you.

A personal note: I test printers and papers and make big prints, so i1Studio is not really adequate for my needs (such the limitation with regards to profiling top end monitors). I only tried three paper types for this review – mainly because it’s such a stretched out process to do it well. I might try a dozen or more papers for one of my big printer reviews. [Note: see Feb 2018 V1.1 update for significant improvements here]
That explains some of my disappointment with the testing process – I’m used to being able to save and analyse data. Sure, that needs more advanced software that will cost money, but I came away feeling that the i1Studio package was unduly limited for what is not a trivial amount of money for what I assume is its predominantly enthusiast market. 

So, I didn’t like it?

No, far from it.

The paper profiles are good quality, my monitors and projector were much better looking than before, and my scanner could produce much better scans.

This is very much a package that you need to give serious thought as to if it is what you need. Compared to the original ColorMunki, it’s easier to use and gives better results.

So…  if it fits your needs, a very useful package, but one that offers (as yet) no way of moving beyond its limitations.

If you want to optimise profiles, then with a bit of work, you can generate very nice ones, although you have no ability to fine tune any profile generation parameters, and you are limited to using a UV cut spectrophotometer.

Hint: If being UV Cut concerns you, take it as a clue that the ColorMunki is not aimed at users with your level of expertise.

Documentation and support is much improved.

The profiles are now generated from 150 patches rather than the 100 of the ColorMunki.

Neutrals in the profiles are smoother.

If this is important, there is a B&W profiling option ‘none’ that emphasises neutrals. If you want to print toned/tinted images I’d suggest that this is much better than the Sepia/Cold Tone options.

One of the B&W options (‘standard’) was distinctly different in its tone curve and potentially useful for B&W print work.


I hope the review has been of interest – I’ve tried to look at the i1Studio with relevance to its likely market, not as a solution for colour management consultants…

Important Update Feb 2018:

V1.1 of the software adds the ability to save measurement data and offers ICC V2/4 support. This addresses one of my usability concerns, and should make the i1Studio easier to use if you wanted to make several profiles at the same time.

Questions? – please feel free to email Keith or ask in the comments below

Buying the i1Studio: Any purchases via a link here helps support our site
B&H | Adorama | Amazon US

The new i1Studio and ColorMunki compared

X-Rite tell me that the only changes between the most recent ColorMunki device and the i1Studio are in the case design.

i1studio spectro cm compare-2

That’s not entirely true since whilst you can use the ColorMunki with the new i1Studio software, the Colormunki software won’t work with an i1Studio device. It looks as if there are differences in the circuitry handling the device talking to your computer – not the actual spectrophotometer inside.

The i1Studio case with the raised bumps on the ring is similar to the ColorMunki Design package.

My ColorMunki is the same one I reviewed, so getting on a bit – but it still works just fine.

i1studio spectro cm compare


Minimum System Requirements PC / Macintosh

  • Windows Microsoft Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 32 or 64 bit. All operating systems should have latest Service Pack installed. 512MB RAM (2GB recommended). Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon XP or better CPU. Up to 500MB of available disk space (depending on components installed). Powered USB port. Monitor resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels or higher. Latest drivers for video card installed. Dual display support requires either 2 video cards or a dual head video card that supports dual video LUTs being loaded. Network adaptor installed and driver loaded. High-speed internet connection required for software install, download and automatic software update. User must have Administrator rights to install and uninstall the application.
  • Macintosh MacOS X 10.8.x, 10.9.x, 10.10.x, 10.11.x or 10.12.x (with latest upgrades installed). 512MB RAM (2GB recommended). Intel Core 2 Duo CPU or better CPU. Up to 500MB of available disk space (depending on components installed). Powered USB port. Monitor resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels or higher. Latest drivers for video card installed. High-speed internet connection required for software install, download and automatic software update. User must have Administrator rights to install and uninstall the application.
  • The i1Studio will not work if it is connected to the USB port on your keyboard or to a USB-Hub without external power supply. Power rating: 5VDC, 500mA.



  • Handheld USB powered spectrometer device for reflective and emissive targets
  • Diffraction grating spectrometer featuring 45°/0° optics
  • UV cut characteristic (Results are independent from brightener effects)
  • Measurement modes include: Emissive, Reflective Strip and Spot, and Ambient Light


  • Spectral analyzer: holographic diffraction grating with diode array
  • Spectral reporting: 10 nm, between 380nm, and 730nm


  • Measurement geometry: 45° / 0°
  • Measurement aperture: 6mm
  • Light source: White LED
  • Measurement characteristic: UV cut (M2)


  • Inter-instrument agreement: 0.6 dE*2000 average, max. 1.5 dE*2000 max. (deviation from X-Rite i1Studio manufacturing standard at a temperature of 23°C for single measurement mode on 12 BCRA tiles D50, 2°)
  • Short-term repeatability reflective: 0.1 dE*2000 (D50, 2°) typical, mean value of 10 measurements on white
  • Short-term repeatability emission: x, y: ±0.002 typical (5000K @ 80 cd/m2)


  • Monitor and Projector
  • Measurement aperture when device is in contact with display: 6mm
  • Measurement aperture for projector measurement to be calculated from ±8° degrees acceptance angle and distance from device to projection screen. Patch size should be at least twice that size to tolerate pointing errors.
  • Measurement range: 0…500 cd/m2
  • Measurement time – emission: 1.5 seconds typical


  • Scanning Mode Measurements
  • Recommended patch size in scanning direction: 20 mm
  • Maximum Scan speed using 20mm patches is 15 cm/sec
  • Spot Measurement Mode
  • Recommended patch size, 15mm; minimal patch size, 8mm
  • Measurement time – spot: 0.5 seconds typical


  • Approximated cosine receptor sensitivity


  • Interface: USB 1.1 and 2.0 compatible
  • Powered Supply: Device powered by USB, no additional power supply required
  • Windows and MAC OS support


  • Operating temperature: 10°C to 35°C
  • Storage temperature: -25°C to 60°C
  • Humidity: 15 – 80% non-condensing

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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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  • Martin Taylor | Jun 26, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    Based on Keith’s brilliantly detailed review, I recently purchased an X-Rite i1Studio. I have to admit, whilst I respected Keith’s authority, I remained a little skeptical on the profiles this device could produce. However, this could not have been less founded. Frankly, I am stunned by the results. I have been a user of an i1Pro, building RGB printer profiles both professionally and for personal use, for a period of fifteen year. This needed replacing but I did not want to afford the relatively high upgrade cost of the i1Pro 3 so, based on Keith’s review, I thought I would give the i1Studio a bash! I couldn’t be happier. The profiles are stunning. Prints are excellent. Colours are smooth and saturated, and shadow and highlights detail are dealt with accurately. I am really excited about owning this brilliant spectrophotometer which represents superb value for money when compared to the i1Pro 3. If you just need to build high quality RGB Printer profiles look no further. Thank you, Keith.

  • Alexander Maly | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    I have the BenQ SW320 and the latest Palette Master software version does indeed let you choose an X-Rite i1Studio and Colormunki Photo as a choice of calibrator.

  • Michael | Jan 15, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    “Too many numbers and charts give a false sense of precision…” and “Now, if only they would fix the clumsy workflow!” Agree on both counts. Thanks for your time and for the links to the other articles!

  • Keith Cooper | Jan 15, 2018 at 10:59 am

    I’ve tried it briefly in some of my past reviews, such as for the PRO-10 The tool then had the option of much bigger targets with some devices

    It’s not something I’ve looked at recently though, since I don’t have a Canon printer here (the review kit goes back after a while).

    I rarely look at the technical details of profiles after a few initial tests. Tools such as the ColorSync Utility are useful, but don’t really have much to say about resulting image quality. There is much better software available (at a price) but you need a lot of colour management knowledge to -meaningfully- make use of it.

    The proof is in the eating – a selection of good test images will often be more informative. This is one of the reasons that my printer and paper reviews here don’t contain lots of graphs and plots – they are simply useless decoration unless backed up with a -lot- of explanation about what they do and do not tell you. Too many numbers and charts give a false sense of precision, even though I know why people want them ;-) See if you’re curious about what I put in reviews

    The two step process for the i1Studio software is capable of much better results than the relatively low number of patches would suggest.

    Now, if only they would fix the clumsy workflow!

  • Michael | Jan 15, 2018 at 12:57 am

    Tech Question: Do you have experience using Canon’s Color Management Pro Tool? You can generate profiles using the colormunki and the ipro/ipro2 devices. I’ve generated icc profiles w/ my colormunki using both X-rite’s i1studio (as well as the old x-rite colormunki software) and Canon’s software. I noticed when viewing the profiles in the Apple’s color sync software, the profiles generated with Canon’s tool appear slightly more robust when compared to profiles generated with X-rite’s. For example, I recently made two custom profiles for a Pro-100 for Hahnemuhle’s Museum Etching paper. The Lab plot goes from white all the way to black using Canon’s tool but the black fall just short using X-rite’s. Also, pretty much the entire profile generated using x-rite’s software fits into the 3D Lab plot of the Canon generated profile. That said, the Lab plots of my custom profiles are significantly larger than the factory provided profiles in the the magenta, yellow and green region of the plots.

    I read a comment once that profile size and profile accuracy are two different things. The Canon tool generates a profile using 126 patches (more patches are used if using an ipro device) whereas i1Studio generates a standard profile using 100 patches. Interestingly B&W profile is made using 150 patches. BW profiles I generated with i1Studio have the same characteristic of a slightly smaller gamut I mentioned above. I suppose if the profiles are close enough in size, and as long as I like the prints, the discrepancy shouldn’t matter much. I got into printing about a year ago. I’m still learning and enjoying the process. I made this observation and was curious as to your (or any of the other viewers of your page’s) thoughts.

  • Keith Cooper | Jan 11, 2018 at 9:24 am

    It’s using essentially the same underlaying profiling software, so it comes down to the more limited profiling options with i1 studio (see my other reviews) and the differences between using a colorimeter or a spectrophotometer.

    Does the i1Display Pro do things you -need- that the i1Studio doesn’t? If so then it’s better. If not then it depends… (cost/other feature/expense etc)

    I use the i1Display Pro on my BenQ monitor – mainly because their hardware calibration software supports it. I could use my i1Pro 2 spectro, but the i1S is just not supported.

  • Andy Mok | Jan 11, 2018 at 2:58 am

    So generally how would you compare it to i1 Display Pro in monitor calibration/profiling?

    Thanks for the great review btw! :D

  • Tiu Makkonen | Dec 15, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Thank you for the quick reply!

    We have been in touch with the people from Fuji now who can hopefully shed some more light on the best way to go about profiling the printers with the ImageHunter included in the mix. If the i1 Studio won’t gel with the RIP software, we can still use it to calibrate our monitors, projectors and scanners as normal, so it shouldn’t be a totally useless purchase!

  • Keith Cooper | Dec 15, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    The profile target will probably need to be printed via the print software, but I’ve never used Imagehunter at all, so I’ve no idea what your workflow should be?

    You only need one profile for each paper on each printer. Once made, the profiles can be used by any computer, but since you’re using a print server, this may well only be for soft proofing.

    That said, I’ve no idea how the RIP software will fit into all of this in terms of workflow – you need to see how to make profiles for the RIP – if it needs anything other than the standard RGB icc printer profile then i1Studio is of no use whatsoever.

    Remember that i1Studio is aimed at one printer on one computer using the normal printer drivers – very much a consumer level product. Yours is most definitely NOT a consumer level setup ;-)

  • Tiu Makkonen | Dec 15, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Hi there! Thank you for the detailed review. I was wondering if you had any insight on the best way to approach calibrating a multiple computer/multiple printer set up with this product and whether it is possible?

    We have recently purchased this product for a lab where we have 7 computers, 2 printers (total of 5 different types of paper, 3 glossy for one and 2 matte for the other) and all final printing is controlled through a single computer in an office running ImageHunter software. Editing is done on the 7 computers and print colour should match what is seen on them. However, these computers are not normally directly connected to the printers. For the purposes of profiling we could temporarily link them up to generate the printer test charts.

    Would creating profiles for the 5 different papers on one editing computer, and then saving the ICC profiles onto a memory stick/importing the profiles to the computer with the ImageHunter software work? Would the procedure need to be repeated for each computer? (I hope not!)

    The logistics of this are slightly doing my head in, so thank you for any advice!

  • Keith Cooper | Dec 2, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    My own preference is definitely to use a dimmer monitor in a dimmer room ;-)

    The brighter print option strikes me as a bit of a kludge, since lightening an image for printing depends of the image and the paper type (as well as viewing conditions). If I was going to do it, I’d use a curve (to alter contrast as well as brightness)

    However I’m probably not the best to answer this, given my underlying dislike for LIghtroom (other than as a RAW file converter)

  • Sanford Wyatt | Dec 2, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Lightroom offers the option in its Print module to bump up the brightness of the print output, presumably to account for having a monitor adjusted “too bright”. As it’s easier for these old eyes to edit photos with a brighter monitor, I’m wondering if there is any drawback to using this technique vs. keeping the monitor darker.

    Thanks for your help and reviews.

  • Keith Cooper | Nov 27, 2017 at 11:39 am

    An interesting question… (just me doing the reviews BTW ;-)

    For the new device, we actually get some figures to compare with the current i1Pro 2

    Differences are there but not huge. As you’d expect, the manufacturing tolerances are a bit better on the i1Pro.

    So, in general, the meaningful differences are with UV and most definitely the software

  • roman | Nov 27, 2017 at 10:57 am

    dear northlighters

    doo you think the accuracy of the 1istudio is comparable to the 1iphoto device (aside from the software and the uv light?)

    thanks for any hint!

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