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Categorized | Articles, Gear, Jason DiMichele

Gear – X-Rite i1Studio (full review)

X-Rite i1Studio Kit

By Jason DiMichele

A colour-managed workflow saves you plenty of time and money by removing the guesswork from processing and printing your photos. That should sound appealing to most photographers! X-Rite just released i1Studio, an offering that’s supposed to help make your colour-managed workflow easy. Will it spark your interest to become colour managed?

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The X-Rite i1Studio ($599 CAD) will profile monitors, printers, projectors, scanners and mobile devices (currently only iOS). The X-Rite i1Studio solution includes a spectrophotometer (and a protective bag), Mini ColorChecker Classic Target, USB cable and software licences (Mac/PC; downloadable from the X-Rite Photo website) for i1Studio, ColorChecker Camera Calibration and ColorTRUE mobile. If you have one of the previous X-Rite ColorMunki Photo spectrophotometers, you can download and use the new i1Studio software for free; kudos to X-Rite!

The appeal of X-Rite’s i1Studio is its user-friendly, all-in-one, capture to output colour workflow solution. It’s designed to provide professional results without the added complexity of their high-end products. Getting started is very easy. Simply download and install (before plugging in the spectrophotometer) the i1Studio application. For those new to the world of colour management, the i1Studio application provides plenty of help each step of the way.

During monitor profiling, you have the option to choose default or custom values for white point, luminance and gamma. I recommend using the default values until you become more familiar with i1Studio. You’re also able to profile your monitor for photo or video standards, and i1Studio supports profiling multiple displays (with the proper computer configuration). A unique feature, Flare Correct, attempts to correct the monitor profile when using glossy monitors in bright rooms. Matte displays are best for photo editing, but if you have to use a glossy screen, I suggest working in a dim room.

Monitor profiling

For monitor settings while profiling, you can choose to use the automatic display control (ADC) or guided manual process. Ideally you’ll want to use ADC (if supported by your monitor), where i1Studio communicates with your video card and monitor and takes care of any adjustments for you. If you’re using an external monitor, make sure you plug in a USB cable between your monitor and computer to enable this communication. When prompted, you’ll place the i1Studio spectrophotometer on the display, and in about five minutes you’ll have an excellent profile and be able to see the before and after profile results.

The printer profiling support in i1Studio is pretty fancy! There are some really great features, such as intelligent iterative profiling, the ability to create black and white profiles, the ability to optimize your profiles and support for RGB and CMYK printers. The intelligent iterative profiling has you scan a set of 50 colour patches, and based on the results that i1Studio finds, has you scan a second set of 50 patches. The two ways you can optimize your profile is by either loading a photo that contains common colours you’re likely to have in your photos, or by scanning separate (spot) colours from various objects or swatches.

The print profiling process requires you to choose your printer, the paper size for the colour target you’ll print, and a description of the paper you’re using. After printing the colour target of 50 patches, you’ll be instructed (and shown) how to scan the target’s colour patches with the i1Studio spectrophotometer. You will repeat this process with the second target, and will very soon have a great printer profile. There are a few things to note. Firstly, i1Studio suggests a minimum 10-minute paper drying time before scanning the colour patches, but I suggest a minimum of one hour, and ideally one day. Secondly, you must use the same printer driver settings when you print with your profile as you did when you made it. Thirdly, you will require a printer profile for every printer, paper and ink combination you use.

The process to profile your camera is to photograph the included Mini ColorChecker Classic Target in the lighting you want the profile for. Using the ColorChecker Camera Calibration software (either the standalone or Lightroom plug-in), a camera profile (DNG type) is automatically created for you.

Profiling a scanner is a quick three-step process. First you select which target you’ve scanned. The second step is to load the accompanying reference file. Finally, you name the created profile.

Profiling a projector is even quicker than profiling a scanner. You just have to choose your white point (I suggest using the recommended Native setting), and then when prompted, point the i1Studio spectrophotometer towards the projector screen.

Mobile device profiling is done in the ColorTRUE application, quick and easy. You’ll need an appropriate USB cable to connect the i1Studio spectrophotometer to your iOS device, and use mobile photography applications that support the ColorTRUE engine.

X-Rite’s i1Studio is a fantastic product for the beginner to intermediate photographer or videographer. Having used X-Rite products for almost a decade, I’ve always found their products to be very reliable. The i1Studio will make your colour management woes a thing of the past, quickly and painlessly!

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