X-Rite’s new i1Studio is a replacement for the ColorMunki Photo that has long been popular amongst amateur photographers for creating ICC profiles for monitors and displays. Previously X-Rite have been at pains to differentiate between ColorMunki products aimed at the amateur or beginner market and the i1 range which has always been targeted at professionals.
i1Studio has the same spectrophotometer as the ColorMunki Photo solution but the software has been updated with extra features. They could have just done it as an update for the ColorMunki Photo rather than rebranding it but I guess they have their reasons. The good news is that the new software works with the old ColorMunki Photo hardware so all current users can upgrade. The i1Studio software is a simplified version of the i1Profiler software that comes with the i1Pro 2 and i1 Display Pro products, albeit with a slightly dubious orange and black colour scheme.
Display & Projector Calibration & Profiling
The display profiling module is a welcome improvement on the ColorMunki Photo in that it offers more options and more interactive adjustment of the monitor hardware. You can choose from pre-set calibration targets for photography or video, or choose from a range of white points, luminance and tone curves. X-Rite have also chosen to include their pointless flare adjustment option. If you have enough light falling on your monitor to cause flare then turn off the lights, close the blinds or get a monitor hood. Don’t try and adjust for it in software.
Just as in i1Profiler you can now measure and then interactively adjust the monitor hardware to hit your calibration targets. This can be vital for getting really good monitor calibrations and profiles and is something that ColorMunki Photo always lacked. After you have measured, adjusted, calibrated and profiled the monitor you get the usual X-Rite before/after view, including the ability to load your own image. I calibrated and profiled my MacBook screen and got a very good result. Projector profiling is also included and is similarly straightforward.
The printer profiling is very similar to the ColorMunki Photo, but now instead of printing and measuring two 50 patch targets it is two 100 patch targets with the second target generated based on the measurements from the first. CMYK printers can also be profiled but there are not all the options available that you get in i1Profiler.
In my tests the profiles were pretty good, but I could still see some areas where the prints were inferior to those made with a profile created with either my i1Pro 2 or i1 iSis and i1 Profiler. There is also an option to create profiles for black and white printing. The only visible difference in this workflow is that the second of patches has a higher number of grey patches. It is also possibly using features from i1Profiler under the bonnet that slightly change the way the profile is created. The difference between a normal and a black and white profile was barely visible on my tests but did make a very small improvement to the neutrality of the prints.
ColorMunki Photo had no input profiling. The scanner and camera profiling in i1Studio is the same as i1Profiler with support for all common scanner and camera targets. I did quick profiles for my Epson scanner and Nikon camera and both were the same as if I’d done them in i1Profiler and very good.
The i1Studio is an excellent upgrade to the ColorMunki Photo, and includes many much needed additions to make better profiles. The extra features for monitor calibration and profiling are especially welcome as it was always too basic in the previous product. Any ColorMunki Photo user should upgrade by downloading the new software from here. LINK My biggest complaint with the new software is X-Rite’s insistence on using ‘calibration’ when they mean ‘profiling’ as they are separate and different stages in colour managing a device and understanding the difference can help if you run into problems.
If you are new to colour management then the i1Studio is certainly the only sub £500/$500 solution that does both monitor and printer profiles that I would recommend. However, if you are a photographer printing on desktop inkjet printers then you could instead go for the cheaper i1 Display Pro monitor calibration and profiling solution and get your printer profiles made by a profiling service like mine, or for free by your inkjet paper vendor. The i1 Display Pro would give slightly better monitor profiles and the hardware and software I and others use would provide visibly better printer profiles. It’s only if you use an awful lot of different papers that you might want to consider getting your own printer profiling solution.