Categories: NewsReview

NEW X-Rite i1Studio review

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.

Printer Profiling

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.

Scanner Profiling

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.


Rob :

View Comments (14)

  • In your conclusion comments you say "The i1 Display Pro would give slightly better monitor profiles...".
    Don't you mean the i1Pro 2 that you refer to in the main article?


    • No, I mean the I1 Display Pro colorimeter that only does monitor calibration and profiling. Its better than the Munki in measuring lower light levels, giving superior shadow details on screen.

      • Ok, good to know.
        I have the I1 Display Pro but was thinking of "upgrading" to the new I1Studio (Munki).
        I just assumed a spectrophotometer would do a better job than a colorimeter for screen calibration.


  • In their video found on http://www.xritephoto.com/every-picture-a-story (around 1:30), X-Rite describes i1Studio's ability to measure the light photos would be viewed in. Can this also be performed with a I1Display Pro? What solution provides best quality
    (I would like to be able to measure my Normlight viewing box's whitepoint.)

    Thank you!!

    • There is a function in on the first screen of i1 Profiler's advanced monitor profiling workflow that should allow you to measure a custom colour temperature as a target, but it doesn't seem to be working on my system so I can't say if it would do what you want. You may find that some of Babel Color's products will enable you to take light source measurements with your i1 Display Pro: http://www.babelcolor.com/index.htm.

  • I have a small portrait studio,we do our own printing and a lot of copy and restoration work. Currently have a very old eye1 puck and am looking to upgrade ... The best camera profiling/calibration is critical (currently using Adobe dng profile editor which has got me pretty close, just a little more saturated and brighter yellows are off some), best monitor also. It would be nice to be able to fine tune printing profiles but the ones that were built for us are very close and not a deal breaker. Would appreciate any feedback on which product might work the best for me.


    • Hi Roger
      If I were you I'd probably just go for an i1 Display Pro for the monitor. You can get your printer profiles done by a good remote profiling service for not very much money and many ink or paper vendors will do them for free. As for the camera profiling if you have Colorchecker chart then you can just download the Colorchecker Passport software from the X-Rite website, which may improve your results.

      • Hi Rob,

        Thank you for reminding me about the Colorchecker Passport software. I tried it years ago and had forgotten about it. I was fooled by the Xrite website into thinking that there were special calibration abilities that came with the studio package, instead it is available for the Colorchecker which is included in the package ... ;)

        I just ran tests using the Passport software and it seems to miss the mark about the same amount as using Adobe's DNG Profile Editor just in different areas. This is great as it gives me a back up profile to use on tricky images. I am using polarizing filters on the lights and the camera, I haven't tested without - as my workflow is always with - but I guess it is possible that the profiling might be tighter without the filters - I can visualize how saturation might shift although it doesn't seem to shift as much on some of the purer colors as on other of the purer colors. Also, it may look different with a new monitor profile puck although the numbers seem to collaborate what I am seeing on my screen.

        I realize that the camera manufacturer's goal, may be the designing of the camera for resolving a scene rather than copy work so there is the possibility that it will only get so close without extensive fancy calibration. Just trying to guess before buying how much better xrite's pro profiling software might be for camera calibration/profiling ... or something like BasICColor Input that can do custom charts, multiple charts, and custom reference data - along with ICC and DNG profiles. Buying all that and the SG chart is an expensive rabbit hole though ... just hoping someone has experience and can say if it can get much better ...

        Totally with you printer profiles, I am happy with the profiles that I have gotten. Would only fool with those if I had the equipment to do it for these other reasons and even then, I doubt I could get better than the pro results. :)

        Thanks Again!

        • I'd wait to pass final judgement on the camera profiling until you've got a new monitor colorimeter, just in case it is the monitor that is out. There is a lot of human perception variation that you can't completely factor out so it's impossible to get an object under studio lights to match exactly to the display on a computer monitor. You can also try and judge how things come out on print as well, of course, but that will also depend on the paper you use and the lighting that you are viewing the print under. I'd certainly recommend basICColor input 5 over i1 Studio for camera profiling. You can download it and try it for 14 days I think.

  • Hi Rob,

    Great to know that you recommend BasICColor! Agree on the monitor profile, but before I get the puck ... In case I might want to do spot readings on originals / art in order to get a color match I am thinking I might want one of the Xrite pucks that can do that. I believe you mentioned the guts were the same on the i1Studio and the i1....Pro2. Would there be any reason for me to pick one over the other? Would get the i1Display Pro in a heart beat if I wasn't unsure that I might want to be able to do spot readings ...

    Thanks again this is really helping me to sort this out1

    • The hardware with the studio is the ColorMunki, if you want to do spot readings then you really need the i1 Pro 2, which comes with various software options; Basic, Photo or Publish. Strangely the X-Rite software does not do spot readings and you'd need third party app like SpectraShop.

      The problem with taking spot readings from originals and trying to correct images to them is that it doesn't taking into account how we perceive colours depending on those surrounding them. Usually you can get better value out of buying a better monitor, like an EIZO ColorEdge, and a proper controlled lighting viewing booth to do visual matches.

      • Rob

        Just ordered the i1Display Pro, at it's price I won't be too mad if I decide to get something that can do spot readings down the road ... Thanks for the heads up on SpectraShop, never an end to learning :)

        I have always used the Adobe products, I have a shooting job that requires tethering and matching density numbers on the images while shooting to match specifications. The photographer in a different city that we are matching the look to uses Capture1 to do this. I have never used it so I loaded the same image into Capture1 and Lightroom side by side and I was amazed at how different the images looked even with changing the profiles used on both programs to try and see if I could get close. I haven't yet built profiles in BasICColor Input yet for each platform to see what the differences might be but Capture 1 has my interest ... ;)

        The monitor I have is the NEC Multisync PA271W, I was under the impression that it was a really good monitor but I am always open to feedback.

        I have always been a little confused about the viewing booth thing - I understand that if we are judging color matches it removes an important variable, but we are doing output for the general public who will be displaying the work in mixed daylight tungsten environments, we are not doing work for magazines or pre-press commercial use, etc. where we would want to level the playing field with a viewing booth for confidence in communications with our other industry pros :) So, basically we are viewing the prints in a similar environment as to how they will be viewed. We have daylight florescent in our drop ceiling and window light walking around the studio ... I feel like this can be a touchy subject for color management pros, I have wondered if it was because they came from the pre-press or - fine art duplication for artists works - sides of the color management industry.

        Thanks, again!

        • Viewing booths are the only real way to get a good match between screen and a print or original artwork. There are too many variables otherwise. If you choose a D65 light source then it's not too different to average daylight. D50 is a bit too yellow to match everyday light sources. The PA712W is a good screen.