As readers of this web site will no doubt have
noticed I am a great believer of all things colour management and to
this end I have used and commented upon many low cost ICC/ColorSync
profiling software packages. In the main these packages are straight forward to
use and relatively accurate. However, like many others I have sometimes found them
wanting when it comes to the highest quality colour matching. As each colour management vendor has attempted to
address these issues with new software releases we still find
that the hardware requirements remain too
expensive for the majority of users and so they forgo the many benefits. If
colour management is to become the norm it must not only be user-friendly
and quick, but very accurate and cost effective.
So we have the low cost scanner based software on one side and the high cost
spectrophotometer based solutions on the other. Those systems that
within the middle ground have generally tended to be limited to relatively old and slow
measuring devices or are limited to one type of input/output device.
However, in early 2001 GretagMacbeth; one of the industry leaders
released a relatively low cost spectrophotometer based colour management
package. Can GretagMacbeths Eye-One fill the gap left by others?
The GretagMacbeth Eye-One is
a colour management system designed from the ground
up to satisfy the needs of a wide range of users.
Depending upon actual operational requirements there
are three different packages available. The product
comparator chart shown left outlines the main
differences between each configuration.
following paragraphs I will identify the main
features of each configuration and will provide some
tips on how each can best be used.
is the least expensive of the three Eye-One
configurations and comprises all the components required for monitor
calibration and profiling. The main component is the Eye-One
Monitor instrument, which is a compact, handheld spectrophotometer that reads
colour on all types of monitors, including flat panel LCD type
displays, and a simplified version of Eye-One Match software.
The software is Wizard based and easy to use.
Calibrating the monitor
A USB cable connects the Eye-One spectrophotometer to
the computer which ensures that it is compatible with most modern
PC and Mac computers. The Eye-One spectrophotometer
doesn't require a separate power supply since this to is
provided via the USB port. It's important to connect the
spectrophotometer to the computer before starting up the
calibration software since the instrument itself is
acting as a dongle.
Shown below; a special harness arrangement ensures that the Eye-One
device can measure LCD type displays without causing surface
damage or distortion. A simple suction cup arrangement is provided
for use with conventional CRT monitors.
Supporting the Spectrophotometer
Eye-One Monitor costs approximately
$600 and is primarily intended for those users who require
only to profile monitors. GretagMacbeth suggest that Eye-One
Monitor is best suited to users who mainly work with
images and graphics destined for use on the Internet or simple
AV presentations. Eye-One
Monitor cannot be upgraded to enable profiling of
printers, etc. and so those thinking of purchasing it should bear
this in mind when making their purchase decision.
At $1500 Eye-One Pro
is designed to do all of the things that Eye-One Monitor
does, plus it also lets the user scan and measure colour from any
Whilst the Eye-One spectrophotometer supplied with
the Pro package may look
similar to that supplied with Eye-One
Monitor - it isn't the same. Eye-One Monitor will
only make emissive type measurements whilst Eye-One Pro
can make both emissive and reflective. Again the
spectrophotometer MUST be connected before the software will
operate. However, unlike the monitor version which can use any
USB port the Pro version must be connected to a powered
Eye-One Pro is
supplied with a scaled down version of Eye-One Match
software (discussed later). With Eye-One Pro
we also have the option,
at a later date, to upgrade via software to Eye-One
Match. Alternatively, users may choose to use the Eye-One
Pro spectrophotometer with GretagMacbeths
high-end profiling solution such as ProfileMaker Professional
or even one of the growing number of third party packages that
include support for the Eye-One spectrophotometer.
Eye-One Pro components
Also included is Eye-One Share
which is used with the Eye-One spectrophotometer to create customised
colour palettes or measure spot colours. These measurements
can then be shared with co-workers who may also need to evaluate
these colours. The measurements are stored in a proprietary
format so the co-workers will need to have access to Eye-One
Share is freeware and doesn't require the Eye-One
spectrophotometer to be connected when reviewing measurements.
Eye-One Share can be
downloaded from http://www.i1color.com.
Eye-One Pro with
Eye-One Match completes
the range and provides the user with a complete colour management
solution. Besides all the benefits of the
Eye-One Pro package Eye-One Pro with
Eye-One Match will
allow the user to profile a wide range of input and output devices;
e.g. monitors, scanners, digital cameras and printers - so that
colours are consistent from input to output. Eye-One Pro with
Eye-One Match costs approximately $3000.
Eye-One Match is designed to profile a wide range of
printer types including Off-set, Laser, Liquid Inkjet,
Thermo Dye and RGB. It's the perfect partner for RGB
type inkjet printers. Since the
tools that normally provide control over black
generation, etc. are absent it's somewhat limited in what it
can do with high-end CMYK and proof printers. Nevertheless the default
settings appear to do a pretty good job of profiling
even the most complex of printer technologies.
Selecting the device to be profiled
Selection of printer type
Creating a printer profile is very
easy with the supplied scanning ruler which is designed
to enable the
user to quickly measure the printed test chart. Typically the
target of 288 coloured patches can be measured in less
than 5 minutes. In "strip mode" the Eye-One spectrophotometer makes approximately 100
measurements per second and this means that as the user
moves the instrument along the scan ruler each coloured patch
will have multiple measurements which are averaged by the software. Given so many measurements
Eye-One Pro with Eye-One Match
accurate colour output is pretty much assured.
The Eye-One spectrophotometer can also be
configured to make single patch measurements.
Measuring the printed target
Creating printer media
Place a couple of unused sheets of the media being
profiled beneath the printed target. This helps to
ensure that the "base white" of the media
being profiled is more accurately measured.
Eye-On Match is also supplied with a proprietary scanning target
for profiling flatbed (reflective type) scanners. However, in order
that film (transmissive type) scanners can be profiled it will be
necessary for the user to purchase a transparent type
IT8 target slide. Using the scanner module Eye-One
Match can also be used to profile digital cameras,
but again the appropriate test target will need to be
As with the Eye-One Monitor
and Eye-One Pro
we find Eye-One Match comes with
a simple but helpful instruction booklet that shows the
user what's needed to get set up and profile all of
their devices. Again, Eye-One Match
also makes extensive use of on-line step-by-step instructions.
These instructions are important to the operation Eye-One
and should NOT be skipped until the user is
familiar with the product.
I've been using Eye-One
Pro with Eye-One Match
since early November 2001 and found it to be both user-friendly and
very quick to work with. The Eye-One is undoubtedly an excellent mid-price
colour management solution for digital workers such as photographers, graphic
designers and other graphic professionals.
only weakness, actually more of an omission,
is a profiling editing facility. It's not
that I found the profiles required editing, but that sometimes
fine-tuning can be the difference between a very good profile
and one that is excellent. Maybe GretagMacbeth will include an
editor in a future release.
Since Eye-One Match
is based upon the colour algorithms underlying the
GretagMacbeth ProfileMaker Professional the
quality of the profiles obtained are excellent. Some users have
suggested that the Eye-One spectrophotometer might benefit
from an integrated UV filter. Obviously this will be
dependent upon media type, and to some extent ink characteristics
will also play a part. That said my experience to date would
indicate that such a filter isn't an absolute requirement.
Nevertheless, it would appear from information contained within
the Eye-One SDK (software development kit) that future
provision for UV filtration is included.
An updated version of the Eye-One
spectrophotometer complete with the UV cut filter is now
available. The filter is not not compatible with the original
instrument. Users deciding to go the way of the UV filtered
Eye-One should note that it costs extra and isn't the best
choice for display calibration.
Version 1.2 of Eye-One Match is
now available to registered users. The 12Meg download can be
obtained from http://www.i1color.com.
This update fixes a number of issues and includes anew
feature whereby the application automatically detects the presence
of optical brighteners in some media types and applies the
necessary correction so that neutrals remain so in print.
For those demanding more control over their
profiles (typically printer profiles) Eye-One
Pro paired with ProfileMaker Pro 4 is probably
the better option. Certainly my tests using the Eye-One
spectrophotometer with this software left
me in no doubt that the Eye-One is the perfect partner
for ProfileMaker Pro. Interestingly GretagMacbeth have
taken a similar view and a high-end bundle version of ProfileMaker
Pro plus the Eye-One spectrophotometer is now available.
It's also worth mentioning that some Eye-One
users have indicated a high degree of success
calibrating the displays fitted to their Laptop type computers.
That said a big question mark must remain over how accurate
and therefore useable such displays are given the very narrow
viewing angle for
which they are renowned. Profiling desktop type flat panel displays such as
the Apple 17" Studio display or 22"/23" Cinema display
is a different matter altogether. The results that can be
achieved when profiling these displays are excellent. With
accurate profiling together with the other benefits of such
displays it's no wonder that many graphics professionals are
making the switch.
Unlike many competing products the
Eye-One system is designed to be used on both Mac and
PC platforms . Better still the
software looks and works identically on both platforms. I have
used the Eye-One without a single problem with Mac OS
9.x, Mac OS X, Windows 98, Windows
98SE, Windows Me, Windows 2000
and most recently Windows XP. If ever we needed a
definition of "Plug and Play" the Eye-One
system is it.
section provides a summary of steps
involved in calibrating a monitor using the Eye-One. It
also provides a lot more screenshots of the Eye-One Match
calibration/characterisation is a relatively straight forward process
with the Eye-One software providing lots of feedback in the form of
"Help" text and graphics. Rather than show the
complete process I have selected only those steps that require user input and so
will impact upon the quality of the final monitor profile. Steps 3
through 6 are related to Calibration and steps 7 through 8 with
Step 1 - relates to selection of the device type to be
calibrated (e.g. monitor, scanner, printer).
Step 2 - relates
to calibration of the Eye-One
spectrophotometer and requires the use of the calibration late. This
plate with its little white tablet is unique to each Eye-One
spectrophotometer, so don't loose or damage it.
If available use the display degauss
function before commencing the calibration process
If using Mac OS X set your
existing display profile Generic RGB Profile before
Don't ignore the on-line Help
instructions. Read and follow EACH instruction carefully.
Choose Monitor White and Gamma
The screenshot above shows the process
using 7 simple Help graphics; the method of attaching the Eye-One
spectrophotometer to the monitor. This step also involves the user
making a decision regarding Monitor White (colour temperature)
and Monitor Gamma.
The options for Monitor White are:
Warm white - equals 5000 degrees Kelvin
Medium white - equals 6500 degrees Kelvin
Cool white - equals 7500 degrees Kelvin
The options for Gamma are
Generally, MOST users will find that choosing Gamma
2.2 is best. So far as Monitor
White is concerned most users should find Medium White is the
Note: in general
high-end LCD displays such as those form Apple have a
Native Monitor White of approximately 6500 degrees K and a Native Gamma of 2.2.
I highly recommend that you use these settings.
Optimising the Contrast (White Point)
This step begins with the user setting the Contrast
control to maximum and then reducing it to the point where the little
white/black triangles shown on the Contrast Quality Indictor
In Step 4 we are adjusting the monitor contrast control
so as to optimise the White Point. If the white point is set too
high the screen will be overly bright. The opposite is true if the
contrast control is set too low. Once completed we can move onto the
next step. If the monitor or supporting software (e.g.
Apple LCD) is not provided with a
contrast control then it's IMPORTANT to engage the checkbox so as to
disable the measurement.
Actually with Apple LCD's you should set the Brightness
control (found in Displays control panel) to approximately
Note: It is not
unusual for the two triangles to just about align even when the Contrast
control is at maximum and the actual screen appears overly bright. Many
users express concern/surprise at this- they shouldn't. If you find this
happening I suggest that you reduce the Contrast control by
around 5% and then remeasure. The two triangles will
likely still align, but the screen brightness will be a little more
Optimising the Brightness (Black Point)
In Step 5 we are adjusting the monitor Brightness
control so as to optimise the monitor Black Point. For CRT
type display it is absolutely
essential that the monitor brightness control is set to minimum before
commencing this step. The Eye-One software uses the monitors maximum black
value as a base point and if this is set too high achieving
a maximum black in Photoshop will be very difficult. Since the
spectrophotometer is actually measuring black it will tend to cause the
little white triangle indicator to jump around. In Eye-One Match
version 1.0 this was a major headache. Fortunately subsequent versions
of Eye-One Match (downloadable from
have significantly reduced this problem.
As with step 4 it is important that the two triangles in
the Brightness Quality Indicator are so far as
possible, aligned. If the monitor is not fitted with a brightness
control or supporting software (e.g. LCD type displays) it is again IMPORTANT
to engage the checkbox so as to
disable the measurement. Remember the Brightness control on Apple
LCD displays acts like a Contrast control - don't confuse the
two - for the sake of your own sanity engage the checkbox and bypass
Adjusting the Colour Temperature of the
In step 3 above the user chose the desired or target
Monitor White. In this step we will adjust the monitor colour
temperature so as to get the numeric reading for Current
temperature to match the Desired value.
Whilst Eye-One Match can take advantage of monitors supporting
individual RGB gun control, attempting to
get all three coloured indictors to align is pretty close to impossible
on some monitors. So don't panic if they don't align. The key is
getting the two numeric values to match
If the monitor is not fitted with a colour temperature
control or supporting software (i.e. most LCD type displays) it is again important to engage the checkbox so as to
disable the measurement.
Step 7 is fully automatic and involves the software
cycling through a series of 53 coloured patches. This step will take around
2 minutes to complete.
Save the Monitor Profile
The Eye-One software automatically includes the
date with all profiles so as to ensure that duplication or overwriting previous
profiles can be avoided. On Mac systems ColorSync will automatically
use the profile without any additional help. On Windows systems a
small loader file is included within the Windows Startup folder.
Users on both platforms should ensure that NO other profile
loader (e.g. Adobe Gamma loader.exe is in use).