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A User Review

By Ian Lyons




A Computer Darkroom Tutorial


Contrary to what some would have us believe calibration is not a "one-shot" and forget option. The characteristics of monitors, printers and to a lesser extent scanners will change with time and use. Typically printers will present users with the greatest challenge since even something as simple change of batch for paper and/or ink can result in a major variation in colour rendering. Likewise monitor phosphors will fade, albeit slowly, and so we can't even rely on the image being displayed correctly for anything more than a few weeks.


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 reside 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?


Product Comparison 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.

In the following paragraphs I will identify the main features of each configuration and will provide some tips on how each can best be used.


Configuration 1

Eye-One Monitor 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

(click the graphic to see Tutorial  on the steps involved - important info on calibrating LCD's is included)


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.


Spectro support

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.

Configuration 2

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 reflective source.

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 port.

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

i1 Share Interface

Eye-One Pro components

Eye-One Share


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. 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.

Configuration 3

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.


Interface Interface

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.


Measure Target

Measuring the printed target



  1. Creating printer media profiles

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 purchased separately.

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.

Eye-One Matches 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. Further details on the Eye-One can be obtained from http://www.i1color.com

GretagMacbeth provide a wealth of information on colour management, etc. on the dedicated Eye-One web site http://www.i1color.com/colorKnowledge/index.asp.

The next page 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 software interface.




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