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