Fstoppers Reviews the X-Rite i1Studio Color Management Solution

Fstoppers Reviews the X-Rite i1Studio Color Management Solution

Color calibration is a necessary step in getting the very best results in your photography, yet many photographers avoid it altogether, leaving the final color edits to their printing lab, and basically turning over the outcome of an entire session to a complete stranger who knows nothing about your editing style or desired end result. On the opposite end of the spectrum are photographers who are color-obsessed, and want the most precise control over every aspect of the color rendition in their work. X-Rite has created a tool to satisfy everyone. Whether you are looking for simple screen calibration, or continuity across multiple screens and devices, the i1Studio is an all-in-one tool that will give you color rendition consistency no matter where you shoot, edit, view or print.

The X-Rite i1Studio Color Calibration Tool. Product photo courtesy of www.xritephoto.com.

Easy to Use Software

The i1Studio software is straightforward and easy to use. You really don’t have to have any prior calibration knowledge in order to use this tool or its software. The software has a “help” column on the left that explains the processes, and there are links and video clips to demonstrate what you will be doing and what is going to happen. It is all very straightforward. Plus, X-Rite has a wealth of information about color calibration on their YouTube channel here.  

The X-Rite i1Studio comes complete with a Spectrophotometer and protective bag, a Mini Colorchecker Classic, and everything else you need for total color management.

Multiple Device Calibration

On the most basic level, any photographer who edits their own work will need screen calibration at some point. There is nothing more disappointing than lighting, shooting and editing an image to perfection, sending it off to the printer of your choice, and receiving a result that looks nothing like you originally intended. This is especially important when delivering client work where skin tones and other colors need to be spot on. You also need to be able to show prospective clients your work from an electronic device on occasion. You definitely need these devices to be able to produce a perfect rendition of the images you’ve worked so hard to create.

Perfect monitor calibration with the X-Rite i1Studio.

The i1Studio allows the user to calibrate multiple screens and create color profiles for different devices and lighting conditions. If you edit in different locations, on multiple devices, and in different ambient lighting conditions, this is going to make your life much easier. 

Proper display calibration is also essential for presentation purposes. I often use an iPad to show my work to potential clients when I’m out and about in the world. The i1Studio can calibrate your iOS device, with the use of the ColorTRUE mobile app for iOS devices. I found this very useful, because I not only carry my iPad with me to show my work during client consultations, I also use it as a display in my wedding photobooth. Having true color representation on the iPad is a great feature. The app is simple and pretty much foolproof, and when you view your images in the ColorTRUE image gallery, you are able to toggle between the calibrated and uncalibrated versions for comparison, showing your images in the appropriate color space. It even provides a simulation with any custom paper profile you're planning to print with.

Do you use a projector on occasion to display your work? The i1Studio can be used to calibrate your projector so that what you display on your projection screen is accurate in color and contrast to what you see on your computer monitor. This is especially helpful because of differences in ambient light, projection screen color, and reflective light. You’ll never walk into a presentation again and be blindsided by how badly a venue’s projector changes the look of your images. Simply carry the i1Studio with you and run a quick calibration, and anyone’s projector will display your images exactly as you intended.

The X-Rite i1Studio offers projector calibration, for those presentations where color accuracy is paramount.

Printer Profiling for Both Color and Black and White Printing

Like many photographers, I use a professional print lab for client work, but I do occasionally print in-studio for some things, using an inkjet photo printer. The i1Studio makes printer calibration a breeze, and I found that the calibrated prints from both were very close to what I saw on my calibrated computer screen, as well as spot on in comparison to the prints that I ordered from my favorite pro lab.

Printer profiling is quick and easy with the X-Rite i1Studio.

The i1Studio device reads the print profiling test color charts quickly and easily. You can create different profiles for each different type of paper and ink you use, and you can save your workflow data and come back to it at any time.

You have the option of going a step further and calibrating specifically for black and white printing. Once you have developed profiles for black and white printing, you can print in black and white from your full-color files without having to first convert to black and white within your editing software. You are able to simply choose the black and white profile that you created and apply it in your print dialog.

When you build your black and white print profile with the i1Studio, you will be able to use the same measurement data to create profiles in five different styles. These styles are cold tone, high contrast, sepia, standard black and white, and none. The options of cold tone, high contrast, sepia, and standard will apply the black and white conversion profile to your color image, while the none option will give you the best results for an image that is already black and white. These different style profiles can be used in Lightroom to soft-proof your color photos and present clients with these different black and white options to choose from, before finishing out the final edit to client specifications.

In the Optimize Profile module, you can choose one of the printer profiles you have previously created with the i1Studio, and you can fine-tune that profile in relation to the colors that are found in a chosen image. This allows you to produce a calibration patch set within the existing profile that is more enhanced for that image. Additionally, you are able to manually spot-select color patches from within an image if there are certain colors that you feel need to be adjusted for your prints. This is the ultimate color control for those who print their own work.

Camera Calibration

The X-Rite i1Studio comes with the mini version of the ColorChecker Classic for custom camera profiling, along with a download for the ColorChecker Camera Calibration software. This software can work with your raw editing software to create a color profile for each camera you use. You can also go as far as to profile camera/lens combinations. Camera calibration profiles can save you tons of time in post-processing, in situations where your lighting was a little cooler or warmer than you’d like, or you had some color cast from something in the scene, or even a particular lens affected the overall color.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are photographing two different lighting conditions, such as moving from outdoors to indoors, the ColorChecker Camera Calibration software has a feature which will create a Dual Illuminant DNG profile that will adapt to these lighting changes and provide you with consistent color in various changing lighting scenarios. This is especially helpful during event photography where the location circumstances may change throughout the shoot.

The Colorchecker Classic is included for camera calibration.

A Myriad of Other Uses

The X-Rite i1Studio has many more uses in your in-depth post-processing workflow. You can use it to calibrate and build profiles for your scanner. There are options for slide and transparency profiling. If you are a videographer, you are able to profile your monitor specifically for video editing. X-Rite i1Studio is a true workhorse, hitting all the marks where color calibration is concerned.

If you’ve been putting off investing in a calibration tool because you are intimidated by the process, or the tools you’ve seen don’t have the options you’re looking for, the i1Studio is the tool for you. Learn more here.

Jenny Edwards's picture

Jenny Edwards is a portrait photographer based in Amarillo, TX. She specializes in family and generational portraiture, as well as fashion-inspired portraits for high school seniors.

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Well written article Jenny. I like how it is broken down into sections with nice photos. My only suggestion would be to always include the price. It is $489 for those interested.

Yes! Thank you Terry, good point.

What constitutes a sponsored review for Fstoppers? Many sites are provided equipment to review, but do not characterize that as sponsored, nor would I. How does Fstoppers define that?

They are paid.

I realize that, but am curious as to the terms.

I used to review audio equipment. I was paid by the magazine, not the manufacturer. There's an ethical problem if the manufacturer pays to have a product reviewed. And the product should be returned after the review, or the reviewer/magazine should purchase it.

The publisher of the magazine said that if the manufacturer offered to let me keep the product outright (as opposed to buying it at an accommodation price), it was okay if I considered it of reference quality. My STAX headphones, amplifier, and equalizer were obtained that way. There were cases where a company said "don't bother" to return the item, and I kept it. This were rare occurrences, and my insistence on "truth" completely outweighs any desire to get something for free.

Be advised that X-rite has a policy that they will not repair (for a fee) any of their "consumer" devices after the warranty. The i1 Studio is in that category. So, even if something trivial is broken in 13 months, you have a $500 paperweight. I ran afoul of this with an i1 Display "Pro" (funny that is in the title when it's considered consumer) that developed a short in the USB cable after being used maybe 40 times and treated as gently as humanly possible. It would have been easily fixable by X-rite in 10 minutes, but they refused. They don't even offer a reduced price for a replacement device. They told me to buy a new device retail, even though I already had a software license for the DP and for i1Publish. (I have an I1Pro.) I had to trash a $250 device because of a $5 cable.

That's incredible. I never understand why companies take these kind of disrespectful stance against their customers. :((

Just a question. How does this setup differ from the ColorMunki kit ? Looks exactly the same.

This is less a review and more of just an ad. A proper review would probably provide before and afters, comparison to other products in the category, examples of what different profiles can do for your different cameras and displays etc. At the very least I can give fstoppers credit for marking the ad as sponsored at the top of the article, but this was still disappointing.

It's obvious when an article is no more than a "rundown" of a product's features, precisely because it's lacking the information needed to make a rational buying decision. Readers don't need to have this explained. But such articles need to followed by thorough reviews, or readers are likely to stop reading your publication.

The author's praise of the i1Studio as "the tool for you" is unwarranted, because there's no detailed review of whether it does its job properly. I would have asked her to remove this statement -- or hold the article until she had thoroughly reviewed the system..

Some months ago I attacked "The Abso!ute Sound" for its gushing praise of a speaker the reviewer hadn't properly auditioned. (I also attacked the designer for his failure to make meaningful long-term contributions to audio.) You can imagine the brutal attack I received, and I'm now persona non grata, unable to post. Their loss.