High-end colour-measurement specialist GretagMacbeth first announced its ‘desktop’ Eye-One colour calibration and profiling system three years ago, though it took a year to reach the market. The company has now given it a major shake-up, with four main bundles, new accessories, and improved version 2.0 Eye-One Match software.
The four packages are Eye-One Display (for LCD or CRT monitor calibration), Eye-One Photo (for monitors and ‘RGB’ desktop colour printers), Eye-One Publish (for monitors, scanners, printing presses, CMYK RIP-controlled desktop printers, and RGB printers), and Eye-One Beamer (for monitors and digital projectors).
All of them let you measure your systems, calibrate them to a consistent standard, and write an ICC 2.0 profile for use with colour-managed workflows
on Macintoshes or Windows PCs.
You can upgrade from one bundle to another. If you upgrade from Eye-One Display, this means buying the Eye-One Pro unit – but this is helped by a voucher worth 80 per cent of the original purchase price of Display (about £160).
The basic Photo package includes a small USB colorimeter for reading monitors, similar to rival units such as the Colorvision Spyder. It’s supplied with sucker attachments for CRT monitors, or a strap-&-counterweight system for LCDs. The Eye-One Match 2.0 software now works with the native white point
of lower-cost monitors that don’t have individual RGB controls.
The three higher-level packages cost a lot more. They all include GretagMacbeth’s Eye-One Pro, a versatile, high-quality spectrophotometer with USB cable and clip-on adaptors for reading monitors (CRT or LCD), print targets, or digital projection screens.
The new Eye-One Match 2.0 software provides a single, highly visual user interface for all types of device. Our test system had the complete range of reader and calibration options. The first thing you do is click to select the device you’re working on (monitor, print, scanner, or projector calibration), and the software takes you step-by-step through the sequence of actions needed to measure the device and write an ICC 2.0 profile. It’s extremely easy, and you don’t need to understand colour theory or profiles at all.
Unfortunately, if you do want to know more, the documentation is basic, and the contextual software explanations don’t really tell you much.
The automatic colour calibration gives fair results, but real experts often want to adjust the results – especially for controlling the black ink levels on colour printers. Eye-One Match won’t let you do this.
GretagMacbeth’s ProfileMaker 4.1 Editor software gives full profile editing, and can be used with the Eye-One Pro measuring instrument, but costs an extra £522.
For printer calibration, you need to create a separate profile for each paper type you want to use. The software first outputs two test sheets filled with colour patches. Then the Eye-One Pro device reads them all into the computer where Eye-One Match analyzes them to create a correction profile. A simple but effective plastic guide lets you run the Eye-One head along to read a whole row in each sweep, which is a lot quicker
than measuring each patch separately – there are 34 rows of 27 patches. It takes a bit of practice to get the right speed, but once done, you can read both sheets and output a profile in about ten minutes. If you’re in a hurry, there’s an option to output one target sheet, but this isn’t as accurate.
I tried the RGB calibration on an Epson Stylus Pro 1290 ‘RGB’ photo printer. The results were only slightly better than the substantially lower-cost (£495) TypeMaker Colour Confidence Print Profiler reviewed in d 61. Both struggled to achieve neutral blacks in the shadow tones. This is an inherent problem of RGB printers that can be controlled by fitting a CMYK RIP.
The Publish bundle includes a pre-printed Gretag-pattern colour-patch target for calibrating and profiling any flatbed reflection scanner. There’s no target supplied for film scanners, but the software can read the industry-standard IT8 film targets, available in sizes from 35mm slide up to 5-x-7 inches that are supplied with some scanners.
The Eye-One Beamer lets you colour-calibrate digital projectors or any other type of large display, though it’s unclear how many people would pay serious money for colour-calibrated presentations. Beamer comprises a large weighted base with an adjustable support for
the Eye-One Pro unit. You put it on top of the projector, aim it at the centre of the screen, and run the software.
This measures the response (including the screen colour), and creates an ICC compensation profile that you can then load as a monitor profile.
All packages include the Eye-One Share 1.3 application. This lets you set up colour palettes from scratch or by reading them in from real-world objects through the Eye-One Pro. A new attachment for Eye-One Pro lets you read ambient-light colour temperatures. Eye-One Share can then simulate on-screen the appearance of printed colours in this light.
With the exception of the Display bundle, the Eye-One product range sits at the deluxe end of the colour-management market. The ease of use means that anyone could use them, but the prices mean that only critical-colour specialists or larger organizations could justify the cost.
The prices are broadly in line with competing high-end systems, but it’s hard to see why the CMYK Print package should cost £1,000 more than the RGB Photo version.