XRite brings back polarized, transmissive and large aperture measurements with the i1Pro3+ spectrophotometer.

Quick overview 

The i1Pro3+ spectrophotometer contains a new LED illuminant that allows for simultaneous M0, M1, M2 measurement in a single pass.  The large 8mm aperture (vs the i1Pro2’s 3.5mm) translates into rich, extreme shadow measurements and averaging of uneven surfaces and large dot patterns.  Polarized M3 measurements mean smoother shadow tonality and improved deep color saturation on textured surfaces like glossy canvas. Transmissive scanning allows us to measure and profile backlit printing processes with any light table. A longer 23” inch handheld scanning ruler supports large format page sizes and an updated iO3 Table supports the i1Pro3+ for reflective measurement.

Polarized M3 Observations

The M3 measurement condition is a polarized version of M2 excluding UV data and media fluorescence. The sole purpose of polarization is to eliminate the reflections on textured glossy surfaces that can lead to poor measurements in other conditions.

A close up of a profiling target on glossy canvas. These are the reflections that polarization eliminates.

Let’s look at and compare M2 and M3 measurements of the same Breathing Color Crystaline Glossy canvas. i1Pro2/iSis M2 measurements are shown in red while the i1Pro3+ M3 measurements are show in blue. You can see that the bottom half of the M2 red gamut “rock” is quite bumpy whereas the polarized M3 blue gamut rock is perfectly smooth.

Polarized M3 measurements are perfectly smooth in the shadows

The size of these rocks are quite different, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a common misconception that color gamut renderings represent the size and volume of a process’s color gamut. Color gamut renderings visualize measurement data – which you might say is how a spectrophotometer “sees” a process. Two spectrophotometers might “see” the same printing process differently. Or in this case, the same spectrophotometer “sees” the same process differently in two different measurements conditions. The polarizer acts as a type of neutral density filter, making all the measurements from the paper white to the black point darker. This is illustrated in this composite M2 vs M3 color gamut  rendering:

A rotated perspective. Note the lowered white and black points. Be careful how you interpret these renderings!

This does not mean that the final process will have a darker paper white, richer black or larger color gamut. Regardless of how the spectrophotometer “sees” it in these different modes, the printing process has a fixed white, a fixed black point and fixed color gamut.  In order to make statements about final print quality one must make prints with the profiles and evaluate those prints, both visually and colorimetricially with measurements. When we do this, we find that the paper white, DMax, and color gamut are the same between these two profiles, despite how the color renderings looked. What’s different is improved smoothness and saturation in the shadows. Deep rich blues especially benefit from polarized measurements.  My evaluation image illustrates these differences in these circled areas:

The areas circled in red represent where one might see improvements from using polarized measurements on glossy textured surfaces.

You can download this evaluation image from the downloads page and here are the actual M2 and M3 profiles illustrated above. I hope these profiles, renderings and dialog do a better job at illustrating the print quality differences one can expect to see than photos on a website. Ultimately one needs to see it for themself in person, and in print.

In the past, M3 measurements were a “wild card” with results that were somewhat subjective. XRite has now made M3 a reliable workflow option with the same high quality results we’re used to seeing from i1Profiler. The final print results from M3 profiles are very similar to what we’re used to seeing with M2 measurements, but have some modest, welcome improvements that a well trained eye might appreciate. We’ve seen polarized measurements before but the i1Pro3+ and i1Profiler v3 together really make this measurement condition an easy possibility for production workflows.  

Transmissive Observations

In the “real world” I find most production professionals are at a loss as to how to calibrate and profile their transmissive offerings. A small percentage of them are using an ancient Spectrolino or Barbeiri LFP for transmissive measurement and struggle to translate these measurements into the RIP or profiling software for meaningful print quality improvements.  From my experience, most production professionals are using a reflective profile with a manually created density curve for their backlit products. Either of these approaches have produced “good enough” results in a world lacking a better alternative. The i1Pro3+ changes that and represents a huge step forward in transmissive measurement, calibration and profiling. i1Profiler v3 introduces brilliant new color science that translates into meaningful print quality improvements that have to be seen to be believed.  I’m not easily impressed but I’m blown away by how much better backlit print products look and am excited to show this to my clients. 

i1Profiler 3 adds several new steps to transmissive profiling that we haven’t seen before. 

To start, XRite has a brilliant approach to supporting any light table for the measurement process.  A template is printed and taped to the light table of your choice (I recommend a 13×19). The bare light table is measured with the i1Pro 3+ before a 100 patch profiling target is printed and taped onto this template and measured as well. 

Because light tables are often unevenly lit, i1Pro3+ measures the whole grid on the bare light table, defining the qualities fo each measurement position.  Next, i1Profiler uses a unique 100 patch target which fits nicely on a single 13×19” sheet. When the profiling target is measured within the template, the measurements are referenced to the bare lighttable measurements so that lighting inconsistencies are compensated for. 

A second profiling target is then generated and measured. Both the front and back side of the media is measured. You can even measure both the lightbox used to measure the targets, but also the final “viewing lightbox” and customize the profile for the final presentation. This final point is really notable because eases the process of creating profiles locally while still being able to incorporate measurements from customers final viewing boxes remotely. i1Profiler has separate workflows for Clear, Translucent and Fabric media. 

All-in-all transmissive profiling has a bit more steps and measurements than reflective profiling. XRite is incorporating into new color science that we haven’t seen before and the final results are worth the effort. The end result can have significantly improved saturation, Dmax and gray axis neutrality.

Here’s a quick final print quality comparison for a popular backlight film product. On the left is an evaluation image printed with a reflective profile and on the right, a transmissive profile. 

Transparencies on a light table. Reflective profile on the left, i1Pro3+ transmissive profile on the right.

i1Pro2 and i1Pro3+ Comparisons

I’ve been using the i1Pro3+ both in my own printmaking studio and traveling to see clients for 6 months now, and have found it to be as steady and reliable as the i1Pro2. For demanding users, the i1Pro3+’s improved lighting design translates into better repeatability than the i1Pro2 and better correlation with high end devices like the eXact. The i1Pro3+’s large aperture also translates into targets with larger patches.  Spot versus scanning, scanning with the i1iO3 or the zebra ruler, and the various measurement conditions all call for different minimum patch sizes which is a little confusing at first. While spot measurements can be made from the smallest 14x14mm minimum patch size for example, reflective targets are 16x16mm for M0/M1/M2 scanning with the ruler and the i1iO3 Table, 16x20mm for M3 scanning while transmissive profiling targets have the largest 16x40mm minimum patch size. There is no older i1Pro “compatibility mode” and it cannot read existing targets that are formatted for older i1Pro devices. This the price one must pay for high quality, large aperture, polarized and transmissive measurements!

The i1Pro3+ isn’t a replacement for the i1Pro2 – they are different devices each with their own unique strengths. The i1Pro2 is the worlds best selling handheld spectro that enjoys incredible support in nearly RIP and color measurement software available today. The i1Pro2 hits a value ‘sweet spot’ performing what most people need from a spectrophotometer at an affordable price. The i1Pro3+ expands upon the i1Pro2’s capabilities for users with more specialized and demanding needs. I imagine pro users will want to own both of these devices, using each for different tasks. 

i1iO3 Table

Instead of just adding a new cradle, XRIte thought now was the time to reengineer the arm with new metal mechanicals for increased precision, repeatability and reliability. ON the outside the i1iO3 table looks like the same as the black i1iO2 table but has a different cradle that supports all three generations of i1Pro devices. Since the i1Pro3+ requires larger patches and more pages of patches I’ve come to really like using the i1iO3 table with the i1Pro3+. I daydream about making a thin lightbox I could use with the i1iO3 table for transmissive profiling. Otherwise, the i1iO3 table works as one would expect without any surprises.

Pricing and Availability

Part. No. Description MSRP (USD)
EO3PLBAS i1Basic Pro 3 Plus $      1,699.00
EO3PLPHO i1Photo Pro 3 Plus $      2,199.00
EO3PLPUB i1Publish Pro  3 Plus $      2,999.00
EO3AST i1iO3 for i1Pro 3 Plus  $      2,995.00

 

The i1Pro 3+ and upgraded i1iO3 table are shipping today. Since the mechanical differences are substantial, existing i1iO tables are not directly compatible with the i1Pro 3+ and can not be upgraded. XRite’s i1iO3 table trade-up program will be announced soon.

i1Profiler

XRIte has a full time team working on i1Profiler. i1Profiler has gone from version 1.8.x to 3.x not only because this is the biggest update i1Profiler has ever seen, but also to be in line with the “3” part of the i1Pro3+. i1Profiler 1.8.x will not auto update to 3.x until some compatibility issues are resolved with i1Pro1 devices. i1Profiler 3.1.1 and up are 64 bit compatible, MacOS 10.15 Catalina and Windows 10 ready, etc.

Summary

The i1Pro3+ completes XRite’s i1 product family by providing polarized, transmissive and large aperture measurements. i1Profiler has been upgraded with new color science, profiling workflows and graphics to support these new capabilities. The large aperture is particularly well suited for the growing textiles market and other materials that have a pronounced texture. The polarized M3 option allows for better measurements on textured glossy media. XRite has completely re-engineered transmissive profiling bringing impressive print quality improvements.  As it’s difficult to illustrate the print quality differences one can expect to see here on a website, I’d encourage you to get some hands’ on to see these differences for yourself. 

I have found switching between the i1Pro2, i1Pro3+, iSis2XL and i1iO3 table to be seemless. With XRite’s XRGA standard working behind the scenes, final print quality is astonishingly consistent across all of these devices. What this means is that large shops can profile different processes with different devices and produce prints that are visually consistent with each other. With the current lineup of i1 spectrophotometers, XRite addresses a huge variety of users and their various needs at a compelling price point. 

Disclosure 

Yes, Onsight is a long term tester for XRite and many other companies, and does receive evaluation units from time to time.  Onsight does not accept monetary compensation for testing or reviews, nor sponsorships from anyone. Maintaining independence and objectivity in all pursuits is a primary objective. Onsight reserves the right to compliment and/or criticize when appropriate. This review is by no means comprehensive as there are many additional details to discuss. We hope you’ll find this a brief but meaningful 3rd party evaluation. Thanks and let me know if you’d like to discuss this further in the comments below.

XRite’s Press Release:

https://www.xrite.com/about-us/news-events/press-releases/xrite-announces-i1pro-3-plus-color-profiling-device-for-imaging-print-and-textiles

iSis and i1Pro3+ M3 Profiling targets and Evaluation prints on two different canvas products. Note the visual consistency across the eval prints. Up close inspection is required to appreciate the improvements polarized measurement provides.

 

Update 10-3-19
Information about the i1iO3 table and trade-up program added. Added a comment about the repeatability and correlation to other devices.  i1Profiler 3.1.1 offers improvements to transmissive scanning, a fix for metallic paper profiling and improvements to the “Neutralize Gray” slider in the perceptual rendering options.

As always, let me know if you’d like to see some sample prints demonstrating these print quality differences or if you’d like to test it together at your location. – Scott Martin

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