Printer profiling is where ColorMunki really breaks new ground (#7). Typically,
a high-quality printer profile uses 1000 or more color patches to generate a
profile for a particular paper and ink combination. The Datacolor Spyder3Print
is able to produce high-quality profiles with about 500 color patches (including
the extended grays target to improve black and white print quality).
One of the most impressive features of ColorMunki is the ability
to create a high-quality printer profile from only 100 color patches.
You start off by printing and measuring a set of 50 patches. ColorMunki
then determines the next 50 patches that need to be read and you'll
print that chart to measure. The scanning process only takes about
30 seconds, although you should let each print dry for 10 minutes
before scanning. ColorMunki has a progress bar to indicate how long
you should wait before reading the patches.
ColorMunki, on the other hand, breaks the profiling process into two parts.
It creates a 50-patch chart which is printed and measured (#8), and based on
the results of that measurement, creates a second 50-patch chart. So, you're
scanning a total of 100 patches. The scanning process itself takes only about
30 seconds to complete, although you do have to allow time for your prints to
dry prior to scanning. So, plan on about 25 minutes from start to finish for
a printer profile. When the profile is complete, ColorMunki will automatically
set that as the default print profile for Photoshop, InDesign, or QuarkXPress
if you want.
Charts are read by sliding the ColorMunki along the color patches.
You'll see on-screen verification that the chart was read
correctly. If you make a mistake, you just scan that row again.
What amazed me was the accuracy of these profiles. I've used small patch
targets before with less than acceptable results. Usually there is much less
shadow detail and colors go out of range earlier than with a high-quality target.
The ColorMunki surprised me by being almost identical in quality to what I was
able to generate with the i1Photo LT and ProfileMaker combination (#9). Remember
that we're now talking about a $499 product vs. the $3500 products I've
The solid red line indicates a profile I made using an i1Photo LT
and ProfileMaker 5, a $3500 combination. The hue line is the profile
made with the ColorMunki. While there is some difference in the
greens, in actual prints this is virtually identical in output.
The ColorMunki Photo adds a few more features as well. You can also create
CMYK profiles and do spot color measurements. Finally, if the generated profile
isn't completely to your liking, you can optimize the profile by using
an image of your choice. The software will analyze the selected image and generate
another 50-patch chart for measurement. So, if skin tones are critical, or you're
doing extensive black and white work, you can create a profile that is tuned
to that type of output. This optimization process can be repeated with different
images to continue to optimize the profile.
While monitor and printer profiling are the key elements for most users, additional
features in ColorMunki Photo will be of interest. DigitalPouch (#10) is a way
to bundle images along with their embedded profiles into a color managed viewing
application (most e-mail clients and web browsers don't understand embedded
profiles and will default to using sRGB; if your documents are in a different
color space, they may look very different than intended). After adding your
images, click on the Create button and a self-contained viewer is created that
you can send off to clients or publishers.
DigitalPouch is a way for you to package up images to send to clients
or others. It puts your images into a color managed viewing application
to ensure that your images are being seen the way you intended and
it protects your images from being copied.
Photo ColorPicker (#11) allows you to create palettes of complementary colors
based on any image. When you select an image in the browser, all the primary
colors will be displayed. Selecting any one of those patches shows you the related
colors in Harmony, Variations, or Similar groupings. This is helpful for designing
around an image. Although probably not an everyday need for the typical photographer,
anyone in design or layout will appreciate how much easier this makes color
selection. You can also use ColorMunki to capture the color value of literally
anything you can place the device on, including skin and fabric.
Photo ColorPicker helps you build palettes of complementary colors
by selecting an image. The color patches shown are all linked to
several different libraries. You can also use ColorMunki to do spot
measurements of anything the device can be placed on, including
X-Rite has a real winner with the ColorMunki Photo. Combining monitor calibration
with printer profiling at a reasonable price, the ColorMunki should take care
of all your color management needs. The additional features, like the ability
to optimize a printer profile for specific needs, and the DigitalPouch for sharing
and viewing color managed images, are intuitive and go a step beyond what anyone
else has available.
The process isn't foolproof, though. You still need to pay attention to
printer settings in order to get the most from ColorMunki or any profiling solution.
With the wrong options set in the printer driver, you can create a profile that
is unusable. X-Rite has done everything on their part to make the process easy,
but you have to do your share.
· Windows XP or Vista (32 and 64 supported)
· Macintosh OS X 10.4 or later
· Powered USB port
· Network connection
For more information, contact X-Rite Incorporated, 4300 44th Street SE, Grand
Rapids, MI 49512; (800) 248-9748; www.xrite.com,
Jon Canfield is the author of several books on digital imaging and printing.
A popular instructor at BetterPhoto.com, Canfield also teaches workshops for
the Panasonic Digital Photo Academy (www.digitalphotoacademy.com).
You can reach Canfield via e-mail at: email@example.com.