Eye-One Photo
GretagMacbeth's Color Management For Professional Photographers

Package contents include the Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer, calibration plate, USB cable, CRT monitor holder, flat panel LCD holder, positioning target, scanning ruler, and light measurement head.

Using the current hardware and software technology available, digital imaging now provides a virtually unlimited palette of capabilities for photographers. Along with the various benefits that come with this control, there are also numerous variables that the user must address in the digital workflow. Understanding and addressing digital color management is one of the critical elements involved in producing consistent high quality work.

Calibration and profiling of your equipment is the first step toward an effective color management experience. By definition, calibration is the process of returning a device to a known and repeatable state. Profiling is then performed in order to record the specific characteristics of a device while it is in this particular state. An operating system level CMS (Color Management System) such as Apple's ColorSync and Microsoft's ICM 2.0, or applications with a built-in color management engine such as Adobe's Photoshop, can use these profiles to accurately translate color from one device space to another so that they reproduce effectively throughout the workflow.

Measuring the red patch of a Macbeth Mini-ColorChecker yields this spectral information plot about the captured color. This describes the luminance
of the wavelengths that create this particular color. Essentially the "recipe" for this color, data such as LAB, XYZ, and density can be easily computed from spectral data.

Canned Profiles
Most manufacturers provide pre-built or "canned" profiles for their devices, and in situations where reasonable color matching is adequate, these "canned" profiles may be sufficient. In a professional installation that demands both high quality accurate color output and excellent color matching capabilities, custom profiles will need to be created for the devices in the system. The benefit of using a professional color management workflow and custom profiles is tremendous. A busy photographer or studio should find this technology virtually mandatory due to the time and monetary savings involved, as well as the increase in quality output possible by implementing such a system.

The Eye-One Photo color management system from GretagMacbeth is a product aimed squarely at the photographic market, and provides powerful calibration, profiling, and color acquisition capabilities at a remarkable price. This package allows the user to profile their CRT or LCD displays, and create output profiles for their RGB printing devices. The versatile software included also provides advanced capabilities for capturing and analyzing color well beyond the scope of any current competitive package.

Package Contents And Installation
The package consists of profiling software, the Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer measuring device, and various adapters for accomplishing all of the tasks that the Eye-One Photo system can perform. As a side note, the package that the Eye-One components are delivered in is quite sturdy, and as such provides a secure place to store all of the various parts when not in use. There is an optional hard case available from GretagMacbeth that would be a wise investment if traveling with the unit is common.

The installation process is very simple, as there are three separate programs that the user installs. These include Eye-One Match 2.0, which is the actual profiling software application; Eye-One Share, which is used for capturing and analyzing color; and the Eye-One Diagnostics software, which is provided to help troubleshoot any problems that may occur. I installed and tested the Eye-One Photo package on both Windows and Mac OS X platforms, and the software interfaces are both functionally and operationally identical.

The simple interface takes the user through each step in creating an ICC profile for their RGB printing device. The 918 patch target chart as seen here prints on two separate letter-sized pages.

The Eye-One Pro Spectrophotometer
The Eye-One Pro unit is an advanced spectrophotometer capable of taking approximately 100 measurements a second. A spectrophotometer is an instrument that measures the characteristics of a surface throughout many frequencies in the spectrum. Typically a measurement is performed every 10 nanometers in the 380-730 nanometer range--this essentially covers the range of visible light to humans. This spectral capture creates a precise digital fingerprint of the particular color measured. The fact that spectral data is captured is where the Eye-One software derives most of its powerful capabilities.

Included in the package is also a removable ambient light head attachment that allows the users to take spectral emissive readings from light sources such as gallery lights, viewing booths, and any other custom lighting installation. The precision and versatility of this instrument are quite remarkable and the advantages that accompany working with pure spectral data will become obvious when analyzing captured color in the Eye-One Share software application.

Eye-One Match
Eye-One Match 2.0 is the application used for calibrating and profiling CRT or LCD displays, and profiling digital RGB printers. Calibrating and profiling a display is then performed in three steps. The user attaches the correct adapter to the Eye-One unit for either an LCD or CRT application, and the software walks the user through calibration of the Eye-One device. Eye-One Match 2.0 then allows the user to choose a white point and gamma setting for display calibration purposes. Finally, the automated calibration and profiling of the display is completed.

The whole process took only a few minutes, and resulted in consistently high quality display profiles. The gray scale performance of these profiles was particularly good. After creating a 0 to 255 gray scale gradient in Photoshop and viewing the gradient at 100 percent, I found no hints of color or banding anywhere in this neutral gradient. The color performance was equally fine, and overall this package has given me the best results to date when calibrating and profiling LCD displays. As usual with CRT calibration and profiling, the best scenario is to work with a CRT display that possesses individual RGB gain controls.

RGB printer profiling is quick and easy. In my tests I profiled the Epson Stylus Photo 1280, 2000P, and 2200, and the Fuji Pictrography 3000. Testing these particular printers was intentional because each of the Epson printers uses a different ink set, and the Fuji uses a completely different technology to output color.

There are two types of profiling targets that are included with Eye-One Match 2.0: a 288 patch target and a larger 918 patch target. Technically speaking, the smaller 288 patch target is intended for use on printers that can either be calibrated (like the Fuji Pictrography series) or a printer that has an acceptable native gray balance and is generally a well behaved device. The 918 patch target offers the profiler more sample points, and is therefore very useful when working with printers and drivers that cannot be calibrated or that do not respond well to the smaller 288 patch target. Because there are no provisions to calibrate the Epson printers using their standard drivers, profiling is the only method available to correct the printer behavior and the 918 patch target was consistently a better choice for profiling these printers.

Print And Check
In order to profile the printers, either the 288 or 918 patch target is printed and allowed to dry completely. Typically I allowed the ink jet prints to dry overnight and read them into Eye-One Match 2.0 the next day. Reading the 288 patch target printed patches only took around three minutes, and the 918 patch target averaged about seven minutes. The whole process is simple to follow and the program will alert you if something is read improperly. The only learning curve, so to speak, would be acclimating to the Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer, which you slide across the targets on a special ruler-like adapter. Making sure that the USB cable has plenty of freedom and that your desk is clear of obstructions goes a long way toward smooth operation. After reading in a few targets, it is easy to establish a "feel" for how quickly you can read each strip without going too fast or slow. After reading the entire target, the user can input the profile name and Eye-One Match 2.0 creates and saves the profile.

Eye-One Share is the tool I used to read my Macbeth ColorChecker and gray cards. Virtually any reflective surface can be read, and Eye-One Share will give you values for the color. The analysis that can be performed on ambient light readings is phenomenal, and provides many ways to learn more about light and color.

Easy Profiles
The printer profiles that I created with Eye-One Match 2.0 were excellent, as even the Epson 2000P with its challenging pigmented ink set was profiled with seemingly relative ease. There are few profiling packages on the market that can make this claim. Besides profiling standard media, I successfully profiled after-market papers from Ilford, Arches, and Legion with the Epson Ultrachrome and Photo Dye inks.

The spectral data that the Eye-One Pro unit captures is one of the primary reasons that the printer profiles are of such high quality. GretagMacbeth also uses algorithms in their software that allow them to detect optical brighteners in the paper, and, if they are present, compensates for their affect in the profile. This detection is done by examining the spectral properties of the media itself.

Another benefit of working with spectral data is the possibility to create profiles that are optimized for specific viewing conditions. Currently, Eye-One Match 2.0 builds profiles based on the standard D50 viewing conditions. This is the correlated color temperature popular in most viewing booths and the current standard in the graphic arts industry.

Eye-One Share
Technically speaking, GretagMacbeth offers and distributes the Eye-One Share application as freeware. Eye-One Share has no specific function in making profiles, so some users might not find its capabilities of interest. In my opinion, however, this application is incredibly useful for analyzing and learning about color and really enhances the value of this package.

Eye-One Share lets you measure color from any reflective surface, or measure the characteristics of a light source when using the optional ambient light attachment on the Eye-One Pro spectrophotometer. To measure color from an object, hold the measuring instrument up to the surface and press the button on the side of the Eye-One Pro. The colors that you capture are added to a collection, and these collections can be saved or exported for use in programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. The tools in Eye-One Share also allow you to evaluate the color that you have captured.

There are many valuable uses for this application. Once I create a profile for a printer, I typically print a test file that I have assembled from various images. One of the elements in this file is simply a gray scale wedge and a solid black patch 1x1" in size. I measure the LAB values of this pure black patch and use these numbers to calculate the D-max of my paper and ink combinations. I also use Eye-One Share to read 18 percent gray cards and values for my Macbeth ColorChecker target. I can then substitute the values I obtain from my ColorChecker into my digital camera profiling software so that my digital camera profiles are as accurate as possible.