Star product: X-Rite i1Publish Pro 3

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The latest iteration of X-Rite's much-used colour-management system.

What does it do?

Since its introduction in 2001 the go-to entry-level colour profile making kit has been the i1Pro family, originally introduced by GretagMacbeth (as Eye-One) and continued after its acquisition by X-Rite. It’s affordable, versatile, modular, expandable and easy to use, if a bit fiddly in its manual incarnations.

The third major version was announced last year initially as the i1Pro 3 Plus with particular features for wide-format and textile sample profiling, followed a few months later by the cheaper, more general-purpose i1Pro 3 in packages for commercial printing, photography and design.

If you need to make profiles for new papers and other media regularly, it’s worth looking at, although many printers get by quite happily with profiles supplied by their RIP maker or a third-party service.

What’s the target market?

According to Jay Kebley, i1 Product manager at X-Rite, “The i1Pro3 is targeted at traditional digital printing and display calibration markets. i1Pro3 Plus is targeted at new digital print materials, like textiles, corrugated, ceramics, grand-format, etc.”

Various bundles comprising the i1Pro reader plus different accessories and software are sold. The i1Publish Pro 3 package is for professional printers (for profiling CMYK+ colours while maintaining the ability to calibrate RGB monitors, projectors and the like), while i1Publish Pro 3 Plus adds features for textile printing. The i1Photo Pro 3 is RGB-only, for photographers, while i1 Pro 3 Basic is intended for use with third-party profiling software (such as EFI).

How does it work?

The core of the system is a compact spectrophotometer called i1 Pro 3; this can be used hand-held to read colour samples and test patches, sending the results to software that writes ICC profiles for colour management, using either X-Rite’s own i1Profiler V3 software or third party profile makers.

The new head is a bit larger than the outgoing i1Pro 2, but still has to be used tethered to a computer by USB cable as there is no wireless option. There’s now a slot to take a Kensington cable lock.

The standard i1Pro3 reader has a 4mm reading aperture window, up from 2mm on its predecessor (and easier to clean than before). Its new LED illuminating lamp gives a full spectrum close to D50. It will read smaller patches than i1Pro 2, fitting more on a sheet so reading is faster.

Sampling rate is doubled to 400MHz with one scan for all modes (M0, M1, M2); previously UV needed a separate scan. A clip-on polarising filter is supplied to cope with difficult reflectance from textiles, ceramics or rough fine art papers.

The i1Pro 3 Plus version has an 8mm aperture to cope with woven media or low resolution patches. It supports transmissive scanning for backlit media. It’s supplied with a longer ruler for larger test sheets, and a new backboard with strong magnetic strips so flexible textiles can be stretched flat. A separately sold motorised arm and reading table called 1i1O3 doubles the price but automates the patch reading process. An update in July will allow it to be used with transmissive samples.

What’s the USP?

It’s an improved version of the most widely used general-purpose colour measurement and profiling package.

How easy is it to use?

The read unit has one-button operation, though manual reading using the guide ruler takes a bit of practise to get the right speed. Calibration using the white reference tile in the reader’s base plate is also easy, and cleaning is simplified.

Creating profiles using X-Rite’s software is very simple with a ‘wizard’ option for beginners. Some knowledge of what the modes mean is useful, especially when dealing with optical brighteners.

What training and support is offered?

“X-Rite has extensive online training and support available,” says Kebley. “We also have live application experts that can be reached online or via our tech support phone numbers.”

What does it cost?

The most relevant packages for printers are i1Publish Pro 3 at £1,999 and i1Publish Pro 3 Plus, at £2,400. The i1iO3 motorised table costs an extra £2,500.

What’s the availability?

X-Rite builds the systems in Switzerland and says both are fully available through dealers.


Illumination Full spectrum LED incl UV, D50

Aperture 4 mm (i1Pro 3), 8mm (i1Pro 3 Plus)

Illumination spot size 12mm

Calibration Manual using white tile in base

Reading condition modes 1. M0 (UV included) ISO 13655:2017; 2. M1 (D50) ISO 13655:2017; 3. M2 (UV excluded Filter) ISO 13655:2017; 4. M3 (Polarisation) ISO 13655:2017

Spectral reporting 380-730nm in 10nm steps

Interface USB 1.1

Software X-Rite i1Profile for Mac or Windows

Output profile Support ICC version 2, version 4.3, iccMax

Supplied accessories Polarisation filter head, ambient light head, calibration base, white backer board (i1Publish Pro 3); larger board with magnetic strips (i1Publish Pro 3 Plus), aluminium guide ruler with solvent ink resistance, monitor attachment, projector attachment

Price £1,999 (i1Publish Pro 3), £2,400 (i1Publish Pro 3 Plus), £2,500 (i1iO3)

Contact X-Rite 01625 871100


Barbieri Spectro LFP qb

Italian manufacturer Barbieri has been the main alternative to X-Rite for large-format printing in the past decade. Its Spectro LFP qb is a motorised table with a detachable sensor head that has a rechargeable battery and WiFi or USB. A textile edition with a modified sample table and air blower to keep fibres from the optics was introduced last year. It’s fast but costs double the price of an 1iPublish Pro 3 Plus with i1iO3 automation though, so may suit profile-making services more than print firms.

Illumination Reflection Three-point circumferential, seven LED; Transmission: diffuse, six LED

Apertures Switchable 2, 4, 8mm (transmission of reflectance)

Calibration Internal white tile

Reading condition modes M1 (method a), M0, M2 (UVcut), M3 (reflection only, with optional polarisation filter)

Spectral reporting 380 to 750nm in 10nm steps

Media platform Max measuring area: 305x230mm

Max media thickness 20mm

Measuring speed Typical LFP chart with approx 600 patches: 2 minutes

Interface Ethernet, USB 2.0, WiFi

Software Barbieri profile maker for Mac or Windows

Price Around €10,000 (about £9,000)

Contact Barbieri Electronic +39 0472 834 024 Or Paper Graphics 0845 1300 662

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