X-Rite i1Photo Pro 3: our personal photo assistant – Guest blog post by Coloratti Francesco Gola
by Alexandra Ilie – March 2nd, 2020
It’s 3:30am and the printer just stopped making sounds. In the air the soft music of Ludovico Einaudi fills the room and my cup of coffee is almost empty. I love printing at night, it’s like everything is happening in slow motion. It reminds me of when I take pictures in the field, as I love landscape photography and long exposures, so for me, photography is a slow and meditative process.
As soon as the print is in my hands, the pleasure I feel is immense. Having physical contact with an image that before I could only see on a screen gives me that third dimension feeling and transports me back into the field.
The colors are brilliant, the blacks are so deep, and the velvety effect given by the paper I chose emphasise my long exposure just as I had imagined.
How I learned about Color Management
If I think back to how I got to what I have in my hands and the feeling it gives me, I feel like smiling. In fact, when I started to photograph, I was a complete stranger to Color Management.
In the beginning, I thought all I had to do was take a picture and upload it to my computer to get what I wanted. Gradually, I realised that the result was not so obvious. Firstly, I noticed that what I saw on the field in terms of color was often different from what I was seeing on my camera screen. In turn, it was still different from my computer screen. Then, when the picture was on my favourite Social, I could see on my mobile phone that the colors were different again. Then if I even dared to print it, the disappointment reached peak levels.
Perhaps this is a frustration that you too have experienced or that you may encounter sooner or later. Whatever your case may be, luckily today you no longer need to look for solutions that are often incomplete or that partially solve the problem. X-Rite has created an all-in-one solution, designed for all of us photographers: I’m talking about the new i1Photo Pro 3.
My views on the i1Photo Pro 3
The strength of the i1Photo Pro 3 is that it is not a single product, but a real integrated solution for color management, from start to finish. The heart of i1Photo Pro 3 is a spectrophotometer. Unlike a normal colorimeter, a spectrophotometer is active and able to analyse the spectral values of light. This is done not only from the emitting surfaces (like our monitor) but also from the reflective ones (like paper).
Combining this with a professional software (included) and a really complete set of accessories, we can manage the entire color chain from when we are in the field shooting to printing. How? Let’s see together.
Color management from start to finish
First of all, the i1Photo Pro 3 contains a ColorChecker. Thanks to this accessory, I can profile my camera making post production even more immediate. I just need to place the ColorChecker inside the scene when I’m in the field and then when back home I can create a profile to use in my post production software in just one click. This allows me to optimise my post-production flow, working on the image from the beginning with the certainty of the chromatic correspondence between the real scene and the captured image.
Our screen represents a critical point too. Whether it’s our laptop or an external screen, it has the same calibration and profiling needs in order to display colours correctly. There are in fact many factors that come into play when we talk about reproducing colors on the screen, but the certainty is one: no monitor is the same, even if it’s the exact same model. For our image to display correctly, we need to create a new profile, almost like we did with our camera before.
Nothing simpler: by connecting our spectrophotometer to the computer and using the included iProfiler software, the operation finishes within a few clicks and the profile is active. The best thing is the simplicity of use: you don’t need to be an expert in color management because by following the suggested steps and settings we can easily reach a perfect profiling.
Of course, for the more experienced, there are almost endless customisation possibilities! Customisation is really useful if you want to profile a projector, for example. There is actually a special support for this inside i1Photo Pro 3 to make the measurement. Personally, I find it very useful when I do my teaching activities in a classroom, where projecting correctly what I’m doing on my computer is crucial.
As previously mentioned, one of the main advantages of a spectrophotometer is the possibility of characterising not only emitting, but also reflecting surfaces. This is why the i1Photo Pro 3 is indispensable for me in the printing process. Thanks to the iProfiler software and the ease of use, in a few steps I can print targets to be measured later with the probe. Until recently, this process was taboo for many photographers, including myself. The truth is, it is now within everyone’s reach and allows us to create really accurate characterisations of the paper/printer/ink combination we use. Once I create the profile, I just select it at the time of printing and then I’m really sure I can print what I see on screen. This allows me to smile and get a perfect print at 3.30am on the first attempt.
To summarise, color management is a topic that will have more and more weight for us photographers because the available technology is almost without limits. Thanks to the i1Photo Pro 3, this process is no longer a challenge or a privilege for a few, but an opportunity that we will no longer be able to do without thanks to the disarming simplicity of use.
About Francesco Gola
Francesco Gola is an Italian engineer who fell in love with photography. Born in Italy in 1981, as soon as he started taking pictures he fell in love with long exposures of seascapes. For him a long exposure is a parallel universe in which to escape from the frenzy of modern life. His passion for the sea and travelling have taken him to some of the most iconic locations on this planet. While continuing to travel in search of new landscapes to photograph, he now lives and works in Milan where he collaborates with companies, sites and magazines for the diffusion of photographic culture in Italy and in the world.