My look at the i1 product line has taken course over several articles that began with the i1 Basic; in this installment I am going to look at the i1 Scanner Module Upgrade Module.
The goal of this module is to build a custom profile that you can use when working with your scanner.
There are two fundamental paths that you can take with the i1 line: i1 Basic and the i1 XTreme. The i1 Basic — which is marketed as an affordable, upgradeable, professional spectral color measurement solution and monitor profiler — will allow you to add on additional features as you need them. Once you own the i1 Basic, you own the capabilities of the other modules, you only need to purchase an access code to activate them. Here I will look at the ease of use of the i1 Scanner Module Upgrade Module. This will enable the i1Match software to calibrate and profile your scanner, and will allow you to accurately match the colors that your scanner reads with the rest of your equipment, as well as accurately represent what is displayed on you monitor. This module comes standard comes as a part of the i1 XTreme.
What does it take to run the i1 Basic? Either a Windows 2000, XP, or Vista PC with a 300 MHz processor or better, or Mac OS X (10.3 or higher) Power G3 or higher processor; both require a powered USB port, 128 MB RAM, and 100 MB of hard drive space.
Once you have your module installed, you need to make sure that you have your monitor calibrated as in part one of this series. With your monitor calibrated, you fire up the Eye-One Match software. When it starts up you will choose the scanner module. Please note that although there may be other modules visible, they will not be active unless have purchased the add-on functionality, or have purchased the i1 XTreme. Also note, on the right of the screen there is context-sensitive help that can guide you if you are having some problems. If you have the i1 Basic and purchased the scanner module and it is not active, make sure that your access code was properly installed.
With the i1 Scanner Module you will be creating an ICC profile for your scanner. A scanner profile describes how your scanner "sees" color. Using an ICC profile you can ensure a much more accurate color from scanning point to your monitor and then to print.
The i1 Scanner Module has two methods of calibration. The transmission scan and the reflection scan. The transmission scanner usually is a film or slide scanner and it measures transmitted light that goes through media. The reflection scanner, usually a flat-bed scanner, measures the light reflected off of items such as pictures. I will look at the reflective scan since what I have is a flat bed scanner. To do a transmissive scanner, you will need to get a special target not included with the package.
Because scanners work by using a light source to flood light on to an object, and using a sensor to record the light that is reflected off the object, two variables are introduced into the mix that can affect the image that is recorded. The quality of these items can be determined by the quality of the scanner in question. Even if you have a high quality scanner may not mean that what it scans will look like what you think it should look like. And like a monitor, a scanner's quality changes over time. This is where profiling comes in.
Profiling is essentially taking a known image, scanning it, and comparing it to what the scanner gives you back. This then becomes a map that can be used to convert from what the scanner sees and what it should see. In the i1, you get a scanner test target. This is a white sheet that contains 16 rows and 18 columns of colors. This patch work of 288 rectangles is a range of colors at a variety of brightness.
Before you do anything, turn on your scanner and leave it on so that it can warm up. Much like a monitor, it needs some time to stabilize. The first thing that you do is you put the spectrophotometer in to the calibration unit and calibrate it. Now you use the spectrophotometer to measure the chart that you scan. This is done in the same way that you do the chart scanning for the printer calibration. You measure one row at a time for 16 rows. You can also do one patch at a time if you so choose, but this would take considerable more time. When you are done you save the data file. You can also use a standard IT8 scanner chart as well if you have one. The next thing that you need to do is to scan your chart.
Once your chart is scanned and saved, you then load it in to the software. You rotate and crop the image to get the just the color patches. This will allow for a more accurate profile to be created. There are a number of tools to help you such as zooming, rotating and cropping. There is a final check to see that your measured chart matches your scanned chart.
Once this is done, the system compares the charts and creates the profile. You are then to give it a meaningful name and I would suggest using the scanner name (especially if you have multiple scanners) and the date that it was created. Keep in mind that much like monitors, scanners need to be re-profiled periodically based on the amount of use that they get since the lighting system changes as the lamp gets older.
Just like my experience with the other modules, I found the i1 Scanner Module Upgrade Module extremely easy to work with and easy to get professional results from. Remember that the spectrophotometer is a precision instrument and should be treated as such. Not only should care be taken when handling (don't throw it down or otherwise misuse it), but it also should be kept in its case when not in use. The i1 Match software is so intuitive to use with the easy mode, it's almost a no-brainer that anyone can use.
At $99 USD, i1 Scanner Upgrade Module is reasonably priced for someone who has the need to use a scanner in a professional mode. As the i1 Basic makes for the perfect entry point to professional quality display profiling, the i1 Scanner Module will take you to the next level and so I very highly recommend this product.