Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives

Product Closeup: ColorMunki Color Management from X-Rite

By Ron Eggers

X-Rite's newest color management product is the ColorMunki, a professional color management system available in two versions: ColorMunki Photo for photographers, and ColorMunki Design, for graphic artists. It was developed by X-Rite in conjunction with recently acquired Pantone, developer of the color-matching system.

ColorMunki Photo is for social, wedding, portrait, event and serious prosumer photographers. The Design version is for graphic artists, small to mid-sized agencies, individuals and creative teams in larger agencies and corporate in-house graphic arts departments. Even though the measuring devices are different colors (Photo is black and Design is white), the hardware for the two versions is the same. The difference is in the software.

The all-in-one Swiss-engineered true spectrophotometer-driven ColorMunki Photo lets photographers quickly and easily control colors all the way from what's represented on their displays to what's generated by their printers in a very simplified manner, giving them considerable color control for all of their digital imaging requirements. The all-in-one, true spectral device can be used for monitor, projector and printer profiling. For optimum output, it's designed with new automated printer profiling technology that simplifies monitor and print matching. It can also be used to measure ambient light and spot colors.

It comes with a specially designed simplified test chart that has been optimized for photographic color management, ensuring optimum color for things like gradients, flesh tones and monochromatic images. It's possible to scan the color chart in less than one minute. There are also new color creation tools that let you extract individual colors from images, to search image libraries by specific color and capture any color from any surface.

The package also includes DigitalPouch, a self-executable application that checks for correct viewing conditions on the receiving end, which lets users share images. It can be used to automatically set printer profiles in photo and design applications with AppSetter.

The other version is ColorMunki Design, an easy-to-use personal color creation tool that provides creative color selection, usage, specification and control. With its extensive creative capabilities, it makes it possible to utilize any color from the practically infinite visual spectrum, create color palettes automatically from image libraries, and manage, store, tag and search color palettes. One-click gamut checking provides the ability to quickly verify spot colors for process-safe reproduction.

It has the same color communications capabilities as Photo, including the App Setter module and automatic color palette synchronization with programs from companies like Adobe & Quark. In addition, it connects seamlessly with websites for fresh feeds.

ColorMunki Design also includes ColorMunki Palettes, which let users create color palettes from color libraries, images, word searches, harmonies and variations. Its proprietary PrintSafe technology shows unprintable colors. Palettes can also handle CMYK conversions of spot colors and preview specific colors under different lighting conditions. It lets users communicate colors by sharing color palettes and synchronizing them with imaging and illustration software applications. The included calibrator has display calibration capabilities for ViewSafe color palette viewing.

ColorMunki Create is a low cost subset of ColorMunki Design. Like Design, its primary purpose is color creation. It can also be used for basic display profiling.

X-Rite has set up a special Web site for ColorMunki users that includes palette building and sharing (above), the ability to search photo libraries for image inspiration and extract primary colors, as well as capabilities to search for colors by words and images by colors. There are also community forums and blogs that feature special sessions with pros, celebrity trend palettes, tutorials and webinars. In addition, there are color vision tests and links to reference sites.

At $499 each, the two ColorMunki are very affordable. They're priced at less than half of some of the competing products in that category. ColorMunki Create costs $149.