May 20, 2005

Three Companies’ Products Share the CMS Market

Opinion: Gretag MacBeth, Colorvision and X-Rite garner photographers’ interest with differing approaches to pricing and usability.
Source: Publish
Written By Edmund Ronald

People doing their own photo printing on office printers need to do their own color management, which means profiling screen and printer.

For screens, one usually employs a colorimeter puck. The best printer profiling solutions employ a spectrophotometer to measure a printed testchart.

After the latest round of consolidations, there are now basically three companies sharing the CMS (color management systems) market for photographers: Gretag MacBeth, Colorvision and X-Rite.

GMB (Gretag Macbeth) is best known for the Eye-One line: Eye-One Display colorimeters for screens, and Eye-One Pro for spectrophotometers printers.

Gretag has been making high-end professional color measuring instrumentation for some time, and is now gradually moving downmarket. Unfortunately, precise technology does not necessarily mean usability, as anyone who has watched an Eye-One scrape the ink off a proof can attest.

Colorvision is, in a sense, the opposite of GMB. They have realized that screen calibrators are now a mass product.

They are best known for their Spyder line of screen suckers. This company is aiming straight for consumers and moving toward a $100 price point.

So far, they certainly have their market and their pricing right, but I would judge them much stronger on marketing than on technology.

X-Rite is somewhere in the middle between the above. They were successful in the CMYK print-room with their DTP 41 spectro, but they had remained fairly static for a long time, and were not regarded as a major player in the photography market. Then, in a burst of activity, they acquired Monaco, a maker of profiling software, and at the big DRUPA printing conference last year suddenly released a wholly revamped product line.

X-Rite now sells, among other products, an affordable ($1000) scan-ruler based printer profiling system named Pulse, which competes head-on with Gretag’s Eye-One Pro, as well as a speed-demon chart-eating automatic system nicknamed “Slingshot,” officially catalogued as “DTP70.”

X-Rite is also vying to grab a large share of the exploding screen calibration market with a screen puck named Optix, which again competes head-on with Gretag’s Eye-One Display device.

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