I wanted to try some amateur calibration on my new Panasonic VT60 and didn’t want to break the bank on equipment. Many people suggest buying a used i1pro spectrophotometer on eBay, as there are a ton for sale, and they sell at quite a discount to the new equivalent. I decided to try this route and found it wasn’t as easy as just clicking “buy”, and so I thought I’d write a FAQ of sorts about my experience. This isn’t intended to be a “how to use eBay” tutorial, but one about the specifics of how to buy this device.

What to buy

This should be easy right? Well, the i1pro is made by a company called X-Rite, but acquired this product from a company called Gretag–Macbeth in 2006, so you might see this listed as an X-Rite product or a Gretag-Macbeth one. In addition, they sold these as an OEM under a few other labels. The one that I found is the EFI ES-1000.

Also, the model is not just the i1pro. That’s often a shorthand used, but the product is the “Eye-One” on the box and paperwork and “i1” on the device itself. How about the “pro” part? Some are called “pro”, but others that are also acceptable are “photo”, “design”, and “proof”. Those are different configurations of software licensing, but it is the same meter. If you don’t plan on using the included software, and there is no reason to, it won’t matter which one you get.

So you’re looking for a number of permutations: EFI ES-1000, X-Rite Eye-One pro, X-Rite Eye-One design, X-Rite Eye-One photo, X-Rite Eye-One proof, X-Rite i1 pro, X-Rite i1 design, X-Rite i1 photo, X-Rite i1 proof, Gretag–Macbeth Eye-One pro, Gretag–Macbeth Eye-One design, Gretag–Macbeth Eye-One photo, Gretag–Macbeth Eye-One proof, Gretag–Macbeth i1 pro, Gretag–Macbeth i1 design, Gretag–Macbeth i1 photo, Gretag–Macbeth i1 proof.

Still with me? Good, because when you do that, you’re going to get a lot of things that look like they are really close, but aren’t right. You see, X-Rite released another product they called the “i1display” and even the “i1display pro”. Those are tristimulus colorimeters, fine devices, but not what we’re looking for here. You can always tell by the photos if you are getting the right device or not, they have different shapes.

What else to look for

There are a number of revisions of the meter, A, B, D, and E. Rev E is technically the i1pro2, the latest product, and an improvement to the previous D model, but sells for a ton of money. It is still being produced, so you could buy it new, but we’re looking for the i1pro to save some money. Also the i1pro2 (rev E) improvements are generally thought to be limited to reflective (print) measurements, and not worth the large premium. The B and D differ only in that the D is lead-free for regulatory reasons. Revision B differs from A in that it is faster at taking measurements and contains better teflon feet. So most people recommend you get a “rev D”, but the meters themselves are actually pretty close, and all acceptable for display calibration. Now, sometimes meter accuracy drifts over time, and there’s no way to know without getting yours “recertified” by shipping it off to Germany and paying around $200, so there’s an argument that they more recently produced ones are better, which is probably why everyone recommends the “rev D” version.

So how do we check the revision? The easiest way is to look at the sticker on the back of the meter. Hopefully the listing you are looking at has photos, and if you are lucky, they took one of the back. You’ll see the revision in the top right corner, or maybe the bottom right corner for older “rev A” models. If there isn’t a photo, you can try with the part number. Rev D part numbers include 42.17.79, 42.17.80 and 42.50.61, but the easiest way is to google the part number along with “i1pro” and see if other listings come up with photos that include the revision.

Another thing you might see is the term “UV cut”. X-Rite made 2 versions of each meter, one with a UV filter, one without it. The ones with the filter are called “UV cut”. The filter is important when you are taking readings from paper, which is often manufactured with chemicals that enhance the “whiteness” of the paper. These chemicals can interfere with meter accuracy, and so a UV filter is installed to filter out their effect. There was some debate as to whether the UV cut version has any down side in display calibration, but it seems like everyone is using the UV cut version as they are much more common.

Anything else going to show up in the box?

The original retail version of the meter came with a number of accessories, but only some are actually required for display calibration. The most important required one is the calibration plate. It’s shaped similar to the meter, but has a white dot in a circular indentation at the top. The meter snaps into this for calibration. The meter, calibration plate, and a USB cable are all that is required, but a meter mount is going to be helpful. The most commonly used one looks a lot like the calibration plate, but has a ribbon and counterweight at the other end. This allows you to hang it over the display.

Technically the calibration plate is not required either, since it only calibrates against the white dot when in reflective mode, and it is basically don’t a complete black calibration for our emissive mode, so you can use any other black enclosure/surface to do these dark level calibrations. Another note is that the calibration plate is matched to the meter, and has a serial number sticker that should match the meter. Often these are sold as unmatched pairs. Again, this would cause inaccuracy if doing reflective measurements, but shouldn’t cause a problem for our emissive ones.

The original also comes with a storage case with a monitor holder, spot color positioning tool, and digital beamer (projector) holder. There’s a ruler and back-up board, and an ambient light measurement head. There might be software on CD, but most of that can be downloaded if you want it. Not all configurations shipped with all accessories, so few eBay listings are for a complete set. The digital beamer (projector) holder seems to be especially expensive and sells for $150 new.

The better auctions have all included accessories and the case. Many are even in their original plastic wrap because they aren’t commonly used.

What this is going to cost

I set my searches to filter anything over $300 and there were still plenty of listings. I tracked 200 listings over the course of a month, the lowest sold for $159.13, the most $404.00. There are likely ones that sold for more than $400, but I filtered the search to anything starting under $300, so I never saw them. Most sold for between $275 and $350. Shipping was sometimes included, other times extra.

Happy hunting

Hopefully this guide saves you some time trying to buy your i1pro. It’s accuracy is based on my eBay investigation and purchase in February and March of 2014 and resources I found at AVS forum and other websites, but if you have corrections or additions, please let me know so that I can update the information.

I've also posted this information here, to give it a permanent location: