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Author Topic: Better shadow detail in BW...  (Read 14736 times)

DavidPalermo

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Better shadow detail in BW...
« on: February 20, 2016, 03:29:24 pm »

According to this very well written article I should get better shadow detail using Ilford's profile over using Epson's ABW...

https://luminous-landscape.com/whats-the-gold-standard-of-inkjet-papers/

Does using Ilford's ICC profile use any color ink?  I print from Lightroom and my images contain no color information. I don't think the ABW control uses color unless I tell I want to tint the image.

Thanks!

David

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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2016, 03:47:08 pm »

According to this very well written article I should get better shadow detail using Ilford's profile over using Epson's ABW...

https://luminous-landscape.com/whats-the-gold-standard-of-inkjet-papers/

Does using Ilford's ICC profile use any color ink?  I print from Lightroom and my images contain no color information. I don't think the ABW control uses color unless I tell I want to tint the image.

Thanks!

David
Colored inks are used to create B/W prints with both an ICC managed process and using the ABW driver.  However, the ABW driver uses less.  this is a rather old link but shows the difference with the 3800 printer:  http://gerryeskinstudio.com/ABW_sept08_paper/index.html   
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DavidPalermo

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2016, 04:05:04 pm »

Interesting. Thanks Alan.
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DavidPalermo

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2016, 07:04:32 pm »

Would it be worth it (or possible) to create a custom profile for my paper of choice that uses only Epsons B/W inks and bypasses the ABW control?
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deanwork

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2016, 10:59:34 pm »

You can do that with Canon and Hp but Epson's gray inks are a greenish brown so in my opinion they are quite ugly without the addition of some magenta and cyan to balance out that hue. Look like they didn't change that with the latest inksets either. I wonder about the new 11880 replacement with the quad bw set.

By far the best way to go with Epson is using QTR, that software minimizes the use of color inks and blends them for toning much better than ABW. The neutral prints are much cleaner without ugly tonal color crossover.

QTR also allows you to linearize much more accurately, with an I1 spectro, if you want to go that way. This has the potential of much nicer shadow detail with most papers, even uncoated ones.

j





Would it be worth it (or possible) to create a custom profile for my paper of choice that uses only Epsons B/W inks and bypasses the ABW control?
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DavidPalermo

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2016, 05:36:23 pm »

Quote
By far the best way to go with Epson is using QTR, that software minimizes the use of color inks and blends them for toning much better than ABW. The neutral prints are much cleaner without ugly tonal color crossover.


I would try QTR but I am really liking Lightroom's interface/functionality when I print.  As far as I know to print to QTR you need to export the file first, know if the resolution is optimized for the size print you want to make, and sharpen so it looks good in the print.  Lightroom does this seamlessly. So unless there is a big difference in QTR output I'll probably stick with Lightroom.  But you got me thinking!  ; )
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GrahamBy

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2016, 05:10:02 am »

According to this very well written article I should get better shadow detail using Ilford's profile over using Epson's ABW...

https://luminous-landscape.com/whats-the-gold-standard-of-inkjet-papers/

I wonder if there isn't a bit of dubious logic going on here. From the article:

"There are essentially two important observations from this data: (i) the DMax of the gloss/luster papers is far superior to that of the matte papers, and (ii) by far the highest DMax of all comes from using the Epson ABW driver with GMS paper. We remind, however, that accompanying this result is the slight loss of shadow detail in parts of the B&W test image."

It seems to me that under the same lighting, greater Dmax obliges some loss of shadow detail. Given that the white points are very close, the difference between a Dmax of 1.4 and 2.4 is a black point that is 10 times less reflective. So if you light a matte paper so that the blacks look reasonably black, you will not be able to see the last 2-3 stops in the shadows of the gloss paper.

If otoh you turn up the lights by a factor of 10, those shadows will open up, and the blacks on the matte paper will look grey.

Of course it is possible that the printer is compressing the bottom of the tonal range on the paper, in which case no change in lighting will help... but my suspicion is that there is far too little attention paid to the effect of lighting the print... which for shadows, is huge.
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richardboutwell

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2016, 12:48:28 pm »


I would try QTR but I am really liking Lightroom's interface/functionality when I print.  As far as I know to print to QTR you need to export the file first, know if the resolution is optimized for the size print you want to make, and sharpen so it looks good in the print.  Lightroom does this seamlessly. So unless there is a big difference in QTR output I'll probably stick with Lightroom.  But you got me thinking!  ; )

That is true if you are on Windows, but OS X allows you to print with QuadToneRIP through any application. There was a long discussion on the QTR Yahoo group about working with Lightroom and QTR and how to use ICC profiles to control shadow detail. It got a little deep and is a little convoluted, and I am working on writing up an alternative method I've been using for soft proofing and keeping the shadows open when printing through QTR with color management. Honestly though, I think Lightroom is a Joke for doing serious printing. If you don't want to use Photoshop then Capture One is a much better option for printing. It has color readouts, real time soft proofing, Local adjustments with curves that can be used for final print adjustments. Even localized "output sharpening" with Local Adjustments.

I wrote a guest post for Phase One a few weeks ago, and I show how it can be used as a fully contained editing and printing environment:

http://blog.phaseone.com/print-fine-art-images-directly-from-capture-one-pro-9/


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DavidPalermo

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2016, 05:52:01 pm »

Quote
Honestly though, I think Lightroom is a Joke for doing serious printing.

Hi Richard!  Can you elaborate on your statement?

I am all for learning better ways to make my images look better!  But to tell you the truth I am getting excellent prints when I print through Lightroom using ABW control.  I don't print color so please keep this subject to B/W.

Thanks!
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GrahamBy

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2016, 04:26:53 am »

I am getting excellent prints when I print through Lightroom using ABW control.  I don't print color so please keep this subject to B/W.

That's also my experience in B&W and I'm equally happy in colour when I use it, admittedly on a restricted range of papers. Then again, I rather like the idea of staying fairly close to what came out of the camera: not for any reasons of moral virtue, that's simply my aesthetic.

So, maybe some examples of things that you find important facilities in PS or Capture which aren't available in LR? I guess tri-tone or quad-tone processing in the case of PS could be one.
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Ferp

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2016, 05:16:41 am »

By far the best way to go with Epson is using QTR, that software minimizes the use of color inks and blends them for toning much better than ABW. The neutral prints are much cleaner without ugly tonal color crossover.

QTR also allows you to linearize much more accurately, with an I1 spectro, if you want to go that way. This has the potential of much nicer shadow detail with most papers, even uncoated ones.

+1.  What he said.
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DavidPalermo

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2016, 04:32:30 pm »

So far I am not convinced that what you guys have mentioned make Lightroom a "joke for doing serious printing".

Perhaps QTR has options for Tri-tone etc...  Ok that is something to consider if I were interested in that.  Better shadow detail and better linearization... cool... can I see that in a print very well or is it one of those things only measured by highly calibrated instruments?

Again, how does any of this make Lightroom a "joke" for doing serious printing?

(playing devil's advocate here)

Thanks!

David

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richardboutwell

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2016, 06:19:00 pm »


Perhaps QTR has options for Tri-tone etc...  Ok that is something to consider if I were interested in that.  Better shadow detail and better linearization... cool... can I see that in a print very well or is it one of those things only measured by highly calibrated instruments?

Again, how does any of this make Lightroom a "joke" for doing serious printing?

The curve blending is only a small part of what makes printing with QTR better than ABW (and this isn't exactly about printing with ABW but it is about shadow detail) The problem with ABW is that it does put a "curve" on the printers density increase, causing some "crunch" in the shadows, especially with matte papers, to somewhat simulate what you are seeing on the display. If you are printing with something like Epson Premium Luster then the ABW settings might do acceptably well, but using other manufacturers' papers will end up with guess work, test prints, and additional tweaks in Lightroom to get it to look the way you really want it. And that is where I really start to have problems with Lightroom.

I think Lightroom lacks the finer tonal controls that you have in Photoshop (or Capture One) for the final printing adjustments. I've always found those kinds of final edits are best done with adjustment layers or local adjustments. And to me, the absolute worst thing about Lightroom is the use of local adjustments (or rather that they are almost entirely unusable).

Soft proofing is decent in Lightroom, if you can make your own QTR or ABW ICC profiles using the QTR Create-ICC script, but you still need to have a good way of making fine tonal adjustments to keep you shadows open (using the ICC profiles will try to map the shadows tones from the straight line to the compressed view as they are in the working space). With Capture One you can preview in the printing ICC or with the QTR-RGB Lab which will show you how the image will print with the straight line QTR linearization.

And then there is sharpening... Do you want Low, Medium, or High, on and on glossy or matte paper (It is like you are ordering a sandwich). Those are your only choices, and you can't preview how it will look, and you can't control the sharpening any further. Personally, I think the idea of the "sharpening for output" formulas is one of the greatest crimes against fine printing.... At least with Capture One you can adjust the degree out print sharpening, or turning it off, and control sharpening with a local adjustment layer.

If someone is committed to Lightroom then I am sure they will make it work for them, but I wonder how much the software is holding back what more they could really be getting from their prints. It isn't about being perfectly linear (although it helps) but it is more about having predictable results and the ability to easily and effectively edit the image to get the most out of it and the final printing materials. 
« Last Edit: February 24, 2016, 10:01:53 pm by Richard Boutwell »
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Ferp

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2016, 07:23:50 pm »

If someone is committed to Lightroom then I am sure they will make it work for them, but I wonder how much the software is holding back what more they could really be getting from their prints. It isn't about being perfectly linear (although it helps) but it is more about having predictable results and the ability to easily and effectively edit the image to get the most out of it and the final printing materials.

+1 to pretty much all of this post as well.
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DavidPalermo

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2016, 10:06:35 am »

Quote
but I wonder how much the software is holding back what more they could really be getting from their prints.

The only way to really tell is to make prints using both QTR and ABW. The same image.

I may have to do that so I can see what you guys are talking about. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge here!
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larrybb

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2016, 01:24:12 pm »

I just went through this myself.  I did print the same image using QTR using Epson K3V inks, and the ABW mode.  The ABW did look sharper, and initially I kind of liked it.  But when I looked at it more closely, I started to hate it.  Here's why.

I did have ABW, QTR, and also piezography prints made up.  When I compared the ABW and QTR versions, I found out how ABW was achieving the sharpness.  First, by crunching the shadows into blacks, the dark greys became either very dark, or very light.  Along edges, this had a sharpening effect.  Any detail that relies on a transition from dark to light grey will be altered or lost completely.  You are also not in control of sharpening.  If you have your image sharpened just as you like it, ABW will sharpen it more.  If you like that, than ABW is for you.  If you want to be in control, QTR (or piezography if you want to go further) is for you.

The three prints I had made up (actually 10 in total, 5 on matte, 5 on glossy) adjusted to keep the overall tonality as similar as possible.  The QTR and piezography prints came out fairly closely matched. The fellow who made the prints has a profile that compensates for the crunching of the deep shadows which actually did produce edges similar to both QTR and piezography.  However, the prints using QTR or ABW were very sensititve to lighting conditions.  When I compared them to the piezography K6 print (which uses 6 shades of grey and no colour ink), the QTR-K3 print looked warmer than the piezography print under warm lighting (halogen desk lamp), but it looked cooler than the piezography print under cooler lighting (LED room light).  When comparing the ABW and QTR-K3 prints, they looked almost identical under warm lighting (ABW had slightly warmer shadows), but the ABW looked significantly cooler than the QTR-K3 under the cooler lighting.  When viewing them under a loupe, the ABW uses the most colour inks in the black and white, presumabely to tone and neutralize the blacks.  QTR uses less colour ink, but it's still there.  Piezography uses no colour ink because all ink positions are grey or GO.  ABW seems to be the most sensitive to lighting conditions and will its change appearance under warm or cool lighting.  QTR is more forgiving of lighting conditions, but the effect is still there.  I am convinced that the colour inks added, probably the cyan, reflect a significant amount of blue light from cooler light sources such as LED lighting.  Because there are no cyans in piezography (shades of grey), the excessive blue light in cooler sources is not reflected the same way, except perhaps from the paper itself.  (Although, piezography tends to cover even the highlights with the lightest shade 7 for K7, or 6 for K6, which would further reduce the amount of blue light being reflected from LED sources.

All of this representss qualitative observations, so it's not really scientific.  I could try measuring it with a device and prove my points, but I'm convinced for myself and I have other things to do other than prove this one experiment.  Besides, I don't have a measuring device yet.

As David said, one should probably print the QTR and ABW yourselves to see.  I thought I'd include my own observations though.

Larry
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Jager

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2016, 06:55:38 am »

Well, I'll heartily disagree with the notion the ABW is a "joke" for "serious printing."  It certainly doesn't have the depth or granularity of editing functions resident in Photoshop, but then no one said we couldn't jump there if needed.  LR and PS actually integrate quite well.  The argument about Lightroom's limited sharpening options is a better one.  But in practice I find its output sharpening to work quite well.

Capture One is quite nice software.  But since that is proprietary software that quite deliberately chooses not to support my Hasselblad files, it's not in the game.

To the OP's question... my opinion is that you can get great B&W results using either ABW or conventional profiles.  ABW has the benefit of rendering images with somewhat heightened contrast and sharpness - imagery characteristics much in vogue these days.  And doing so while minimizing use of color inks, which helps with longevity.  Its biggest drawback is, like any RIP, it's a black box.  If you're on a Mac there ain't no soft-proofing.  On balance, I think it works quite well.  Mark didn't mention which ABW settings he used in his article, but there certainly are controls for raising and lowering those shadows and those blacks.

Conventional profiles allow you to soft-proof and be very deliberate about what you're going to get.  Just like your color stuff.

And for those who seek ultimate not-a-joke detail and tonal range in B&W digital printing, there's always K7 Piezography. 

GrahamBy

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2016, 07:14:33 am »

I found out how ABW was achieving the sharpness.  First, by crunching the shadows into blacks, the dark greys became either very dark, or very light.  Along edges, this had a sharpening effect.

Surely if this were the case, it would show up when printing 50-step tone ramp? For a given Dmax, you can't exagerate some tonal gradients without losing others. So you are saying this is achieved by squashing all the dark tones to black and expanding the contrast range at higher densities... but is that just a choice of paper, ie trying to print a D=2.3 image on a D=1.5 paper? And, to come back to my original soap-box issue, have you looked at the images under brighter light? I'm recalling Ctein's review of the P800, where he showed ABW gave excellent separation of step-wedge tones all the way down.

With all respect, if someone says "It looked great, then I decided I hated it (and I prefer the system into which I've invested vast amounts of time and effort)", then it sounds a lot like the well known phenomenon of comfirmation bias.
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Schewe

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2016, 12:11:14 am »

If someone is committed to Lightroom then I am sure they will make it work for them, but I wonder how much the software is holding back what more they could really be getting from their prints. It isn't about being perfectly linear (although it helps) but it is more about having predictable results and the ability to easily and effectively edit the image to get the most out of it and the final printing materials.

Hum...I seem to do just fine printing from Lightroom and I do know a bit about the Print module since I helped design it and licensed PhotoKit output sharpening for use in LR's printing. And yes, you really only need 3 levels of sharpening tuned for either matte or glossy paper. Bruce Fraser pretty much wrote the book on image sharpening (literally wrote a book on sharpening which I updated after his passing) and because of that, Adobe licensed it for LR.

However, it's the printing workflow from LR that is the real benefit...and seriously, you can't use LR's local controls? Do you actually know how to use them?
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Schewe

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Re: Better shadow detail in BW...
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2016, 12:17:40 am »

The only way to really tell is to make prints using both QTR and ABW.

It's best if you do the test yourself with your own images but I quite like the QTR workflow in Lightroom on Mac. QTR allows you to create a print driver so it works well in Lightroom. You just select that printer and you can print to QTR and make the settings you want.

The one big difference of QTR vs ABW is you can create ICC profiles for your B&W output to use in soft proofing and the ability to do split toning-something ABW can't do.
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