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Author Topic: Which Printer for Black and White?  (Read 8513 times)

patjoja

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2018, 02:14:40 AM »

Patrick, nobody looks at a print and says, wow that got a 99.5% B&W print rating I must buy it.

Time to reflect on your priorities,

Sorry, I don't understand your comment.  Are you saying its difficult to give objective data for print quality?  Or that buying a printer should not be based on how good the prints are? 

Just wondering....

Patrick
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richardboutwell

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2018, 11:13:42 AM »

Sorry, I don't understand your comment.  Are you saying its difficult to give objective data for print quality?  Or that buying a printer should not be based on how good the prints are? 

Just wondering....

Patrick

I would say that there are some objective measurements that would indicate that there are no differences between one printer and other—things like reflected density, gray neutrality, etc. However, art and print making isn't based solely on objective measurements. The density and color from each step in the grayscale from an Epson K3 printer might be exactly the same as an Epson 100% Carbon ink printer. But, there is really something richer and deeper in prints made with more dilutions of gray inks—can it be quantified and "measured"? Maybe not with a densitometer, but even normal people can usually see the difference (without being told how many or what inks were used)—they might not be able to articulate what that difference is, but they still see it.
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patjoja

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2018, 01:46:22 PM »

I came across this ARTICLE that has really helped me have a better understanding of some of the nuances and choices available for high quality B&W printing.  Thought I'd share it.

Patrick
« Last Edit: February 06, 2018, 07:52:12 PM by patjoja »
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texshooter

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2018, 11:00:43 AM »

All I know is that I've tried to improve upon Epson's ABW print function and have not been able to.  I customized my own ABW ICC profile using QTR and Colormunki.  I tried Eric Chan's ABW ICC profiles.  I've even mucked around with the Epson driver's color density and tonality sliders.  But the canned Epson ABW engine is as good as it gets.  And regarding ConeColor piezography, I don't know anyone who uses it locally where I can go see for myself how good it looks, so I've decided to be satisfied with what I have now, which is Epson ABW on Epson EEF.
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patjoja

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2018, 01:02:17 PM »

All I know is that I've tried to improve upon Epson's ABW print function and have not been able to.  I customized my own ABW ICC profile using QTR and Colormunki.  I tried Eric Chan's ABW ICC profiles.  I've even mucked around with the Epson driver's color density and tonality sliders.  But the canned Epson ABW engine is as good as it gets.  And regarding ConeColor piezography, I don't know anyone who uses it locally where I can go see for myself how good it looks, so I've decided to be satisfied with what I have now, which is Epson ABW on Epson EEF.


texshooter,

What were you seeing in your ABW prints that you didn't like?  What are you trying to improve on?  Color cast, tonality graduations, etc?  I'd like to be able to train my eye to recognize these issues.

Thanks,

Patrick
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texshooter

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2018, 01:50:36 PM »


texshooter,

What were you seeing in your ABW prints that you didn't like?  What are you trying to improve on?  Color cast, tonality graduations, etc?  I'd like to be able to train my eye to recognize these issues.

Thanks,

Patrick

It's not that I disliked anything about ABW. It's just that when so many people on LULU discuss making custom QTR .icc profiles or .acv gray curves or using specialized inks (and believe me the discussions can get rocket science-y), one gets insecure about li'l ol' ABW on a li'l ol' 3800 printer.   I think to myself, What do they see that I'm not seeing. Perhaps I didn't do it right, but did my best to follow the instructions, and the results were, well, mehh.  I'd like to see some prints with the specialized inks, though. Maybe there's something actually there to see.

As far as what I tried to improve on. Mostly shadows that are not blocked up, highlights that are not blocked up, blacks that are pure black, grays that have no color cast to them, smooth gradients, etc.  I use Keith Cooper's latest B&W test image here.  He outlines some technical qualities of a B&W print that will help you evaluate how well your printing methods are serving you.
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patjoja

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2018, 02:14:10 PM »

It's not that I disliked anything about ABW. It's just that when so many people on LULU discuss making custom QTR .icc profiles or .acv gray curves or using specialized inks (and believe me the discussions can get rocket science-y), one gets insecure about li'l ol' ABW on a li'l ol' 3800 printer.   I think to myself, What do they see that I'm not seeing. Perhaps I didn't do it right, but did my best to follow the instructions, and the results were, well, mehh.  I'd like to see some prints with the specialized inks, though. Maybe there's something actually there to see.

As far as what I tried to improve on. Mostly shadows that are not blocked up, highlights that are not blocked up, blacks that are pure black, grays that have no color cast to them, smooth gradients, etc.  I use Keith Cooper's latest B&W test image here.  He outlines some technical qualities of a B&W print that will help you evaluate how well your printing methods are serving you.

texshooter,

Thanks so much for your response.  Now I do not feel so befuddled. :-)  I printed out one of Keith's test images (the Grayscale Linearization one with the 4 large circles and large bar on the bottom), and after examining it closely I can not for the life of me see anything that is wrong with it. Perhaps the last two blacks are a little too close in tone with no differentiation, but I don't really know how much there should be. Like you, I think I'm mostly just going to live with it as I have no intention of spending several thousands of dollars trying to fix something I can't see.  I think I'll focus on my photography and try to make pictures that people find interesting.

Kind Regards,

Patrick

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Ferp

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2018, 05:20:24 PM »

But the canned Epson ABW engine is as good as it gets.

Certainly not my experience. But if you like what you're getting and haven't been able to improve on it then that's good. It's a trap to spend all your time seeking a mythical printing golden fleece, rather than taking and printing images. Only do that when there's a specific way in which you want to improve your prints. That said, I can't help but wonder whether your good fortune is paper-specific.
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texshooter

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2018, 05:58:47 PM »

Certainly not my experience. But if you like what you're getting and haven't been able to improve on it then that's good. It's a trap to spend all your time seeking a mythical printing golden fleece, rather than taking and printing images. Only do that when there's a specific way in which you want to improve your prints. That said, I can't help but wonder whether your good fortune is paper-specific.

I only use Epson Exhibition Fiber for my B&W printing, so that might mean something.

Although I don't use any ICC profiles in tandem with the Epson ABW driver, I do use one (from Eric Chan) to softproof with.  I tried printing with ABW ICC profiles, but could not achieve better results with them than without them.  But when I softproof with Chan's ICC, my display does match the printer better. Why the disconnect, I dont know. I suspect it has something to do with silent conversions.  When you let PS manage color with the ICC profile at the same time you let the ABW printer driver manage color, something gets short circuited, perhaps.  I also know that a single ICC profile actually contains two separate lookup tables: one for softproofing and one for printing. Luckily, the soft proofing table works.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 04:35:21 AM by texshooter »
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Jasper

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2018, 12:31:11 PM »

I have the same question as the OP, but looking through this thread, didn't see any specific printer recommendations.

Which Printer and Ink-set combination (available new rather than used) is generally considered the best for (i) 24" and (ii) 17"?

Thanks
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patjoja

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #30 on: February 11, 2018, 11:14:28 AM »

The Epson piezo heads can pump a high viscosity ink than the thermal heads of the others.  Thus, the Epson printers allow a wide range of custom and third party inks, with the black and white inks being the most important.  (OEM color is usually the best color; not so for B&W.)

There are so many papers, it's hard to say one is objectively superior to others. 

I, personally, like matte paper, matted and displayed under acrylic in the traditional manner.  That said, most of my recent work has been on canvas or satin paper and not displayed under glass.  This is mostly due to the large sizes I've been printing recently.  (The un-glazed prints have multiple coats of Print Shield on them for at least some protection.)

One major advantage to matte under glass/acrylic with a traditional over-mat is that you can tape hang it.  That is much easier and, in my view better, than trying to dry mount or use adhesives to mount a glossy print.  Without professional equipment getting a glossy or satin print to be properly mounted and stay flat can be a problem.  Matte under glass is easy for any home printer/photographer to do and have professional looking results.

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com

I visited you website, Paul. Lovely, inspiring work! 

Since re-reading your comment about your Epson piezo print head comment, I decided I needed to understand more fully how the different print heads work, ie piezo, thermal, and 'bubble', so I've spent a couple of evenings reading about the technologies.  I think I understand now why it's possible to use different inks with the piezo heads, and not the thermal heads. 

Thanks for pointing me to do research in that direction.

Regards,

Patrick
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patjoja

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #31 on: February 12, 2018, 02:00:21 PM »

Inkjetmall offers sample prints using their Piezography inks on various papers.

So, I just ordered several prints from them on Canson Platine and Canson Rag Photographie.  I will then compare those prints to prints from my Canon Pro-1 on the same papers.  It should be interesting to see the differences, if any.

Patrick
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unesco

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #32 on: February 12, 2018, 04:01:15 PM »

Inkjetmall offers sample prints using their Piezography inks on various papers.

So, I just ordered several prints from them on Canson Platine and Canson Rag Photographie.  I will then compare those prints to prints from my Canon Pro-1 on the same papers.  It should be interesting to see the differences, if any.

Patrick

you will be surprised, but probably not in the way you are expecting now :-)
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patjoja

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #33 on: February 13, 2018, 02:08:10 AM »

you will be surprised, but probably not in the way you are expecting now :-)

Hmmm...wonder what that surprise will be?  You have piqued my interest. :-)

Patrick
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texshooter

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #34 on: February 14, 2018, 03:55:07 AM »

Inkjetmall offers sample prints using their Piezography inks on various papers.

So, I just ordered several prints from them on Canson Platine and Canson Rag Photographie.  I will then compare those prints to prints from my Canon Pro-1 on the same papers.  It should be interesting to see the differences, if any.

Patrick

Great idea. I think I'll do the same. Is this the page you went to to order?
https://cone-editions.com/sample-proofs/

Do you know what resolution they need your image to have (e.g., 360ppi or 300ppi)?  And does the B&W image for upload  need to be in a certain working space (e.g., gray gamma 2.2)?
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patjoja

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #35 on: February 14, 2018, 09:44:35 AM »

Great idea. I think I'll do the same. Is this the page you went to to order?
https://cone-editions.com/sample-proofs/

Do you know what resolution they need your image to have (e.g., 360ppi or 300ppi)?  And does the B&W image for upload  need to be in a certain working space (e.g., gray gamma 2.2)?

Yes, that's the order page.  I sent them a 1.2mb 300 ppi jpeg which they said was just fine for the 8.5x11 sample prints. 

Patrick
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patjoja

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #36 on: February 22, 2018, 10:15:50 AM »

Hmmm...wonder what that surprise will be?  You have piqued my interest. :-)

Patrick

Okay...I got the prints back from Cone Editions.  I had them printed on my most used papers, Canson Rag Photographie and Platine.  Almost all of my color work is on Platine.  I truly love that paper.  However,  for black and white, I'm really loving the purity of smooth matte paper.

I ran comparisons prints of my test image on my Epson 3880 using the ABW mode.  I quickly tossed both the Platine versions out as I don't think I want to print BW on Platine.  There are just too many reflections in BW for my taste.

I then compared the Piezo and ABW prints on the C Rag Photographie paper.   The Piezo prints were indeed nicer, darker blacks and better detail.  There was a subtle but undeniable better quality difference.  My wife has a good eye and I asked her to pick her favorite, and she also picked the Piezo prints.

Darn....gonna cost me money.

But, after talking about it for awhile, we both agreed that if we weren't comparing the prints side by side, even the ABW prints look very nice.  So, at some point I may want to spend $1000 in inks and carts to upgrade, but for now I can't justify it.  If my BW work starts to sell and I'm using more ink, that will be one of the first things I'll add to my process.  I'm sure it will be worth it.

Patrick
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Jasper

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #37 on: February 22, 2018, 01:36:55 PM »

So, at some point I may want to spend $1000 in inks and carts to upgrade, but for now I can't justify it.

Hi Patrick,

I think I'm in the same boat as you.  I have just purchased an Epson P600 (arrives tomorrow!) for the sole purpose of trying Piezography inks. I'm still a little unsure about upfront costs - I know for sure I need cartridges (~$100) and Ink (~$300).  So at least ~$400 in total.

I'm not concerned about the ink expense as whichever method I choose I would need ink (and I believe the Piezography inks are cheaper than Epson).  What other additional costs besides ink and refillable cartridges are you aware of? 
  • Are ICC profiles for printer/paper/ink readily available (and if so from where) or do you need to make or purchase your own?  Having used both custom and canned color profiles in the past, I have been satisfied with the canned ones, so if available I would use these initially.
  • Anything else needs to be purchased - e.g. Inkjet Mall has 'Piezography Professional Edition Software' at $150 - is this required or helpful?
 

I know you're new to this too, but it sounds like you've looked into it more than I have been able to do so far, so hoping you know the answer to these!
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digitaldog

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #38 on: February 22, 2018, 02:59:54 PM »

It's not that I disliked anything about ABW. It's just that when so many people on LULU discuss making custom QTR .icc profiles or .acv gray curves or using specialized inks (and believe me the discussions can get rocket science-y), one gets insecure about li'l ol' ABW on a li'l ol' 3800 printer. 
What's the old saying "If it ain't broke"? If there's nothing you dislike about the Epson ABW, I'd stick with it as there are some advantages to that mode.
Been to a big photo show where Epson's booth is filled with stunning B&W prints from shooters like Greg Gorman? He and I went down the ImagePrint path a good decade ago, before ABW existed and was the hot ticket for using color and B&W from Epson. But when ABW came out, Greg didn't see anything worthwhile on his output that didn't warrant the switch and to this day, he still prints all his work, in house, using the Epson driver.
Don't be insecure about this; you may be diving into a very deep rabbit hole.  ;) [size=78%]  [/size]
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patjoja

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Re: Which Printer for Black and White?
« Reply #39 on: February 22, 2018, 03:22:59 PM »

Hi Patrick,

I think I'm in the same boat as you.  I have just purchased an Epson P600 (arrives tomorrow!) for the sole purpose of trying Piezography inks. I'm still a little unsure about upfront costs - I know for sure I need cartridges (~$100) and Ink (~$300).  So at least ~$400 in total.

I'm not concerned about the ink expense as whichever method I choose I would need ink (and I believe the Piezography inks are cheaper than Epson).  What other additional costs besides ink and refillable cartridges are you aware of? 
  • Are ICC profiles for printer/paper/ink readily available (and if so from where) or do you need to make or purchase your own?  Having used both custom and canned color profiles in the past, I have been satisfied with the canned ones, so if available I would use these initially.
  • Anything else needs to be purchased - e.g. Inkjet Mall has 'Piezography Professional Edition Software' at $150 - is this required or helpful?
 

I know you're new to this too, but it sounds like you've looked into it more than I have been able to do so far, so hoping you know the answer to these!

Hi Jasper,

Yes, we're kind of tracking the same groove here. :-)

From the Inkjetmall website:

110ml K7 Inkset (cheapest set)...$448.84
Set of Reusable Ink Carts with syringes...$184.84
PiezoFlush kit with refillable carts...$199.65  (a necessity if you don't print at least weekly)

Total: $833.63.

The 110ml K7 inkset is good for a one-time fill.  It makes more sense to me to get the 220ml set which would get me through 2 cart fillings.  Those are $678.84.  That would be over a grand.

Patrick
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