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Author Topic: Do I use Epson ABW mode?  (Read 16453 times)

NigelC

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Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« on: December 15, 2010, 08:04:20 am »

Just wondering, if I have already created a black and white image I am happy with in ACR/Photoshop, is it still advantageous to print in ABW mode (using an Epson 3800)? )I have an idea that the benefit of ABW is more about neutrality rather than a B&W conversion tool) If the answer is yes, would this still be true if I wasn't using a paper for which an ABW profile is available, or would I be better off then letting Photoshop manage colours using the correct printer/paper profile. Of course I can and will test this for myself, just wondered if there is an "official" view?   
 
PS Just upgraded my Photoshop by 3 versions so playing with lots of new new toys in ACR!
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keith_cooper

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2010, 08:13:48 am »

I often used ABW with my 7880 - with 3rd party papers I looked at using QTR to make a linearising profile. Sometimes it was needed sometimes not.

Generally I liked the output and was happy to use it for supplying large B/W prints. Although I didn't measure it, I've seen reports suggesting that the ABW blacks get a bit deeper than printing in 'colour'

Just recently we got a Canon 8300 where I've been looking at the Canon equivalent to ABW (I just asked some questions about it in another thread, so there may be responses there that are relevant to the Epson ABW)
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John R Smith

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2010, 08:53:21 am »

Just wondering, if I have already created a black and white image I am happy with in ACR/Photoshop, is it still advantageous to print in ABW mode (using an Epson 3800)? )I have an idea that the benefit of ABW is more about neutrality rather than a B&W conversion tool) If the answer is yes, would this still be true if I wasn't using a paper for which an ABW profile is available, or would I be better off then letting Photoshop manage colours using the correct printer/paper profile. Of course I can and will test this for myself, just wondered if there is an "official" view?    

Nigel

The ABW mode on Epson printers is not intended to do B/W conversions for you. It is intended for printing high quality output from existing monochrome files. There are three advantages to using ABW rather than printing a B/W image as RGB output -

* You will get a slightly better D-max.

* ABW uses less of the colour inks (PK, LK, LLK, LM, LC no C or M at all, and a very small amount of Y), so theoretically the print will have better archival properties.

* And you can use the toning panel in ABW to produce a warmer or cooler print.

The only paper profiles that I know of which work with ABW are those on Eric Chan's website. However, I printed perfectly satisfactory prints without them for several years.

John
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Dano Steinhardt

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2010, 10:13:20 am »

Dano from Epson America here:

Lightfastness ratings will increase on files printed through the ABW Mode.

Third party testing confirms this.

While I do not have definitive data to reference, observations indicate the ABW Mode produces the highest quality when a file is first converted to BW.

Dan (Dano) Steinhardt
Epson America
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Aristoc

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2010, 11:38:58 am »

Nigel, please let us know what you come up with with your comparison results. I did a comparison myself a few weeks ago(R2880). Not scientifically, just eyeballed it.

I printed on Canson Photo Satin. I converted an image to B&W in CS5. Once happy with it I used this image for my at home comparison. I never tried using ABW as a converter since I want to know what my image will look like long before it goes to the printer.My understanding from a tutorial is that you can send monochrome RGB, Colour RGB or grey scale RGB to the advanced black and white mode.

I still have my comparison prints from a few weeks ago. Of several images, I found it was difficult to tell the difference between using photoshop manages all the colours or letting ABW manage all the colours.  I didnt make any changes or toning in ABW. Just printed it the way it is by default. Except for one thing...I set the tone to 'dark' or sometimes even 'neutral' or 'normal' instead of the default 'darker' because this makes an observable difference.

in my comparisons i tried all combinations to see what would happen. I tried PS manges colours and then turned ABW on too to see if ABW would take over, which it did. I tried photoshop manages colours ONLY and turned ABW OFF. I then also compared letting ABW only manage the colours. I have to say, in my comparison of one paper, that thw ABW print was very neutral,and had a very nice grey, whereas the photoshop manages colours print had a kind of cast to it. I wouldnt be able to tell if I wasn't holding both images up side by side . but the image where photoshop manages colours had a kind of different colour to it. i guess it was a cast. it had a slight , very , very slight purplish tint to it. very hard t  tell if you were not holding the images up side by side. Probably wouldnt notice it unless you're an expert.

so i prefer to use the ABW mode whenever doing my B&W prints so far. Of course, when I am doing  duotone or quadotone images, I HAVE to let photoshop manage the colours and turn the printer control OFF>







Just wondering, if I have already created a black and white image I am happy with in ACR/Photoshop, is it still advantageous to print in ABW mode (using an Epson 3800)? )I have an idea that the benefit of ABW is more about neutrality rather than a B&W conversion tool) If the answer is yes, would this still be true if I wasn't using a paper for which an ABW profile is available, or would I be better off then letting Photoshop manage colours using the correct printer/paper profile. Of course I can and will test this for myself, just wondered if there is an "official" view?    
 
PS Just upgraded my Photoshop by 3 versions so playing with lots of new new toys in ACR!

« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 02:55:10 pm by Aristoc »
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RFPhotography

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2010, 12:30:30 pm »

Yes, ABW is still a good idea.  Longevity is better.  DMax is better.  Some people find getting a print/screen 'match' more difficult in ABW mode.  Eric Chan has some terrific resources for printing with a 3800, including a collection of profiles he's created for use with ABW.  Profiles with ABW?  Yes, even though the Epson manual says not to. 

http://people.csail.mit.edu/ericchan/dp/Epson3800/index.html

http://people.csail.mit.edu/ericchan/dp/Epson3800/abwprofiles.html
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2010, 02:16:19 pm »

Yes, Eric Chan's ABW profiles and his ABW workflow are superb, IMHO. I used to use QuadTone RIP for B&W with my old Epson 2200, but with my 3800 the ABW does a better job of it. And in case you are using a paper that Eric doesn't yet have a posted ABW profile for, you can order one from him for a very reasonable cost.

If you use his profiles for soft-proofing as I do, be sure to read and follow his workflow very carefully, as it is somewhat counter-intuitive in places (but works great if you follow it exactly).

I now have LR3.3 presets that do it all for me on my most frequently used papers.

Eric (M., not Chan)
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Aristoc

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2010, 02:58:06 pm »

I wonder why Eric Chan did a profile for the Ilford Gold Fibre Silk and Canson baryta photographique when the are the same paper ?

Also I am wondering if anyone has tried his profiles on the R2880 since they have the same screening technology and ink ?
« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 03:00:37 pm by Aristoc »
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2010, 04:06:48 pm »

I wonder why Eric Chan did a profile for the Ilford Gold Fibre Silk and Canson baryta photographique when the are the same paper ?

Also I am wondering if anyone has tried his profiles on the R2880 since they have the same screening technology and ink ?
At the time it was not known for certain that they are the same paper (and it still is somewhat murky).  Can't answer the question on the 2880 as I sold mine and upgraded to the 3880.  I did have Eric do some ABW profiles for me when I still had it and they worked well.
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NigelC

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2010, 06:43:32 pm »

One more point and this seems so obvious its a daft question really but I assume it is pointless using the split toning option in ACR if you are going to use ABW as the only tint you can achieve in ABW is one of its own options, which affect the whole image?
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digitaldog

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2010, 06:56:31 pm »

One more point and this seems so obvious its a daft question really but I assume it is pointless using the split toning option in ACR if you are going to use ABW as the only tint you can achieve in ABW is one of its own options, which affect the whole image?

Pretty much yes. That’s the main downside (there are more upsides). Running through ABW will control the conversion such that your toning will not be honored. IF that’s critical, then you’d print in color mode with a good profile.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2010, 11:29:37 pm »

I wonder why Eric Chan did a profile for the Ilford Gold Fibre Silk and Canson baryta photographique when the are the same paper ?


What makes you think they are the same paper?
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2010, 08:11:33 am »

What makes you think they are the same paper?
Mark,
There was a thread a couple of weeks ago about this:  see http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=49039.0   In my test of each paper, the results were pretty much identical to the eye and some of the spectro readings were also the same.  I didn't do much more than that since I have been happy with IGFS and saw no reason to change papers (particularly when I still have almost a full box of 13x19 on hand).

Alan
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2010, 10:24:45 am »

Mark,
There was a thread a couple of weeks ago about this:  see http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=49039.0   In my test of each paper, the results were pretty much identical to the eye and some of the spectro readings were also the same.  I didn't do much more than that since I have been happy with IGFS and saw no reason to change papers (particularly when I still have almost a full box of 13x19 on hand).

Alan

I hadn't seen that thread - I was tied-up in meetings abroad when all that was happening - so thanks for pointing it out. The two papers are about the same price these days here in Toronto. As for differences between the papers, quoting from Michael's review:

"The new Canson IBP is very similar to Ilford's GFS. I would say that the main thing that differentiates them is that IBP is slightly whiter and has a slightly more "present" micro-stipple than does GFS, making it look even closer to a traditional photo-chemical printing paper from the B&W world. Don't misunderstand. This is a smooth surface paper, and when looked at obliquely one can't see any "surface". But, when there is ink on it, especially blacks and dark tones, there is what looks like a micro-stipple – exactly what we used to see in Baryta photochemical papers. Hard to describe, but once you see it you'll know what I mean."

I too have observed that the Canson is slightly cooler than the Ilford, therefore looks "whiter". I'd be surprised if this were only due to batch variances. IGFS is a trademark of Ilford GmBH, Switzerland, but the paper, according to the box, is manufactured in Germany. I don't know how much of the manufacturing process occurs in Germany, nor do I have any such information on hand for the Canson paper. Perhaps someone who has a box on hand can find that information. But so far it seems to me these are very similar but not identical papers, perhaps explaining why Eric Chan made separate profiles for them.
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Aristoc

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2010, 11:58:55 am »

Good idea on sending large amounts of prints to a book binder mark (your site).
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MHMG

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2010, 12:00:13 pm »

Nigel

* ABW uses less of the colour inks (PK, LK, LLK, LM, LC no C or M at all, and a very small amount of Y), so theoretically the print will have better archival properties.

John

As Dano noted, it's more than just a theoretical outcome. An increase in lightfastness for ABW-mode printing and other monochrome printing methods has been confirmed in testing done by both Wilhelm Imaging Research and Aardenburg Imaging & Archives.  The photo gray inks in the OEM Epson, Canon, and HP pigments sets are somewhat more lightfast than other colorants in the respective ink sets. Thus, monochrome prints that use proportionately greater amounts of the printer's photogray ink subset do often times exhibit more overall lightfastness than color prints made with the full ink set.

That said, there is one big caveat. It is much easier to detect OBA burnout and other sources of paper discoloration with monochrome images because the changing media color perceptually competes more strongly with the delicate highlights and mid tone hues in a neutral gray or near neutral image compared to a vivid color image. Thus, some B&W prints are more noticeably fade prone than their color counterparts when the media white properties are the weak link in the system.

cheers,
Mark
http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com
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NigelC

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2010, 06:00:01 pm »

Yes, Eric Chan's ABW profiles and his ABW workflow are superb, IMHO. I used to use QuadTone RIP for B&W with my old Epson 2200, but with my 3800 the ABW does a better job of it. And in case you are using a paper that Eric doesn't yet have a posted ABW profile for, you can order one from him for a very reasonable cost.




Presumably he would need a sample of the paper to do that. Many of the existing ABW profiles are for papers that are not available or are uncommon in Europe and I would want profiles for paper brands which as far as I know are not sold in the USA, i.e. Permajet (Museum Classic, Parchment Classic)and Fotospeed EG range.

Is it possible to create ABW profiles with a Color Munki?
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2010, 06:12:06 pm »

Presumably he would need a sample of the paper to do that. Many of the existing ABW profiles are for papers that are not available or are uncommon in Europe and I would want profiles for paper brands which as far as I know are not sold in the USA, i.e. Permajet (Museum Classic, Parchment Classic)and Fotospeed EG range.

Is it possible to create ABW profiles with a Color Munki?
Yes, see Keith Cooper's article on this here:  http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/bw_printing/bw_print_colormunki.html
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RFPhotography

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2010, 07:22:46 pm »

Presumably he would need a sample of the paper to do that.

What typically happens when you order a custom profile is that the person/service bureau making the profile sends you a target image via email or FTP with printing instructions.  You print the target according to the instructions and use snail mail to send the target back to the service bureau.  The target is then measured and a profile created.  The profile is then sent to you via email.

John, Epson actually touted the ability to send a colour image to the printer via ABW and presto-magico-changeo you would get a beautiful b&w print.   ::)  There was a video with, if I recall, Schewe and Dan about ABW that included the 'send a colour image and magically get a wonderful b&w print with ABW'.  What you got, if you tried it yourself was a blah, POS b&w print in which the colour image had been put through a canned conversion not dissimilar to the Desaturate or Image>Mode>Grayscale command in PS - at least based on my experiments with it.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2010, 07:27:33 pm by BobFisher »
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Dano Steinhardt

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Re: Do I use Epson ABW mode?
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2010, 11:34:15 pm »

The best quality B&W output from the ABW Mode, that I have seen, is from colour files that have been converted first to B&W.  The ABW Mode can convert a colour file into B&W but its a global average and tends to look flat.  The sliders in the ABW Mode can be used to increase contrast and that maybe fine for entry level users, but for serious amateurs and professional print-makers convert first to B&W.  In the videos I produced about the ABW Mode, the reccomendation for the highest quality was to always convert colour files to B&W then print via the ABW Mode.

Dan (Dano) Steinhardt
Epson America, Inc.
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