Cone inks, Canson paper, Epson R3000
Old 07-11-2014   #1
hlockwood
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Cone inks, Canson paper, Epson R3000

As the title implies, I'm using Canson (Rag Photographique 310 gsm) paper with Cone (K7 Neutral carbon pigment) inks for B&W printing on an Epson R3000 printer.

Firstly, the prints on this paper are beautiful - sharp and contrasty. So far I prefer it to Han Photo Rag. These both are the kind of archival papers that are routinely tested by Aardenburg Imaging for their conservation quality.

Some time ago I submitted the first sample print on the Canson paper to be tested by Aardenburg. Early results show that the Can Photo Rag is holding up nicely with the Cone inks and has passed the preliminary test for Conservation grade for this combination of paper and ink. Further light exposure tests (>10 Mlux hr) are expected shortly.

My attitude toward photography is that the captured image (digital or film) doesn't really exist until there is a print. Obviously, I want that print to be archival. As an amateur, I don't sell prints, but I still want my "customers" (family, friends, etc.) to have the best quality archival print available.

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Old 07-11-2014   #2
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I've got nothing to really contribute to the thread (just got R3000, using with stock inks on Epson Exhibit Fiber Paper), but love to follow the conversation. I'm now really keen to learn the best possible archival b/w printing methods with inkjet printer, in terms of both the picture quality and longevity of the print.
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Old 07-11-2014   #3
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Be interesting to hear if the ink/printer combo work well together over time.

No secret that Epson and Canon claim only their own inks will work well ...

Tom
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Old 07-12-2014   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SausalitoDog View Post
Be interesting to hear if the ink/printer combo work well together over time.

No secret that Epson and Canon claim only their own inks will work well ...

Tom
I've been using Cone (piezography) B&W carbon pigment inks for many years and MIS carbon inks before that. Originally, the most archival paper was considered to be Hanemühle Photo Rag. More recently, however, I've switched to the Canson paper because it's less warm than the Hanemühle paper. Neither paper contains optical brighteners, which invariably quicken the rate of fading. And both are pure cotton rag. As I said in the OP, the Canson paper is holding up nicely in the Aardenburg tests.

For an example of completed Aardenburg test results to quote here, I looked at Epson ABW prints on Epson Hot Press Natural (no OBAs), under various lighting conditions and printed with pigment (not dye) inks.

In an interior home hallway or storage area with low lighting, the expected life (to noticeable fading) is about 1000 years. (!)

That same print in a commercial gallery setting yields a lifetime of only about 11 years, while in a typical brightly illuminated home (but not directed exposure and not southern exposure!) the lifetime estimate is about 50 yrs. And in a south-facing storefront window, the lifetime drops to a couple of years.

Obviously, individual users can decide what is archival "enough" for their purposes.

Anyone interested in this subject can access many of the Aardenburg results, there are hundreds, without becoming a member.

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Old 07-12-2014   #5
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The Cone inks only work on matte papers, right?
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Old 07-12-2014   #6
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Originally Posted by SausalitoDog View Post
..... No secret that Epson and Canon claim only their own inks will work well ...
Not surprising since consumer ink jet manufacturers us the time proved Gillette razor blade business model where they price the initial purchase as a loss leader then make their profit on the subsequent consumable purchases.
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Old 07-12-2014   #7
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I was considering piezography, even ordered some sample prints from InkjetMal. My r3000 is still under warranty so I decided not to void it with a third party inks until it expires. I'm pretty happy with oem inks and my b&w output using quadtone RIP. As for the papers I prefer HM over Canson. The two cansons that I liked were a baryta photografique and platine... never actually digged into their archival qualities.
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Old 07-12-2014   #8
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Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
The Cone inks only work on matte papers, right?
No they do offer inks for glossy paper. What you have to do is make the print with the inks, then feed the paper through the printer again using the GO curve (gloss overlay).

I tried the Piezography Selenium inks, and in the end I went back to Epson inks for my 3880 and Exhibition Fiber Paper. I personally didn't see the advantage, and the added expense and hassle was not worth it to me. Plus I do occasionally print colour for clients.
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Old 07-12-2014   #9
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..... My r3000 is still under warranty so I decided not to void it with a third party inks until it expires. ......
I cannot believe the legend that using 3rd party inks voids the manufacturers warranty lives on. This has been untrue for at least 16 years, probably before ink jet printers were invented.

There are very clear fair trade laws in the US the EEU, and I strongly suspect Canada as well, that directly state a manufacturer cannot terminate a warranty from use of 3rd party consumables. Otherwise Ford Motor Company could require you to use only their Motorcraft brand motor oil.

Actually Epson did a warranty replacement for me many years ago when I honestly told them the internal contact pins on my brand new printer had been bent out of shape by a missing chip on a 3rd party ink cartridge. But I would not want to try that one again.
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Old 07-12-2014   #10
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(First, to clear up what might be a bit of confusion in the thread: piezography/Cone inks aren't 3d party color inks, they're 7 or 8 shades of black/gray carbon-based inks for BW printing.)

Vince, could you say more about why you went back to Epson inks in 3880 for BW? Was there really no gain in image quality from Cone inks, or were they just too much trouble for a relatively small gain? I've thought of ordering some of his sample prints, but without printing the same file with both inksets – as you've probably done – it would be hard to make a comparison.

Like Coelacanth/Sug above, I've started using a Leica Monochrom, and the files contain 'large-format' gradations of tonal detail. So BW inkjet printing becomes even more challenging.

Besides considering a Cone inkset, I've been using Tony Kuyper's luminosity masking software (www.goodlight.us). In the latest version he roughly approximates the Zone System, so you can pick out a narrow range of tones to modify (more accurately than with regular Curves).

I'm currently printing on Harman Baryta Warmtone Gloss, because it looks so much like classic Portriga 111. I've been using Canon 6300 inks – matte or glossy black + gray + light gray – with the slightest warm toning (+.01R). But if something might work even better, let us know!

Kirk

(PS, re: a comment on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, above: I believe it does contain just a pinch of optical brightener?)
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Old 07-13-2014   #11
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Sure, be more than happy to elaborate....

In addition to the inks, you have to get a set of empty carts from them. You then carefully remove the little chips off the Epson carts and place them underneath the chips on the Cone carts (taking care to put the right chip with the right cart). Next, you have to fill the carts with the ink (can be a messy job if you're not careful). After you install the carts, then you need to purge the printer of all the old inks. So that requires at least 3 deep cleans, which uses up a fair bit of ink (and $$$). Then of course once you've done all that, then you need to install the profiles for your paper, make various tweaks here and there to make sure that the prints are coming out just right (more ink used). So a lot of setup involved (at least to me). Then when all is said and done, you end up with prints that to my eye didn't look much different than prints from Epson inks (and yes, I did side-by-side comparisons with the same images that I had printed with the Epson inks). My prints were no sharper, and there was no more detail revealed than in my Epson ink prints. I was expecting an 'oh my God' moment from these prints, but unfortunately it didn't happen. So after all the expense (about $600) and what I will call 'hassle', I switched back to Epson.

Here again, this was strictly my personal experience with them -- others may get fantastic results and be totally happy. But for me - who is a pretty experiences printer - they just didn't work to my expectations.

I should also point out that Dana and Jon at Inkjet Mall (Cone Inks) were very responsive and tried their best to help. The inks just weren't a good match for me.
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Old 07-13-2014   #12
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Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
Sure, be more than happy to elaborate....

In addition to the inks, you have to get a set of empty carts from them. You then carefully remove the little chips off the Epson carts and place them underneath the chips on the Cone carts (taking care to put the right chip with the right cart). Next, you have to fill the carts with the ink (can be a messy job if you're not careful). After you install the carts, then you need to purge the printer of all the old inks. So that requires at least 3 deep cleans, which uses up a fair bit of ink (and $$$). Then of course once you've done all that, then you need to install the profiles for your paper, make various tweaks here and there to make sure that the prints are coming out just right (more ink used). So a lot of setup involved (at least to me). Then when all is said and done, you end up with prints that to my eye didn't look much different than prints from Epson inks (and yes, I did side-by-side comparisons with the same images that I had printed with the Epson inks). My prints were no sharper, and there was no more detail revealed than in my Epson ink prints. I was expecting an 'oh my God' moment from these prints, but unfortunately it didn't happen. So after all the expense (about $600) and what I will call 'hassle', I switched back to Epson.

Here again, this was strictly my personal experience with them -- others may get fantastic results and be totally happy. But for me - who is a pretty experiences printer - they just didn't work to my expectations.

I should also point out that Dana and Jon at Inkjet Mall (Cone Inks) were very responsive and tried their best to help. The inks just weren't a good match for me.
(I stand corrected on the optical brightener comment. The Han Photo Rag does has a "low" OB content according to Aardenburg, but the Canson Rag Photo does not. Thanks, Kirk)

The extra step of adding the OEM chips under the chips on the Cone carts as described by Vince applies to the 3880 but not to the R3000. In the event, it does appear to be a simple enough procedure.

Flushing the system of the OEM inks on the R3000 also requires using up some of the Cone inks, but not an inordinate amount. I found that the equivalent of 2 power flushes was sufficient if followed by printing a few pages of the yellow-position ink, it being the lightest shade of gray on the R3000. And the cost is actually quite insignificant, especially if one is creating a dedicated B&W printer. Furthermore, buying the (Cone) inks in bulk compared to frequently replacing OEM carts would absolutely override any cost considerations. However, if one switches back and forth between color and gray-scale inks on the same printer, then Vince's objections would certainly hold. If I were a pro, however, I would certainly have 2 printers, one for color and one for K7 B&W.

Installing the profiles is a trivial step (download and double click to install,) and contrary to Vince's experience I found no need to tweak them. And I wouldn't know how; these are not ICC profiles.

The bottom line is this: If the quality (especially improved tonal range) of the B&W prints doesn't justify the hassle (such as it is) then converting to a B&W-only printer doesn't make sense. In my case, first with an R2400, now with the R3000, the results speak for themselves.

Finally, since I sound like a salesman for Cone, I had better add that I have no connection, financial or otherwise, with Jon Cone's company.

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Old 07-14-2014   #13
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The Cone inks only work on matte papers, right?
Please confirm pm sent to you today.

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Old 07-21-2014   #14
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The Epson 2880 is very convenient to use with the Cone inks. There are no lines to purge, and a few simple cleaning cycles are all that is needed when changing inks.

Nevertheless, if one visually sees no advantage to using the Cone inks then it would be silly to consider using such.
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Old 07-21-2014   #15
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Followup: I sent for the Piezo samples on Type 5 paper, which is nearest to the paper I normally use. A friend whose business is color management checked them out with me. I assumed we'd be duly impressed and I'd soon set up an Epson 3800 as a dedicated BW printer. But we were underwhelmed, and I remain unconvinced without seeing a different sample image.

The sample prints are very small, making it hard to observe an extended range of tonal transition. The image emphasizes the upper and lower Zones more than midtones (where I hoped to see more extension). For $43 (including postage), I was expecting something easier to evaluate.

None of the inksets seem truly neutral – all, including Neutral, are far from gray card / ColorChecker gray. The 'WarmNeutral' sample, to our eyes, is too red, and the Carbon and Selenium tonings seems extreme, like 'special effects.'

The sample prints are inconsistent, as if the profiles weren't made or used correctly. Some have considerably more shadow detail than others, which I didn't think would vary so much with the tone of the inks. Only the Carbon and Special Edition samples displayed good separation in the lower tones/Zones.

The prints don't look very good at normal light level, because one can't see into the shadows very well. You might say they have 'sub-visible' shadow detail, in the sense that they brighten up and reveal lots more shadow detail if you hold them quite near to a 5000K light source. But that's not the intensity of any light-source used in a gallery.

In viewing light of 'normal' brightness and intensity (5000K plus a tungsten source to turn off and on, looking for variation), we both preferred the prints I'm currently making with Canon 6300 (3 black inks) on Harman Warmtone Gloss Baryta +.01 Red. Some of the difference could be attributed to the small size of the samples, which keep one from seeing broad areas of tonal transition, and to the choice of an image that placed so much emphasis on the lower Zones and didn't consistently differentiate them very well. The Canon system was doing a better job of differentiating the Ansel Adams Zones II-III-IV.

As I said at the beginning, we expected to see something convincing in tonal gradation and shadow/highlight detail, but we didn't find the samples especially impressive in these respects. I wouldn't spring for the Piezo system without sending them one of my own files to print with their most neutral ink at exhibition size. If/when doing so, I'd be willing to bet – and even give modest odds – in favor of my present BW printing workflow.

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Old 07-23-2014   #16
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Originally Posted by thompsonks View Post
Followup: I sent for the Piezo samples on Type 5 paper, which is nearest to the paper I normally use. A friend whose business is color management checked them out with me. I assumed we'd be duly impressed and I'd soon set up an Epson 3800 as a dedicated BW printer. But we were underwhelmed, and I remain unconvinced without seeing a different sample image.

The sample prints are very small, making it hard to observe an extended range of tonal transition. The image emphasizes the upper and lower Zones more than midtones (where I hoped to see more extension). For $43 (including postage), I was expecting something easier to evaluate.

None of the inksets seem truly neutral – all, including Neutral, are far from gray card / ColorChecker gray. The 'WarmNeutral' sample, to our eyes, is too red, and the Carbon and Selenium tonings seems extreme, like 'special effects.'

The sample prints are inconsistent, as if the profiles weren't made or used correctly. Some have considerably more shadow detail than others, which I didn't think would vary so much with the tone of the inks. Only the Carbon and Special Edition samples displayed good separation in the lower tones/Zones.

The prints don't look very good at normal light level, because one can't see into the shadows very well. You might say they have 'sub-visible' shadow detail, in the sense that they brighten up and reveal lots more shadow detail if you hold them quite near to a 5000K light source. But that's not the intensity of any light-source used in a gallery.

In viewing light of 'normal' brightness and intensity (5000K plus a tungsten source to turn off and on, looking for variation), we both preferred the prints I'm currently making with Canon 6300 (3 black inks) on Harman Warmtone Gloss Baryta +.01 Red. Some of the difference could be attributed to the small size of the samples, which keep one from seeing broad areas of tonal transition, and to the choice of an image that placed so much emphasis on the lower Zones and didn't consistently differentiate them very well. The Canon system was doing a better job of differentiating the Ansel Adams Zones II-III-IV.

As I said at the beginning, we expected to see something convincing in tonal gradation and shadow/highlight detail, but we didn't find the samples especially impressive in these respects. I wouldn't spring for the Piezo system without sending them one of my own files to print with their most neutral ink at exhibition size. If/when doing so, I'd be willing to bet – and even give modest odds – in favor of my present BW printing workflow.

Kirk
Kirk,

Having been a happy user of Cone Neutral inks for years, I find these comments disturbing. It seems to me that Jon Cone should be copied and asked to respond in detail.

In addition, I'd be willing to print your file with K7 Neutral inks on Canson Rag Photographique. I typically print at 360 dpi with no resampling. This results in a print that is somewhat larger than 10 x 15 in. on 11 x17 in. paper.

I make this (no charge) offer because I too want the best archival (a la Aardenburg) print possible from my R3000, and if there is a better system than I'm now using, I'll consider switching.

Respond here or pm me. I'll contribute the time, the paper and the inks; you contribute the postage for the print.

HFL
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Old 07-23-2014   #17
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That sounds fine to me! And it would help others if we agree in evaluating the results. I can send you a couple of files and a couple of prints so you too can see both versions. I can also include a couple of the sample prints that seemed to us to be inconsistent in their shadow detail.

I'd prefer not to bring Jon Cone into the discussion until we've seen the evidence. IMO it's something to see, not something to talk about. And if the results favor his system, I'll happily become one of his customers.
You can e-mail me your address at [email protected], and I can send materials early next week.

I'm quite pleased to have this chance to check things out! Looking forward to collaboration on this.

Kirk
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Old 07-23-2014   #18
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That sounds fine to me! And it would help others if we agree in evaluating the results. I can send you a couple of files and a couple of prints so you too can see both versions. I can also include a couple of the sample prints that seemed to us to be inconsistent in their shadow detail.

I'd prefer not to bring Jon Cone into the discussion until we've seen the evidence. IMO it's something to see, not something to talk about. And if the results favor his system, I'll happily become one of his customers.
You can e-mail me your address at [email protected], and I can send materials early next week.

I'm quite pleased to have this chance to check things out! Looking forward to collaboration on this.

Kirk
Kirk,

That's great! My email address is hflockwoodATverizonDOTcom. However, I believe you will have to send such a large file via, say, Dropbox. And I assume it is a large file, otherwise there's little point. If you are to send prints, you will need my home address; pm with same to follow.

Full disclosure: I had already sent copies of our exchange to Jon Cone before getting your note. Sorry. I felt his reputation as a master printer was at stake, and he deserved a chance to respond.

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Old 07-31-2014   #19
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For those quivering with expectations, or at least mildly interested, in this: Harry and I have agreed to exchange some files and prints. By this weekend I'll have mailed or UPSed some materials to him. No rush, because if his Piezo prints are convincingly better, I still have until Aug 31 to buy an R3000 with massive rebate and load it with the Cone inks.

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Old 08-01-2014   #20
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Harry,

Thanks for starting this thread.

I own a 3880 and have yet to load the OEM inks. Took advantage of a $250.00 rebate to secure the Epson at a killer price.

At Photo Plus Expo last year I looked at some great prints on Canson papers and like the look.

I see an obvious airbrushing like effect from the dithering with OEM color inksets and OEM driver that I don't care for. To me this is lower resolution, especially if you want to print big.

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Old 08-07-2014   #21
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For those quivering with expectations, or at least mildly interested, in this: Harry and I have agreed to exchange some files and prints. By this weekend I'll have mailed or UPSed some materials to him. No rush, because if his Piezo prints are convincingly better, I still have until Aug 31 to buy an R3000 with massive rebate and load it with the Cone inks.

Kirk
Kirk,

I just got back from vacation in VT. I'll pick up the mail in the morning and begin the process.

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Old 08-14-2014   #22
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Kirk,

I just got back from vacation in VT. I'll pick up the mail in the morning and begin the process.

HFL
I did get the package from Kirk and found 5 beautiful (big!) prints inside, along with a disk with files for the 5 images. Kirk also included the prints he received from Jon Cone; these are the prints that serve as marketing tools for piezography. I have to agree with Kirk: Jon needs to improve his marketing skills. The prints - at $43! - are too small for serious evaluation. Even so, I can see that a much better job of printing would have been possible. But enough about Cone.

As I said, Kirks prints are big and beautiful. The paper is Harmon Gloss Baryta, so the Dmax is better than one can expect from matte paper such as the Canson Photo Rag that I praised in an earlier post. But that will turn out to be unimportant for this exercise.

Kirk prints with a large format Canon iPF machine. The Canons have a native resolution which is some multiple of 300 dpi, and so, Kirk's images were printed at that resolution. This introduces a small (but ignorable) problem in that I print at the Epson native resolution of 360 dpi, and I can't match exactly the magnification of Kirk's prints.

And finally, Kirk and I share a distrust of the drivers's resampling algorithms, so that doesn't enter into the picture. I simply avoid resampling and accept the print size dictated by the chosen resolution, thus keeping all, and only, the original pixels. Kirk has a more sophisticated approach that I needn't bring into the discussion, but he accomplishes the same result.

I have finished printing (with some cropping due to the 13" size limitation of the R3000) 2 of Kirk's 5 images on 11"x17" Canson Rag Photographique and will shortly complete a third. I'll then ship everything back to Kirk for his comments. We can then continue a public discussion on this thread. This is fun!

Harry

Off topic: If I had it to do over, I would have ignored the enticement of a big discount on the R3000 and bought the 3880 instead. From a practical perspective, it is almost essential that one have available a Windows machine or Parallels+Windows on a Mac. When I added the Windows capability to my iMac, the savings on the R3000 purchase largely disappeared. The need arises because there is no individual-channel power flush on the R3000 without loading 3rd party, Windows-only software. The advantage of the larger bed on the 3880 is also very attractive.
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Old 08-14-2014   #23
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Off topic: If I had it to do over, I would have ignored the enticement of a big discount on the R3000 and bought the 3880 instead. From a practical perspective, it is almost essential that one have available a Windows machine or Parallels+Windows on a Mac. When I added the Windows capability to my iMac, the savings on the R3000 purchase largely disappeared. The need arises because there is no individual-channel power flush on the R3000 without loading 3rd party, Windows-only software. The advantage of the larger bed on the 3880 is also very attractive.
Harry,

Thanks again. This is good for me. I bought a 3880 with a $250.00 Epson rebate even though I was not ready for printing. Today I see a big price increase on the list price of a 3880 that's about $300.00.

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Old 08-14-2014   #24
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Many thanks, Harry, for the heads-up about the R3000. I wondered about how to keep it clean with no power-cleaning cycle. I planned to buy an R3000, assuming you finished our experiment and I wanted to go for Cone inks, before the rebate ends on the 8/31. But now I won't do that. I think my choice would instead be someone's oldie but goodie 3800 from Craigslist, since they're quite cheap - and I wouldn't be using the inks that make the newer version better for color.

Kirk

PS, a small correction: The paper is Harman Gloss Baryta Warmtone, which is a creamier paper base that looks like ancient/classic Portriga Rapid 111. The regular Gloss Baryta has moderate OBs and is great for color. The Warmtone is meant to be a BW, not a color, paper. The warm substrate it hard to profile for color printing. I add +.01 Red to get something close selenium-toned Portriga prints (referring to slight/weak selenium toning for archival preservation – not the brown color of full selenium toning or of Cone, Adobe, or Nik 'selenium').

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Old 08-15-2014   #25
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Many thanks, Harry, for the heads-up about the R3000. I wondered about how to keep it clean with no power-cleaning cycle. I planned to buy an R3000, assuming you finished our experiment and I wanted to go for Cone inks, before the rebate ends on the 8/31. But now I won't do that. I think my choice would instead be someone's oldie but goodie 3800 from Craigslist, since they're quite cheap - and I wouldn't be using the inks that make the newer version better for color.

Kirk

PS, a small correction: The paper is Harman Gloss Baryta Warmtone, which is a creamier paper base that looks like ancient/classic Portriga Rapid 111. The regular Gloss Baryta has moderate OBs and is great for color. The Warmtone is meant to be a BW, not a color, paper. The warm substrate it hard to profile for color printing. I add +.01 Red to get something close selenium-toned Portriga prints (referring to slight/weak selenium toning for archival preservation – not the brown color of full selenium toning or of Cone, Adobe, or Nik 'selenium').
Thanks for the correction on the Harmon paper.

The R3000 has one kind of power "cleaning." When you start with empty ink lines, as in a new machine, the start-up procedure involves pumping the inks from all of the cartridges into the tubes leading to the print head. You cannot select a single line to clear in case of a clog. So, if one subsequently needs a power clean, one reverts to the start-up procedure and wastes a lot of ink.

On the other hand, I've been using the R3000 since November 2013 and have experienced very few clogs, typically when the humidity is very low. I solved that problem with a Sears humidifier. And as far as the performance of the machine is concerned, it has been stellar.

I'm going to follow your lead though, Kirk, and look into a 3800 on Craigslist. As in life, it's always good to have a backup plan.

Harry

P.S. I should get the prints back to you within the next few days.
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Old 08-15-2014   #26
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I do suggest anyone considering a 3800 or 3880 carefully check the specs for the physical size before commitment. Some have been surprised at just how large they are. Not a big deal for some, but a deal breaker for others.
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Old 08-15-2014   #27
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I do suggest anyone considering a 3800 or 3880 carefully check the specs for the physical size before commitment. Some have been surprised at just how large they are. Not a big deal for some, but a deal breaker for others.
Thanks Bob, but I think I can squeeze it in.

I just came across a locally available, slightly used 3800 in "Excellent" condition for $450.

Is there anyway I can tell how much this machine has been used? I did request a live demo from the seller.


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Old 08-15-2014   #28
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...... I just came across a locally available, slightly used 3800 in "Excellent" condition for $450.

Is there anyway I can tell how much this machine has been used? I did request a live demo from the seller.
A new ink set cost $566. Add that to the $450 purchase price and you will have spent $1,116.

A new 3880 direct from Epson costs $1,095 with free shipping. I suspect B&H has the same deal but did not check.

Seems like a no brainer to me.
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Old 08-15-2014   #29
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Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
A new ink set cost $566. Add that to the $450 purchase price and you will have spent $1,116.

A new 3880 direct from Epson costs $1,095 with free shipping. I suspect B&H has the same deal but did not check.

Seems like a no brainer to me.
Bob,

The current B&H price is $1139.00, and realize that currently there is a $200.00 mail in rebate.

A little more than a year ago I think the price was $1050.00 and my mail in rebate was $250.00.

The 3880 is kinda big and heavy, especially if you live in a Madhattan apartment. I carried mine onto the subway and had to do this evil transfer between subway lines at 51St and Lex. By the time I got home both my arms were kinda broken and I had no strength to give. All I can say is that I'm stubborn, LOL, and carrying an Epson 3880 home on the subway wasn't one of the smartest things I ever did..

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Old 08-15-2014   #30
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Bob, since the thread is about BW printing, we'd be using only BW inks - either the seven shades of Cone ink, or just the black and gray inks in an Epson set. So the present color inks in a used 3800/3880 would last a long time, being used up only in cleaning cycles. Or alternately, all the color inks would be purged and replaced with Cone inks. In neither case would a used printer need a whole set of Epson inks.

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Old 08-15-2014   #31
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A new ink set cost $566. Add that to the $450 purchase price and you will have spent $1,116.

A new 3880 direct from Epson costs $1,095 with free shipping. I suspect B&H has the same deal but did not check.

Seems like a no brainer to me.
Agreed, Bob. But if this printer comes with a set of (nearly?) full carts, then we're back to the $450 level.

BTW, I assumed that one can purge a single line on the 38xx. Am I mistaken?

BTW2, I believe the price now is back to the pre discount level.

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Old 08-15-2014   #32
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thompsonks: I understand and accept that you like the results from the Cone inks. In my 13 years of printing b&w from Epsons, I could see no differences other than the Cone high prices but that is just different strokes for different folks. I did use a lot of MIS ink for printing b&w before the modern evolution of Epson printers in the 2400-3880 series (which all appear to essentially use the same drivers and inksets) I have used the Epson drivers and inks for the last 8 years or so but that is just different strokes...........

But, lest anyone be mislead, Epsons use quite a bit of LM and LC and Y in a lesser amount in addition to the K, LK, and LLK in printing b&w using the Epson ABW driver. That is how the differing tonalities are derived.
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Old 08-15-2014   #33
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...... BTW2, I believe the price now is back to the pre discount level. ......
I got that price off the Epson web site just as I was composing the post.

Personally, the last 7 printers I have bought have been Epson factory refurbished as I find them to be at least as good as the new ones but much cheaper. But I see Epson has no refurbished 3880's today.
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Old 08-15-2014   #34
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Bob, some mixup here? I didn't like the Cone samples, so Harry and I are experimenting with them. My initial preference was the same as yours, but I'm trying to let Harry convince me otherwise.

Kirk

PS, really like the work on your website!
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Old 08-15-2014   #35
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Bob, some mixup here? I didn't like the Cone samples, so Harry and I are experimenting with them. My initial preference was the same as yours, but I'm trying to let Harry convince me otherwise.

Kirk

PS, really like the work on your website!
Let it be said that Harry is not trying to convince you to switch, merley to show you something much better than the samples you got from Cone is possible.

+1 re Bob's website

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Old 08-15-2014   #36
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Bob, some mixup here? I didn't like the Cone samples, so Harry and I are experimenting with them. My initial preference was the same as yours, but I'm trying to let Harry convince me otherwise. ......
Kirk: sorry I got the players confused. But since this is all personal preference, you are certainly doing the right thing with the eyeball to eyeball comparison of actual prints.
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Old 08-17-2014   #37
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I've completed the task of printing 3 of 5 of Kirk's images. I'm satisfied that my prints are quite good. Kirk and I both realize that this isn't the ideal comparison in that his prints are glossy and rather warm while mine are matte and rather cool. But the point of the exercise was not to show that my prints would be superior to his, rather that the piezography approach would be a viable (B&W) alternative, or at least another arrow in the quiver of the serious printmaker.

I'll be mailing the prints to Kirk tomorrow (Monday) morning, and once he's had a chance to study the results, we can both comment here in this thread. I will say this in advance: my task would have been much simpler had Kirk's prints not been so damn good!

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Old 08-20-2014   #38
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Harry's three prints arrived today, and he's a master printer! His work makes the samples of Piezography that I received from InkJet Mall look amateurish. He's shown it's a richer system than you can learn from the 'official' examples.

We'll have a chance to take a close look tomorrow under better viewing light, but I can offer some first impressions:

Both sets of prints are of exhibition quality. The differences don't really indicate technical superiority/inferiority; as Ansel Adams would put it, they're more like different interpretations or performances of the same score. The prints aren't interchangeable – you'd have to print a show one way or the other – but the differences fall within the margin of differing styles or tastes.

The Piezo prints show, for a now-known reason, better resolution than the Canon three-black-ink prints (to my eyes, glasses only, without benefit of a loupe). I don't think either of us added sharpening. One of my print heads turns out to have been worn on the MBK and B side and last week finally quit, with a test print showing it wasn't clogged but was creating some wobbly irregularity. With my print head replaced, perhaps resolution would be equal.

Harry's prints have a slightly-cool-but-almost-neutral tone, unmatched in – and IMO preferable to – the five Piezo samples. Mine are warmer, on a creamier paper stock that almost matches Portriga Rapid 111. His paper base and image tone look more like another fine Agfa paper of the same era, Brovira 118.

Many of the differences are attributable to choice of papers, each working well with the chosen inkset. Harry's prints are just beautiful on matte paper. Mine, on Harman Gloss Baryta Warmtone, have a shinier surface and deeper blacks. But if you choose a matte paper, I don't think you could do better than Harry's Canson (unless maybe HPR?).

To my eye, the most interesting thing about the Piezo inks is that under a 6300K Ott lamp and some other mixed home lighting, different shades of gray seem very slightly tinted, with Zones II-III a bit redder/warmer, and Zones IV-V looking like they have a 'chef's pinch' of yellow. It's a nice effect that works like the slight duotone of archival selenium toning. It perhaps helps to create an illusion of depth, as tonal gradations progress smoothly but at the same time undergo a barely-perceptible shift in tone.

By either taste or technology, I've gone for slightly moodier darks, and Harry for more open shadows. I'm suggesting technology because when rendering the same file, the Quadtone RIP profile may distribute the lower quarter-tones with a little more openness, or progressive lightness, than the profile for my printer. I prefer Harry's rendering in this respect, though I could probably match it with a small PS Curve, or maybe with a profile for the Canon printer that measured only the distribution of the black and gray inks. In this instance I'm not sure if it's software difference, or different 'interpretations of the score.'

I 'reserve the right' to unravel these first impressions when a colleague and I look at the two sets of prints under a uniform 5000K viewing light. But for now, I think Harry and I are both working with exhibition-quality technologies and materials. A closer look may persuade me to set up a dedicated Piezo printer for BW, but in 'normal' mixed home room light I'm equally pleased with both print sets.

Kirk

PS, after consultation with my resident really honest critic: Another vote for 'two really nice ways to do it.' Of the three prints (under evening home light + Ott lamp), she preferred one of my versions and one of Harry's, but said it depended on how well the tone, contrast, and density of blacks complemented the subject matter (my translation). She liked the deeper Canon/Harman blacks which she thought gave more feeling of depth, but not when my print was too contrasty. She preferred the image in which Harry had gone for more shadow detail – she found this, along with the softer paper surface, more 'atmospheric.'

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Old 08-21-2014   #39
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Wow, Kirk, your review of the prints I made from your files is most flattering. Thank you for your kind words.

I do agree with you that our prints are not interchangeable because of the different choices of paper, inks and degree of warmth. (And they probably should not be exhibited side by side.) The kind of photography I enjoy most is capturing candid moments involving people, i.e., street photography. For that I like strong contrast, sharpness and cool tonality. Very different from the images in this exercise.

Full disclosure: I did actually add sharpening. The technique is a very restrictive edge sharpening process developed by John Brownlow and first appeared in Luminous Landscape back in 2001*. The effect is to enhance the apparent contrast of the entire image without introducing local artifacts. In my opinion, it's much less intrusive than the more commonly used sharpening methods, at least at my skill level.

I also used slight Curves adjustments in each of the images, again because of my bias toward higher contrast - but not at the expense of shadow detail, as you have noted.

I think your observation that the different shades of gray in my prints show slight tinting under mixed lighting is on the mark. The Cone inks in these prints are not pure carbon pigments; I believe Jon Cone adds color pigments to achieve varying degrees of warmth/coolness. Pure carbon is slightly brownish rather than pure black, and the resulting prints would be correspondingly warm. The price of adding color pigments, however, is reduced longevity; one can hope the price is not too high. I have some prints into Aardenburg Imaging for rigorous fade testing.

The lighting in my (dry) basement studio is a mish-mash of 5000K and 6300K overheads, and your comments suggest I should pay more attention to this important detail. Ott lamp on the way.

In an earlier post I said there were 5 files, but, in fact there are 6. After sending the prints to you I decided to print one of the remaining three, HighKey.tif. I applied 3 separate curve adjustments, and I'm still not satisfied. I suspect that if I knew how to use Lightroom (which I have on my machine,) I could get to the print this file deserves. Your print of this image is beautiful. I don't believe either of the other 2 files would present a comparable challenge.

The purpose of this exercise - while it was fun and challenging - was to explore the question, whither piezography for grayscale printing? The observations in your post are incisive. To satisfy a wide range of photo subjects, the best of all worlds would probably be to have two printers, one of which would be dedicated to B&W printing.

HFL


*http://luminous-landscape.com/tutori...rt-sharp-shtml
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Old 08-22-2014   #40
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Yesterday I looked carefully at Harry's and my prints with a photographer friend whose 'day job' is color management. He has a real eye for tone and detail (as well as color). He observed the same differences as Harry and I, but with better explanations and a more conclusive overall judgment.

His first comment was that it's 'just not fair' to compare prints on semi-gloss and matte papers. Of course the former has higher maximum density, and it's hard to overlook this apples/oranges factor. But both ink-to-paper combinations were matched effectively.

Second, he explained that the higher resolution of the Piezo prints wasn't just a matter of a dying Canon printer head. If you make a continuous tone using three colors of ink, there's a messier dot pattern than if you print with more jets 'firing' with more differentiated tones.

The higher resolution of Piezo prints was clearly visible with a loupe, and in some areas visible to the eye in 9x13.5" prints. But this was at closer-than-normal viewing distance – call it pixel-peeping distance, with eyes a few inches from the paper. (My own thought: Some practical advantage should appear in larger prints from full-frame MM files, but at some point in enlargement, doesn't lens resolution become a more important limitation on sharpness than printer resolution?)

Third, under a 5000K light source, one can see in the Piezo prints a shift from more neutral dark tones to a slight yellow-brown tone in the highlights. This is visible in the 25% down to 10% range of ink densities. But this isn't a disturbing factor. (Me again: It might add to, rather than subtract from, image quality – and this might vary with the paper base on which one was printing.)

In terms of particular prints, my more expert friend picked the same ones as my spouse for subjective preference as to image quality: two Canon prints, one Piezo print. This had to do mostly with Harry's and my slightly different preferences regarding shadow detail, and the suitability of glossy/matte paper and warm/cool ink to an image's mood or subject matter. Call it a draw.

For a final or overall view: My friend has sold and serviced printing systems for a long time. In his opinion the Piezo system made more difference in the past than in the present. Despite difficulties of set-up and clogging, it offered quite an advantage when printers had just one black ink, or when blacks and grays were compounded from colors that suffered from metamerism. But contemporary color printers and their inks have advanced until three black inks can generate an exhibition-quality print. At this point the differences in image quality of the prints we looked at fall within the range of good style and taste, rather than on a one-dimensional scale from better to worse. Both systems are fine, but the incentives to set up a separate Piezo system for BW have diminished over time to minimal.

Which leads to my own decision: I was strongly impressed by Harry's prints. But given the differences attributable simply to paper base and ink tone, IMO we generated no evidence that either Harry or I should feel dissatisfied with our present printing systems. For the near future, I'm committed to shifting my own work back from from color to BW, using a Leica Monochrom. But my friend and I finally shrugged at the results of all this work and agreed I need not set up a separate BW Piezo printer. If I begin printing much larger and become fretful about printer resolution, or especially if I see obviously superior Piezo prints on a higher Dmax paper like Harman Gloss Baryta Warmtone, I'll certainly reconsider.

If you face a similar choice, one clear point is that you can't make a sound decision based on the samples offered by InkjetMall. It takes skill like Harry's to get the most out of the Piezo system.

If there are at this point more than two followers of this thread, feel free to share my views, and I trust any that Harry might care to add, with anyone who'd find the information helpful.

Kirk
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