Printer for Black & White Photographs

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Sidewinder, May 13, 2008.

  1. Sidewinder

    Sidewinder TPF Noob!

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    Forgive me, folks, if this particular topic has been covered already. Actually, I thought, I'd find plenty of information via the search function, but either there is not very much on this specific topic or I am simply too dumb to find it.

    My question is concerning printers and black & white images.
    I'd like to print black & white images up to DIN A4 in excellent quality. In this case excellent quality means a quality that rises up to the demands of the ambitious amateur / semi-professional. I know, the description might be a bit vague and there might be a big difference between "ambitious amateur" and "semi-professional", but I'd like to print a bit more than the "causal holiday snapshot to give away to friends and relatives", if you get what I mean.
    I'd like to be able to produce prints that somehow match ambitious black & white photographs.
    OK, I should stop describing it now, it somehow starts sounding odd.

    I've found some threads about this via the search function, but none that was making definite suggestions (if that is possible at all) what to buy or which printers to look for.
    I know that it is always possible to take the photographs to professional printing services, but I'd really like to have control over the whole process (going out, composing the picture, taking the photograph, processing it in Lightroom and Photoshop and finally printing it) myself.

    If you ask about the price range: when we are talking here, let's say that up to 1000 Euros (at the current exchange rates about 1550 USD) money is not the issue.

    It would be great, if people could post their opinions here or - if the topic has already been extensively covered in another thread - at least point me to the correct link. I searched for "black & white print" and "black & white printer", but I found no thread, that made a definite statement, especially with regards to what there is on the market that can be bought in this distinct case.

    Thanks!

    Sebastian
     
  2. Sandspur

    Sandspur TPF Noob!

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    Sebastian,

    My choice would be the Epson 3800.
     
  3. Sidewinder

    Sidewinder TPF Noob!

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    Hi Jim,
    thanks a lot for your input.
    Do you have experience with this printer with regards to black & white photography? How close does it get to the real colors? Does it print a neutral black & white or is there some color to it? Does it have to be tweaked?

    Sebastian
     
  4. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Not having any actual experience with the former printer, wouldn't it make more sense to buy a standard sized printer rather than a large format A2 printer?

    Pretty much every A4 printer these days has the option for borderless printing.
     
  5. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    If you only wish to print up to A4 then the 3800 will be overkill in terms of size. It is a very good printer, however. I have two at the moment. The standard Epson driver includes ABW - Advanced Black and White. This prints in B&W with an easily adjustable tone from cool to neutral to warm. Prints on the new gloss papers using ABW are very good, with a density range that exceeds that of traditional silver gelatin B&W prints (ie you can have blacker blacks and hence a wider range of tones between white and black).

    The smaller Epson R2400 also has ABW mode. I used to have an R2400 and it worked very well.

    Many of us who print in B&W use special software and ink sets. The most common software is QTR, Quadtone RIP. I've used that, but I prefer IJC/OPM from Bowhaus for those printers that are supported by it (the 3800 isn't currently supported). There is also Studioprint. The 3800 is supported by both QTR and Studioprint.

    These programs allow full control of each ink, and they allow control of printers that have different ink sets in them. My suggestion is to get started with ABW mode, then consider movig on if you feel the need - ABW will met many people's needs.

    The R2400 can be used with a CIS - a continuous ink supply. This allows you to use bulk ink, either from Epson (for the standard ink that the printer is designed for) or from third-party vendors who specialise in B&W inks. Piezography from www.inkjetmall.com is a particularly good ink system for B&W.

    There is a CIS promised for the 3800, but it is not available right now. It was promised for the 30th April, so it might be available soon.

    This is a very big subject, with many possibilities depending on the level you wish to take this to. The answer could be very simple, however (an Epson R2400). As well as the R2400 there are some very good printers from Canon and HP. I've only used Epsons so I don't have direct experience of other brands.

    Recent papers, such as Crane Museo Silver Rag and many others, have really made a big difference to the quality of glossy inkjet prints. Excellent matte papers have been around for longer.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  6. Rick Waldroup

    Rick Waldroup No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Sebastian, I just recently purchased a Canon 9500, mainly to print B&W. I have playing around with it for only a few weeks but the results, so far, have been excellent. I am still tweaking a bit here and there, but overall, I am very happy with the printer.
     
  7. Sidewinder

    Sidewinder TPF Noob!

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    Hello,
    first of all I want to thank everyone for their input. I've been considering this matter and I have come the conclusion that the Epson R3800 would really be overkill in my terms.
    After all, I am not a professional photographer and I have no intention to start earning money with my photographs (I love my job!), I'd rather look at myself as an ambitious amateur.
    Of course, I want to add a certain degree of professionalism to my photographs and I have certain standards set for myself, I really love photography and I want to get the best results possible, but I think the 3800 would really be a bit over the top.
    Especially, since I do not intend to go beyond A4!

    So what I read from this thread, either the Epson R2400 or the Canon 9500 would be the direction to go for me.
    Actually, the possibility to use the Epson R2400 with Advanced Black and White sounds really promising.

    I know that this is a big subject, but after all, I am not doing this professionally and I have a limited amount of time, I can invest into it each week, month and year.
    So for me it is important to be able to do a photography & printing that meets high quality requirements on the one hand, but is somehow also not exceeding a certain amount of time on the other hand.
    The Epson R2400 with ABW really sounds like a good solution to me.

    Thanks!

    Sebastian
     
  8. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    I wouldn't recommend the 2400 for b&w unless you use a black-only ink set. It has terrible metamerism problems using the stock color inks, even with proper profiling.

    Also, I have heard some nightmare customer service stories about the Piezography people. And I'm not a huge fan of their QuadTone RIP. But they do make good ink. I would opt for a Piezo ink set and a copy of the Bowhaus OP/M rip if you've got the cash. A definite recipe for success. Don't forget a densitometer.
     
  9. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    Not everyone shares that opinion. It is probably worth checking out for yourself if you can.

    Quadtone RIP (QTR) is not a Cone/Inkjetmall ("the Piezography people") product.

    It's called IJC/OPM, and support is very bad - in fact development has stopped completely as far as I can tell. That is a bit of a shame because I also prefer it to QTR, and I would like a version for the 3800. There are no IJC/OPM profiles for Piezography inksets, so you would have to start from scratch or get them from someone else.

    The problem with the current Piezo inksets is that they do not work very well on the new glossy papers, and glossy papers give the greatest density range. If you prefer matte papers then the various Piezography ink sets are very good.

    I think that the R2400 with the Epson software is a good place to start. You can always switch inks or software if it doesn't give you what you want.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  10. Sidewinder

    Sidewinder TPF Noob!

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    Thanks again for the input to the both of you.

    I got some more information from other sources as well and I decided to opt for the Epson R2400, since I think this will get me pretty close to where I want to go.
    Once, I have gathered some experience with it, I will check back and maybe write a few lines on what I think about it.

    Sebastian
     
  11. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    I have checked it out for myself. That's how I arrived at my conclusion. I've profiled the thing myself, and I've paid "professionals" to profile it as well. Metamerism is still a problem with stock inks.
     
  12. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    Believe it or not, I wasn't suggesting that you check it out for yourself Alpha, but that Sidewinder should, because not everyone shares your opinion about "terrible" colour inconstancy* with K3 inks. What are you using these days?

    *Often called "metamerism" - though metamerism is used for a different colour property in colour science.

    Best,
    Helen
     

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