Noob question re. printing B&W.

Don Simon

TPF Noob!
Jul 4, 2005
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Hi, I seem to be having a noob moment here... it's been a while since I printed anything in black & white on my own printer, since I've generally preferred to get prints done from b&w in the darkroom where possible. But since I got myself a good printer a while back (Canon ip4000) I felt I should get some use out of it apart from standard text and the occasional colour print. So I took a colour image, converted it to b&w in PS Elements using channel mixer, set PS colour management to 'Full' and set RGB profile to Adobe RGB ( 1998 ), and printed. Problem is, the image didn't come out black and white, but black white and green - the whole thing has a green cast to it.

I feel certain this is a complete noob error I'm making, but can't think of what it is. I got slightly different results from changing the colour management settings in Elements' print preview (from 'Same as Source' to 'Working RGB - Adobe RGB ( 1998 ), and by changing the colour adjustment settings in the final print dialog from 'manual' (CYMB all at 0) to 'auto'. But always the greenish print. Any thoughts on this? Thanks in advance.

Edit: I just tried printing after selecting Grayscale in the print dialog, which I'd originally wanted to avoid since it's for printing colour images in b&w and therefore is presumably the same as desaturating, and if I'd wanted to simply do that then I wouldn't have bothered using channel mixer. Anyway with the Grayscale box ticked the print is... less green, and now slightly brown as well. This now has me really stumped. If I've selected grayscale and it's still printing green/brown, does that mean it's not a software issue at all and that there's something wrong with my black cartridge or printer? It prints text in black, not dark green... this is very odd.

P.s. completely forgot to mention that the original image was in fact largely green. Seems pretty relevant, although I'm not sure how, since I've converted the image to black and white using channel mixer; the image on my screen is undoubtedly black and white, and the original colour image is not still there in another layer.
It's very difficult to get a true neutral grey image from a color printer. They grey tones have to be made by mixing the color together just right. And if you print using just black ink, you have to use a dither to get grey which looks bad because of all the dots. The best way is to use a printer with grey inks. Some have an aditional grey ink, which helps a lot, and you can also get custom ink sets. To use a basic 6-ink color printer, you are going to have to play with the color balance and make a lot of test prints. Even then, it may shift depending on the light, or even be different tones depending on how light or dark that part of the print is.
When all is said and done, the simplest way to get a 'true' B&W print is [surprise!] the original process -- B&W film and paper. Happily, film cameras are very cheap thanks to the digital revolution [got an Argus C4 with case for $US6.99.] 35mm film is also easy on the wallet -- about $0.10/frame including the bulk film loader for the first 100 feet of film. Dollar-wise, getting rigged for B&W is a low budget enterprise.
Markc: Thanks for the reply. I'm still not sure this is normal though. On most other colour printers I've used my black and white prints didn't look as good in terms of tonal range, reproduction of greys etc, as darkroom prints - but to all intents and purposes they looked like a black and white print, and the only way to really spot a (usually slightly blue) colour cast would be to look very closely. For years I used an old, cheap Epson (came with a 1mp digicam) and had no problems printing black & white, and that was letting the software set everything for me and not changing colour balance at all. The prints still looked black and white. The problem here is that they don't have a slight green tint - it's very clearly printed in green, and you could tell it looking at a small print from across the room. That I can't easily get true neutral grey I understand, but there's a difference between not-quite-neutral-grey, and green. Are you sure it's normal? I really haven't experienced this on any other printer.

Torus34: Thanks for the suggestion, the vast majority of my images are shot on film. However where I live at the moment I genuinely don't have enough room to set up the massive enlarger I've got boxed up back home, I can't afford good quality labs and don't like having commercial photo shops decide how the print should look.

A good printer (which I thought the IP4000 was) should with good colour management be able to produce prints that are not a million miles off what they look like on the monitor. Unfortunately mine seems incapable of doing that, and I'm not sure that's meant to be the case. The reviewers who gave this printer good reviews must surely have tried printing in black & white, and if a print came out overwhelmingly green they would surely put that in the review. I'm sure something is wrong here.

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