A New B&W Inkjet Option; Using An Epson R800 Or R1800 With B&W 100 Percent Carbon MIS Ink Page 3
QTR R800/R1800 Performance And Evaluation
Of course I'd have never sat down to write this piece if the results were not convincing. As background, I first learned to appreciate a "good" black and white print using Dupont Velour Black silver paper under the tutelage of an old European master by the name Boris Dobro. He taught me that the black in a print should have depth and be neutral in tone--although I tend to prefer just a slightly warm over a cool black.
I picked a few dozen images to print, each of which was individually converted from Gray Gamma 2.2.icc to the QTR - Gray Matte Paper.icc profile in Photoshop. In most instances I did some minor tweaking of the image on screen. After getting a few image files ready I made a few prints on some Epson Enhanced Matte Paper, probably my least favorite fiber-based paper, to see what I'd get. I was surprised to see really good detail in both highlights and shadows, but some prints were just too light. Although encouraged, I realized my eye needed to learn more precisely where to set the mid-tone gray center point in Levels.
After some more practice in converting to this new linear image file (work space) profile, I got it zeroed in, and my resulting prints were looking better and better, really quite good even for a paper that produces good color results, but not really dramatic black and white prints. I was reminded of a comment Roark made in the course of our conversations that black and white prints need a really exceptional D-max, a deep black density, because unlike the diversity of color, black and white depends entirely on the range of shades of just one tone.
As I progressed I tried printing on a greater variety of papers supported with Curves/Profiles made for QTR by Roark, from the surprisingly effective Epson PremierArt Scrapbook Paper to Moab Entrada and Hahnemühle Pearl. And, after a Curve/Profile was made for it, I also printed on my recent discovery of a very modestly priced watercolor paper by Premier Imaging, also sold as Illuminata Watercolor by InkJetArt.com. It produced a good D-max and very respectable black and white prints. I also confirmed what Roark had suggested--that using MIS Eboni inks you can obtain a distinct range of image tones from very cool blacks with some "bright white" types with OBAs (Optical Brightening Agents), to quite warm tones with some of the "natural" designated fiber matte papers.
My tests did confirm that some of the "new" luster fiber papers, and especially papers with a microporous coating, do not print to best advantage with the MIS Eboni pure carbon inks. I found that different kinds of subjects, such as landscapes, nature, documentary, and portraits, are favored by using different brands and types of papers. I would imagine this is as much a matter of individual taste as it is an objective observation on my part. As I was finishing a sizeable bundle of prints I checked the ink levels of the three MIS Eboni cartridges I used; they had only been lowered to a little less than half their full volume. From this I conclude that you get a lot of ink mileage using undiluted black inks in three channels.
The bottom line is, this new MIS/QTR black and white printing capability added to an Epson R800/R1800 setup is very worthwhile, especially considering I could not detect any difference in my color printing with the very same Epson R800, and that includes printing labels on CD-R discs.
The file downloaded from QuadToneRIP for an Apple Mac is a standard installation file, so proceed by following the on-screen dialog instructions and the QTR driver components will be installed in the system, leaving a folder on your desktop containing two essential folders and other items not installed. So create a folder and name it QTRIP2.5 and place it on your HD in the Applications folder. Then drag the contents in the folder the installation put on your desktop into the new QTRIP2.5 folder now in Applications.
If you want to learn more about this process and get background detail, I would suggest going to the source and reading: www.paulroark.com/BW-Info/R1800.pdf. In addition to a detailed description of why 100 percent carbon black MIS Eboni ink works to advantage, Paul Roark discusses the workflow and goes into how a critical user can control the process and "profile" papers themselves, as well as detailing his own testing of a variety of papers that can be used with his new black and white printing method. And, while you are at it, you might want to see what Roark is all about as a photographer by going to his homepage at www.paulroark.com where he provides access to a gallery of his images.