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Author Topic: Disappointment with Hahnemuhle papers  (Read 18167 times)
Brad_Stiritz
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« on: September 15, 2006, 12:24:47 PM »
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Hi everyone,

This is my first post here. Sorry that it has to be a complaint about the current state of things. I had been hoping to find a better high-end paper to use in my Epson 4800, with matte black (MK) ink. I've been using Epson Enhanced Matte (EEM) paper thus far, and have been generally satisfied (contrary to some of the bad talk I've read in this forum about EEM).

Recently, I was printing a night scene, in which the blacks of the sky are deep black with a hint of color: typical value = Lab (1,-6,2) = RGB (0,8,0). I'm using a custom Dry Creek Photo profile, which is quite good. Unfortunately, my image's dark tones print with severe oversaturation of ink. Wide ripples in the paper took days to absorb. Worse, there's a continuing "water-stained" appearance in the dark tones, which I presume is basically ink sitting on top of ink.

I did several hours of research in this forum and elsewhere, which led me to the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 310 Bright White (PR-310-BW) Paper as a good candidate to replace EEM for my expositions and prints for sale. I went over to Calumet Photo in Chicago this morning, and was deeply disappointed to find that the PR-310-BW is just too rough of a paper for printing faces. Skin doesn't render in a pleasing and acceptable manner except on ultra-smooth paper. The technical salesman at Calumet tried to steer me to the Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285 with Photo Black ink. I'm really not sure though that I'm ready to give up matte ink and paper.

For goodness' sake, isn't there a heavyweight paper (over 250 g/m2) for MK which is ultra-smooth and bright white (over 100 ISO)? I do understand that this is a forum for "landscape" enthusiasts, and that textured papers probably tend to enhance landscape photos. I was just hoping that maybe someone here might have a helpful suggestion for me.

Thanks,

Brad
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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2006, 01:05:53 PM »
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Hi everyone,

This is my first post here. Sorry that it has to be a complaint about the current state of things. I had been hoping to find a better high-end paper to use in my Epson 4800, with matte black (MK) ink. I've been using Epson Enhanced Matte (EEM) paper thus far, and have been generally satisfied (contrary to some of the bad talk I've read in this forum about EEM).

Recently, I was printing a night scene, in which the blacks of the sky are deep black with a hint of color: typical value = Lab (1,-6,2) = RGB (0,8,0). I'm using a custom Dry Creek Photo profile, which is quite good. Unfortunately, my image's dark tones print with severe oversaturation of ink. Wide ripples in the paper took days to absorb. Worse, there's a continuing "water-stained" appearance in the dark tones, which I presume is basically ink sitting on top of ink.

I did several hours of research in this forum and elsewhere, which led me to the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 310 Bright White (PR-310-BW) Paper as a good candidate to replace EEM for my expositions and prints for sale. I went over to Calumet Photo in Chicago this morning, and was deeply disappointed to find that the PR-310-BW is just too rough of a paper for printing faces. Skin doesn't render in a pleasing and acceptable manner except on ultra-smooth paper. The technical salesman at Calumet tried to steer me to the Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285 with Photo Black ink. I'm really not sure though that I'm ready to give up matte ink and paper.

For goodness' sake, isn't there a heavyweight paper (over 250 g/m2) for MK which is ultra-smooth and bright white (over 100 ISO)? I do understand that this is a forum for "landscape" enthusiasts, and that textured papers probably tend to enhance landscape photos. I was just hoping that maybe someone here might have a helpful suggestion for me.

Thanks,

Brad
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Brad

I suggest you try the Red River Dourian Art. It is a 260 gsm paper that gives excellant results for portraits. Can be used with the matte black ink and it also gives excellant results with black and whites. See

[a href=\"http://www.redrivercatalog.com/browse/art.php]http://www.redrivercatalog.com/browse/art.php[/url]

Clayton uses the Red River dourian Art on an Epson 4000 and he has evaluated numerous papers at his site.

http://www.cjcom.net/articles/digiprn5.htm

After reading his comments I tried a box of the Dourian Art for B & W. I then tried it for color prints and was very pleased the way portraits came out.

It certainly is worth a try and i would order a box of 81/2x11 and give it a go.

One benefit is that it prints on both sides also.

Highly regarded.

They also have profiles for the 4800 available at there web site.

Jim A.



See the review by Calton Jones at:
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neil snape
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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2006, 01:34:39 PM »
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I agree for skin tones a lot of matte rag media are too dimpled. HP's new Hahnemuhle is a smoother whiter surface at 265g/m2. It works very well on skin and beauty photos.
It should work well on any Epson. It's called HP Smooth Fine Art.
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Brad_Stiritz
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2006, 02:37:06 PM »
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Hi Jim,

Quote
I suggest you try the Red River Dourian Art. It is a 260 gsm paper that gives excellant results for portraits. Can be used with the matte black ink and it also gives excellant results with black and whites.

Thanks very much for this recommendation. I spoke to Red River's rep Drew for a bit just now. He feels that the Dourian won't be bright enough for my taste, but is sending samples of a couple of other papers that he feels may suit me. Drew is a deeply knowledgeable rep, which was a really nice experience for a change; I'm hoping one of their papers will work out.

I'll report back next week with my initial impressions.

Thanks again for your help, very appreciated! :-)

Brad
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2006, 02:43:03 PM »
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Hi Neil,

Quote
HP's new Hahnemuhle is a smoother whiter surface at 265g/m2... It's called HP Smooth Fine Art.

Thanks for the suggestion, but the paper specs say ISO brightness 90, which won't work me unfortunately. ISO 100 is the lowest value I would be satisfied with.

Brad
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2006, 03:24:07 PM »
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Hi everyone,
<snip>
For goodness' sake, isn't there a heavyweight paper (over 250 g/m2) for MK which is ultra-smooth and bright white (over 100 ISO)? I do understand that this is a forum for "landscape" enthusiasts, and that textured papers probably tend to enhance landscape photos. I was just hoping that maybe someone here might have a helpful suggestion for me.

Thanks,

Brad
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Might try Moab Entrada 300 BW. Not sure what iso brightness is for it, but worth taking a look.
[a href=\"http://www.moabpaper.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=39]Moab Paper[/url]
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Brad_Stiritz
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« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2006, 03:41:00 PM »
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Hi Danamr,

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Might try Moab Entrada 300 BW. Not sure what iso brightness is for it, but worth taking a look.

Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately for me Entrada 300 bright is only 95 brightness..

Brad
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« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2006, 04:05:22 PM »
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Hi everyone,

This is my first post here. Sorry that it has to be a complaint about the current state of things. I had been hoping to find a better high-end paper to use in my Epson 4800, with matte black (MK) ink. I've been using Epson Enhanced Matte (EEM) paper thus far, and have been generally satisfied (contrary to some of the bad talk I've read in this forum about EEM).

Recently, I was printing a night scene, in which the blacks of the sky are deep black with a hint of color: typical value = Lab (1,-6,2) = RGB (0,8,0). I'm using a custom Dry Creek Photo profile, which is quite good. Unfortunately, my image's dark tones print with severe oversaturation of ink. Wide ripples in the paper took days to absorb. Worse, there's a continuing "water-stained" appearance in the dark tones, which I presume is basically ink sitting on top of ink.

The technical salesman at Calumet tried to steer me to the Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 285 with Photo Black ink. I'm really not sure though that I'm ready to give up matte ink and paper.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=76459\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Epson Enhanced Matte paper is actually quite good at what it can do (and wonderful for the price), but there are certain things it has trouble doing, simply because it is matte paper. There is no coincidence that you started being dissatisfied when it came to the reproduction of blacks. Despite all the great qualities of matte paper - for which I continue to use it in my 4800 - it does NOT have the richness of blacks that you would get in a paper such as the Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl or the Innova FibaPrint Gloss Type F. So if you really want those rich smooth blacks, the recommendation you got from the guy at Calumet was well-advised.

Now turning to the issue of "ink sitting on ink", I do not get that problem. But I don't use a Dry Creek profile. I use the Epson Pro4800 MKP profile that came bundled with the printer. I've had three other custom profiles made for this same paper and the canned Epson profile works just as well as all of the others. It is possible that the profile you are using is part of the problem.

You may also want to check the paper configuration settings in the Epson driver to make sure they are at their default values. (Go to "Advanced" and click on Paper Config". ) I am also assuming that you have Printer Color Management turned OFF, and that you are controlling color only through Photoshop's Print with Preview. This is really important.

A reason why you may be getting a stained appearance in the dark tones could be that the printer is reproducing noise from the image file. You may wish to verify that the image file - especially in the deep tonal areas is quite clean of noise. It is, however, normal for these blacks to take somewhat longer to dry than the other inks, and until they dry quite completely (approximately over-night) you do not see the true quality of the black - it looks somewhat "glazed".

IF after checking all your settings, image file quality and trying the Epson profile you are still having these problems of excessive black ink, it may be appropriate to drop an email to Epson's on-line tech support and ask them for advice. They are usually quite responsive and helpful.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2006, 04:07:29 PM by MarkDS » Logged

Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Brad_Stiritz
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« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2006, 06:09:42 PM »
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Hi Mark,

Thanks for your detailed response.

>if you really want those rich smooth blacks, the recommendation you got from the guy at Calumet was well-advised..

Yes, maybe; but at the same time, Hahmemuhle only supplied Calumet with one giant sample print on Fine Art Pearl 285: a B&W glamour shot of a female model. There were no large-format color photo samples, nor any prints of standard test images. So as of now, I really can't be swayed too much by one great print.

>there is no coincidence that you started being dissatisfied when it came to the reproduction of blacks. Despite all the great qualities of matte paper - for which I continue to use it in my 4800 - it does NOT have the richness of blacks that you would get in a paper such as the Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl or the Innova FibaPrint Gloss Type F.

I'm sorry, I feel you may be overgeneralizing about matte papers. I've done my own ink density tests, and I and others can see significant differences in the "richness" of deep blacks between Epson Enhanced Matte (EEM) and much heavier papers like Hahnemuhle Torchon 285. My initial conclusion is that heavy cotton papers are simply able to absorb ink and present a flat, saturated appearance better than thinner coated papers like EEM (192 gsm), at least when you get down to Lab values below L=5.

As you imply, though, there are different asthetics to matte vs. glossy, and I guess "richness" is in the eye of the beholder. In my own opinion, the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag papers present quite rich and satisfying blacks. Unfortunately, the highly textured surfaces are deal-breakers for me.

>Now turning to the issue of "ink sitting on ink", I do not get that problem. But I don't use a Dry Creek profile. I use the Epson Pro4800 MKP profile that came bundled with the printer. I've had three other custom profiles made for this same paper and the canned Epson profile works just as well as all of the others. It is possible that the profile you are using is part of the problem.

Always possible. When Ethan Hansen at Dry Creek Photo (DCP) made my profile, he did say that he likes to tweak for maximum gamut. Perhaps the profile simply exceeds EEM's ink limits in the extremely dark tones. Overall, however, I have to say that my custom DCP profile is outstanding in its rendition of both highly nuanced test images as well as challenging real-world photos. I and others see significant differences between prints of the same images through DCP and through Epson's web site profiles.

(FWIW, I'm personally saddened by the widely reported problems at Dry Creek Photo that have led to their moratorium on taking new profile orders. I'm going to get my next custom profile(s) from Digital Dog.)

>You may also want to check the paper configuration settings in the Epson driver to make sure they are at their default values. (Go to "Advanced" and click on Paper Config". ) I am also assuming that you have Printer Color Management turned OFF, and that you are controlling color only through Photoshop's Print with Preview. This is really important.

Check. I agree 100% that printer config is extremely critical, and I believe I have this configured correctly.

>A reason why you may be getting a stained appearance in the dark tones could be that the printer is reproducing noise from the image file. You may wish to verify that the image file - especially in the deep tonal areas is quite clean of noise. It is, however, normal for these blacks to take somewhat longer to dry than the other inks, and until they dry quite completely (approximately over-night) you do not see the true quality of the black - it looks somewhat "glazed".

Points well taken, thanks. I tested your hypothesis with my nighttime image by applying an extreme shift on-screen to the Levels gray-point slider in Photoshop. This washed out the entire image and revealed blotches within the dark areas very clearly. On first glance, though, there doesn't appear to be a direct correspondence between "ink staining" / "glazing" in the print and the dark blotches in the source image. I'll have to do a more careful examination sometime.

However, even if there should prove to be a direct cause-and-effect relationship between intense black in a screen image and ink-staining on print, this wouldn't change the fact that at least some heavier, all-cotton matte papers seem to better absorb and present intense blacks-- i.e. *do not* glaze & stain like EEM-- at least to my eyes. As for adequate drying / curing time, I see that same glazed look in EEM prints made 6-12 months ago, which have been in archival portfolio sleeves the whole time.

>If after checking all your settings, image file quality and trying the Epson profile you are still having these problems of excessive black ink, it may be appropriate to drop an email to Epson's on-line tech support and ask them for advice. They are usually quite responsive and helpful.

Thanks for the suggestion. As you know, Epson 4800 owners enjoy "pro" support, and I have discussed various issues with the techs from time to time.

Brad
« Last Edit: September 15, 2006, 06:29:01 PM by Brad_Stiritz » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2006, 06:52:54 PM »
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Inteersting Brad, especially your comment about the ink absorption capability of alternative matte papers. Like you, I once thought the problem may be the quality of EEM, so I experimented with several non-brightened heavy matte rag papers and found the results they produced on the same problem files were MUDDIER. I also tried ImagePrint with EMM at a reatiler's to test for driver problems, and the results from that were just about identical to what I was getting at home using the Epson driver without ImagePrint, so I saved myself that 1000 dollars. It was after all this that I came to two provisional conclusions: (1) matte papers just don't have the D-Max of non-matte papers, and (2) EEM is actually quite a nice compromise between gloss and matte because the brightener actually helps to improve D-Max relative to those mattes without it. It was all this background that led me to think something in either your profile or printer settings, or maybe the hardware itself are causing too much ink to be sprayed - because with the same printer and paper what you are describing "just ain't normal"! It sounds as if you have managed to rule-out several issues and will probably land on the cause soon enough - keep us informed - an interesting case.
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« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2006, 09:07:42 PM »
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Hi Mark,

Thanks for your additional comments.

>It was all this background that led me to think something in either your profile or printer settings, or maybe the hardware itself are causing too much ink to be sprayed..

Yes, definitely I agree, too much ink is being sprayed. No question there. IMO, it's probably an over-tweaked profile. Unfortunately, as I said, the profile is excellent in general, so I don't really have good reason to throw it out.

>I came to two provisional conclusions: (1) matte papers just don't have the D-Max of non-matte papers, and (2) EEM is actually quite a nice compromise between gloss and matte because the brightener actually helps to improve D-Max relative to those mattes without it.

Agreed with both points. In the same spirit, my provisional observations are that (1) the increased ability to deal with ink allows some thicker matte papers to produce deeper blacks than EEM, and (2) many of those thicker matte papers also have optical brighteners.

My hope is that when I find a paper that has the qualitative features I'm looking for, detailed testing and profiling will prove that it's an overall step up from EEM. I've attached a PNG of a test image I like to use, which I've created from several sources. In the course of my paper chase, I've been studying prints of this image alongside the Gretag-Macbeth chart. It's given me some ability to infer paper qualities without even profiling.

Brad

[attachment=954:attachment]
« Last Edit: September 15, 2006, 09:14:52 PM by Brad_Stiritz » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2006, 09:47:10 PM »
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Hi Mark,

IMO, it's probably an over-tweaked profile. Unfortunately, as I said, the profile is excellent in general, so I don't really have good reason to throw it out.

My hope is that when I find a paper that has the qualitative features I'm looking for, detailed testing and profiling will prove that it's an overall step up from EEM.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=76537\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Brad,

A profile can't be excellent in general if is causing that kind of trouble. Once you are sure that's the problem, which should be easily detectable by printing the same image with say the Epson profile or another custom profile to see whether the same thing happens, you may well decide to chuck it and use another one.

I have no doubt there should be papers that demonstrate higher quality in certain respects relative to EEM - and you can bet it will also cost a bundle more - but it's all for art's sake, so............onward and upward.
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« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2006, 11:41:58 PM »
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Profiles are not the cause of overinking. It's the Epson media setting that controls the amount of ink laid down, not the profile.

What media setting did you use when you had Ethan make the profile? Did you use his eval target to determine this? Even doing this and using the lowest ink setting (wc-rw) I have overinking problems with some papers and the only solution I found is to use a RIP where I can dial in ink reduction.

Or does a 4800 provide for linearization?

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« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2006, 01:12:53 AM »
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Hi Neil,
Thanks for the suggestion, but the paper specs say ISO brightness 90, which won't work me unfortunately. ISO 100 is the lowest value I would be satisfied with.

Brad
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=76478\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


i1 reading on the paper white 96.5 0.6 -0.8. There are some brighter papers out there but none that aren't too enriched with OBA.
I can see though that rag papers won't make your contrast as the EEM would. I don't see  any matte rag media getting much below L15 whereas you note an L5 further on.
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« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2006, 09:32:40 AM »
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Don, profiles can cause such problems but the media setting and the ink setting are most likley more determinative. When you dial down the ink, you may also sacrifice some dynamic range, but that could be the lesser of two evils in some cases.

Neil - true, most matte papers, especially with no OBAs, start having problems differentiating tones below L = 15. I find EEM can differentiate between 12 and 15, but below 12 it struggles.
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« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2006, 11:15:23 AM »
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Mark, Neil, Don,

Thanks for your all your respective comments.

Mark--

>A profile can't be excellent in general if is causing that kind of trouble [overinking of deep blacks]...

Sorry, I think you're overgeneralizing again here; plus I disagree with your semantics. To say that something or someone "can't be excellent in general" if it/she/he breaks down in extreme circumstances is pretty harsh IMO. In any case, my prints to date with the Dry Creek Profile *have* been excellent in general. Most of my work doesn't have broad regions of dense black. Of course, your work and your needs may be different.

Don--

>Profiles are not the cause of overinking. It's the Epson media setting that controls the amount of ink laid down, not the profile.

Point well taken, "in general"  

>What media setting did you use when you had Ethan make the profile?

Enhanced Matte

>Did you use his eval target to determine this?

Yes, I did print the eval target for EEM; but no, I didn't print several targets with a variety of media settings.

>Even doing this and using the lowest ink setting (wc-rw) I have overinking problems with some papers and the only solution I found is to use a RIP where I can dial in ink reduction.

Thanks for mentioning. Hopefully I won't have to get into RIP printing; we'll see how things go.

Neil--

>i1 reading on the paper white 96.5 0.6 -0.8. There are some brighter papers out there but none that aren't too enriched with OBA.

Thanks for mentioning your readings; sorry, I don't have a spectrophotometer myself, and don't know the scales or interpretation. As for OBA's, IMO they're a necessary evil, if in fact they are evil. I haven't seen the evidence yet that they need to be avoided at all costs.

>I can see though that rag papers won't make your contrast as the EEM would. I don't see any matte rag media getting much below L15 whereas you note an L5 further on.

I guess we'll see. Again, I'm only doing subjective ink limit tests currently, so you might be right. However, Hahne. Torchon 285 at least appears to show separation well below L10 (where I'm defining printed L10 relative to the printed "L0" patch).

Brad
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« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2006, 12:42:48 PM »
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>What media setting did you use when you had Ethan make the profile?

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=76594\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I found that watercolor-radiant white works best with almost all third-party rag papers, including hahnemuehle. Others overink. If you print Ethan's eval you can see this in the small "+"s.

- DL
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« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2006, 05:17:09 PM »
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Mark--

>A profile can't be excellent in general if is causing that kind of trouble [overinking of deep blacks]...

Sorry, I think you're overgeneralizing again here; plus I disagree with your semantics. To say that something or someone "can't be excellent in general" if it/she/he breaks down in extreme circumstances is pretty harsh IMO. In any case, my prints to date with the Dry Creek Profile *have* been excellent in general. Most of my work doesn't have broad regions of dense black. Of course, your work and your needs may be different.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=76594\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It's not a matter of semantics, but more of "strategy". As often the case, it is perhaps an instance of one shoe not fitting all. There is no harm using different profiles for different images, depending on which works best with which. If you find the Dry Creek profile excellent for everything except the problem you brought to this Forum, I'd be the last one to suggest that anyone shouldn't use what works well for them, but why not try another profile for the troubled images?
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« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2006, 01:09:50 PM »
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Brad, as a simple test why not try the printing the problem image using Ethan's profile and WC/RW media setting? This isn't ideal (profile should be made from same media setting) but I find that it works within reason, and might tell you if it's worth getting another profile made.

- DL
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« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2006, 08:55:22 PM »
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Mark, Don,

Thanks for your respective comments and suggestions. I'm starting to think that the issue I'm dealing with here is either gloss differential or gloss artifact, as defined here:

http://www.incits.org/tc_home/w11htm/2001d...differential%22

"Gloss artifacts include such items as streaks and banding that are one-dimensional in nature, and patches that are a form of two-dimensional, possibly sparse, mottle. Gloss bands, streaks and mottle are most easily evaluated in flat fields of uniform density."

I see mottled or "water-stain" artefacts in EEM/4800/MK most easily under strong incident light at a 45 degree angle. Previously I had said that this effect was restricted to the darkest of dark tones, but now looking more carefully at my entire test chart (see attachment in previous post), I can see significant reflective mottling in several of the Gretag Macbeth Color Chart patches (e.g. moderate red, purple, red, neutral 3.5), and less significant but still clearly visible mottling in several other patches-- again, when the print is held at an angle.

These facts lead me to believe that my original gripe about EEM is an ink-density-dependent effect that isn't going to go away unless ink density is measureably reduced. This brings us to the points & suggestions you each made (and thanks for those, BTW):

Mark>When you dial down the ink, you may also sacrifice some dynamic range, but that could be the lesser of two evils in some cases.

Don>as a simple test why not try the printing the problem image using Ethan's profile and WC/RW media setting? This isn't ideal (profile should be made from same media setting) but I find that it works within reason, and might tell you if it's worth getting another profile made.

For my experiment, I printed my composite test image via the Dry Creek EEM profile, on EEM paper, but with the "singleweight matte" media setting in the Epson driver, rather than the EEM setting. I found much less severe (but not eliminated) gloss artefacts, as well as significant shifts in the lighter Gretag Macbeth hues.

Mark>why not try another profile for the troubled images?

My experience has been that really good custom profiles produce significantly better prints than non-custom profiles. Having read "Real World Color Management", I'm not inclined to get into profile tweaking / editing. It's unclear to me at this point whether it would be preferable to get a new custom EEM paper profile for the EEM media setting, or for another setting, e.g. Singleweight Matte. There are risks of dissatisfaction and wasted money either way.

OTOH, gloss mottling is evident at 45 degrees in the Hahne. Torchon 285 test image print as well, so there are a number of variables to sort out... ay yi yi! My next step well may be to get a can of Premier Art spray and see if that can even out the surface finish.

Brad

p.s. Don, FWIW, I don't see immediately why WC/RW would lay down less ink than EEM. It makes much more sense to me that the first set of paper types listed in the Epson driver would be ordered by increasing ink density: Photo Quality Ink Jet paper, Singleweight Matte, Enhanced Matte, Archival Matte, Watercolor.
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Brad Stiritz
candid portraits
www.brad.stiritz.net
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