Dark Penguin, Iīm eagerly waiting for Mike Johnstonīs verdict; after all he did plead for good B/W printers a couple of years ago, and also wrote about an earlier HP that was said to excel in monochrome mode. He should indeed be the one to answer my question in a thorough way.
Iīm slightly disappointed with Vince Oliverīs review: it starts ambitiously, but ends prematurely. Possibly heīll reopen it when he gets more supplies, and time.
Per, I've wrestled with this one for the last five years or more. I've tried black ink only printing, Piezographic dedicated printers, Imageprint RIPs, and bureau prints from my digital files using all sorts of exotic papers.
The conclusion I've come to is that digital black and white prints are just different from silver prints. Better in some respects (deeper blacks, better tonal control), worse in others (I've never fully matched the majesty of an air dried, gloss, fibre based paper), but always different. After thirty years of traditional silver work I closed my darkroom, I occasionally regret the decision but I try not to chase the standards of the silver process and instead focus on digital's real and unique black and white strengths.
Gary, I agree totally. Iīm afraid I gave the wrong impression when I wrote about "displaying beside a good silver print": I didnīt mean that I wanted them to look indistinguishable (some digital enthusiasts seem to live for the moment when they can trick someone to mistake an inkprint for a silver one; thatīs just not on my agenda... ).
Working within the mediumīs own limits, using its strengths is what itīs all about. A good QTR print shares the dynamic range, richness, and the clean tones of a good silver print, but it doesnīt really LOOK like one: the image stays on the surface instead of permeating an emulsion layer in an almost three-dimensional way. I can live with that, just like I could live with the grain of 35 mm film. Only, I just canīt accept a medium that shifts randomly between slight magentas and slight greens without me being able to control it as a serious vehicle for my images.