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Author Topic: How good are Lightjet prints?  (Read 6711 times)
ChrisJR
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« on: March 17, 2008, 02:37:47 PM »
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I'm just about to complete my final project of a higher education course in Photography and I'm looking at getting my final images (8 panoramics) printed using a Lightjet printer.

Question is, are the Lightjet prints really as good as people say? The cost of the prints is obviously more than regular inkjet prints but as a student on a budget is it worth getting them printed on a Lightjet? We use an Epson 7600 at our University but it's inconsistent and constantly breaks down.

Also, what are people's experiences with Fuji Supergloss and Kodak Metallic paper?
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neil snape
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2008, 03:09:39 PM »
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Funny here in France Light Jet and or Durst are actually cheaper than inkjet prints....

Not sure if I can say how good but rather they are a photographic representation of a digital file. They profile very well, have no gloss differential problems, no banding, no illuminant metamerism problems, no bronzing.
They do not have the lightfastness of pigment prints and do not necessarily have the gamut of the more captivating pigment inkjets such as the HP Z 3100 or Canon x100 series, nor the Epson x880 series.
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ChrisJR
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2008, 03:54:19 PM »
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Thanks for the reply. Interesting your comment about the price. The lab I found here also charges less for a lightjet price than for a regular lab Noritsu printer. That's why I was wondering how good they are.

I personally still love the look of traditional paper like Kodak Endura / Super Endura, which I still regularly use, but would still be interested to hear of anyone's experiences with Fuji Supergloss or Kodak Metallic. The recent Bartyr papers seem to be getting close to the quality of traditional paper but aren't quite there yet.
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dbell
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2008, 04:59:21 PM »
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Last year, I had some prints made on the Kodak metallic surface paper. It's an interesting surface, and it can do good things for some images, but it's a unique look that doesn't work for everything. I found that I generally preferred a more traditional finish for most of my work. My advice would be to have a few small (cheap) prints made on the metallic paper to see how it suits your needs before you commit to it for a large project.


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DLS
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2008, 09:36:49 PM »
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I'm just about to complete my final project of a higher education course in Photography and I'm looking at getting my final images (8 panoramics) printed using a Lightjet printer.

Question is, are the Lightjet prints really as good as people say? The cost of the prints is obviously more than regular inkjet prints but as a student on a budget is it worth getting them printed on a Lightjet? We use an Epson 7600 at our University but it's inconsistent and constantly breaks down.

Also, what are people's experiences with Fuji Supergloss and Kodak Metallic paper?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182199\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I get lightjet prints done on fuji metallic pearl paper for certain images. I think the metallic paper looks really nice in hand, but there is less detail and smaller gamut than prints from a z3100. This is especially apparent in the dmax. That being said they do have a really smooth look that is different from inkjet output. There is something special about how this paper recreates saturated colors(especially blues).  As nice as the fuji metallic can be when looking directly at an unframed print, I don't think it displays under glass as well as inkjet prints.

FWIW The prints I've gotten were done on a Durst machine.
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kaelaria
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2008, 12:14:44 AM »
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I have dozens of lightjet prints hanging in my studio and home ranging in size from 5x7 to 14x17.  After seeing the output of the same prints from my z3100 I will never order them again for anything but wedding proofs.

They look very good, like any other regular lab photos.  Nothing fine art though.
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Scott Martin
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2008, 12:37:53 PM »
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I do a lot of research and consulting with labs on this topic and like to talk about the subtle differences between these processes and paper choices. In my option, silver halide is still exceptional for 1) metallic papers and 2) full glossy printing as far as quality is concerned. For those that prefer full glossy printing, silver halide still has a more natural look than inkjet - even inkjet processes with gloss optimizers or enhancers. Glossy silver halide prints have a depth to them that inkjet doesn't quite match which is partly due to the fact that inkjet pigments mostly sit on the surface just underneath a GO or GE layer. Silver halide papers have a gamut that's generally smaller than modern inkjet processes but the gamut distribution for silver halide is bottom heavy, resulting in deep rich saturated colors that inkjet processes often can't hit. And of course the type of profile that people use can make a huge difference on hue and saturation characteristics so have evaluation prints made to test different vendors on their quality. IMO, Monaco Profiler profiles with the perceptual saturation bumped are still the best for this kind of process.

Output sharpening typically needs to be a little more aggressive for silver halide printing than with inkjet. Some silver halide processes are slightly sharper than others. The Lightjet is one of the sharpest because the paper is firmly wrapped around a drum and stationary while it is being imaged.

The vast majority of lightjet owners print at the standard res12 (12 pixels per millimeter=304.8ppi) resolution setting. Only a few use the higher res16 (406.4ppi) resolution that is much slower. If you have very high res images that might take advantage of this difference than you might find someone who images at res16.

Most people prefer Fuji's new Pearl metallic over Kodak's Metallic and most prefer Kodak Endura glossy over other glossy papers. So if you choose silver halide you might make sure you are using one of these prime papers.

Although the term "Fine Art" is often used to describe matt surface printing on watercolor papers these days I don't see why "fine art prints" can't be glossy or metallic or anything else for that matter.

Hope this helps - have fun!
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ChrisJR
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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2008, 01:03:51 PM »
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Many thanks for the replies.

I've ordered 4 10x8 test prints on both the Kodak Metallic and Endura Gloss papers. Until recently I was regularly printing 6x6 negs onto Supra Endura gloss in the darkroom and it's easily the nicest paper I have ever used.

It will be very interesting to see how the Endura and Metallic prints compare to the one from the 7600 at college. About the Z3100, unfortunately I don't easily have access to one of these and definitely can't afford to buy one right now, although I saw some test prints which were very nice quality. Have been hugely impressed by the ipf6100 and 11880 also.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2008, 01:19:39 PM »
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I'm just about to complete my final project of a higher education course in Photography and I'm looking at getting my final images (8 panoramics) printed using a Lightjet printer.

Question is, are the Lightjet prints really as good as people say?

They can be very, very good. They look more like a conventional silver print than an ink jet because they are! But, modern ink jets have a wider gamut and of course, far more paper options and are more archival. But it all depends on what YOU feel is the best appearing print.
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Andrew Rodney
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Sven W
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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2008, 03:48:52 PM »
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They can be very, very good. They look more like a conventional silver print than an ink jet because they are! But, modern ink jets have a wider gamut and of course, far more paper options and are more archival. But it all depends on what YOU feel is the best appearing print.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182437\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

When I compare a Lambda or LightJet with a print from my Epson 11880, it's not only having
a bigger gamut but it is also much, much sharper. And that's for a 15K$ machine!

Waterbased and non-toxide. No chemicals.
/Sven
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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2008, 03:53:48 PM »
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When I compare a Lambda or LightJet with a print from my Epson 11880, it's not only having
a bigger gamut but it is also much, much sharper.

Might I suggest that Ink Jet print needs superior sharpening...
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Andrew Rodney
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Brian Gilkes
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« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2008, 04:09:12 PM »
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Most of the relevant points have been made.
The last time I checked, lightjet prints here in Oz were cheaper than inkjet.
The lack of richness/shadow depth and saturation in some inkjets is usually due to bad profiles.
There are a lot of these around. With the larger gamut of inkjet and the sheer density of 8-12 pigments laid down, compared with 3 dyes produced in lightjet, the potential of much richer inkjets can be reached with properly crafted profiles and the laying down of sufficient ink. Some suppliers cut costs by running printers faster or at lower resolutions that weaken the print. This is more difficult with lightjet.
The 9600 printer you mention is an older generation machine. It's inkset suffered from colour inconstancy and low DMax on photo type papers. It's inks took quite a while to stabilize , so getting colour right was difficult.
If you find a printing service using current inkjet printers, running at high resolution with good custom profiles, I think you will find the results more satisfying than inkjet, but you may have to pay a little more. On the other hand, lightjet are more robust and have a "look" that is somewhat more traditional which often suits reference sheets, mass production ( like postcards) , student folios and medium term display prints. I think inkjet has it for fine art.
Cheers,
Brian
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DLS
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« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2008, 01:21:15 PM »
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I do a lot of research and consulting with labs on this topic and like to talk about the subtle differences between these processes and paper choices. In my option, silver halide is still exceptional for 1) metallic papers and 2) full glossy printing as far as quality is concerned.

For those that prefer full glossy printing, silver halide still has a more natural look than inkjet - even inkjet processes with gloss optimizers or enhancers. Glossy silver halide prints have a depth to them that inkjet doesn't quite match which is partly due to the fact that inkjet pigments mostly sit on the surface just underneath a GO or GE layer.

I wanted to respond to this because in the past I would have agreed w/you, but the recent fiber papers have changed my view in this regard. The z3100/Harman gloss sitting side by side with a print of the same file on fuji metallic/lightjet tells a different story. In fact the harman print actually seems to show more depth than the fuji metallic/lightjet print. This would be hard for me to swallow if I wasn't looking at the prints myself, so I'd encourage you to check it out if you have a chance.

Quote
Silver halide papers have a gamut that's generally smaller than modern inkjet processes but the gamut distribution for silver halide is bottom heavy, resulting in deep rich saturated colors that inkjet processes often can't hit.

And of course the type of profile that people use can make a huge difference on hue and saturation characteristics so have evaluation prints made to test different vendors on their quality. IMO, Monaco Profiler profiles with the perceptual saturation bumped are still the best for this kind of process.

I can recreate pretty much the same saturation/color response as the fuji/lightjet with the self made profiles of the Z3100 by softproofing and tweaking for the harman in PS. I actually do this on certain prints that have come out well on the fuji paper because I like how it recreates certain colors.

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Although the term "Fine Art" is often used to describe matt surface printing on watercolor papers these days I don't see why "fine art prints" can't be glossy or metallic or anything else for that matter.

I agree totally.


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Scott Martin
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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2008, 07:28:19 PM »
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In fact the harman print actually seems to show more depth than the fuji metallic/lightjet print. This would be hard for me to swallow if I wasn't looking at the prints myself, so I'd encourage you to check it out if you have a chance.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182769\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I've got prints on the same papers right here as well. I think your results will vary but I still think the silver halide metallic papers have *very* unique qualities.
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I can recreate pretty much the same saturation/color response as the fuji/lightjet with the self made profiles of the Z3100 by softproofing and tweaking for the harman in PS.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182769\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
There are inherent gamut limitations that can't be overcome. Take a typical 'fall colors' shot with lots of deep reds, greens and yellow and you'll see some serious limitations of the Z series gamut (even with the best 3rd party profiles). Each printing process has it's advantages and silver halide certainly has some gamut regions that outshine other's processes, while inkjet certainly outshines silver halide in (a lot of) other areas. It's just not as simple as saying one process has a larger gamut than another - it's all about the shape of the gamut and how one process compares to another in different gamut regions.
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DLS
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« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2008, 05:23:13 PM »
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I've got prints on the same papers right here as well. I think your results will vary but I still think the silver halide metallic papers have *very* unique qualities.
There are inherent gamut limitations that can't be overcome. Take a typical 'fall colors' shot with lots of deep reds, greens and yellow and you'll see some serious limitations of the Z series gamut (even with the best 3rd party profiles). Each printing process has it's advantages and silver halide certainly has some gamut regions that outshine other's processes, while inkjet certainly outshines silver halide in (a lot of) other areas. It's just not as simple as saying one process has a larger gamut than another - it's all about the shape of the gamut and how one process compares to another in different gamut regions.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=182828\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Of course they have unique qualities. The mica particles embedded in the fuji metallic paper would be a contributing factor to unique qualities I'd think.  

The real point I was trying to make was about the apparent image "depth" that is possible with inkjet technology on the new fiber papers.

Also I said "I can recreate pretty much the same saturation/color response as the fuji/lightjet with the self made profiles of the Z3100 by softproofing and tweaking for the harman in PS ". In other words in some cases if I like the results I got on an older Fuji metallic print I'll open 2 copies of the same image and view one while softproofing with the fuji profile and the other while softproofing with the harman profile and try to make the harman match the fuji as closely as possible.

Even 2 printers of the same model won't print identically. Who would expect perfect equality between radically different technologies ? There are always plusses and minuses. That being said you have to actually TRY to get the colors in the same ballpark with softproofing and then compare prints to see what I'm getting at. You can get very close visually if you try. This is totally subjective on my part and pertains to my images. Not a test chart or a gamut plot. Neither of those things are relevant to me or the output I require to show my work.

While I have used and liked (and sold) the fuji/lightjet prints in the past, I don't think I'll be going in that direction much anymore, if ever. The z3100/harman gloss just outshines it by too wide a margin for my work.
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ChrisJR
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« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2008, 05:52:07 AM »
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I've just received my first set of c-type test prints using the regular Kodak Endura and also Metallic papers and agree they are quite different to modern inkjet prints. I recently did a series of panoramic images of the Symphony Hall here in Birmingham and had them printed 24x50+" at Focus on Imaging and while the the c-type prints don't quite have the colour gamut of a z3100 or ipf6100 (which I tested there), the c-type prints are just as good as the ones we produce on the 7600 at uni and do indeed have a unique smoothness to them.

As mentioned before I ordered a metallic copy of one of the images and it suits that particular subject better. I can see already it's not ideal for every subject but so far I'm loving it.
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William Morse
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« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2008, 11:36:58 AM »
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Just remember that C-prints won't have anywhere near the light-fastness of Epson or Z prints!

Bill

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I've just received my first set of c-type test prints using the regular Kodak Endura and also Metallic papers and agree they are quite different to modern inkjet prints. I recently did a series of panoramic images of the Symphony Hall here in Birmingham and had them printed 24x50+" at Focus on Imaging and while the the c-type prints don't quite have the colour gamut of a z3100 or ipf6100 (which I tested there), the c-type prints are just as good as the ones we produce on the 7600 at uni and do indeed have a unique smoothness to them.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=186064\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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ChrisJR
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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2008, 03:38:29 AM »
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Just remember that C-prints won't have anywhere near the light-fastness of Epson or Z prints!

Bill
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Of course. For personal work I will invest in a Z3100/ipf6100/7880 when I have the money, but for this particular project and my immediate financial situation the C-Type prints are perfectly adequate.

Chris
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