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Author Topic: digital silver prints- Durst Theta- compared to inkjet  (Read 3920 times)
teddillard
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« on: April 05, 2009, 08:03:33 AM »
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The Durst Theta B/W printer is a Lambda-like printer that exposes a traditional-type silver, light sensitive photo paper using a laser, and processes the paper in traditional chemistry.  

I ran some really basic tests, doing a sample print via the Durst, and on the Epson R2400, then scanning at 600dpi to get a little closer look.  The results were, in my opinion, pretty astounding- the dot pitch of the inkjet was more pronounced than I expected, even just at 600dpi.  

I'm throwing this out there, (and ducking for cover), if you'd like to see the quick write-up I did, see my site, here.  

Sample images attached, below.

[attachment=12757:Picture_4.png]

The inkjet print:

[attachment=12758:Picture_2.png]

The silver print:

[attachment=12759:Picture_3.png]
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Ted Dillard
Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2009, 09:42:39 AM »
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Quote from: teddillard
The Durst Theta B/W printer is a Lambda-like printer that exposes a traditional-type silver, light sensitive photo paper using a laser, and processes the paper in traditional chemistry.  

I ran some really basic tests, doing a sample print via the Durst, and on the Epson R2400, then scanning at 600dpi to get a little closer look.  The results were, in my opinion, pretty astounding- the dot pitch of the inkjet was more pronounced than I expected, even just at 600dpi.  

I'm throwing this out there, (and ducking for cover), if you'd like to see the quick write-up I did, see my site, here.

Tyler Boley has done something similar on his website, showing greatly enlarged black & white samples of scanned gelatin silver as well as native Epson ABW mode, and several different resolutions from the Piezography K7 inkset. Yes indeed, in greatly enlarged samples you can see a major difference between the relative smoothness of the traditional darkroom print and the inkjet prints. There's also an obvious difference between the Epson ABW mode and the Piezography prints, which are quite a bit smoother.

However...there are a couple of major qualifications to this. First, these distinctions fall well below the threshold of perception for the vast majority of viewers. Even with my nose pressed against the glass, I really can't see the dot structure of the inkjet print, with the exception of some highlight areas. Second, the 2400 using Epson's ABW mode uses a pretty coarse dithering algorithm compared to what's possible these days, with the necessary inclusion of random dots of color to offset the lack of neutrality in Epson's black/grey inks. Thirdly, this dot structure in the inkjet print matters a lot less than you'd think; traditional darkroom printers know that film or paper with a bit of grain will produce a print with greater apparent sharpness than smoother, grainless materials with higher measured resolution.

Finally, everything in life is a trade-off. I'll gladly accept an imperceptible inkjet dot structure in return for the huge variety of surfaces available to me for printing, and for the opportunity to print on a $3,000 wide format inkjet in my home rather than a Durst Theta, which weighs 3,300 lbs. and has a price far into the six figures.
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teddillard
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2009, 09:53:04 AM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
Tyler Boley has done something similar on his website, showing greatly enlarged black & white samples of scanned gelatin silver as well as native Epson ABW mode, and several different resolutions from the Piezography K7 inkset. Yes indeed, in greatly enlarged samples you can see a major difference between the relative smoothness of the traditional darkroom print and the inkjet prints. There's also an obvious difference between the Epson ABW mode and the Piezography prints, which are quite a bit smoother.

However...there are a couple of major qualifications to this. First, these distinctions fall well below the threshold of perception for the vast majority of viewers. Even with my nose pressed against the glass, I really can't see the dot structure of the inkjet print, with the exception of some highlight areas. Second, the 2400 using Epson's ABW mode uses a pretty coarse dithering algorithm compared to what's possible these days, with the necessary inclusion of random dots of color to offset the lack of neutrality in Epson's black/grey inks. Thirdly, this dot structure in the inkjet print matters a lot less than you'd think; traditional darkroom printers know that film or paper with a bit of grain will produce a print with greater apparent sharpness than smoother, grainless materials with higher measured resolution.

Finally, everything in life is a trade-off. I'll gladly accept an imperceptible inkjet dot structure in return for the huge variety of surfaces available to me for printing, and for the opportunity to print on a $3,000 wide format inkjet in my home rather than a Durst Theta, which weighs 3,300 lbs. and has a price far into the six figures.

Yes, indeed...  Tyler's site is here: http://www.custom-digital.com/2008/09/bw-print-quality/
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Ted Dillard
teddillard
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2009, 09:59:10 AM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
I'll gladly accept an imperceptible inkjet dot structure in return for the huge variety of surfaces available to me for printing, and for the opportunity to print on a $3,000 wide format inkjet in my home rather than a Durst Theta, which weighs 3,300 lbs. and has a price far into the six figures.

Well, even with my bad eyes and bifocals, I'm not going to go so far as to say it's imperceptible.  It does have a different, perceptible, "feel".  

Quite right, though, on the media- the great liberating thing about the inkjet printers is precisely that, for me personally, the ability to print on watercolor paper, etc.  

And beyond the weight, and the price, you have the maintenance, heavy metal waste, and, most importantly for me, (again personally), the needed communication with a guy printing the stuff.  Never liked dealing with a lab, and this brought me right back there.  

It is nice to have this tool available, though, and know what it is capable of...
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Ted Dillard
leicaman94044
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2009, 10:56:22 AM »
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Ted,
I'm seeing some pretty obvious vertical banding in your inkjet print (most visible in the flash reflector).  Do a head alignment and check results again.  The differences might not be so obvious... though you may still see some difference.

Lawrence

[quote name='teddillard' date='Apr 5 2009, 02:03 PM' post='274001']
The Durst Theta B/W printer is a Lambda-like printer that exposes a traditional-type silver, light sensitive photo paper using a laser, and processes the paper in traditional chemistry.  

I ran some really basic tests, doing a sample print via the Durst, and on the Epson R2400, then scanning at 600dpi to get a little closer look.  The results were, in my opinion, pretty astounding- the dot pitch of the inkjet was more pronounced than I expected, even just at 600dpi.  

I'm throwing this out there, (and ducking for cover), if you'd like to see the quick write-up I did, see my site, here.  


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teddillard
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2009, 11:31:27 AM »
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Quote from: leicaman94044
Ted,
I'm seeing some pretty obvious vertical banding in your inkjet print (most visible in the flash reflector).  Do a head alignment and check results again.  The differences might not be so obvious... though you may still see some difference.

Lawrence

yeah, thanks for keeping me honest, but I saw that too and ran a cleaning as well as a head align...  same result.
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Ted Dillard
Panopeeper
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2009, 11:59:19 AM »
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Apart from the vertical stripes (it is not "banding"), the ink pisser retained more details. Look at the script under the lens.
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Gabor
Bruce Watson
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2009, 03:36:34 PM »
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Quote from: teddillard
The Durst Theta B/W printer is a Lambda-like printer that exposes a traditional-type silver, light sensitive photo paper using a laser, and processes the paper in traditional chemistry.  

I ran some really basic tests, doing a sample print via the Durst, and on the Epson R2400, then scanning at 600dpi to get a little closer look.  The results were, in my opinion, pretty astounding- the dot pitch of the inkjet was more pronounced than I expected, even just at 600dpi.  

I'm throwing this out there, (and ducking for cover), if you'd like to see the quick write-up I did, see my site, here.

This does a good job of illustrating that the Epson driver, and Epson inks, are at best a compromise for B&W printing. They do OK. But you can do better, especially with more shades of gray. The Cone K7 system is the current state of the art for B&W inkjet printing, and Tyler Boley has done just an excellent job of showing how the K7s compare to the Epson K3s and the ABW driver, as shown at the link supplied above by Mr. Wittig.

Interesting that even using the Epson driver and K3 inks, inkjet still makes a sharper print than the Durst on photopaper. I wasn't expecting the Durst to lose that one.


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teddillard
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2009, 04:24:49 PM »
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Quote from: Bruce Watson
Interesting that even using the Epson driver and K3 inks, inkjet still makes a sharper print than the Durst on photopaper. I wasn't expecting the Durst to lose that one.

yeah...  I'm a little concerned about that, Eric did no sharpening to the file, I expected him to do some based on what the printer "liked".  I'm not sure if that sharpness is because of that, or just the limitation of the system.   My next series of tests, I think, should be asking him to just make the best flat-out print he can with the file.  

crap, why is it that every test I do just makes me want to do more tests?
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Ted Dillard
Bruce Watson
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2009, 06:02:11 PM »
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Quote from: teddillard
yeah...  I'm a little concerned about that, Eric did no sharpening to the file, I expected him to do some based on what the printer "liked".  I'm not sure if that sharpness is because of that, or just the limitation of the system.   My next series of tests, I think, should be asking him to just make the best flat-out print he can with the file.

I think it tells you a lot as it is. Takes the sharpening algorithms (and their artifacts if any are visible) out of the picture which is perhaps a good thing. It tells you that the Durst is inherently somewhat softer than the Epson. What it doesn't tell you is why, but it clearly points to the Durst software driving their printer.

While it's somewhat true that extra output sharpening will improve some parts of the print (perhaps at the expense of some artifacting), that won't make the Durst print the "winner" over the inkjet print. Any more than large capture sharpening will make an Epson V7xx scanner the "winner" over a drum scanner.

I'm just sayin'...
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teddillard
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« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2009, 04:27:54 AM »
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Quote from: Bruce Watson
I think it tells you a lot as it is. Takes the sharpening algorithms (and their artifacts if any are visible) out of the picture which is perhaps a good thing. It tells you that the Durst is inherently somewhat softer than the Epson. What it doesn't tell you is why, but it clearly points to the Durst software driving their printer.

While it's somewhat true that extra output sharpening will improve some parts of the print (perhaps at the expense of some artifacting), that won't make the Durst print the "winner" over the inkjet print. Any more than large capture sharpening will make an Epson V7xx scanner the "winner" over a drum scanner.

I'm just sayin'...

yup, I agree...  but I also feel you have to see it to both systems best advantage, too.  I hate to guess about this stuff, it's bit me in the butt more often than not, especially when I can just look at the results.

We'll see- I'm asking Eric to make the prints now.
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Ted Dillard
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