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Author Topic: Printing advanced black and white from LR4?  (Read 16392 times)
Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #40 on: April 25, 2012, 01:14:34 PM »
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Actually that isn’t so, at least in terms of the end user having to supply, use or select a profile. In the state of it’s original design, ABW doesn’t require any output profiles and the color portion of the Epson driver can operate without them as well.
I don't think you are arguing that users who print out color prints should accept the fact that the Epson driver can manage color in the absence of a profile.  One might get some kind of "acceptable" print in this type of workflow but it would not be optimal.  Those of us who do a lot of B/W work have found that optimal results come from the use of the ABW driver with a comparable profile.  I really wish that you would quit bad mouthing this approach by referring the ABW driver as a "black box."  Apple just made a bad choice to impose its version of CM on that community of users which has screwed up the ABW workflow that we Win users employ.  I'm just getting a little tired of hearing this "black box" argument when it just is wrong.
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S Kale
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« Reply #41 on: April 25, 2012, 01:18:34 PM »
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One opinion, yes, one of many.

Perhaps you had something to do with the design of Epson ABW and are offended by my remark that its design was inadequate. If that's the case then I can only apologise and suggest that you consider improving the design of the product. If not then I am at a loss to explain your defence of ABW when it can be improved.

I guess one ought to define "the vast majority". If we are talking all people who use computers, displays and printers I would say that the vast majority haven't  a clue about colour management and how to deploy it at all. Same for many people who occasionally print a B&W photograph.

But Epson ABW wasn't designed to appeal to this definition of the vast majority.  It was aimed directly at appeasing the demands/needs of relatively sophisticated B&W printers. For a very high number of these, it (again) fell short. In the same way that those who are serious about colour printing can benefit from learning about colour management, those who are serious about printing B&W can benefit from the deployment of QTR (or Eric's) profiles in their workflow.

How much effort one puts in to learn and deploy these tools, for either colour printing or B&W printing, simply depends on how serious one is, one's mental aptitude and one's budget. Thankfully, the budget needed to deploy these tools for B&W use is considerably less than it is for colour.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #42 on: April 25, 2012, 01:30:12 PM »
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Perhaps you had something to do with the design of Epson ABW and are offended by my remark that its design was inadequate.

Nope. I don’t find it inadequate and I suspect neither do the vast majority of users. The overwhelming reports of dissatisfaction would be found where?

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I guess one ought to define "the vast majority". If we are talking all people who use computers, displays and printers I would say that the vast majority haven't  a clue about colour management and how to deploy it at all. Same for many people who occasionally print a B&W photograph.

Their understanding varies. But their satisfaction with the output isn’t such that we hear complaints all over the web about it. And I know a lot of pretty darn savvy, high end users who find the output to be perfectly acceptable. I don’t recall anyone complaining about the quality of the B&W prints throughout the Epson Print Academy tours, either attendees or the pretty well know photographers who’s work was shown.

I suppose the group of photographers here just don’t have your level of print quality sophistication?
http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/jsp/Pro/FocalPoints/Story/Epson900Series.do

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But Epson ABW wasn't designed to appeal to this definition of the vast majority.

How so?

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In the same way that those who are serious about colour printing can benefit from learning about colour management, those who are serious about printing B&W can benefit from the deployment of QTR (or Eric's) profiles in their workflow.

You prefer the output using QTR, great. There are those who prefer the output using ImagePrint. To say those that are using the supplied driver and mythology are somehow unsophisticated consumers or users who don’t know a good print is simply disingenuous. I suspect I could get a small group of QTR users who would say ImagePrint output is inferior and the same number of ImagePrint users who would say the same is true using QTR.

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How much effort one puts in to learn and deploy these tools, for either colour printing or B&W printing, simply depends on how serious one is, one's mental aptitude and one's budget. Thankfully, the budget needed to deploy these tools for B&W use is considerably less than it is for colour.

Well people who like to send endless time and money on differing solutions and then need to convince others that doing something any other way is inferior will probably agree with you.
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Andrew Rodney
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S Kale
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« Reply #43 on: April 25, 2012, 02:50:56 PM »
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Nope. I don’t find it inadequate and I suspect neither do the vast majority of users. The overwhelming reports of dissatisfaction would be found where?

I can only speak for group: Digital B&W The Print.  This group certainly represents a notable gathering of people interested in producing the best B&W prints available and is quite likely more B&W centric than the group you refer to (although that is conjecture on my part).

You prefer the output using QTR, great.

Quite the contrary. I do not use Quadtone RIP. I used to but I don't anymore.  I use Epson ABW with QTR Create ICC profiles. That's quite different. I abandoned the use of a dedicated B&W inks, a "full-control" RIP such as QTR (I also explored Imageprint at one point) in favour of Epson ABW when it came out.  I made a personal decision to sacrifice quality for convenience. I knew full well that ABW wasn't going to produce the best available output but, when profiled, it was ok for my needs. (And, yes, I have prints made with QTR and dedicated ink sets by people such as Paul Roark and, yes, they are far superior to ABW's output.)

It's worth noting here that QTR Create ICC did not come about as a fix for Epson ABW. Rather it came about to address the shortcoming in any B&W workflow that didn't rely on ICC colour management. It came about, in no small part, as a result of heavy badgering by me on the Digital B&W The Print group in response to an issue typically experienced (at that time) by all users of RIPs (including QTR) to produce B&W images. Users, and the issue was, of course, most noticeable in printing to matt papers, typically complained of "flat prints that were considerably lighter than those on screen" despite having correctly set ink limits, linearised ink channels etc. I argued (I had a lot more free time then) that this was directly caused by the lack of gamut management between an image file which could range from perfect black to perfect white to a printer gamut (albeit with linearised L*) that had a seriously deficient black and less than ideal white and that indeed such output was to be expected as a result. I likely never had the terminology right nor a complete understanding of the issues - I am not a colour management professional - but I did ask an important question: why can't we extract that part of ICC colour management that pertains to luminance management and apply it to B&W printing. QTR Create ICC began life as tone curves in PS trying to address this issue, then kTRC curves in somewhat bastardised ICC profiles and finally with the necessary ICC profile features to provide soft-proofing. Roy had the brains and programming expertise to generate the simple little droplet application that QTR Create ICC is today. It was equally applicable to Quadtone RIP (or any other B&W RIP) and Epson ABW.

I do believe (again, my opinion) Epson encountered this "flat and lighter than expected" issue very directly when they built ABW. It is no coincidence in my view that the default ABW setting is "darker". Whether they understood the issue completely or simply fudged an answer I don't know, but they did feel the need to introduce curves in the driver to darken the otherwise too-light output. Perhaps they introduced the exact appropriate tone curve, recognising that it could be handled by a special ICC profile but baulked at adding this complication to the workflow. The output would suggest they didn't.


Well people who like to send endless time and money on differing solutions and then need to convince others that doing something any other way is inferior will probably agree with you.

We all make trade-offs and sometimes we simply aren't aware of what is available to us. QTR Create ICC is available to anyone who has access to a densitometer or spectrophotometer. Those who own the latter are presumably already making their own colour profiles. To dismiss the easily-achieved performance increase available to these people as a "hack" is rather shortsighted.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 03:14:38 PM by S Kale » Logged
S Kale
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« Reply #44 on: April 25, 2012, 03:57:27 PM »
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And who would use Epson papers for serious work? They really aren't good at all. So, just like using a profile to improve ABW, many of us use better quality papers to enhance the quality of the output achievable with an Epson printer.
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Farmer
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« Reply #45 on: April 25, 2012, 05:20:57 PM »
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So all those extremely successful photogs using Epson papers are just idiots and ripping off their customers?
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mac_paolo
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« Reply #46 on: April 25, 2012, 05:45:57 PM »
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And who would use Epson papers for serious work? They really aren't good at all. So, just like using a profile to improve ABW, many of us use better quality papers to enhance the quality of the output achievable with an Epson printer.
I don't use Epson paper anymore because I found that Ilford GFS works so good for me. I like the color and the finish.
I used to print on Epson Luster, even on large formats.
I like Ilford GFS more than Epson Luster, but I know Pros that work with Epson papers alone, and they do great jobs. I wouldn't judge their work from the paper chosen (unless its a generic OEM cheap paper, of course).
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S Kale
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« Reply #47 on: April 25, 2012, 06:39:57 PM »
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So all those extremely successful photogs using Epson papers are just idiots and ripping off their customers?


Well they're certainly not producing the best work possible and their customers aren't getting a printed image anywhere near as good as that which can be produced.

In my view, Epson papers are only useful for proofing. Their PK papers are absolutely terrible versus a quality product like Hahnemuehle Photorag Baryta. Awful bronzing and metamerism.
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #48 on: April 25, 2012, 07:02:05 PM »
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I do believe (again, my opinion) Epson encountered this "flat and lighter than expected" issue very directly when they built ABW. It is no coincidence in my view that the default ABW setting is "darker". Whether they understood the issue completely or simply fudged an answer I don't know, but they did feel the need to introduce curves in the driver to darken the otherwise too-light output. Perhaps they introduced the exact appropriate tone curve, recognising that it could be handled by a special ICC profile but baulked at adding this complication to the workflow. The output would suggest they didn't.
This is the one really big problem about using ABW alone.  You only have this little postage stamp window of a sample image to show you what the various settings do which bears no reality at all to the image you want to print.  If you don't use some type of managed workflow, you will have to do some guess work to figure out what the right setting is.  We don't tolerate this for color work and should not tolerate it for B/W.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #49 on: April 25, 2012, 07:14:02 PM »
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In my view, Epson papers are only useful for proofing. Their PK papers are absolutely terrible versus a quality product like Hahnemuehle Photorag Baryta. Awful bronzing and metamerism.

It is getting progressively more difficult to read your views and take them seriously with this and the last post about Epson papers. First off, some of the papers you find so awful are made by other companies with differing labels on them including Epson’s. But your point about metamerism proves that you don’t understand what the word means. Look it up. Metamerism is a good thing, without it, we’d never have two differing media provide a visual match.

The word metamerism only applies to two color patches when they are compared.  It is not correct to refer to one color from a given ink or paper and say that it suffers from metamerism.  A "meterameric pair of color patches" means that they appear to match under a given illuminate.  They may not appear to match under another illuminate.If it was not for metamerism, none of our three color reproduction systems would work.  Because of metamerism we are able, using only three colors, to cause the human vision system to perceive a match between this tristimulus reproduction system and full spectral pigment.Metamerism is not a fault in a given color reproduction system.  Metamerism is a good thing.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #50 on: April 25, 2012, 07:51:42 PM »
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Well, in that there is no "manufacturer" in this case I would agree with you but there are a lot of people willing to help out someone with no access to a densitometer (see the last paragraph below).

I'm really not sure I know what you're saying here.  I'm not sure you do either.  The statement makes no sense.

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I said that the ABW driver is no more a "black box" than any other. Both need/should be used with profiles. It's a real shame that Epson missed a beat and didn't deploy this extension of their great ABW driver - and make available profiles for at least their papers and the standard settings (warm, cool etc). But then they've always been focused elsewhere and not on B&W. ABW was a good step forward but it's far, far away from current "state-of-the-art" B&W printing. It is, however, when coupled with QTR ICC profiles, tremendously convenient for the average user.

No argument with the bolded comment.  I believe I stated as much above.  Re, the QTR profiles, you continue to ignore the statements I made previously.

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I think you miss the point a little bit but I will attempt to answer your question. In crude terms, as you undoubtedly know, with a conventional colour profile and colour printing, we profile (as opposed to calibrate) a printer by measuring its colour response to a set of colour numbers and then try - as much as possible within the available gamut - to get the printer the produce the right colours by altering the image file numbers "on the fly" as it is sent to the printer. Various methods manage any necessary gamut compression including the rendering intent and black point compensation.

When black and white printing (when not using a colour workflow), we use the driver to select hue and, typically, only send it a single channel file (or, as you note, an RGB file where R=G=B). In a RIP such as QTR, managing hue is done by selecting which inks (they may be colour inks or a graded B&W ink set which in turn may or may not have warm and cool inks for toning) are used, when and in what amounts. In ABW, this is managed with the (very convenient) hue picker (or standard settings) which drives how the ink channels are used/mixed. I may want a warm print (via either driver) and so not desire a=b=0 across the gradation from paper white to ink black, even though my image in PS appears as a (neutral) greyscale file (whether in an RGB or single channel workspace). If a QTR ICC profile tried to manage a* and b* then it would attempt to alter file values to reverse the selected hue in ABW. So in outbound management of the file, a* and b* are ignored. Rather we are only concerned with fitting the image's luminance ramp into the narrower print space (for, particularly for matt papers, the printer doesn't get close to a perfect black or even a perfect white). We record the luminance response of the printer for various stimulus numbers build a curve for that response and embed it into an ICC profile shell. Together with BPC, the profile manages the file to print space "luminance gamut" transition by changing the files numbers (either single channel or, in the case of an RGB image, with always R=G=B) to produce the appropriate, corrected L*. So this is what I mean by a* and b* aren't managed. a* and b* are left to fall where they may according to the shift in L*.

Condescending attitude aside, I don't know that I am missing the point. When the goal is to create a neutral b&w print there is no hue.  That was my point.  In that case, only brightness values should be required.  I don't use ABW for toning prints.  If I want to tone a print, I do it myself so I have full control over the end result and print using the standard color workflow with a proper profile.  I'll apologise for any confusion of my earlier response.

I've deleted the rest because it's largely irrelevant.  Except to say that Colorsync is a Mac utility and I'm not a brainwashed member of the Jobsian cult.  Grin 
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Farmer
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« Reply #51 on: April 25, 2012, 08:52:18 PM »
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You've tried every Epson paper then?

What a load of rubbish.
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S Kale
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« Reply #52 on: April 26, 2012, 04:00:38 AM »
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 Metamerism is a good thing.

When I use the this term, I am referring to colour shift with changes in lighting. Shifts to green or magenta casts are a bad thing for B&W printing. The introduction of LK and LLK inks helped a lot with this issue but the quality of their branded papers (I don't care who actually manufactures them or where they are made) remains poor.
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S Kale
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« Reply #53 on: April 26, 2012, 04:07:20 AM »
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I'm really not sure I know what you're saying here.  I'm not sure you do either.  The statement makes no sense.

It makes perfect sense in the context of the discussion.

Re, the QTR profiles, you continue to ignore the statements I made previously.

Not at all.

When the goal is to create a neutral b&w print there is no hue. 

Who said anything about constraining the use of ABW to "neutral" prints? ABW is designed to provide colour toning. In other RIPs such as QTR we use various inks to add colour toning. In managing the transition from image file to print space we don't colour manage the hue but do manage the luminance axis.

  Except to say that Colorsync is a Mac utility and I'm not a brainwashed member of the Jobsian cult.  Grin 

Use whatever utility you prefer then. As to the comment about "the Jobsian cult" we'll just let that slide.
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S Kale
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« Reply #54 on: April 26, 2012, 04:37:38 AM »
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You've tried every Epson paper then?

What a load of rubbish.

Yep, pretty much.  I don't rate them at all. (The boxes and rolls of Epson paper I do have left are gathering dust.) But I do admire your brand loyalty. Are you in any way affiliated with Epson?

You are free to use whatever paper you want and to not consider non-Epson products (such as utilities to profile ABW or better papers) to get better results than the out-of-the-box capabilities of your printer. Anyone is. We all make trade-offs and compromises and have what we like and don't like. But to put the blinkers on is unhealthy and, to get this discussion back on topic, to consider utilities that enhance ABW as "hacks" is disappointing (particularly from people so interested in colour management).

Epson make great printers but there are many ways to improve on an all-Epson solution. One of these is to use a utility such as QTR Create ICC to improve the output of ABW. It's not a "hack" and the Epson ABW driver is no more a "black box" than any other driver. The use of profiles to improve ABW is available to anyone with a densitometer or spectrophotometer. If you have either, give it a go; you may well be surprised. Just as you may well be surprised if you explore some of the other papers that are available out there.

The B&W community is, perhaps, a quirky one. The goal of being able to replicate the quality of the silver gelatine print has made leaders in the field of digital black and white printing particularly fussy about the quality of their work. A neutral B&W print exposes many issues in the digital printing process that can be masked in colour printing. These include bronzing and metamerism (whether that term is being used correctly by the community or not). B&W has largely been ignored by major digital printer manufacturers. As I noted above, the introduction of LK and LLK inks were a very welcome addition. ABW (and HP's equivalent) was another helpful step forward. Unfortunately, there's not been much if anything since from the printer manufacturers (how long has that been now - almost 10 years?).  Profiling utilities such as QTR Create ICC and, formerly, Eric's work improved things further as the colour management companies continue to ignore B&W. Meanwhile papers (particularly PK papers) have continued to improve tremendously and champions of dedicated B&W have continued to charge ahead with K7 ink sets.

The quality one can now get out of an Epson printer, with leading (non-Epson) papers, K7 inks and utilities such as QTR Create ICC is tremendous. But no, Epson isn't providing it all. Even without too much fussing, trial and tribulation the convenience of ABW (with the Epson ink set) can be improved on. Such improvement shouldn't be discouraged.
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Farmer
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« Reply #55 on: April 26, 2012, 04:58:55 AM »
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You are free to use whatever paper you want and to not consider non-Epson products

Who said I don't use non-Epson papers?  I'm merely questioning your ridiculous claim that all Epson papers are poor quality.  I'm sorry, but I just don't believe you've tested the dozens of Epson branded papers.  It's a sweeping generalisation for which you've offered no objective or quantative evidence to support your claim.
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S Kale
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« Reply #56 on: April 26, 2012, 06:11:31 AM »
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Well I just too another look at the Epson UK website and scrolled through their "fine art" and "photographic" papers.  Absent the canvas ones (I don't print to canvas) I've tried almost all of them (only a few exceptions and in most cases these are derivatives of one of the other papers I have tried). I don't consider them "state-of-art". Better results can be achieved with third party papers, particularly (in my view) those from Hahnemuehle. But, hey, that's just my personal opinion. If you really like them and consider them the best available, go ahead, use them to your heart's content. I merely made the statement that third party papers are another example (alongside QTR Create ICC) of one's ability to improve on the Epson package. If you don't believe me when I say I have tried almost all of the Epson papers it would be impractical for me (in this discussion format) to endeavour to furnish evidence to support my claims (and I feel no need to).

Of more importance is my willingness to explore and embrace products and utilities that improve on the basic Epson product. I've tried many papers from many manufacturers over the years as new papers made claims to have eliminated the issues of their predecessors. Just because Epson ABW didn't come canned with QTR Create ICC I don't consider it a hack and because I have a spectrophotometer I use it to improve on Epson ABW. If I had more time and more space I would also, without doubt, dedicate another printer to B&W and run it with a dedicated B&W ink set. For now, I compromise quality for convenience and keep hoping that Epson and the colour management industry (including those in a position to raise issues with the likes of Apple such as the compulsory conversion of greyscale files to Generic Gray Gamma 2.2 by the current version of OS-X) don't continue to ignore the B&W community but rather continue to push forward improvements in quality.

In the last 10 years Epson have only made two contributions to B&W printing.  First, the introduction of LK and then, some 5 years later, LLK (together with ABW).  Imagine a world where Apple had moved at this pace (Bob is in heaven dreaming of this). We'd still have disk-based iPods, no iPhone, no iPad, no App store...

Have fun folks
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 06:30:11 AM by S Kale » Logged
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« Reply #57 on: April 26, 2012, 06:36:22 AM »
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Who said anything about constraining the use of ABW to "neutral" prints? ABW is designed to provide colour toning. In other RIPs such as QTR we use various inks to add colour toning. In managing the transition from image file to print space we don't colour manage the hue but do manage the luminance axis.

I did.  I'd venture that there are a fair number of people who, if they are going to tone their b&w prints, don't do it in ABW but do it themselves then print using a colour workflow.  The reason I do it, is that it can't be controlled and it can't be softproofed. 

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Use whatever utility you prefer then. As to the comment about "the Jobsian cult" we'll just let that slide.

Clearly you don't have a sense of humour.  Pity.

You ask Farmer whether, because he likes Epson papers, he's affiliated with Epson.  One could pose the same question to you about Hahnemuhle. 
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S Kale
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« Reply #58 on: April 26, 2012, 06:53:36 AM »
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I did.  I'd venture that there are a fair number of people who, if they are going to tone their b&w prints, don't do it in ABW but do it themselves then print using a colour workflow.  The reason I do it, is that it can't be controlled and it can't be soft proofed.  

It can be controlled and soft-proofed with ABW and QTR Create ICC.  I can also convert images to the profile I use to proof that toning and save this toned image for electronic display.

I fear that using the colour driver to print a slightly toned "B&W" (or perhaps I should say monotone) image would under-utilise the LLK and introduce too much M, C and Y.

Clearly you don't have a sense of humour.  Pity.

I do. Was that meant to be funny? Ok, sorry I missed the joke.

You ask Farmer whether, because he likes Epson papers, he's affiliated with Epson.  One could pose the same question to you about Hahnemuhle.  

And I would be very happy to answer that question. I have no affiliation with them whatsoever other than I am a user of their products.  If someone else comes up with something better I will switch.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #59 on: April 26, 2012, 08:41:53 AM »
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When I use the this term, I am referring to colour shift with changes in lighting. Shifts to green or magenta casts are a bad thing for B&W printing. The introduction of LK and LLK inks helped a lot with this issue but the quality of their branded papers (I don't care who actually manufactures them or where they are made) remains poor.

That isn’t metamerism and has nothing to do with metamerism. And it has nothing to do with papers unless you want to start discussing OBAs. Doesn’t matter, your points are difficult to take at face value based on mangling of the langauge among other points.

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But I do admire your brand loyalty. Are you in any way affiliated with Epson?

Case in point. It appears that anyone who disagrees with your rather weak arguments must somehow be affiliated with Epson. You affiliated with HP or Canon?
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Andrew Rodney
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