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StoneNYC
27-Aug-2014, 20:07
So I'm just going to be getting into doing some printing work on my own, my normal processes to scan my Chrome images my transparency is that is, and send them off to the lab to be printed by someone else using a lambda / lightjet type of printer on RA4 paper.

Well speaking to a few of the new professors that I have in school as well as a working photographer who I randomly met on the street while I was shooting, both of which have stated that the dynamic range of inkjet pigment prints is much higher than the dynamic range of RA4 paper and that my crown prince would look much better on the pigment print rather than the traditional chemical print, but I'm wondering just how much of a difference there is as well as how much I can really differentiate in that degree, I know that the eye it has a much higher dynamic range of its own but will you really notice the difference?

I will obviously at some point be doing this myself and testing the theory, but that won't come for quite a little while in my schooling career, so I'm wondering if anyone can shed any light on this?

Also just out of curiosity he, if anyone has worked with Cibichrome/Ilfochrome prints and could comment on The dynamic range of those that would be great, I know there are many other factors will all want to discuss about the pants but my main curiosity and my main question has to do with the dynamic range and color red production aspects of these different kinds of pants and not the archival quality or anything like that. At least not now. I do welcome anyone who wants to discuss those other things to open up a new thread and link to it here if you'd like to discuss that stuff that way we can all enjoy a good discussion about all aspects of this but still not lose focus on what we're discussing here in this thread.

Thanks!

~Stone

bob carnie
28-Aug-2014, 00:06
You will find out that current inkjet printers can show a slightly larger colour gamut in certain regions than a RA4 Print. The difference is significant in some of the colours. My feeling is that you can capture all the colours(that RA4 print material) plus some, available using inkjet media today. I am speaking of the 12 ink set machines currently available. (I use a Cannon IPF 9400 with their new ink set. It should be pointed out that I also have a Durst Lambda 76 and use the full Fuji RA4 line of papers.

I feel the main difference, between the two is that with RA4 prints( and if course Cibachrome)the image seems to live within the emulsion.. With Inkjet the image seems to live closer to the surface, (more pronounced with the heavy matt papers.)

Any printer worth their salt will tell you that Cibachrome had a much better defined Red colour rendition than RA4 print product. Cibachrome also had an incredible gloss which really made all the colours shine, the closest paper right now to that look is Fuji Crystal Archive Flex. I have not seen a inkjet paper YET to come close to this final gloss.


I have use all three of the above and am currently printing two of them( I stopped printing Cibachrome in 2006 due to manufacture issues)…. I love the look of RA4 prints, but I have to grudgingly admit( through working with both daily) that current inkjet technology has a better colour gamut and flexibility not offered with RA4.
I am happy with both medias and continue to print both without hesitation.

Anyone telling you one is better than the other is pretty much blinded , as both methods of printing offer great possibliitys.

Daniel Stone
28-Aug-2014, 01:57
Make the best prints you can on both technologies, squeeze each until it's about to burst and you wave the white flag... Then sit back and compare them to each other, and take some notes on what you see. Write down your observations. Highlight quality? Shadow density(like blacks), tonal transitions, etc... Leave them be for a couple of days, then come back and look at them again, with fresh eyes. Then do that a 3rd time(again, after a few more days). You'll probably notice something different. Take notes each time. After the third time, compare all of your notes(a separate page for each day's observations) and see what you come up with.

Also: I've found that many inkjet prints/inks have a "dry down" effect similar to many b/w fiber papers, so letting the inks dry for a few days will allow you to see things once they've settled. RA-4 is a plastic-based material, so is basically dry once it leaves the processor.

-Dan

StoneNYC
28-Aug-2014, 06:05
You will find out that current inkjet printers can show a slightly larger colour gamut in certain regions than a RA4 Print. The difference is significant in some of the colours. My feeling is that you can capture all the colours(that RA4 print material) plus some, available using inkjet media today. I am speaking of the 12 ink set machines currently available. (I use a Cannon IPF 9400 with their new ink set. It should be pointed out that I also have a Durst Lambda 76 and use the full Fuji RA4 line of papers.

I feel the main difference, between the two is that with RA4 prints( and if course Cibachrome)the image seems to live within the emulsion.. With Inkjet the image seems to live closer to the surface, (more pronounced with the heavy matt papers.)

Any printer worth their salt will tell you that Cibachrome had a much better defined Red colour rendition than RA4 print product. Cibachrome also had an incredible gloss which really made all the colours shine, the closest paper right now to that look is Fuji Crystal Archive Flex. I have not seen a inkjet paper YET to come close to this final gloss.


I have use all three of the above and am currently printing two of them( I stopped printing Cibachrome in 2006 due to manufacture issues). I love the look of RA4 prints, but I have to grudgingly admit( through working with both daily) that current inkjet technology has a better colour gamut and flexibility not offered with RA4.
I am happy with both medias and continue to print both without hesitation.

Anyone telling you one is better than the other is pretty much blinded , as both methods of printing offer great possibliitys.

Thank you Bob,

That was a perfect help! It's nice to hear for someone I trust about this, and a confirmation that others working in the field have this perspective. I do hope I can learn to print well enough to even make a decent comparison.

Thanks!

paulr
28-Aug-2014, 08:34
From a practical standpoint, I agree with Bob. When I look at color work these days at museums and galleries I'm often blown away by the print quality. I worked in a commercial lab in the mid-90s, alongside a guy who was one of the better cibachrome printers in the Northeast. I got a pretty good sense of what good color work looked like in that era. So much of what I see today blows that stuff away. Some of it is ink, some of it lambda/lightjet. It don't matter much which.

I prefer ink for reasons like the paper surfaces available, and because I can print it myself (or at least print proofs using the same process as the final prints). I also believe the longevity is better. But as far as results, I don't actually observe the theoretical advantages of inkjet when looking at prints. They all can look awesome.

For that matter, when comparing one inkjet paper to another, the theoretical advantages of one over the other (in gamut, d-max, etc.) are often insignificant. I'll go with the one whose surface I like, or the one that doesn't curl or scratch or flake.

BTW, you can directly compare theoretical color gamuts by downloading profiles from paper manufacturers or printing surfaces. Tools like Apple ColorSync utility let you compare directly. The shapes of these gamuts are so complex that you'll usually see even the smaller gamut including colors missing from the larger one.

pherold
28-Aug-2014, 11:02
Here's a visual demonstration of the difference between the gamuts. The solid mulitcolored form in the middle is a typical RA-4 process gamut using glossy paper. The white wireframe shape is an Epson 9900 on high quality glossy paper. Naturally, paper types will affect the size of gamut with the inkjets - but at least this shows the kind of saturation possible. The inkjets are capable of much greater color saturation under certain conditions than the RA-4 process. Of course there are other factors involved with the quality of a print than dynamic range. The dyes in RA-4 offer a continuous tone of color throughout the print, rather than a mixture of dots on paper like you get with inkjet...
120696

djdister
28-Aug-2014, 11:12
Here's a visual demonstration of the difference between the gamuts. The solid mulitcolored form in the middle is a typical RA-4 process gamut using glossy paper. The white wireframe shape is an Epson 9900 on high quality glossy paper. Naturally, paper types will affect the size of gamut with the inkjets - but at least this shows the kind of saturation possible. The inkjets are capable of much greater color saturation under certain conditions than the RA-4 process. Of course there are other factors involved with the quality of a print than dynamic range. The dyes in RA-4 offer a continuous tone of color throughout the print, rather than a mixture of dots on paper like you get with inkjet...
120696

Color gamut charts are nice for a technical reference, but I would really like to see the same image printed via two different processes. Of course, there would be other variables entering into the equation - adjustments made during the scanning of the neg, or adjustments made in Photoshop to optimize it for output, and etc, just as there could be adjustments made during the enlarging process. So I think of a gamut chart in much the same way as the government miles-per-gallon figures - one type of objective comparison, but not fully reflective of the real world.

Drew Wiley
28-Aug-2014, 12:15
If I was a commercial printer like Bob, I'd probably agree with him. But I'm not, meaning that there are certain things you can do if you control the entire workflow,
beginning to end, that stretch the qualitative options. You shoot for your output medium in such a way that you predetermine things, much like "previsualization" in
Zone System theory. But color gets a lot more complicated. I showed someone some color prints the other day and they would never have picked out what was a
Ciba versus an RA4 Supergloss, one printed via an interpositive versus direct optical, unless I had told them which is which. With chromes the options are getting
limited because Ciba is damn near extinct. That leaves just dye transfer, carbon, or commercial, inkjet or chromogenic RA4. Every one of these things has gamut
limitations - the question is, exactly what kind? A workflow and output media for one particular image might not be the best choice for a different image. And the
look is inherently different, which often becomes a matter of taste. For my own kind of imagery, I don't think I'd like the "pasted on" surface look of inkjet color,
or the rather discontinuous blacks. I prefer the transparency of real dyes. But Stone, anyone who goes around classifying an inkjet print as a "pigment print" to
begin with isn't somebody I'd trust to be authoritative on any of this. Have somebody like Bob run comparison samples in the different output media and see what
you personally like. Otherwise, the academic ancient history by now aspect of controlling Ciba gamut is pretty unrelated to all the above. And in certain respects,
the gamut champion of all time remains dye transfer printing.

StoneNYC
28-Aug-2014, 12:56
If I was a commercial printer like Bob, I'd probably agree with him. But I'm not, meaning that there are certain things you can do if you control the entire workflow,
beginning to end, that stretch the qualitative options. You shoot for your output medium in such a way that you predetermine things, much like "previsualization" in
Zone System theory. But color gets a lot more complicated. I showed someone some color prints the other day and they would never have picked out what was a
Ciba versus an RA4 Supergloss, one printed via an interpositive versus direct optical, unless I had told them which is which. With chromes the options are getting
limited because Ciba is damn near extinct. That leaves just dye transfer, carbon, or commercial, inkjet or chromogenic RA4. Every one of these things has gamut
limitations - the question is, exactly what kind? A workflow and output media for one particular image might not be the best choice for a different image. And the
look is inherently different, which often becomes a matter of taste. For my own kind of imagery, I don't think I'd like the "pasted on" surface look of inkjet color,
or the rather discontinuous blacks. I prefer the transparency of real dyes. But Stone, anyone who goes around classifying an inkjet print as a "pigment print" to
begin with isn't somebody I'd trust to be authoritative on any of this. Have somebody like Bob run comparison samples in the different output media and see what
you personally like. Otherwise, the academic ancient history by now aspect of controlling Ciba gamut is pretty unrelated to all the above. And in certain respects,
the gamut champion of all time remains dye transfer printing.

It was my understanding normal "INK" is different than "PIGMEN" type ink. Is that incorrect?

Drew Wiley
28-Aug-2014, 13:26
There are printers which only use dyes and then there are inkjet printers, with complex inks composed of pigments, dyes, and lakes (dyed color-neutral particles).
The inherent problem with inkjet technology is that you can just stick any kind of ink in there. The fluid has to contain very small particles capable of passing thru
those tiny nozzles, and that's why they have to jump thru all kinds of hoops matching this characteristic to the oft conflicting demands of optimal gamma and permanence. Then it all has to be programmable. Otherwise, if every ingredient was ideal, all you'd need is three process colors to begin with. For example, a true
pigment process like carbon or carbro uses just three pigments (CMY) plus sometimes black (K). If you study the patents, some of the colorants used in common
inkjet systems involve dyes which are very similar to those used in older color systems and probably aren't any more permanent in this particular application. Lakes
are a more difficult subject, because they sometimes behave differently than their primary dye. A very complicated subject overall, but at least they've made some
serious R&D inroads into it and given us a realistic option for keeping those chromes alive. I vastly prefer the look of Ciba, but there were some pretty heavy-handed tricks to taming its gamut, and it was getting miserably expensive toward the end of its era.

Drew Wiley
28-Aug-2014, 13:27
Serious typo: you CAN'T just stick stick any kind of pigment into an inkjet printer, not "can". Sorry. Stiff fingers again.

paulr
29-Aug-2014, 07:43
Here's a visual demonstration of the difference between the gamuts....

That's a much bigger difference than I saw last time I checked. The RA-4 gamut doesn't even poke through anywhere.

Drew Wiley
29-Aug-2014, 08:30
I take those charts with a grain of salt. But then I print optically.

Adamphotoman
29-Aug-2014, 09:05
I printed Ciba, RA4, B&W [both fibre based and RC].
I now only print inkjet, but that is because I primarily print Fine Art Repro and the digital workflow offers me the control that I need. I am working with an iPF8300 which I believe is the same ink set that Bob's iPF9400 uses.

Each has it's intrinsic quality and I love all of them, but they are all just part of a tool kit. Choose the process that best fits the kind of images that you want to make.

The chart comparison between RA and the Epson 9900 is truly interesting as it brings a visual to understanding where the differences may lay.

In terms of which has the most gamut, I think each process needs to be mastered.
BTW front mounted glossy metallic paper shows promise. Then it may not fit your artistic vision.

paulr
29-Aug-2014, 10:44
I take those charts with a grain of salt. But then I print optically.

Those gamut graphs are precise beyond what the human eye can discern, at least if the profiles are made directly from actual printers you're comparing. The generic profiles will be slightly different.

The questions is how relevant the differences are to your pictures. I often don't see any of those differences, because I'm rarely working with highly saturated colors. When I do have a color that exceeds the gamut of the printer/paper, the color management translation usually handles it pretty gracefully. I'm often perfectly happy with that color being subdued slightly. Colors near the limits of the paper's gamut are already pretty blinding.

Drew Wiley
29-Aug-2014, 12:07
They're no better than the parameters that went into them in the first place, just like a Powerpoint presentation. In this case, we're not even talking about the distinction between a particular RA4 paper and inkjet gamut, but between two different workflows with a lot of digital this and that intervening. I avoid that bottleneck completely and learned how to break the sound barrier some time back. But there is still a bottleneck right out the gate, depending on the limitations of a particular film itself. Punching direct in-camera tricolor separations onto RA4 paper might change people's opinions completely. I've seen that done, even with the older Fuji papers, might even have a sample of it somewhere. Don't confuse saturation with overall gamut. The latter fact has to accommodate how everything mixes too. Any fool knows how to ramp up saturation. Getting clean primaries is step one. But getting clean complex differentiated neutrals is what separates the men from the boys. But you can only play the chords so long. Ultimately you have to make music. And it's better to have a wonky fiddle in the hands of a master than a Stradivarius in the hands of a Bozo. Now I'm trying to unlearn, and learn the funkier side of my chosen color neg films, but not in that stereotyped palette
of 70's Vericolor photographers. What the heck. It's all fun. Pick your poison and enjoy it.

paulr
29-Aug-2014, 15:11
They're no better than the parameters that went into them in the first place ...

That's not a meaningful statement here. When you profile a paper / ink combination, you print a test target with hundreds of swatches (my software prints over 1600). It's enough to map, with great precision, the gamut of the materials.

It also maps the dynamic range, but you can do that with a much smaller set of grayscale swatches.

As I've already said, the relevance of these measurements depends entirely on your actual practice. What looks like a big difference in the graphs may not show up at all in your work. This has nothing to do with the reliability or accuracy of the measurements.

Drew Wiley
29-Aug-2014, 15:35
I'm no software type per se, but many years ago I was discussing the parameters behind the very design of these measuring devices with engineers when they were just beginning to transition from graph paper plots to digital integration. For several years my wife work with a color plotter that cost six million dollars just for the hardware. The software itself cost substantially more to develop. So I have at least a feel for the theory itself, its usage and weaknesses. Colorants have changed, and continue to do so, software and measurement devices keep evolving, but the specific color theory behind this has remained essentially the same ever since the 1920's, and the pitfalls for potential misinterpretation remain analogous. And in the pigment industry itself, the meaning of gamut itself is a bit more accurately defined than how most computer interface users throw around the term. But we certainly do agree, Paul, that it's the practical aspect of this which really counts. Each carpenter deserves his own tools, those he is most comfortable and competent with.

Adamphotoman
29-Aug-2014, 20:42
But do you like what you are making with either process?

bob carnie
30-Aug-2014, 07:35
Once a proper calibration is done on any paper, ink , RA4 , Ciba by a professional with proper calibration test charts. It is a pretty simple visual to see where different materials fall off.
Contrary to what some say here that they can adjust optically.
a good test looks at thousands of colour in and can quickly show what any paper can hold or show.

After this calibration test there is nothing one can do to alter the papers ability to record colours.

After doing this manually with a I one spectrometer set up , and then having Angus Pady come in and use his new auto set up for colour profile making we can clearly see where papers fall out of gamut .
I pointed out that inkjet now is further in this field than RA4 and I doubt the paper manufactures (Kodak and Fuji ) are going to research and develop an emulsion that will enhance any ends of the spectrum that inkjet has dug deeper in.

The paper and emulsion coatings on RA4 .. and the ink sets and amount of inkset the printer has(currently a Cannon is at 12 inksets) and how they perform on the paper is what controls the colour gamut ,
not what we do in the enlarger or Photoshop.
Some may be better in PS to extend the Range of Colours but that is not the controlling feature... The media is what controls the gamut of printed pieces.

paulr
30-Aug-2014, 16:09
I pointed out that inkjet now is further in this field than RA4 and I doubt the paper manufactures (Kodak and Fuji ) are going to research and develop an emulsion that will enhance any ends of the spectrum that inkjet has dug deeper in.

And it's hard to imagine any amount of R&D overcoming the limitations of 3 dyes. Inkjet manufacturers always have the ability to add another ink, whether to improve gamut, highlight smoothness, linearity, or dynamic range.

bob carnie
31-Aug-2014, 05:45
Well those layers of colour mixed properly can produce an astounding amount of colour range using light exposure.

The current inkjets ability to lay down more colour are in really defined areas at extreme ends...and or variations of some colours. One example would be the green range, I see more flexibility there in ink prints.

Also for example, CMYK is a smaller colour gamut than Adobe 1998, but it does indeed extend into areas that Adobe 1998 cannot produce with RA4 . If you use the right inks on press you will see them.I am thinking the Yellow/Blue complimentary colour range.


My position is that we are in a pretty good place as it is with Adobe 1998 and RA4 papers.. We have been happy with combination for quite awhile..( my whole career has been done this way) .
It has just been recently that we are able to see on paper more variations.
As time moves on we will see subtle changes and improvements in inkjet technology but if one works with subduded colours , rather than hugely saturated , then one would not see any improvement in their prints with be newwest , bestest , fastest ink sprayer.

I am truly waiting for the day where a pure(heavy load) pigment layer is laid down on a flat bed device , and one can build up colour density, and contrast by multi layering. ( I am doing this now by hand , but it would be the cats ass to see this happen in my working life.) - Does anyone here remember Chromalins... the proffing device of the 80's.

Right now the heavy hitters have no need to be influenced to make such a device as most of the general photographic population, I would say 97% are happy with dyes and small pigment load and call it a day. I am in the smaller group , I am going to call us the 3%ers.

paulr
31-Aug-2014, 13:28
Also for example, CMYK is a smaller colour gamut than Adobe 1998, but it does indeed extend into areas that Adobe 1998 cannot produce with RA4 .

True, of course, but I don't know if that's really a relevant comparison. Adobe RGB is a working space, while CMYK (in Photoshop) is a generic space that kinda sorta mimics the device space of a 4-color press.

The gamut of an RA4 print, while it happens to use red and green and blue inks, is still a subtractive medium and so is only loosely related to the Adobe RGB working space. And the gamut of an inkjet print, while it is based on CMYK inks, is only loosely related to the CMYK color space. This is due to higher purity colors (epson's vivid magenta and vivid cyan), and additional colors (epson's green and orange; canon's red, green and blue ...)

And then there's the dynamic range issue brought up by the OP. That's something we've seen improved with additional inks ... both the absolute range, and the smoothness of gradations, especially in the highlights.



My position is that we are in a pretty good place as it is with Adobe 1998 and RA4 papers.. We have been happy with combination for quite awhile..( my whole career has been done this way) .
It has just been recently that we are able to see on paper more variations.
As time moves on we will see subtle changes and improvements in inkjet technology but if one works with subduded colours , rather than hugely saturated , then one would not see any improvement in their prints with be newwest , bestest , fastest ink sprayer.

Agree 100%. I have more colors than I know what to do with most of the time.