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Thread: Lightjet or Inkjet

  1. #1

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    Lightjet or Inkjet

    I'm considering having some large sample prints (up to 24x30) made from B&W 11x14 negatives and was curious which printing method people prefer?

    What kind of image quality can I expect as compared to the contact prints I produce in my darkroom, will either of these two process come close to the optical contacts prints?

    I'm leaning more towards the lightjet for quality reasons but the achivability issue (60 yrs) concerns me.

    Mike

  2. #2
    Jack Flesher's Avatar
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    Re: Lightjet or Inkjet

    My .02...

    As a disclaimer I am a digital and film shooter and print using wide-format Epson inkjets.

    First, (and IMO only) there is no digital process that will match the look of the contact prints you produce in your darkroom, period.

    As for quality, you need to pick your issues. Generally speaking, the inkjet will have a broader tonal scale and probably be technically sharper, but the Lightjet having a bit more native contrast may actually look sharper in the final print.

    Subjectively and to my eyes -- and especially with B&W -- a well-printed Epson inkjet looks more natural and less digital than a lightjet, though I'm sure others opinions will vary.

    Again, my .02 only,
    Last edited by Jack Flesher; 16-Jul-2006 at 09:50.
    Jack Flesher

    www.getdpi.com

  3. #3
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    Re: Lightjet or Inkjet

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike A
    What kind of image quality can I expect as compared to the contact prints I produce in my darkroom, will either of these two process come close to the optical contacts prints?
    None of us can possibly read your mind. None of us make the exact same value judgements that you do. In this situation, the only opinion that matters is yours. The only way to find out is to make some prints and see what you think.

    IMHO, neither is going to look like an 11x14 contact print. The lightjet print will be on RC paper, probably a full gloss surface. The image will be dye based and subject to the normal longevity of lightjet prints.

    The inkjet print will look like a different media, which it is. The inkjet print will likely be on a full cotton rag fine art paper with a matte finish. The image will be pigment based and have huge (estimated) longevity. For best results, have B&W images printed using inks intended for B&W prints - not full color inks. Cone PiezoTone and MIS inks come to mind. Inkjet prints can be amazingly sharp, but will likely have lower Dmax and more fragile surfaces than either your contact print or your lightjet print.

    Neither method is going to show you ever more detail under a loupe like a silver gelatin contact print does. But if you are interested in the image (as opposed to being interested in the technology) you aren't going to be looking at the print with a loupe anyway.

    So... you pays your money and takes your choice.

    Bruce Watson

  4. #4
    Robert M Teague
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    Re: Lightjet or Inkjet

    I did a test and printed one of my images on both a Chromira (LED printer), using Fuji Crystal Archive and an Epson (10000 ?) on Epson paper. I hated the Epson prints, they looked horrible and flat. The Chromira just sang.... See what works for you.
    Robert M. Teague
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  5. #5

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    Re: Lightjet or Inkjet

    "For best results, have B&W images printed using inks intended for B&W prints - not full color inks. Cone PiezoTone and MIS inks come to mind."

    I have to disagree with this at least with respect to Epson UC color inks for the 2200 and up/later photo printers. If you have a good RIP (such as Roy Harrinton's QTR for $50) IMHO you'll get just as good results using Epson color inks for black and white as you will with MIS inks plus you'll avoid the aggravation of MIS' horrendous quality control.

    I'd estimate that in the five or so years I used MIS inks in an 1160 and 1280 printer I probably returned about 20% because of problems with the cartridges not being recognized by the printer, ink leaking from the cartridges, or the ink being improperly mixed and so giving an unwanted magenta tint to the prints. Then when I bought my 2200 and added QTR I continued using MIS Eboni in the black position and just a couple weeks ago had to return a shipment of five cartridges because the cartridges didn't fit properly in the printer. I've now abandoned Eboni and just use the Epson MK, the slight increase in dMax with Eboni isn't worth the aggravation IMHO. There just recently was another thread in the Yahoo digital black and white printing group involving people currently having problems with an unwanted tint in their MIS inks. I don't know about Jon Cone's Piezo system, I never used it.
    Brian Ellis
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    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  6. #6
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    Re: Lightjet or Inkjet

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ellis
    I have to disagree with this at least with respect to Epson UC color inks for the 2200 and up/later photo printers. If you have a good RIP (such as Roy Harrinton's QTR for $50) IMHO you'll get just as good results using Epson color inks for black and white as you will with MIS inks plus you'll avoid the aggravation of MIS' horrendous quality control.
    We disagree on this point. And that's OK. It just shows Mike that he needs to get some prints made and judge them for himself.

    For my part, when I've tried printing B&W with UC inks, I can't escape some color in the print. Unfortunately, it tends to change a bit from dark to light - that is, it's not an over-all tint, but a shifting of color which I find pretty irritating. I suspect this is due to not being able to nail down a completely accurate linearization and not getting a dead neutral gray from the combination of the various ink colors.

    But what I find irritating other people either don't mind, or don't see. Using QTR and the UC inks seems to be rather popular.

    I haven't had your problems with the MIS inks. Then again, I switched to the Cone inks long ago. I had similar problems with the MIS inks - I would see some color shifting from dark to light. So I switched from the variable tone MIS inks to the fixed tone Cone Piezotones. And the Piezotones are outstanding inks.

    What I've seen and heard of Cone's new K7 inkset is that the K7s are a step up from the Piezotones in terms of tonality and smoothness. I'm waiting for Cone to finish his selenium tone K7s before I give them a try. And of course, the K7s also work well with QTR.

    Bruce Watson

  7. #7

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    Re: Lightjet or Inkjet

    Mike, if you get Epson prints made, make sure they're made using the newest non-RC paper (I thiink Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl is best), and that the print is made at 2880 dpi using the "finest detail" setting, with Photo Black ink. My testing lately suggests you'll get are significantly better results this way (sharper, better DMAX and wider tonal scale) than anything the Lightjet or Chromira can produce. I haven't done a side-by-side with any of the Cone inks-- that might be better still for B&W. But the Epson inks are amazing too-- perfectly neutral and amazingly vivid.

  8. #8

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    Re: Lightjet or Inkjet

    I use Cone's NK7 inkset and Harrinton's QTR with my 2200 and have never had a clog or a bad cartridge. I am completely satisfied with the tonality of my prints.

    Six months ago I was very sceptical about inkjet prints. But, as I had no room for a darkroom that was my only option. I am so happy I tried.

    But my experience is with seven tones of grey ink and a good quality RIP. I can't speak for any other combinations.

  9. #9
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    Re: Lightjet or Inkjet

    Mike, I'll chime long enough to agree with the others posters that you need to try it on yoru own. My own experiences are that with today's K3 inksets and a RIP I get superb results from an Epson 4800 and a variety of papers.

    One more critically important point .... how arae you going to get yoru negative scanned? You should be sure you use a lab that is capable of doing the scan on a high end scanner and not many of them can handle an 11x14. The Screen Cezanne and Cezanne Elite can handle 11x14 as can the various Creos, some drums can go that big but I don't know which ones). My poin tis that if yoru supplier does the scan on one of the large format scanners from Microtek or Epson (e.g. the Microtek 1000 XL) while you should get an acceptable scan from an 11x14 original you wills till have no idea of the real possibilities available to you in terms of ultimate digital print quality v. a contact. Still not suggesting that the 24x30 will equal the original contact in detail but if you watart with a high end scanner you will be getting a fairer comparison of the world of the possible.

  10. #10
    Robert M Teague
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    Re: Lightjet or Inkjet

    Quote Originally Posted by chris jordan
    My testing lately suggests you'll get are significantly better results this way (sharper, better DMAX and wider tonal scale) than anything the Lightjet or Chromira can produce.
    My testing has come to just the opposite conclusion. In other words, opinons are like a*******. Try for yourself and see which you like better.
    Robert M. Teague
    Kaneohe, Hawaii

    Now on Twitter: roteague
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