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Thread: side by side comparison... large print digital back VS 4x5 color film

  1. #151

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    South Carolina

    Re: side by side comparison... large print digital back VS 4x5 color film

    With the exception of the comments about LensWork, to which I still subscribe and find very interesting, I am going to take the unusual stance and express my total agreement with Lenny about matte papers for inkjet prints and the misplaced focus on sharpness and Dmax. I think he is exactly right in that a rich print is made in the mid-tones, and sometimes with just a bit of highlight or shadow detail.

    Sandy King

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenny Eiger View Post
    You can't knock PhotoRag and suggest that Harmon's whatever is "better." They are very different mediums. They are as different as black and white is from color. I have done as much profiling of PhotoRag as anyone - probably about 40-50 different profiles of this same paper over the last few years. It is a superb paper. It has exceptional richness. I just went and looked at my profile test print. I have just made a new profile for PhotoRag Baryta. My PhotoRag print of the exact same image (actually set of images) is at least as sharp as the Baryta coated paper. In some cases it looks sharper, but this is likely a minor difference in contrast. The matte surfaces allow for more richness and deeper tonality.

    I would also suggest that great prints are made by great printers, as in humans, not machines. The machines are just there as support. I think a focus on sharpness is misplaced, as is the focus I often hear, of dmax. I think a rich print is made with the midtones, and how they interact with each other. It is also about the entire balance of tones, and not one side of the spectrum or the other.

    Of course, these are my opinions, not intended to be a statement of fact. Everyone is welcome to disagree.


  2. #152

    Re: side by side comparison... large print digital back VS 4x5 color film

    I also find myself agreeing with Lenny and Sandy on this, in that there is an over-emphasis on sharpness and dmax values. Unfortunately there are many involved/invested in newer technologies that feel a need to quantify differences.

    On a different note, the absolute best non-silver B/W printed images I have ever seen came off an unusual Heidelberg two colour press, that was about the size of a refrigerator. I still have one of the samples, a duotone of Hagia Sophia. Unfortunately Heidelberg sold very few of these prior to discontinuing that press.

    There is also a move to solvent based inks, eco-solvent, and UV cured inks. In Epson's commercial line, and in other companies, there are some newer technologies that potentially show another direction, and better control. Eventually some of that might trickle down to smaller desktop inkjet systems, either from Epson, HP, or another company.

    The main thing is that printing technologies that are not continuous tone will only approach emulating continuous tone. I prefer true continuous tone, despite that I have seen nice images from dot techniques.


    Gordon Moat Photography

  3. #153

    Re: side by side comparison... large print digital back VS 4x5 color film

    I'm afraid my writing is less than clear. How something appears, and how it factually is, are two different issues. As Sandy and Lenny and others have noted, a print can have the distinct impression of sharpness, and turn out to be not so much technically. But for the vast majority of artists, how something appears is surely all that matters after all. Very few, including my friend Brooks, have any need to peer at high resolution scans of dots of ink like I do.
    I've tried very hard not to state any judgments on how things appear, even though my preferences may show through. But when it comes to a very specific technical criteria, say file (image) detail written to paper, these things can be judged and compared objectively. Photography has certain unique qualities, those are what I chose to look at, continuous tone and optical clarity.
    Now let me make it clear- for a lot of complicated reasons, one print made on one system may give the impression of more sharpness and continuous tone and thus be "better", than another, and that's fine. However, technical scrutiny may show the opposite, but that does not make it any less "better". I'm digging a dangerous hole here, anyway, not "meeting the standards" has to do with scrutiny of very specific and defined issues, not impression or impact.

    Regarding your comments about the state of hardware technology, I disagree, and the problem is I have no high res scans to back up my statements so you can take them for what they are worth.

    The 9600 on up through the newest 9900 all have the same dot size. The improvements come from how dots can be manipulated with screening and dither pattern etc.. Now we're talking B&W here, since I posted in reply to Sandy's comment about silver print resolution. Though 9900 ABW output may be an improvement over 9800 ABW output, it still can not come up to the performance of even the variable dot 9600 quad output with regard to the SPECIFIC criteria in the tests. Additionally, the 2880 K7 7800 output shown can't be bettered with any large format B&W output to date, again with regard strictly to the same criteria. It can be bettered, believe it or not, with the newest desktop small dot models like the 1400 with a K6 setup, and the 1900 with a K7 setup.
    Again I must stress, this does not mean that by your, or even my standards, it's not possible on a given day with a given file, well made by a great printer (as Lenny well said) that a system that did not test as well can not make a "better" print than from one of these high performing systems. I have no doubt Brooks is making wonderful prints, he knows what a great print is, or isn't, better than most.

    I'm sorry this is getting long, but the next part is not quick and easy. A paper is "sharper" than another based on how precisely it can hold a dot. With regard to matte, only two papers I have tried hold a sharper dot the HPR, and that would be Museo Portfolio Rag, and Premier Fine Art. However, neither can take the ink load HPR can, so it may be a trade off. If I have to limit each light ink to avoid mottle and bleed, and retain linearity, then I can't let light inks at very high dot frequency describe file detail, I must transition to wider spaced dots of the next darker ink sooner.
    I'd say higher density of light inks with slightly softer dots, vs harder dots of slightly darker inks, is not a huge deal and the tests would have been similar. Limiting each of these individual systems to suit Portfolio Rag's needs would have thrown another variable into the mix. A good batch of HPR takes ink from all these systems as they are intended without special needs, therefore revealing the system. I do like Portfolio Rag though, for some work.

    Now the "photo" papers like Harman. These papers perform well with ABW, which uses wider spaced dots of darker inks than the K4/6/7 systems. I have done a lot of testing on those papers with custom B&W inks systems trying to maximize a gloss monochrome process. The experimental combo setup I have in the 7800 right now is nuts to say the least. These papers can not take high levels of light inks, at all, even for color. In order to keep dot definition precise without mottle/bleed, light inks must be limited quite a bit, if a GO is also present, that's more fluid and more limiting has to occur. I've had these papers come out of the printer with ink literally running down off them. So again, we are back to having to introduce darker inks sooner, so each ink is nowhere near 100% coverage. Some on this list may have gotten some of my test 2880 K7 gloss samples, on Ilford GFS and Innova USG (Epson Exhibition Fiber). I assure you, those would not have performed as well as HPR did in the tests due to the required over limiting. They have to give up dot positions that could have been used for information, to spacing for accurate "lightness". That's not to say they were not pretty, and sharp to the eye, and nicely continuous tone.
    ABW on those papers, including the Harman, would have resolved no more detail than HPR because of the way ABW works. The resolution boast on the Piezography site is no lie, and the ABW part of that test could have been on glossy and showed much the same result. It's because of the entire system, not an individual element's performance, like the paper. Of course though, the system must be idealized for each element. So a K7 system on HPR will look very different than one optimized for Harman. These are not simple black or white issues.

    Again, a well done print from the right file on Harman may give the impression of the sharpest inkjet print we have ever seen, that's not what I'm talking about. These impressions are the most important thing to people here, I realize that. In fact they are the most important to me too. My personal printmaking is all about a personal response to the print object, this other stuff goes back in the drawer then. I created a custom ink setup for Arches Cold Press watercolor paper for a special project. It has crap resolution, crap gamut and dmax, but is gorgeous for these particular images. I would call them good prints, though they would look horrible on those tests.

    I'm sorry for the length, these are not simple issues or ones that should concern many, but I did not want to blow off the questions. Some of this gets down to novel length discussions of how multiple density inks in series can be used to increase information description from the source file, ink printing process in general, etc etc. For anyone who has little concern for this stuff I REALLY hope you didn't read this far...
    Man, this sounds like a lecture. OK, fire away...

  4. #154

    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Payson, AZ

    Re: side by side comparison... large print digital back VS 4x5 color film

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenny Eiger View Post
    It's 39 megapixels. I get 320 off of a 4x5 piece of film, and 568 megapixels off of 8x10. There's no comparison. The tests are flawed.
    One word: BULLSHIT ! Grain is NOT good data !

  5. #155

    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Re: side by side comparison... large print digital back VS 4x5 color film

    Quote Originally Posted by dwhistance View Post
    Whilst the Epson 9800 has indeed been available for 5 years I think you will find that there is very little difference between it and the "latest" 9880 (or even 11880 or 9900), particularly in terms of B&W output.
    I have a 4800 and 7900, and before that a 7800. There's just no comparison between the 7900 B&W output and that from the earlier x800 generation. The differences stem from a number of factors: improved dithering (introduced with the 3800 and x880 series and further refined for the x900), more precise dot shape & placement (introduced with the 11880), tonal colour mixing and improved linearization (introduced with the x900 series). I don't pretend that the prints look like traditional media or those from K7 etc inksets, but it would be wrong to assume that Epson's B&W output has stood still over the years.

    You can read about some of the changes here (these are real, not just marketing):
    Last edited by Stephen Best; 28-Feb-2009 at 22:40. Reason: Added Epson links

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