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Thread: Colour Gamut: C print vs. Ink Jet

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 1999
    Victoria, BC, Canada

    Colour Gamut: C print vs. Ink Jet

    This is probably one of those questions which triggers "it depends" answers. But I'm curious about the colour gamut comparison between traditional chromogenic prints and ink jet prints.

    I'm sure that it depends on many things such as the quality of the scan and the quality of the printer, but all else being equal, is a top-end ink jet printer capable of producing more colours than you'd find on a digital C print? My impression is that this is the case, but I'm not sure.

  2. #2
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    USA, North Carolina

    Re: Colour Gamut: C print vs. Ink Jet

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Pollock View Post a top-end ink jet printer capable of producing more colours than you'd find on a digital C print?
    Oh yeah. By a lot. Ask your local pro lab for the ICC profiles used for their LightJet or Chromira (my local lab reprofiles with every paper batch, so they say). Compare to the ICC profile the manufacturer of your favorite inkjet paper posts for your favorite printer. Inkjets left C prints in the dust for gamut years ago.

    Still, there's more to a print than just gamut. There's still a lot of room for people to exercise their aesthetic tastes. More choices are good as far as I'm concerned.

    Bruce Watson

  3. #3
    Greg Greg Blank's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Planet Earth

    Re: Colour Gamut: C print vs. Ink Jet

    [QUOTE=Bruce Pollock; but all else being equal, is a top-end ink jet printer capable of producing more colours than you'd find on a digital C print? My impression is that this is the case, but I'm not sure.[/QUOTE]

    How much work is involved in both cases? I have a Lambda done 5 years ago from one of my transparencies....fairly faithfully reproduces the original. Scanned on an Imacon scanner by a skilled operator (although who says they did their best). But- If you can reproduce the original faithfully it really does not matter which you use. Color is either in the original or not - if you are trying some sort of hocus pocus to get more "color" bang from the orginal it will take work on the computer maybe better spent taking better originals outside in the fresh air. My personal scanning and inkjetting does not equal my wet optical printing. Granted I have a humble, V750 scanner and a R1800 pigment printer....the black areas are seldom as bright as the on screen image, even with a semi managed system, darkroom after 20 years of working there is seemless- most tiimes

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

    Re: Colour Gamut: C print vs. Ink Jet

    Most of my old C prints have an incredible gamut. In addition to the original colors that are more or less kind of still recognizable, there's purple, violet, sepia, or pinkish splotches of varying sizes and intensities in many of them. These striking colored splotches greatly increase the gamut of the original photographs and often cover the faces of the subjects, replacing what originally was an ordinary dull skin tone.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  5. #5
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: Colour Gamut: C print vs. Ink Jet

    There are significant gamut problems in every color printing method ever invented.
    You just have to get used to them and select your media appropriately. Plus the film
    itself, the starting point, always has some kind of bias. Even the "gold standard" of
    color printing - dye transfer - has certain gamut issues. There are certain hues I
    particular like in scenes I always want to photograph, that I haven't found any way
    yet to accurately reproduce. People think that inkjet is a whole new miracle, and
    maybe it is in terms of workflow; but just investigate what goes into a lot of those
    pigments and you'll be in for some surprises, both in terms of potential gamut and
    alleged permanence! In fact, inkjet would be my LAST choice for some specific color problems. But like most of us, I tend to shoot for the output medium I use; and
    when I shoot color negs I obviously have a C-print in mind. When I shoot chromes
    it's obviously for Ciba or dye-transfer, or hypothetically digital. The same shoe
    doesn't fit everybody! The idea is to get mastery over a specific media, and learn
    how it "sees" things; it's a whole lot less about what is hypothetically "best".

  6. #6
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    brooklyn, nyc

    Re: Colour Gamut: C print vs. Ink Jet

    I recently finished my first color photo project ... shot on negative film with an old borrowed medium format camera. I had the choice of traditional c-print, a lambda type print, or ink. I ended up going with ink. Not because of the wide gammut, but in a sense for opposite reason. I used portrait film and had envisioned fairly subdued colors, and felt that the surface of matte finish cotton fiber inkjet papers would work well with that palette.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    SLC, UT

    Re: Colour Gamut: C print vs. Ink Jet

    Here are the LAB plots from 3 popular digital C-Print machines compared to Epson R2400 Premium Glossy, Best Photo RPM. The white wireframe indicates the Epson.

    Personally, I choose to print on the Lambda over the Chromira as I feel like the Lambda prints are notably sharper (I haven't tested the Lightjet). The theoretical gamut of a particular method is just one aspect to take into consideration. A side-by-side print comparison is really the best way to determine which prints are most aesthetically pleasing to your eye.




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