View Full Version : Are there Epson 9600/7600 users in the group?

Paul Schilliger
26-Aug-2004, 01:08
After sitting for a while on the project, I am again considering making the jump. Are there any photographers out there who have made the switch from Lightjet or Lambda to Ultrachrome inks and who would share their impressions? (excuse the pun!). And also their techniques for mounting and framing the prints? Thanks!

Jim Becia
26-Aug-2004, 07:08

I have been printing with the 9600 for about 8 months now. It's a pretty incredible printer and I have the ability to control not only my print making, but my inventory. Prior to getting the 9600, I had either Photocraft of Boulder, CO. or LaserLight in CA. making my prints for me. And while both did a nice job, it was sometimes took a while to get the right look. I'm now able to get my near"perfect" results at home. I say near perfect because I find my printing process to be an ongoing thing. While I get most images scanned by West Coast Imaging (drum scan), I will scan some of my 4X5 or 5X7 transparencies with my Epson 4870 with very nice results. As I type this, I'm printing a 16X20 image that has every bit of color and sharpness I could want.

I like printing on the photo type papers - luster, semi-matte, and semi-gloss. They give me the photo look that I like. As someone who does about 15 art fairs during the summer, I get constant questions about the type of prints. Seeing I have a combination of both Lightjets and inkjets, I always ask the viewers if they can tell me which are which. Only one person ever could, and that was because their eyesight was so bad, they could focus on the image from one inch away. My inkjet images look every bit as good as the Lightjet images and people don't seem to care whether it's an inkjet or Lightjet as long as they like the image.

I own a small gallery and frame shop so I do all my own mounting and framing. Here is how I work with my images. If I'm just selling the photo/print, I mount my print which has a two or three inch white border to a 2 ply museum board and trim off the excess 2-ply board. I use PMA(positional mounting adhesive)to do this. This gives the photo some "weight" and now it can be handled much easier. For mounting it to the foam core backing I use mylar corners. Then I double mat in a white museum mat board and frame. Using the mylar corners allows for easy removal should someone want to remove it for whaterver purpose.

If the 9600 has any particular drawback as far as I'm concerned, there can be a little bronzing where you get a little bit uneven reflectance. It's rare and only noticeable if you are trying to find it. Otherwise I don't find it to be a problem. All in all, I think the 9600 gives me results that rival the best labs in the country and I get to control the whole process. Hope this helps. Jim

Mike Cockerham
26-Aug-2004, 08:49
What resolution do you normally print. There is a debate at work over resolution verses spooling time as to which is best. We are a camera shop/photo finisher. My IT guy says to print at economy resolution to keep spool time down, that nobody will see the difference between 150dpi and 2880dpi on this printer.



Paul Schilliger
26-Aug-2004, 09:48

Thanks for the push in the back! Good to hear such encouraging report. I wonder if Epson is about to release a new model with two black cartridges as on the 4000P (just a guess). Anyone heard something?

Jim, do you know how archival is 3M PMA used on paper prints? Are they any tests that have been made such as the Wilhelm tests? My fear is that the glue could eventually affect the print over time. Maybe my fears are unfounded, it's just a thought. I don't know if inkjet papers have the same resin coating that prevents from soaking the chemicals as photo papers have. Thanks so far!


Michael E. Gordon
26-Aug-2004, 10:09
Paul: I've been printing with the 7600 for nearly two years, and it took nearly two years of worry and frustration to decide to quit printing color with UC inks on RC inkjet papers and move back to Lightjets for my color work. I now only use my 7600 with Roy Harrington's QTR for my b/w work on Photorag. Color prints on matte papers are not for me as they don't have the punch I want (looking more like watercolors than photographs). Good for the work of others, but not for me.

Why the switch back to Lighjet? Two huge reasons. Gloss Differential (AKA bronzing) and outgassing. Everyone knows about inkjets and bronzing, so I won't mention it. More importantly, outgassing was killing me. I tried a number of tests to speed the release of glycols and drying of the prints, but they still outgassed, leaving greasy fog on the inside of the glass. The issue is well known, and it's not fun to have framed prints come back with the problem.

IMO, the inkjet industry (i.e. Epson) has plenty of work to do to further develop inks and substrates. It is still an emerging technology. Most Epson papers are junk, IMO, and I've made prints on Premium Luster up to a year ago that still have a nasty surface chemical stench about them to this day. The Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl does beautifully with bronzing, receives the ink well, and has the best surface of any RC paper I've tested, but it is not immune from outgassing.

I honestly cannot encourage you to go with an Epson UC inks unless you plan to print entirely on matte papers, which are mostly immune from obvious bronzing and outgassing. I'd sign on to the Yahoo EpsonWideFormat group and do some research.

Feel free to email me with any questions.

Dan Baumbach
26-Aug-2004, 12:22
I've had an Epson 7600 for about two years and I'm very pleased with it. I print primarily on Premium Luster because of the vibrancy of the colors compared with matt. It would be nice to be able to print a glossy print but I can live with the limitiations.

If I have a framed print sitting out in the sun then there will be outgassing. However, even outdoors at a hot summer art fair, if the prints are in the shade, I don't see outgassing. I have a rep who sells my work to corporations who also represents Charles Cramer among others. I asked what Charley was making his prints with and it turned out to be a 9600. I've never heard any complaints from my rep about out gassing with mine or Charlie's prints.

- Dan.

Michael E. Gordon
26-Aug-2004, 12:46
Hi Dan! I obviously cannot dispute what you say, but I'd also say look harder. I'm extremely picky with my work, and for this reason will no longer settle for the imperfections of Epson UC's. I'd rather do Lightjets and return to UC prints when things have been better developed. Outgassing occurs far and wide, and you'll find plenty of reports from other printers - however anecdotal - about their problems with outgassing. I refuse to get involved with laminating, lacquering, or coating of any sort when an excellent and economical solution exists (Lighjtets). That people are resorting to such tactics is clear indication that the problem exists and R&D is in definite order.

If anyone would care to see what outgassing looks like: http://www.mgordonphotography.com/NPN/outgassing.jpg This print was on display, indoors only, for about a year. It received only reflected light, but may have received some direct sunlight for a short period each day. The red line (added in PS) delineates the edge of the outgassing. I've used the sunlit reflection to help see the outgassing. Outgassing occurs more greatly where more ink has been laid down.

To clarify, Charles Cramer very recently told me he still gets Lightjets for his prints with significant areas of black and or white. This is where inkjet RC papers are really not up to par (although as aforementioned, the Ilford paper smokes Epson's and does quite well - image dependent).

Keith Laban
26-Aug-2004, 14:53

Ultrachromes are simply as good as it gets or bloody awful depending on the paper used and the individual's requirements. Print on papers such as Hahnemhule Photo Rag or William Turner and no other process is in the same league. The resulting prints could not be further removed from a high gloss Cibachrome or LightJet but this is their appeal. Horses for courses.

Keith Laban Photography (http://www.keithlaban.co.uk)

Paul Schilliger
26-Aug-2004, 16:01
Why isn't everything as easy as a Polaroid shot? I was aware of the potential problems mentioned, but didn't think they could be as bad as to turn people away from the process. The problem that appears as the worst is outgassing. I have had the problem with dye prints and it is really annoying. I thought it was only because I had not respected a time lapse to let them dry properly. But it sounds as they will outgass forever if placed under a heating light. I would not want a glossy finish, as this is not even noticed once the print is framed. I have access to Ilford papers. Have yet to understand what makes the difference in practice between the ceramic coated and the resin coated papers. As I understand, the first dries quicker and the second lasts longer. Thanks for the food for thought and for the inspiration from your work!

Michael E. Gordon
26-Aug-2004, 16:31
Things that are easy are rarely worth doing, Paul ;)

Matte papers have the benefit of evaporative drying on both sides of the paper. RC papers - being plastic coated on back - can only dry from the front. The plastic coating really hinders the dry time. A particular member of the EpsonWideFormat yahoo group claimed his tests showed a seven-week dry time for inkjet RC papers! Ridiculous! I never did specific testing to determine just how long in my situation, but my last steps involved drying by hanging the prints; hair-dryer 'treatments' to expedite the outgassing; and finally spray coating - way too much BS necessary to produce a good print. I can send a prepped file to Calyspo (in California) and get a 24x30 Lighjet for just over $50. There is still plenty of profit margin in my pricing to absorb the slight additional cost and to have a 'real' continuous tone photograph on Fuji CA paper. I'm happier.

Leonard Metcalf
26-Aug-2004, 18:37
I have been using a 7600 for six months now... and am finally printing prints that I am proud of... I am printing onto Innova Museum Quality 100% Cotton Rag Paper which is just a stunning mat paper... doesn't have the problems that the photorag has (specs of loose paper that peal off after the print is made to leave white dots on the print) Yes they are very different to the Ilfochromes (Cibas) or C Type prints I used to make myself, or the ones that come from a lightjet... they have their own quality... I often find myself saying to celibrate the difference between digital output and analogue output... With this heavy paper I can hinge mount very large prints and they still look stunning framed as they hang flat, and without a gloss or semi gloss surface there are no reflections to see the variations in the paper..

I use the printer for black and whites as well as for colour...

These printers are definately industrial machines, and don't have the problems of the smaller desktop varieties..

It has been a steep and often frustrating learning curve, but I must admit that I haven't been back in my darkroom since I bought it... and the customers just love the prints... and so do other photographers...

Coming from an art background... I paint with watercolours and love to draw, I find the mat papers very suited to the styles I am already familiar with...

Am happy to answer questions about how I have it set up and the work flow that I am using...

Jim Becia
27-Aug-2004, 07:13
Just a quick word about out gassing. Out gassing can come from other sources also, like mattes. As a framer, I have found outgassing from framed prints where the print is an offset print so the mattes can give off gas also. Now that being said, yes, UC prints will out gas, however, if allowed to dry for a few days with interleaving between them, it seems to solve the problem, at least in my case. Are UC prints the perfect solution for everyone, obviously not. But for me, there is no better solution for my work. The color gamut it good and ease and convenience of printing is there also. I will agree that on certain images with lots of blacks or whites, one can see some of the bronzing effect. I can live with it at this time. Maybe the the new technology of the R800 will eventually make its way to the large format printers.

Paul, as to the PMA, according to 3M it is acid free. And seeing that I print on the RC type papers, I feel comfortable in my decsion. On top of that, I don't charge hundreds of dollars for a photo. I feel my customers are getting a very fair deal for their money. I don't kid myself so I don't pretend to be "collectable." Like I mentioned in my earlier post, I have only met one person who can tell the two different prints apart. Ultimately, it comes down to the image. If it's good, it's good whether it's a UC print or a Lightjet print. Paul, I'm happy I made the move to the Epson 9600, and have several friends with them (either the 7600 or 9600) and they are happy also. Is it perfect? No, but then neither is the Lightjet, Ilfochrome, etc. Good luck in your decision making. Jim

Bruce Watson
27-Aug-2004, 16:11
Are there any photographers out there who have made the switch from Lightjet or Lambda to Ultrachrome inks and who would share their impressions? (excuse the pun!). And also their techniques for mounting and framing the prints? Thanks!

Second question first. This is how the US Library of Congress recommends framing prints for conservation:


This is how I do it, more or less, and it works beautifully.

First question now. Lightjet prints and UltraChrome prints are not very comparable. They are different animals, trying to do different things. What they have in common is good sharpness, good tonality and smoothness.

They differ on pretty much everything else. The Ultrachromes are pigment inks. They sit on top of the paper. They therefore give best performance on matte papers, because the matte pigments on matte paper doesn't cause a bronzing problem like it does on luster and glossy surfaces. On matte papers, their Dmax suffers though. Since the pigments are sitting on top of the papers, the surface is fragile and can be scratched and scuffed by stacking prints and careless handling. RA-4 process prints don't have these problems, but they do have problems. They exhibit toe and shoulder compression where inkjets have linear response, for example.

That said, inkjet can make some really beautiful prints. What you have to do is learn the material and learn what images take advantage of what the material is good for. Just like you would for, say, dye transfer, or carbon film.

If you want the best from inkjet printing though, IMHO, you have to go to a dye ink. The pigment inks like the Ultrachromes have too many problems, from clogging to low Dmax to lower gamut to surface problems to dry down problems. An archival dye inkset such as Lyson's Fotonics dyes (or the upcoming Futures Inks to be released at Photokina) solve most of these problems. If you are going to use dyes, the differences between RA-4 prints and inkjet prints close considerably, especially if you use Lyson's Darkroom Range fiber papers.

Me? After using the Ultrachromes for a few months to prove my 7600 out and to complete a backlog of color work, I switched over to selenium Piezotones (B&W pigment inks) and have been happily printing B&W. I hope to switch over to a B&W dye inkset soon though ;-)

The Ultrachromes from a x6xx printer are really nice. So is an RA-4 print from a lightjet. Both have their place.

Ken Lee
27-Aug-2004, 16:26
As has been noted many times, many images are destined to be displayed behind glass. All things being equal (as they rarely are) when a Matte image is displayed behind glass, it looks pretty much like a glossy print under glass.

Additionaly, I find that it's already annoying enough to contend with one set of reflections (from the glass). To add another set from a glossy print surface, only compounds the problem. So I do everything matte.

In Photoshop, it is important to use the View> Proof Setup>Custom feature, when making final corrections to an image. It allows you to previsualize the image according to the color space of your printer profile. Since Monitors have a wide color space (wider than most printing setups) there will be a tendancy for the print to look softer when printed, than when viewed on the monitor. However, if you use this feature, you can make the appropriate corrections, getting the most of the dynamic range of the final output device.

Paul Schilliger
29-Aug-2004, 15:12
Thanks to all for the additional informations! What I get from the different posts is that there is not one perfect solution, but many options to suit different sorts of work and to please different tastes. At least the same printer does it, with different sets of inks and different sorts of papers. Is there really a gain once the print is framed and behind glass in using a cotton rag paper? This paper is certainly more expensive, and I can understand the benefit to simulate water color and other art works that are displayed unframed, or for a long archival life. My intention is for 99% in printing standard landscape images displayed behind glass. D-Max, saturate colors and continuous tones, with also the most scratch resistant surface are my requisites. I do not pretend to be collectable either, so permanence is not the point, but if they could keep for at least 20 years from now, this would put me well off retirement and save me troubles in the future. What is in your opinion the "best" standard paper that is commonly used for this use, for example in the Ilford choice? Any other make that could be better and still competitive for this specific use?

I was interested by Hogarth's mentioning of new archival dye inks. Would they last long enough to be suitable for frames? Can they be used on a UC Epson printer simply by switching cartridges and running a cleaning cycle or is it another printing technology?

Thanks! Paul

chris jordan
30-Aug-2004, 16:27
Hi Paul, Chris Jordan checking in with some thoughts. First, the outgassing and bronzing problems with Ultrachromes are not real dealbreakers because both can be solved. Outgassing is solved by a simple process specified on Epson's website, which involves drawing the gas out of the print with a layer of paper. I have extensively tested this process (which takes 72 hours because I do it three times for extra security), and it does in fact totally solve the outgassing problem.

Bronzing also can be solved by coating the print. A simple application of three coats of Lyson printguard (which goes on easily, smoothly, and flawlessly about 98% of the time) totally eliminates bronzing on all of the RC papers, and also protects the print from UV light and atmospheric pollution while also deepening the blacks slightly and making the whole print look a bit richer.

So, with those two items out of the way, Lightjet and Ultrachrome are pretty close in terms of sharpness, longevity, color and overall look. The Epson is sharper, but only marginally, and that only matters for small details on very sharp prints.

For me the kicker is being able to make my own proofs and prints. If someone else is making all of your proofs and prints, the proofing process can take months of back and forth, and be super expensive, especially for problematic images that require lots of proofs. If you make your own, on the other hand, you get instant results for pennies.

There is also something satisfying about doing one's own digital work. The power of Photoshop is incredible-- it provides far more control of many more parameters than darkroom printing ever could provide, and if you do it yourself, you can learn the craft of digital imaging and achieve the kind of quality that can only be acheived if one prints one's own work. The difference in quality between a digital print made by a lab, and one made by one's self (assuming you know what you are doing) is just as big as the difference in quality between a lab-made darkroom print and a print made with tender loving care in one's own darkroom.

So, having experimented extensively with both the Lightjet and the 9600, I have gone with the 9600 with wonderful results, and recommend the same for almost anyone interested in making digital prints. At this point, I think the only reason to stay with the Lightjet is if you intend to make prints larger than can be made with the 9600 (the Lightjet goes up to 72" wide I believe), or if you intend to face-mount your prints on Plexi (which cannot be done with inkjet prints).




Michael Chmilar
30-Aug-2004, 16:53

I just looked at the Lyson website. Are you using the spray, or one of the four lacquers?


Paul Schilliger
31-Aug-2004, 01:06
Hi Chris, well thanks for the good report! If a sharpness freak like you is happy with the 9600, why shouldn't I? ;-) Your explanation of the drying process makes it clear that there is a way to deal with the out gassing. The second part of your thread is clearly what I am looking for too in having my own printing facility. There is seldom a first shot print that I am satisfied with, and having to resort to test prints with a lab is a pain in the a..

I have gathered that some rips deal with the bronzing issue much better than the Epson drivers, along with other conveniences. Rips for extra wide printers are unfortunately very expensive! Do you or anyone use such software or are you all happy with the Epson package? Does someone use the Atkinson's profiles?

Leigh Perry
31-Aug-2004, 01:36
> Does someone use the Atkinson's profiles?

Paul, I use the Atkinson profile for Epson premium semimatte paper, and couldn't be happier with the output quality. I use the standard Epson drivers but drive the printing from QImage, a cheap program that manages the PC / printer driver memory much better than Photoshop, which causes some prints to fail after about 80cm into the print :(

Paul Butzi
31-Aug-2004, 11:45
> I have gathered that some rips deal with the bronzing issue much better > than the Epson drivers, along with other conveniences. Rips for extra > wide printers are unfortunately very expensive! Do you or anyone use > such software or are you all happy with the Epson package? > Does someone use the Atkinson's profiles?

Yes, RIPs like the Colorbyte rip are expensive for wide printers. I don't use a RIP, I just use the Epson driver and Bill Atkinson's profiles on my 9600. I'm very pleased.

Paul Schilliger
2-Sep-2004, 04:03
What about metamerism? A print from the Epson 2000P could look right under tungsten light, but when it was exposed to daylight, the greenish cast was awful. I got rid of the printer for that reason. Has this problem been entirely solved with the 7600/9600 inks?

2-Sep-2004, 14:06
Hello Paul! I'm too a new owner of a 7600 UC. As I got tired to mess with labs trying to get exhibition quality, I bought this just for making some panoramic pictures of my own.

There's sure some metamerism left in UC inks because they are pigments to some degree. As the color shift from the 2000P was like from a bad dream, here's not so much that I even bothered to look for it. Maybe it can still be relevant with BW printing, don't know.

Otherwise I'll second what Chris says.

One question; anyone tried Atkinson profiles with Ilford smooth pearl paper? Or is there any way to get a better Dmax without buying a RIP?

Jan, http://www.janeerala.net

Michael E. Gordon
2-Sep-2004, 14:19
anyone tried Atkinson profiles with Ilford smooth pearl paper? Or is there any way to get a better Dmax without buying a RIP?

I haven't measured to know if dmax is better with the Ilford paper, but Atkinson's Prem Luster (PL) profile with PL paper setting makes beautiful prints - much better surface appearance than with Epson's PL.


Paul Schilliger
2-Sep-2004, 16:20
Hello Jan! So you finally took the step. Glad you like it! So, with what you get, metamerism is no longer a problem. That's good! Thanks! Greetings to Finland. Paul

Michael, I must say that your feedback on your color work with the UC inks does bother me. Did you try different brands of papers in conjunction with the low contrast versus long drying time dilemna? Was there really no suitable option?

Michael E. Gordon
2-Sep-2004, 16:38
Did you try different brands of papers in conjunction with the low contrast versus long drying time dilemna?

Paul: I've tried many papers, but have mostly stuck with Epson's due to my concerns about longevity. Wilhelm hasn't really tested many RC papers outside of Epson's. The Ilford Smooth Pearl is a beautiful option, but Ilford itself rates the longevity poorly (but I've heard contrary speculation). I'm not sure what you mean by "low contrast".

All I can really say is that despite my best efforts to control outgassing, I have seen it in several framed pieces of mine, and it's enough to make me untrustworthy.

Was there really no suitable option?

Yes! Lightjets! ;) As I said before, the trouble that one must go through to produce a UC print that does not outgas or bronze is simply too much anymore for me. My solution exists in Lightjets.

Chris is potentially right about Print Shield being a cure for outgassing, but keep in mind that lacquers most certainly change the gloss level and look of an RC print. Lacquers do not have this effect on matte papers.

Paul Schilliger
3-Sep-2004, 00:34
I'm not sure what you mean by "low contrast"

Michael, as you said earlier:

Color prints on matte papers are not for me as they don't have the punch I want (looking more like watercolors than photographs)

I should have said "poor blacks", blacks that aren't really black as this is what water color suggests. The glossy papers seem to be better in this regard, but with a longer drying time. Or did you mean something else? From my experience with other printers, saturation can be just as good or better than on photographic paper. The smoothness of tones does pretty well too. Or is there something else that makes in your opinion inkjet prints not as "deep" and vibrant as Fuji prints?

In my experience, all varnishes exposed to UV light end up yellowing at some point. Are the print shield sprays safe in this regard?

Michael E. Gordon
7-Sep-2004, 11:03
From my experience with other printers, saturation can be just as good or better than on photographic paper. The smoothness of tones does pretty well too. Or is there something else that makes in your opinion inkjet prints not as "deep" and vibrant as Fuji prints?

It's difficult to quantify my feelings in this matter, but it simply comes down to this: I don't like the way my color photographs look on matte papers; it is not the presentation I want or enjoy with my work.

In my experience, all varnishes exposed to UV light end up yellowing at some point. Are the print shield sprays safe in this regard?

Take a look at this page, Paul: http://www.atlex.com/premier/images/3001108PrintShieldSpray.htm

Paul Schilliger
7-Sep-2004, 15:21
Michael, thanks for your opinion. It is true that unless one is completely pleased with a process or material, there is not much satisfaction in doing it. Thanks also for the link!

Bruce Watson
7-Sep-2004, 20:43

Sorry to take so long to get back to this thread and answer your question. I've been out of town....

The dye inks have been announced on various lists and will be formally introduced at Photokina in a couple of weeks. They come from a UK company called Futures Wales Ltd. They are archival dyes with some interesting properties. They work in the Epson printers. They should have about the same lightfastness as the UltraChromes. They'll have wider gamut than the UCs, and better surface properties (not so easy to scratch and scuff). They'll work on glossy surfaces without bronzing, but need a substrate designed for dye inks to work their best. Futures is, of course, also introducing a line of substrates, from plastic film to papers to canvases for these inks. They should also work with papers from Lyson and Ilford (and many others). The plastic film in particular is neat - extremely dimensionally stable, perfectly smooth (zero texture) and perfectly matte. Nothing "traditional darkroom" about it, if you like that sort of thing.

But the thing I looking forward to is a drastic decrease in clogging, and no pigment settling issues if I don't print for a couple of weeks! Oh, wait. I'm not doing a very good job of containing my enthusiasm. I promised I'd work on that ;-)

Paul Schilliger
8-Sep-2004, 00:24
Hogarth, this sounds promising! There is not much on the web about the new inks yet, but we will be looking forward! Thanks! Any projections have been made on lighfastness yet?