View Full Version : Printer and Ink Costs

Edward (Halifax,NS)
22-Apr-2005, 06:24
I feel the need to vent. My Epson 777 is just about out of ink. To buy a Black and a Colour cartridge for this printer it costs $70. To buy a new R200 with 6 ink cartridges costs $99. The last time I was face with a decision like this it was with a cordless drill. My battery died. The cost of a new battery was $20 less than a new more powerful drill with two batteries and a charger.

Does anyone else find this frustrating?

22-Apr-2005, 06:26
They're giving the printers away more or less. The idea is sell you the printer and make the money on the ink. Same old razor and blade idea. Too bad for Epson people aren't buying ink.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
22-Apr-2005, 06:33
And we can fill a landfill with working printers because it makes more sense to buy a new printer than ink.

22-Apr-2005, 07:11
Hello: Look into MIS inks and refillable cartridges or continous flow systems. Restricts your choice of printers.
Frank Johnston

22-Apr-2005, 07:34
To make the same number of prints, you can buy an Epson 2200 for $600 and pay $2000 for ink, or you can buy an Epson 4000 for $2000 and pay $600 for ink.

It's like Vegas - the house always wins.

Leonard Evens
22-Apr-2005, 07:41

Can you elaborate on that? The ink cartridges for the Epson 4000 are very expensive. How long can they be expected to last provided you do a moderate amount of printing?

Paul Butzi
22-Apr-2005, 09:25
You can buy 220ml cartridges for the Epson 4000/7600/9600 at www.lexjet.com (http://www.lexjet.com) for $82 apiece. That works out to $0.41/ml.

Cartridges for the 2200 hold 11ml per cartridge, and cost 8.90 at www.atlex.com (http://www.atlex.com)
That works out to $0.81/ml, roughly twice the cost.

So if you buy a 2200, and pay 700 bucks for it, you get the printer and 77ml of ink for $700

If you buy a 4000, it comes with 110ml ink carts. For $1795, you get the printer and 880ml of ink for that price.

Now, add in the ink to the 2200 purchase so that you're getting the same amount of ink. You'll need 880-77=873 ml of ink. Buy that ink in those little 11ml carts, and you're paying $0.81/ml, that works out to $707. So the total cost for the 2200 and ink is roughly $1400.

So for about $300 more, you get a printer with a wider carriage, much faster printing. The 4000 is really a nice machine.

And when you buy the next round of ink, you'll be happy, as well. Buy 220ml cartridges for the 4000. One complete set of 7 cartridges (assuming you're using either matte black or photo black but not both) costs $82*7=$574. The same amount of ink for the 2200 would be 140 cartridges, and would cost $1246. So after one round of large ink cartridges, you're ahead by way more than the cost of the larger, faster printer.

Running my 9600, my observed ink costs using 220ml cartridges seem to be running about $0.75/square foot of image. You can use that figure as an approximation to see how many prints of whatever size you like you'd get from various size ink cartridges.

-Paul (www.butzi.net (http://www.butzi.net))

Paul Butzi
22-Apr-2005, 09:33
Ok, I see my memory for current printer prices is off a bit. It looks like roughly $1500 for a 4000, and $600 for the 2200.

The breakover point shifts a bit but the conclusion remains the same.

-Paul (www.butzi.net (http://www.butzi.net))

John Berry ( Roadkill )
22-Apr-2005, 10:11
Paul, Thanks fir the insite. This is the first time I have regreted getting a 2200. LOL John

Ben Calwell
22-Apr-2005, 12:17
Just another reason why I'm content to go into the dark to make my prints -- much cheaper, and in my opinion, more satisfying.

Paul Butzi
22-Apr-2005, 14:21
"Just another reason why I'm content to go into the dark to make my prints -- much cheaper..."


If I go into the darkroom (I actually have one) to make a gelatin silver print on, say, Ilford MGIV fb paper, it costs me about $3.50 to set up the tray line - that covers developer, stop, fixer, wash aid. I'll ignore the cost of wash water.

Each sheet of 11x14 paper I use costs me 1.25, more or less. If I burn four sheets getting the print right (hopelessly optimistic for a print of any complexity) and make six keepers when I've got it right, the session cost me 16 bucks amortized across 6 prints, for a total of 2.60 for each print.

In contrast, my cost of goods for a print, same size, on Epson Enhanced Matte, is $1.35, including ink and paper.

Prices on inkjet materials are falling. Prices on gelatin silver paper and the chemicals to process it are rising.

matthew blais
22-Apr-2005, 17:24
Paul your information is appreciated, but your last post comparing cost of inkjet vs. silver Fb and the final print/product may be valid in terms of actual cost, but not (IMHO) in "real" value.

Not including of course comparison in cost terms of darkroom equipment vs. digital darkroom.
One must include (possible) cost for scanning the original (assuming you shot it in film).

Give me FB print anyday.

And BTW, I print digital for my commercial work.

Paul Butzi
23-Apr-2005, 11:16
The equipment I have for making digital prints can make prints up to roughly 40" x 80".

If we adjust for that, either by reducing the amount I have tied up in a printer to match the capabilities of my wet darkroom, or by increasing the amount I have tied up in the wet darkroom by purchasing equipment that would allow me to make large prints in the darkroom, I estimate that I'd actually have more tied up in the wet darkroom.

That's including the scanner I use.

As for the aesthetics of the silver print, I used to agree with you. I've changed my mind, fairly recently. It's an interesting switch, actually, so I wrote up my thoughts and put it on my website at www.butzi.net/articles/silverstandard.htm (http://www.butzi.net/articles/silverstandard.htm)


Kirk Gittings
23-Apr-2005, 11:38
Every once in awhile I run across an article that so closely resembles my own experience that I could have written it. Or sometimes I wish I had written it......the silver standard is one of those articles. Inkjet is its own medium and should develope its own aesthetic, its own standards that relect its inherent strenghts and beauty.

Jorge Gasteazoro
23-Apr-2005, 12:44
Paul, please.....if I wanted to I could make 40x80 inch prints with my Zone VI enlarger that I bought 12 years ago all I would need would be the extra cash to buy or make processing trays. I doubt very much that the cash outlay to make similar size prints would even come close to buying one of those wide format printers.

As to your chemical prices, I dont know where you got them but they seem awfully inflated. I come up with a $1.5 amount which will process at least 10 11x14 prints, making the cost of chemicals negligible or pennies when you take into account that those chemicals can be reused. Every time you make an ink jet print it is a one shot deal, not so when I process a silver print. Your $2.6 price per sheet assumes you are using the chemistry one shot. If you made 10 (your 4 test prints plus the 6 "keepers") prints at $1.25 per print that is $12.50, add the $3.5 for your chemicals and that is a total of $16. Divided by 10 that is $1.6 per print, not $2.6 as you state. And I am assuming you will throw away the fixer and stop bath, since you are not counting the cost of water I will not count the cost of electricity to run your printer, scanner and computer... :)

Arguing that "mine is bigger than yours" is not going to take us anywhere. What I find more telling is your statement:

Each sheet of 11x14 paper I use costs me 1.25, more or less. If I burn four sheets getting the print right (hopelessly optimistic for a print of any complexity) and make six keepers when I've got it right, the session cost me 16 bucks amortized across 6 prints, for a total of 2.60 for each print.

This as well as your thoughts on ink jet printing in your web site show a lack of understanding of tone reproduction, and reinforces the idea that if I cannot get it right in the negative I can fix it with PS. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but as a pt/pd printer I cannot afford the luxury of making test strips and/or 3 or 4 work prints. I had to learn how to get it all right in the negative as well as the print the first time around, there is no reason why you cannot do this with silver printing, but you have to learn how to tailor your negatives to your paper response.

Your arguments about Dmax and short toe and shoulder of silver papers simply show your inability to use the paper to it's full potential and your lack of understanding of tone reproduction, not the paper's "lack" of response.

I am attaching a picture that was printed on the first try and I think is a good example of what I am talking about. I made this print without test strisp, dodging, burning, bleaching etc, etc....what came out of the ligh box was processed, mounted and sold. This can also be done with silver, but you need to understand tone reproduction, paper response and how to tailor your negatives to the paper.


23-Apr-2005, 14:28
Jorge, your HAT picture is Weston/Strand quality. Congratulations (and thanks for showing it).

Paul Butzi
23-Apr-2005, 14:33

16 bucks divided by six final prints equals $2.66667. I stand by my figures. The costs for the chemicals are actual costs, observed over time, of setting up a two liter tray line in trays sized reasonably for printing on 11x14 paper.

Your experience (each print you sell is the result of putting the negative in the enlarger, putting paper in the easel, and making exactly one print) doesn't match my experience in the darkroom.

In fact, in the group of photographers I've met with to review new work every other week for the past 7 years, there are NO printers who routinely make their final print on the very first attempt. In that group are two of the finest silver printers I've ever had the good fortune to meet. They also routinely use up paper exploring possibilities with each print before settling on the final print. To put it more broadly, I've never actually met a photographer who claims, as you appear to do, that he/she routinely gets a print right on the very first sheet of paper they try the print on.

As for your assertion that "Your arguments about Dmax and short toe and shoulder of silver papers simply show your inability to use the paper to it's full potential and your lack of understanding of tone reproduction, not the paper's "lack" of response. " - I think you mean 'long toe and shoulder' instead of 'short toe and shoulder'. It's the LONG toe and shoulder that makes it hard to get contrast in the shadows and the highlights, especially when combined with the toe and shoulder of the film's characteristic curve. Your arument that I don't actually understand would be more persuasive to me if you got the terminology right.

It doesn't matter to me, in any case. All I can do is honestly recount my thoughts and my experiences. If you feel that my thoughts are based on 'a lack of understanding of tone reproduction' - go right ahead.

If you think silver prints are superior - make silver prints. I have neither the inclination nor the ability to stop you, and in fact, I think gelatin silver prints can be a thing of beauty and a joy forever. I did, after all, make silver prints for years before I tried digital printing.

Likewise, if you think silver printing is incredibly cheap, and inkjet printing is so expensive it's entirely impractical - it makes little difference to me. I tracked my costs when I was silver printing, and I track my costs now that I'm inkjet printing, and based on those figures, I disagree.

23-Apr-2005, 14:59
Paul and others who print inkjet,

I'm curious how often the first print out of the inkjet printer is your final. I suppose that if your system is well calibrated, what comes out of the printer will be pretty close to what you see on-screen, but how often do you feel the need to tweak the print after seeing the result on paper? Is there a "test printing" process with inkjet too? Do you print out smaller sections of a large image to check colour and tonality?


Paul Butzi
23-Apr-2005, 15:31
Is the first print that comes out of my printer 'final'?

At the risk of being 'clintonian', that depends on the definition of 'final'.

If by 'final', you mean that I make the print, and never feel a need to change it and print it again, then it's rare that the first print out of the printer is final.

That's largely a matter of my style of working on prints. I like to work on them for a while, make a print, put it on the wall where I'll see it daily, perhaps show it to other people, and some time later go back and revise it.

If by 'final' you mean I'm as happy with that first print out of the printer as I am with the last print made during a darkroom session when I'm silver printing, then yes, generally the first print is 'final'. In other words, it's very rare that I edit for a while, think I'm done, make a print, look at the print, and think "No, that's still not right".

As for 'test' printing - no, I don't make 'test' prints the way I would in the darkroom when working out how much to burn/dodge, or fine tuning contrast, etc. It took a little while but it is actually possible to get that stuff right just by viewing it on the screen.

All my work is B&W. If I were printing color, I might well be making test prints. I've no idea of how hard it is to judge the color from the screen.

Jorge Gasteazoro
23-Apr-2005, 15:39
Thank you Bill, very kind of you.

Ok, lets start with the "long" toe and shoulders, you state:

But the real, honest reason is this: the crippling property of gelatin silver paper, which no one will mention, is that it has a pronounced toe and shoulder.

I understand "pronounced" as abrupt or IOW "short"...maybe you meant differently but this is what you wrote. OTOH if papers have a long toe and shoulder, then they should be able to sparate tones better...so which is it? Long or short. The statement you made above that it is because papers have long toes and shoulders that makes it hard to get contrast in highlights and shadows is wrong.

Besides as I said before, it is all a matter of tailoring the negative to the paper, you can place your tones any way you like.

Yes 16 divided by 6 is 2.66, but if I recall correctly you made 4 test prints in your example, that makes a total of 10 prints processed in the same chemistry. Oh, I see...I guess the test prints dont count so that you can better support your argument....my bad....

The fact that you have not met anybody that can do a print on the first try does not mean there are not those of us out there who can. Being able to produce a good print does not necessarily mean you understand the sensitometry and tone reproduction, your insinuation that you meet with the greatest printers in the world and since they cannot make a good print in the first try then it must be true that nobody can is ridiculous. There are times when I too have to make 3 or 4 prints to get it just the way I want, but I would say 80% of the time, with good process control and testing my first print is a keeper, if you ever find yourself in Mexico I would be glad to demonstrate it to you...
Here is another print that was taken out of the light box, processed, mounted and sold.


Like you, I dont care if you think ink jet prints are the cat's meow, and almost free to make, as you say that is your opinion and I too disagree, but dont expect to go unchallaged when you place information in a public forum, specially when that information is inaccurate. Specially concerning your statements about Dmax. Oh and BTW.....no, you cannot make ink jet prints that "look" like platinum prints and I wll challange you on that at your convenience.

David Luttmann
23-Apr-2005, 18:08

If you're looking at Dmax, the Epson 130 will lay down blacker blacks than anything you can do with Selenium toning or Platinum. And that, is a FACT!

Jorge Gasteazoro
23-Apr-2005, 18:30
I dont know how much of a fact it is...what is the reflection density?....More importantly is this mistaken notion that one has to have blacks with reflection densities of 2. 2 or above to have a good print. The important thing is to have convincing blacks, some people say they can get reflection densites in the range of 1.7 with pt/pd, I cant, my Dmax is 1.45 and my blacks are set at 90% of that. Look at the hats picture, the rim around the middle hat "looks" black, yet if you measure the reflection density it is probably at about 1.3.....the trick is to control your materials and understand tone reproduction and tonal relationships.

Here is an example of Oriental Seagull grade 2 selenium toned. The dark right hand side has a reflection density of 2. 45.....what are your numbers?


So, sorry for doubting your word but unless you are going to give me numbers, your "fact" sounds pretty dubious to me.....

David Luttmann
23-Apr-2005, 18:53
Actually Jorge, Charles Cramer summed it up nicely comparing Epson, Ilfochrome, Lightjet, Dye Transfer, and Selenium Toned FB Silver Gel. For the blackest blacks on a scale of 1 thru 10, with 1 being the blacked, Selenium toned FB silver gel came in at 4, with HP Designjet 130 coming in at a 2. This echos the samples I've had done on the designjet as well.

I consider Charles Cramer a pretty good source when it comes to printing. So you see, it's not my word we're dealing with....and there is nothing dubious in it....it is simply a fact. I'm not stopping you from producing silver or Platinum prints....but for the deepest blacks for B&W output, silver is no longer in the game.


Jorge Gasteazoro
23-Apr-2005, 19:06
Well, unless Cramer provided numbers somewhere I have to say that I doubt him too. Making a visual comparison and number them from 1 to 10 without giving an explanation as to what was the basis of the comparison is not "proof" or "fact"..sorry but I doubt very much ink jet prints have a higher D max than silver paper. You want to prove me wrong post your reflection numbers. If you dont have a densitometer send me a balck patch and I will be glad to read it for you....other wise, I have posted numbers I expect for you to do the same when you make a claim, not value judgements, either yours or Cramer's.

Jorge Gasteazoro
23-Apr-2005, 19:19
Oh and BTW, if you read carefully you will see I am not looking for the maximum Dmax possible, that was your assumption. I am fully aware pt/pd does not even come close to the Dmax of silver printing. But in my case, I dont need it......

David Luttmann
23-Apr-2005, 19:25

You can review his credentials on pg 47 of this months View Camera Magazine, as well as to how he tested different methods and papers. I suggest you read the article . And as an aside, have you tested the Designjet yourself as I have.? Based on your response, it sounds like you haven't....and as such, what you're offering is nothing more than opinion....which carries no weight. Cramers 1 thru 10 test represents DMax in a scale that is easy to interpret. If you haven't done a test with the Designjet, you really can not offer anything but an uninformed opinion.

I suggest you check out his article, and do a densitometer test with this printer. The Ansel Adams Gallery is now using the printer for their B&W work....you should give it a try.


23-Apr-2005, 19:26
Now Children, this has gone on long enough -- too long, in fact.

David Luttmann
23-Apr-2005, 19:32
I'd respond....but I've been sent to my room......

Jorge Gasteazoro
23-Apr-2005, 19:47
Sorry, but I dont do VC. I really dont care about his credentials, I care about the numbers and testing procedure. YOu are correct that I have not tested the design jet, this is why I was asking you to post the numbers. Since you do not or cannot post the numbers I guess your and Cramer's opinion is just that, an opinion and certainly not a "fact" and carries just as much weight as mine.... I dont understand your reluctance to post a reflection density, if as you say you have "tested" this printer, then you must have numbers...or what? is your testing methodology along the lines of...gee wiz, this looks blacker....

Bill, sorry bubba but if people say " you know, I have switched to digital and my prints have improved 100% and I find I have greater control and enjoy it more" I say good for them, to each his/her own. But it irks me when I read these supposedly "expert" opinions that offer pseudo scientific explanations and offer claims that ink jet prints are "better" than silver or any other process, but you ask them for numbers and all you get is , "well gee wiz.I read it in VC" or "I dont have the time or inclination to prove you wrong. " I say, offer proof or just say "I like ink jet prints better" and move on.

David Luttmann
23-Apr-2005, 20:21

You haven't tested it yourself. You haven't read a test on it from someone who I consider to be far more experienced with printing than yourself.....but you're convinced that everyone else is wrong about it and you're right.

I think that about sums it up. While I've tested it, and others much more experienced than I have tested it, and found the same thing.....you must be correct and we must be wrong.

By the way....the numbers are there for ya in the article. But I guess you won't read it because you already know the answer to everything.

LOL. Enjoy.

Jorge Gasteazoro
23-Apr-2005, 20:44
Yeah well, there must be a reason you are unwilling to provide the numbers yourself......seems to me you choose to attack instead of offer proof. I did not say I know everything, I said I do not beleive you or Cramer, you can easily prove me wrong by posting the Dmax of these super printer...but we all know your answer....seems to me more wishful thinking than "fact"...LOL...have fun.

23-Apr-2005, 21:32
Jorge is not alone!

And I 'do" VC (sorry Jorge ;-) )

Jorge Gasteazoro
23-Apr-2005, 21:50
LOL....no sorry Rich, VC is not sold in Mexico, if it was I would gladly check the article out. Since you have the magazine maybe you can enlighten me and fill in the number in this phrase...

The Dmax of the desingjet ink jet print, printed on paper x is ........

And please tell me if Cramer actually presents real reflection densities and not something like..."well I made some prints and took a gander at them, and by goly if the ink jet print did not seemed to have deeper blacks...."

I find it very curious that I am told this is a "FACT" in big bold letters and then when I ask for a simple number I am told to "read the article".....I guess if Cramer prints in VC that the earth is flat, we are going to have to take that as a "FACT" too....lol.....

Paddy Quinn
23-Apr-2005, 22:21
Using a densitometer we got a reflective Dmax of 1.86 for the Epson 4000 on Epson Premium Lustre using the PK black ink and 2.21 for the HP DesignJet on HP's photo matte paper when we tested them. Haven't got around to testing the two brands similar glossy photo papers (we don't use them much).

Jorge Gasteazoro
23-Apr-2005, 22:32
Thank you Paddy! hey 2.21 is not bad at all, but is certainly not, how was it that the hero worshiper put it...ah yes... "silver is no longer in the game."..... LOL....

I imagine if you use the glossy paper you might get .15 to .2 more density putting it at 2.4.... just about what any silver paper toned in selenium can do easily.

23-Apr-2005, 23:03
Okay... I glossed over this article because it just seemed to me to be another digital-is-better-than-anything promo opinion thing... Oddly enough, now that I've read it in-depth, my opinion is confirmed...

There are no "facts" in the article that can be confirmed except maybe for the release dates of some inks and printer! And the statement that the digital inks "sure lated a long time- 200 years before the first noticable fading!" ??? There were digital inks 200 years ago???

Now the'densities'. He states: "(L* is now used instead of density, and basically can be considered as percentage reflectance. The lower number, the blacker)."

There is no mention of how the L* was obtained. No way to relate it to anything else, except his own numbers... The table of numbers supplied int he article is:

L*10 Epson Premium Lustre
L*6 Ilfochrome Classic
L*5 Lightjet print on Fuji Crstal Archive Matte
L*4 Dye Transfer Color print
L*4 Selenium-toned Ilford Multigrade FB B&W silver gelatin
L*3 HP Designjet 130 on HP Premium Plus Satin
L*2 HP Designjet 130 on HP Premium Plus Glossy

The article is also about _COLOR_ printing, not B&W! So those digital inks that lasted 200 years were color ;-) He also doesn't even specify what type of prints were done in each 'test' or even if they were the same print. Maybe just a scale? Who knows???

I may have little interest in digital, but this article realy present no facts at all. It's completely the opinion of the author and you have to believe him... I'll pass...

Jorge Gasteazoro
23-Apr-2005, 23:39
Thank you Rich!.... this is what I was afraid of, someone creates a "new" method just to be able to justify what they think they see. Unless this "L" number is clearly explained I am afraid it is just one more case of pseudo science. The concept of reflection densities is very simple, the higher the number the darker the tone.....no wonder hero worshiper refused to post any REAL numbers like Paddy did.

I see some big problems with these results. If I understand correctly Cramer is saying that Dye transfer prints have deeper blacks than selenium toned silver prints, given that dye transfer prints are ...well, made up of dyes I find it very hard to beleive they have deeper blacks than silver prints. Of course, he did Dye transfer prints in the past and now he does ink jet prints...funny how his chosen processes seem to come out on top according to his test..no?

The claim that the prints are rated at 200 years is hilarious, it is like this guy on E bay that claims that his ink jet prints will outlast any silver or pt/pd print. When I e mailed him on it, his reason was that there are books written with pigments more than 500 years ago and that since they have not faded it is proof that ink jet prints last longer than any metal process....I am still laughing about that.... Of course when I told him to send me a print and that I would put it on a window right next to one of my platinum prints for 30 days and then I would send him both prints for him to compare and re do the test if he wished to, I never heard form him again.....strange that.

Anyway, thank you for clarifying this "FACT" for me....lol....

Kirk Gittings
23-Apr-2005, 23:40
Jorge, Paul etc.

I have not seem originals of either of yours work, but from what I see on the web, your work would look good done in any medium.

It doesn't matter what the medium, I always seem to go thru tons of film and paper getting it right.

Here are some real numbers. I just spent the last six months setting up to do digital printing. I spent almost $10,000 in equipment, paper/ink and software (this is really for my commercial business too). After 6 months of about 30 hours a week in front of a computer (what is that worth?) I finally produced a b&w print that I was truely happy with and would exhibit. I expect the cost per print will go down some as time goes along. Two prints $5,000 apiece etc. etc.

As an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico in the early 1970's it took me a couple of years, a couple of thousand dollars in darkroom equipment and a truckload of paper to get my first "exhibition quality" silver print. That was during the years the Hunt Brothers were driving the price of silver up. That print still looks good today.

Frankly I think this argument is silly. If you care about your work, costs or time are not real issues. You do what you have to do to make it come alive and then try to get a descent price for your work. A few cents one way or the other is meaningless if you are producing great work and getting a descent price for your work.

I once knew a really great early abstract expresionist painter who loved to paint with clumps of cadmium red with a pallette knife. Cadmium red was the most expensive color. He couldn't afford the paint so he shoplifted it. He was deeply worried about getting caught. I naively told him to use a different color, a cheaper color. He told me he would rather quit painting. His work is now in the Whitney, the Art Institute of Chicago etc. etc. and sells for tens of thousands of dollars. Do what you have to do.

Morely Baer once said something like this about pricing. "Charge enough so you don't have to worry about whether you are making money or not".

If you are really worried about a few cents here or there to determine if one should print traditionally or digitally, I think you are asking the wrong questions. The mediums are different. They have different strenghts and weaknesses. What fits your aesthetic? Go for it.

Jorge Gasteazoro
24-Apr-2005, 00:01
Kirk, I agree with you completly. I have no problem with those who say I have taken up ink jet printing and I find I like my work better. Good for them, Brian Ellis is a good example of this.

OTOH I have a big problem with those who try to "elevate" their chosen process by dumping on traditional methods using pseudo science, erroneous "analysis" and biased testing. If they are going to state this in public I certainly have the right to challange their claims. You might think it is silly, but bad information like this if gone unchallanged becomes "true." Take this guy Luttmann, he read it in VC and the test was done by someone he admires, so it must be true and a "FACT." I am sure as an educator you want your students to think for themsleves and apply critical thinking to at least the science part of photography, hopefully you are not telling them that just because a "famous" photographer wrote it in a rag it is automagically true.....

Kirk Gittings
24-Apr-2005, 00:57

Silly was a bad choice of words. Subjective is perhaps more what I was thinking. Material usage is all too subjective. I heavily burn and dodge my silver prints. I heavily manipulate the tones in a digital print. All that takes time and materials. Others have a more straight forward approach and perhaps can get away with a "straight" print. It is not a question of traditional vs. digital but how involved your technical approach is and inherently wasteful in either medium. I waste alot of materials either way.

Some of the most expensive mistakes that I have ever made were purchases made on the basis of some "famous photographe'rs" evaluation without doing my own testing (Fred Pickers compensating timer comes to mind). Some of the best work I have every seen was done on materials or equipment that "experts" said "would not work". Mark Citret's work comes to mind.

Paul Butzi
24-Apr-2005, 11:50
"your insinuation that you meet with the greatest printers in the world'

Nowhere have I insinuated any such thing.

" and since they cannot make a good print in the first try then it must be true that nobody can is ridiculous"

If I had much such an argument, it would indeed be ridiculous. However, I haven't made any such argument, so your stating that I have is, in fact, ridiculous.

It's taken me 46 years, but I've finally learned that it's a waste of time and effort to attempt to converse, reason, or argue with someone who tries as hard as you do, Jorge, to put words into my mouth.

So, while you appear to want to engage in some sort of argument about inkjet printing and silver printing, I decline.

Jorge Gasteazoro
24-Apr-2005, 13:50
So, while you appear to want to engage in some sort of argument about inkjet printing and silver printing, I decline.

That is certainly your prerrogative Paul, but then you should remove the quote that "nobody" wants to talk about the "long" toe and shoulders of silver paper.

I dont want to engage in an argument about which is better, but I do object to your explanation in your written opinion. If you had just said " I have converted to ink jet printing and have seen great improvement in my printing" I would have nothing to say, but trying to knock down silver printing by using an inaccurate explanation is wrong. Bottom line, if you had to do a lot of dodging, burning and bleaching you were using negatives with a density range that far surpassed the reproduction scale of your favorite paper. Dont blame it on the silver paper, blame it on your lack of process control.


I think we are talking about different things. The choice of printing method is a matter of taste and as you say subjective. While I disagree with the ink jet printer's mantra that "the end result is what matters not the process" I realize this is just differing opinions, I happen to think the process is an integral part of the final image, and while I thank you for the compliment I disagree with you that what you have seen of my work in the web would look good in any process, I have tried printing my negatives in silver and they just dont have the same impact...at least to me.

My objections are to the never ending claims that ink jet printing is "better" because....and then we see these half truths and baseless arguments. Take for example the article in VC. As I said I cannot buy or see VC here in Mexico, but from Rich's summary I see Cramer is using an evaluation scale that nobody understands, knows where it comes from or has any basis in sensitometry, yet miraculosly it shows ink jet prints and dye transfer prints have a better response and deeper blacks than silver printing. This goes against the numbers that Paddy posted, and the simple act of taking reflection density measurements and comparing the results.

Or take Butzi's explanation that silver printing is too hard because the papers have long toe and shoulder (which is what I gather he tried to explain, I guess I will never know since he refuses to explain his claim) . This is wrong, high contrast grade papers do have a long toe and shoulder and a very steep slope in the middle range, on the opposite end low contrast grade papers as well as silver chloride papers have very short toes, almost no shoulder to speak of and a gradual slope. Ilford MG with a 0 filter or azo are good examples of extremely high reproduction tonal scales. I guess the next argument would be "well if I dont use a higher contrast grade I dont get the blacks I want" this only shows a lack of understanding of tonal reproduction and how to tailor a negative to the specific paper. I think a good example is Michael A. Smith, you might not like his photography but there is no denying the fact that he obtains impressive blacks and whites as well as black and whites with detail, how come he can do this with a paper that has a very long tonal scale reproduction ratio? As I said, dont blame the materials in an effort to "prove" or "explain" why ink jet printing is better or has a better "response."

David Luttmann
24-Apr-2005, 14:11
Actually Jorge,

I tested the Designjet 130. I'm NOT simply relying on an article in VC. And the prints aren't rated at 200 years. They are rated at 82 years by Wilhelm Research...Although I'm sure you won't trust that figure yourself and will probbaly require Wilhelm to justify it to you as well.

I'm done here. Go get the numbers yourself. The difference was plain as day to my eyes without haven't to grad my densitometer.


Jorge Gasteazoro
24-Apr-2005, 14:34
The difference was plain as day to my eyes without haven't to grad my densitometer.

Yep, that about sums it all up.....wishful thinking and biased testing. If you are so sure of your results how come you refuse to post your tests and results? BTW, your "eyes" are not an instrument we can all see the results from, and certainly your "testing" as well as Cramer's are not "FACT."

I dont need the numbers anymore, they have been posted and your "FACT" is not so much "FACT"...LOL...Glad you are done, there is little to be learned form your contribuitions.

Rick Moore
24-Apr-2005, 15:45
All this talk about DMax, whatever, misses the point completely. Who cares? It's how a print affects one when one views that counts, the only thing that counts.

I've been photographing with view cameras since 1969, doing salted paper, albumen and POP prints since 1976. I was just as full of disdain for digital processes as Jorge for many years. Then I was taken to a show of George DeWolfe's digital prints. I was almost unable to breathe in the presence of several of those prints. No other process I've ever seen had such delicacy and beauty of tonality.

Digital in not a better way of doing photo printing, it's a truly different way. Just as a beautiful early Strand platinum print is not "better" than a fine Adams or Weston silver gelatin print (I've held one of each in my hands, so I know of what I speak), digital is a unique process, with its own strengths and weaknesses. This is what I think Paul is trying to say on his web site.

It's the final print that counts, not the process that led to the print, at least as far as I'm concerned.


Jorge Gasteazoro
24-Apr-2005, 16:09
Rick you misunderstand me, I have no disdain for digital, I have bought digital prints albeit made on silver paper from a lightjet. I have not bought any ink jet print because I have yet to see one I like.

As you say to each it's own, I disagree with you that is the final print that counts but that is something we will just agree to disagree.

What I disdain are those who skew facts so that they can "justify" their choice of making ink jet prints by attempting to diminish traditional processes. I really dont care if ink jet prints can achieve a Dmax of 3.0, I work on a process that cannot even come close to a mediocre silver print Dmax. What I care about is people who make claims of ink jet prints being better and using made up uncomprehensible testing parameters or explanations that go against the stablished and well know sensitometry theory.

As you say, ink jet printing is a method on it's own, it is time those using it accept it and stop trying to elevate their choice by dumping on other procesess. And if the do chooose to dump on other procesess then they better be ready to be challanged and explain their claims.

Paul Butzi
25-Apr-2005, 10:31
"That is certainly your prerrogative Paul, but then you should remove the quote that "nobody" wants to talk about the "long" toe and shoulders of silver paper. "

Well, you say I should remove that *quote*, but in fact no where have I written that, so I'm at a loss as to where I should remove it FROM. Again, you seem intent on putting words in my mouth. How can I possibly respond except to say "no, I didn't actually say that"?

"Or take Butzi's explanation that silver printing is too hard because the papers have long toe and shoulder (which is what I gather he tried to explain, I guess I will never know since he refuses to explain his claim) . "

No, I'm happy to explain my claims to anyone who's interested - just send me email.

What I am quite specifically NOT willing to do is waste my time in public debate with someone who works very hard at insisting I've said things I have never said.

There's no point in engaging in discourse in that situation, because no matter what I say, you'll write up some new, preposterous claim and insist that I've said it, then respond to it in an attempt to make me look bad.

Why bother? If you had a real argument, you'd never stoop to such tactics. Reasonable people can therefore conclude with great confidence that you have no real argument.

Please don't mischaracterize my unwillingness to engage in discourse with YOU as an unwillingness to explain my views in general. It would be nice to discuss this stuff with reasonable people here in the forum, but since you appear intent on poisoning every such discussion, I suppose that's not possible. Anyone who's interested, just send me email.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
25-Apr-2005, 10:58
I picked up an aftermarket colour cartrige for my printer for $20 - I have a little life left in the black. I made a couple of B&W 8X10s that I was happy with and a colour that when straight in the garbage.

As for Digital vs Darkroom, that wasn't my intention when I started the thread. Both can be great. For me, I can do better work digitally. I am still a very long ways from the pros of either method.

Jorge Gasteazoro
25-Apr-2005, 11:22
Well, you say I should remove that *quote*, but in fact no where have I written that, so I'm at a loss as to where I should remove it FROM. Again, you seem intent on putting words in my mouth. How can I possibly respond except to say "no, I didn't actually say that"?

LOL...didnt you write this:

But the real, honest reason is this: the crippling property of gelatin silver paper, which no one will mention, is that it has a pronounced toe and shoulder. That is, the contrast in the shadows (especially right down near the Dmax) and up in the highlights (especially right up near the paper base) is low. Very low.

You seem to want to fight on semantics, but I am quoting what you wrote and I am telling you this is wrong. As I said, high contrast grade papers have a steep slope, long toe and shoulder, this is not the case with low contrast grade papers.

You then write:

Why the quest for better Dmax? Partly it's just that, of two prints which are otherwise equal, the print with the higher Dmax and the tones distributed evenly tends to look better. That's a generalization, but on the whole, it's true.

This is your opinion but I will go with it. Despite what Cramer and Luttmann beleive, any silver paper toned in selenium will give you a higher Dmax than any ink jet print. If you insist of having the highest Dmax possible azo paper has one of the longest tonal scale reproduction with a very short toe and no shoulder to speak of, when toned in selelnium it can acheive a Dmax of 2.6.
If you dont like Azo, you can use Ilford multigrade with a 0 filter and essentially use a negative that would also print well in pt/pd with a density range of 1.45.

More importantly, I think your generalization is wrong. Here is a pt/pd print with Dmax of 1.35:


YOu dont need the highest Dmax to make things "look" black.

Finally, if you mean I am "poisoning" this by disagreeing with you, you bet your ass I am. The difference is that I am using facts and theories that anybody can check and tell me I am wrong, and I am presenting examples of what I mean. You have only come up with "I did not say that, dont put words in my mouth." Well, here you are, I have pasted what you wrote literally....any more excuses?

You say:

Why bother? If you had a real argument, you'd never stoop to such tactics. Reasonable people can therefore conclude with great confidence that you have no real argument.

I guess those "reasonable" people are those who agree with you. uh? By your continuing refusal to defend your claims I guess any reasonable people can see it is YOU who does not have any real facts to support your position.

Paul Butzi
25-Apr-2005, 11:46
"I guess those "reasonable" people are those who agree with you. uh?"

People disagree with me all the time. What reasonable people DON'T do is put words in someone else's mouth.

YOU wrote "your insinuation that you meet with the greatest printers in the world'

Nowhere have I insinuated any such thing.

YOU wrote " and since they cannot make a good print in the first try then it must be true that nobody can is ridiculous"

Nowhere did I make such an argument.

As I said, if you had a real argument to make, you'd make it. Instead you resort to this sort of trick. The inescapable conclusion is that you have no real argument, or, more generously, you might have an argument but you're more interested in scoring points via cheap rhetorical tricks than you are in exploring real issues.

Either way, I have neither the time nor the interest.

Jorge Gasteazoro
25-Apr-2005, 12:09
Well, I have quoted you exactly from your web site, and you still cannot get past my perceived misquotations. All I am still reading is you refusal to explain in a public forum your claims, you posted this in this forum:

It's an interesting switch, actually, so I wrote up my thoughts and put it on my website at www.butzi.net/articles/silverstandard.htm

As interested as you may think it is, is based on the wrong assumptions. I just as soon have you say "I did not learn to control silver printing as well as I have done with ink jet printing" and leave off the erroneous explanations as to why you did so.

As I said, you refuse to answer my objections, there must be a reason for that....

25-Apr-2005, 18:51
You two could always use email and IM to argue ;-0