ULTRA TONE 7 (“UT7”) for 2200 – INFORMATION AND SETTINGS
UT7 is a pigment-based, variable-tone, black and white inkset for the Epson 2200 printer. While this inkset appears to be appropriate for all the Epson UC printers, each printer type will require different settings and curves. The 7600 and 4000 are in beta testing now.
UT7 can be purchased from MIS Associates
I recommend UT7 with MIS Eboni matte black ink. With this matte black ink the system can print on both matte and glossy papers. By not having to switch black inks for different paper types, continuous flow inking systems can be used, and the 7600 and 9600 become economical for both matte and glossy papers.
This inkset supports several printing procedures (“workflows”) for B&W printing. First, any application, including Word, page-layout programs, and of course Photoshop can be used to print with tones (used here to indicate “hues” or “color casts”) from neutral to medium warm on matte paper just by using the standard Epson print driver with mostly default settings and a grayscale file. See section 2 below.
Second, with image editors Photoshop, Picture Window, and Photoshop Elements more control is possible, including print tones that range from dark sepia to very cold on either matte or glossy paper. With this approach the print is controlled by readily-available and easily-modifiable image adjustment curves or (especially for PS Elements) image layers that include the curves. See section 3, below.
Additionally, there are two affordable “RIPs” (“Raster Image Processors”) that can act as printing utilities for the inkset – QTR and the Bowhaus IJC/OPM. These are not covered here, but information is available on the Digital B&W Print forum at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DigitalBlackandWhiteThePrint/.
1. INK POSITIONS
The UT7 inkset uses predominantly carbon pigments, which is the key to avoiding metamerism, color tints and shifts, and the inkset’s superior light fastness. The pigments are similar to those used in the UT2 inkset (for the 1280) and UT1 inkset (for many printers including the 7500), but the mixes and positions of the inks vary among these inksets.
In UT7, the inks are in the following positions:
Cyan position – Dark warm gray, pure carbon;
Light cyan position – Light warm gray, pure carbon;
Magenta position – Dark cold gray, carbon toned with blue pigments;
Light magenta position – Light cold gray, carbon toned blue pigments;
Yellow position – The default ink is sepia, which is carbon toned with yellow and red pigments.
Alternatives to this position include Gloss Optimizer for bronze-less glossy prints, a second light ink for cooler printing with sliders, and UT-FS-Y for a super-light ink for the ultimate in dotless highlights even under magnification. (No dots are visible under normal viewing with most papers with the default ink arrangement.)
The yellow ink position is also where any custom ink tone could be placed and fairly easily controlled in the inkset by using the sepia curves or modifications of them. The inkset would still be able to print neutral and carbon tones via RGB curves that essentially cut the yellow-position toner out of the mix.
Light Black – Neutral Light Black; toned carbon (not the standard MIS/Epson Light Black tone);
Black – Eboni matte black.
Because the inkset will print on glossy paper with the matte black ink installed, as long as curves are used, I do not write separate curves for Photo Black ink. However, for printing with the sliders on glossy paper, Photo Black must be installed.
2. GRAYSCALE PRINTING FROM ANY APPLICATION; SLIDER TONE CONTROLS
Because the inkset can be controlled by the Epson driver, excellent archival B&W images can be printed on matte paper from any application, such as Word or page-layout programs.
All of the necessary settings can be made when a person starts to print a file, typically by clicking on "File" (in the top bar) and then "Print." In the printer driver, one first clicks on “Properties,” then “Advanced.” That gets to a box that contains all the settings needed. I recommend checking the box at the lower right that says, “Show this screen first.”
(Note that the driver alone can also print glossy paper if Photo black ink is installed. Users can determine the best slider settings. I prefer to leave Eboni matte black ink in the printer and use curves to print glossy papers.)
"Media Type” is “Enhanced Matte Paper” unless otherwise stated in the individual paper settings sections.
“Print Quality” sets the number of dots per inch – higher is better. I find 1440 dpi is generally good enough. If the print looks rough, uncheck "High Speed." This is often almost as good as and much faster than 2880, which is the highest quality.
Color Management -
Color Controls checked,
Mode – Standard.
SLIDER SETTINGS FOR SOME POPULAR PAPERS
Slider Settings vary and are listed by paper.
With sliders in the ”0” or neutral position, the print will be slightly warm. Adding "Magenta" (the cool ink) by moving the Magenta slider to the right cools the print, removing magenta warms the print. Adding "Cyan" (the warm gray ink) or "Yellow" (sepia tone) warms the print.
The recommended starting points, below, are not necessarily the only or even best settings to achieve the indicated tone and the best print for every printer. Experiment with the slider settings to get the desired results. Similar settings will probably work for a number of matte papers. Large moves of the sliders may negatively affect the print quality.
Note that the "neutral" tone of this inkset is often referred to as "selenium" tone because it matches the tone of a lightly-selenium-toned silver print.
Epson Enhance Matte ("EEM") (aka “Archival Matte”)
This non-archival (100 year dark storage) paper sets the standard for smooth matte display prints.
Neutral: Cyan -10, Magenta +5, Brightness +5;
Warm: C +5. M -5, Y +25, to
C +15, M -10, Yellow +25, Contrast +5.
PhotoRag & PermaJet Alpha & Innova
PhotoRag, also sold by others under different names, is a standard for cotton, archival prints. It has the deepest blacks, but should be brushed or wiped before printing to avoid “flaking” of the surface (small flakes of coating pop off and leave a white spots or holes in the image). Spraying with PremierArt Print Shield will help protect the sensitive image surface. The paper may be prone to yellowing by airborne pollutants.
PermaJet’s new Alpha has no optical brighteners, does not flake, and has a dmax almost equal to PhotoRag. It may set a new standard for those who like creamy-toned cotton papers. Other PermaJet papers Delta (neutral white) and Omega (just a bit of brightener) print cooler.
Innova has a full line of papers with various surfaces.
All of the papers in this group have an excellent dmax.
Neutral: C -20, M +10,
Warm: C +7, M -7, Y +25, Brightness -4.
Epson UltraSmooth & PremierArt Fine Art Hot Press
These papers are all essentially the same, and they are among the only cotton papers that do not have problems with “flaking.” UltraSmooth has no optical brighteners but is still a relatively bright paper. It is the best paper in fade testing that I have tested. This paper sets the standard for archival storage.
Neutral: Cyan -15, Magenta +7;
Warm: C +5, M -5, Y +25, Contrast +3.
The above samples of slider settings should be close to what works on most matte papers.
For a very
cool-tone paper that is also very reasonably priced for a cotton, try Moab
Entrada Fine Art. Use the Enhanced Matte
Arches (un-coated) Water Color Paper
The 2200 with UT7 ink is capable of the best un-coated, cotton-paper print I have seen. Arches Hot Press has the smoothest surface and best dmax that I’ve seen with such papers. The dmax, at up to 1.56 when totally dry, is higher than some coated inkjet papers. However, the best coated paper clearly still have an advantage in both smoothness and depth of black.
Note that Arches HP 90 Lb. (189 gsm) and 140 Lb. (300 gsm) appear to print the same on both the front and back. Needless-to-say, this paper does not have the flaking problems of most cotton inkjet papers.
The ability to get a good image on a non-coated paper with the reputation of Arches could be significant for some markets that might not trust inkjet coated papers. At Dick Blick a full sheet (22x30”) of HP 90 is $2.38. When cut to letter-size, this is $0.40 per page. (See http://www.dickblick.com/zz100/11/products.asp?param=0&ig_id=758 ) For 140 lb. (300 gsm) paper, see Cheap Joe’s at http://www.cheapjoescatalog.com/catalog/products.asp?id=268&pid=31&ppid=4
These papers come in natural or bright white, neither of which has any optical brighteners.
There is also a Cold Press version that has a slightly lower dmax. It has more texture than the Hot Press.
Arches and other non-coated papers benefit from the light black ink in the 2200. This ink is used by the driver primarily when the RGB channels are equal – that is, with gray scale images. Thus, the smoothest printing is when neither sliders nor RGB curves are used. The file can be left in grayscale mode. A simple grayscale curve, however, can improve the contrast. “UT22-ArchesHP-GS” is one that works well with media type at EEM and Color Controls checked. The “Color Density” slider in the “Ink Config” area is set to + 20%. Resolution should be at 2880 with High Speed not checked.
Arches prints with a warm tone. By putting the UT7 LC ink in the yellow position as well as in the LC position, the print looks neutral, even though it is still somewhat warm. The Bright White version of the paper with the LC in the Y position is relatively neutral.
3. IMAGE EDITOR ADJUSTMENT CURVES FOR GREATER TONE CONTOL
For this approach, an image editor is needed. There are three alternatives.
While Photoshop is the industry standard image editor, Picture Window is a good, affordable alternative. (See Digital Light and Color for Picture Window, at www.dl-c.com.) It may be the only alternative that is compatible with the Photoshop Image Adjustment Curves that are used to control the inkset. They are loaded by clicking on Transform, Color, Curves, and the top “Opt” button in the curves box. (The lower “Opt” button does not have the same flexibility.) The curves type then needs to be changed to “Photoshop Curves Files.”
Another affordable route to controlling the inkset is through Photoshop Elements. While this program cannot directly use the image adjustment curves, it can indirectly apply them by dragging a layer off another image that has the desired curve as an adjustment layer. Small image files with the curves applied as layers will be available for downloading just like the curves. They are a very easy way to control the inks.
Controlling the print tones with image adjustment curves gives more control than the sliders and has some other advantages for experienced printers. Which curve is applied determines the mix of inks and thus the tone of the print.
Basic Workflow & Settings
For this approach the final grayscale file must first be changed to an RGB color image for printing. (Save the final grayscale file before doing this.) In Photoshop, set the RGB working space to AdobeRGB(1998). (Edit, Color settings – I set the top setting to Photoshop 5 Defaults and then change RGB working space to Adobe RGB (1998).) The Picture Window and Photoshop Elements default color settings work fine.
For some curves, particularly the stronger sepia curves and some of the carbon curves, it is best to have the RGB file in 16 bit mode before the tone curve is applied. This is true even if the grayscale file was an 8 bit file. Once the curve is applied the file can be converted back to 8 bit per channel with no decrease in print quality.
In general, in the driver the following settings are used:
Source Space -- Document: Adobe RGB (1998)
Print Space -- Profile: Same as Source
Media Type – "Enhanced Matte Paper" unless otherwise stated.
Print Quality – 1440, High Speed unchecked, works well for most prints; 2880 gives marginally better quality but is slower. For glossy papers some might see the difference.
Color Management – “ICM” is checked, and under that, in the “ICC Profile” box, “No Color Adjustment” is used. Because this setting is used, the curves should work equally well with both Windows and Mac computers.
In general, the "Neutral" curves make prints that look similar to those printed with the sliders set to make neutral prints. However, control via RGB curves gives users more control over print tones. The Red curve (which controls the cyan [warm carbon] ink) and the Green curve (which controls the magenta [cool] ink) have only 3 internal points on them from 75% up to 0%. This allows users to easily change the tones of the highlights and midtones by making off-setting moves of the respective points of these 2 curves. From 75% down more points are often needed. With these also, offsetting moves of the Red and Green curves can be effective in changing the tones.
For some papers I have made Cool and Medium Warm curves. Comparing these curves with the neutral versions indicates the relative tone changes that one can get from offsetting moves of the curves.
The "carbon" tone curves print warm, about half way to a sepia tone. Some people compare its visual impact to the classical platinum print. The curves essentially eliminate all the color pigments and print with only carbon. This gives the most lightfast print possible, because the carbon pigments are more stable than the color pigments.
"Carbon on cotton" (acid-free & buffered paper) is such an appealing visual and archival medium that it can, in my view, stand on its own as a classic B&W medium.
Using curves to control tones also allows one to make split-tone prints by using one curve in one selected area and another curve in the other part of the image.
The curves that are available are listed by paper type, below. They can be downloaded from http://www.paulroark.com/BW-Info/UT7-2200-curves.html .
Epson Enhanced Matte:
(These curves will probably work well with many matte papers.)
UT7-2200-EEM-LC in Y-Carbon-6 (This is a draft curve for a carbon print when the
sepia toner is replaced with the LC carbon ink.)
There are 2 sepia curves for EEM. The Dark Sepia curve has slightly warmer
Epson UltraSmooth & PremierArt Hot Press:
The PremierArt may print a little light. To darken, pull the center of the combined
RGB curve down a 3 to 8 (of 255) units at 50% (127 of 255).
Moab-Natural prints similarly.
Innova (The hue will depend on the paper being printed):
GLOSSY PAPERS – With Eboni Ink Installed in the printer
The UT7 inkset allows printing on glossy papers even when Eboni black ink is installed in the printer. All of the curves below are written with the assumption that this matte black ink is in the printer.
Epson Premium Semigloss, Glossy and Luster Photo Papers:
Media Type: "Enhanced Matte Paper."
(These curves do not work on Premium Semimatte.)
Epson Premium Semigloss, as well as the other Epson Premium papers, are the only glossy papers that Wilhelm Research has rated as having dark storage lives of over 200 years. This, combined with excellent fade resistance ratings make these papers the top choice for archival glossy ("RC" or "barrier" paper) prints. Among these papers, the Premium Semigloss, in my opinion, gives the best image, especially when sprayed with an appropriate protective lacquer or fixative.
As with most glossy papers when printed with pigments, these papers exhibit “bronzing” that distracts from the image. The print surface is also very sensitive to abrasion and fingerprints. I recommend three light sprays with PremierArt Print Shield (http://www.premierimagingproducts.com/) to reduce the bronzing and protect the surface. Lyson Print Guard appears to be the same product.
Encapsulating carbon pigments with PremierArt on the front and a “barrier” paper like the Epson Premier Semigloss behind the pigments may be an excellent way to make a more durable, archival print. Air pollution, humidity, and oxidation are primary factors in fading and damaging photos. These air-borne problems can enter the paper through either the front or back. A sprayed barrier paper may be an efficient way to protect the image. While framing under glass gives even more protection, the sprayed glossy print is tough enough to even be cleaned with a damp paper towel.
Ilford Galerie Smooth
Media Type: "Enhanced Matte Paper."
PremierArt Print Shield or Lyson print guard/shield spray largely eliminates the “bronzing."
Use the Ilford curves, above.
With Ilford curves it prints very slightly cooler and lighter than the Ilford paper.
Increasing the Color Density, in the Ink Configuration part of the driver, gives a better
dmax and also darkens the image up to about +12.
This paper has a buffered, acid-free interior paper like the Epson Premium papers.
It also has a very low bronzing. Overall, it may be the best letter size glossy paper.
Too bad it’s not available in larger sizes.
Epson Glossy Photo Paper (also known as “Photo Paper”):
This paper prints with a deeper black when the “Ink Configuration” “Color Density” is set to +20. This setting is in the Epson driver Properties box. Push the “Ink Config” button at the bottom left of the Properties box, Main tab. The curves below require this setting.
Media Type: “Enhanced Matte Paper."
Note, this widely-available and
affordably-priced paper produces a very good image, with none of the artifacts
such as “bronzing” that affect most other glossy papers. This is one of the few glossy papers that does not need to be sprayed to look its best. However, the paper is acidic, and not
archival. It is also thin and gets wavy
in areas with heavy ink loads. The
Enjoy the journey.
PS: For an open forum where I hang out, join the B&W Digital Print form at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DigitalBlackandWhiteThePrint/