ULTRA TONE 2 (“UT2”) INFORMATION AND SETTINGS

By

Paul Roark

(2-2007b)

(original 2003)

           

 

(Note, the formatting of this document works better when at full screen display.)

 

Ultra Tone 2 (“UT2”) is a pigment-based, variable-tone black and white inkset for the Epson 1280 printer.   It can be purchased from MIS Associates.  See the MIS website at:

http://www.inksupply.com/ut2-1280.cfm

 

The 1270 also makes good matte prints with this inkset when the 1280 driver is used.  PCs seem to have no trouble with this.  Macs may not be able to run the 1270 with a 1280 driver.  The 1270 glossy printing may not be up to the 1280 quality. 

 

The 1290 can also use this inkset and the 1280 curves.   At one time I thought the 1290 printed slightly darker than the 1280.  However, now having a “silver” version of the 1280, I’d say that printer is actually a 1290 with a different power supply and name plate.  The silver 1280 also prints slightly darker than the original 1280.

 

For the 2200 or other UltraChrome printers use the UT7 inkset.  

 

There are two general printing procedures for the UT2 inkset.   First, any application can be used to print grayscale files on matte papers just by using the standard Epson print driver.  Tones (hues) can be changed by using the sliders in the Epson driver.   The range varies depending on the Yellow position ink option used, as discussed below.

 

Second, with image editors Photoshop and Picture Window more control is possible, including print tones that range form dark sepia to very cold, by using image adjustment curves.  

 

Photoshop Elements can also be used to gain this expanded control.  For that program the adjustment curves need to be put onto small files as adjustment layers that can then be dragged to the image file.  I have not done this for many papers, but will do so as people request the layers files.

 

The settings for these two printing methods are in separate sections, below. 

 

UT2 is compatible with both matte and glossy (also called “barrier” or “RC”) papers.  For matte paper, Eboni matte black ink should be used. 

 

For glossy papers, there are two printing procedures that can be used.   First, if Photoshop, Picture Window, or Photoshop Elements is used, image adjustment curves (or layers) are available that allow printing a number of popular glossy papers even though Eboni matte black ink is installed in the printer.  I, personally, keep Eboni black ink in my 1280 and use the image adjustment curves to print on glossy paper.  This makes the inkset extremely flexible and also usually results in better prints.

 

Second, Photo black ink (“PK”) can be used.  It must be used if the print is made with programs other than the image editors noted above.  Recommended settings for PK ink are in the last section of this Readme file.

 

 

INK POSITIONS

 

The UT2 inkset uses predominantly carbon pigments.  The magenta and light magenta ink positions use un-toned carbon pigments, which give a warm print tone.  The cyan and light cyan positions are predominantly carbon pigments, but they also have blue pigments added to tone them cold.  No old style dyes are used in this inkset, so all images will be reasonably fade resistant and archival on acid free paper and with proper display and storage.  In general, the more carbon pigment that is in the image, the more lightfast it will be.

 

The Yellow-position ink has several options.  MIS sells several of these options, and once there are easy-refill carts available for the 1280, more options will be easy to utilize. 

 

The default ink in the yellow position of the pre-filled MIS 1280  UT2 cartridges is sepia.  Some users might want to mix a custom sepia tone by adding more MIS 2200 yellow or light magenta pigments.   Due to the amount of color in the sepia, it is not recommended where longevity is needed.  For that, use the warm magenta position carbon inks on glossy paper.

 

If one does not print sepia tones, then there are better uses for the Y-position ink spot.  If one prints only matte papers, a second light gray carbon ink can be put in the yellow spot.  The UT2-LM is the appropriate ink.   This makes the slider range slightly more neutral.  It also makes the inkset more lightfast, as it reduces the amount of yellow pigment, which is the weakest component of the new UT2 inkset. 

 

If one prints on glossy prints, it now appears that MIS “Gloss Optimizer” (“Glop”) placed in the Y position will be able to eliminate most of the bronzing that was so distracting with these papers.  While I have been recommending spraying with PremierArt Print Shield for this purpose and for print protection, the Glop, applied with special curves that have “Glop” in the names, largely eliminates the need to spray.  Since the Print Shield spray is a noxious chemical, this is a pleasant option that I recommend to all glossy print makers.  New curves for glossy papers that utilize the Glop have been posted on my download page.  Glop can be purchased in bulk from MIS at http://www.inksupply.com/product-details.cfm?pn=ESCR800-4-OPT .  (The curves I have posted do not require the procedures listed on the MIS web page.)  MIS is also starting to sell UT2 carts with Glop in the yellow position.  Note that when Glop is applied while printing, the driver setting should be set to 2880 dpi to ensure smoothness. 

 

While MIS Photo black (or the new PKN) can be used, the most flexible approach is to have Eboni installed and use Photoshop curves to adjust the inkset for glossy printing.  Thus, the first section, below, assumes Eboni is installed.  Another section, further below, has some recommendations for printing when Photo Black is installed.  I have only made curves to control the gloss optimizer when Eboni is installed.  However, these curves also work when PK is installed; they just do not utilize the PK.

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Workflows & Settings when EBONI Black ink is installed:

 

In general, the Photoshop Color Settings (Edit, Color settings) are set as follows:  First, set the top setting to Photoshop 5 Defaults, which includes Gray Gamma 2.2; second, change RGB working space to Adobe RGB (1998).

 

 

1.  SLIDER CONTROLS – Printing from Any Application on Matte Paper

 

This workflow option requires only the Epson driver, but be sure it is a full driver and not one of the abbreviated ones that ships with Windows XP. 

 

The Epson Driver Settings are made when a person starts to print a file.  (“Print with Preview” is used in Photoshop CS.)

 

These are the recommended settings for best grayscale file printing:

 

Source SpaceDocument : Gray Gamma 2.2.

 

Print Space – Same as Source.

 

Media Type   Matte Paper Heavyweight:”

 

(If the deepest black tones are not properly separated or blotchy, try the “Photo Quality Ink Jet” or “Photo Quality Glossy Film” media type settings.)

                   

Print Quality -- 1440 dpi 

 

Color Management -- Color Controls checked; Mode – Vivid.

      

Slider Settings

 

          Default – all sliders at “0.”

 

                    (Different papers print with different tones or hues.)

 

          For cooler prints:           Cyan +10, Magenta -10

 

          Warmer prints:          Cyan -15, Magenta +10, Yellow +25.

 

                    With Glop in the Y spot, use up to C – 25, M + 25.

                    (Obviously, putting more Y ink in will not warm the print if Glop is                  installed.)

 

These slider settings are illustrative of what usually works well.  Experimentation will probably allow you to achieve prints that better match your monitor and the look you prefer.

 

                             

 

2.  IMAGE EDITOR ADJUSTMENT CURVES

 

This workflow option requires specific image editor programs.  While Photoshop is the industry standard image editor, Picture Window is a good, affordable alternative for Windows users.  (See Digital Light and Color for Picture Window, at www.dl-c.com.)   As noted earlier, Photoshop Elements can also be used when the curves are first put onto files as adjustment layers.

 

Controlling the print tones (hues) 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.

 

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.)

 

For some curves, particularly the sepia and 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, it can be converted back to 8-bits per channel (24 bit total) and be just as smooth. 

 

 

In general, the following driver settings are used:

 

Source Space – Document: Adobe RGB (1998)

 

Print Space – Same as Source

 

Media Type – "Photo Paper" works well for most, but this can vary with paper type.

 

Print Quality – 1440, High Speed unchecked, works well for most prints; 2880 gives marginally better quality but is slow.  For glossy papers some might see the difference.

 

When Glop is used, 2880 is recommended.

 

Color Management – “No Color Adjustment” is always used.  Because this setting is used, the curves should work equally well with both Windows and Mac computers.

 

These curves are not difficult to modify for fine tuning the printing system.  For the relatively neutral curves the Red curve (which controls the cyan/cool ink) and the Green curve (which controls the magenta/warm-carbon ink) have only 3 internal points on them from 75% to 0%.  Changing the tones of the highlights and midtones independently can be accomplished by making off-setting moves of the respective points of these 2 curves.   Densities can also be changed while holding the tone/hue the same by moving the Red and Green curves the same amount up or down.  

 

Compared to past partitioning and control curves, the UT2 inkset allows much simplified curves and adjustments because the Epson driver takes care of the light-dark ink cross-overs.   Users are encouraged to learn how to tweak the pre-made 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.  

 

As late as 2004, the pure carbon tone was the only tone I would recommend when longevity was primary.  With the upgraded UT inks, however, the neutral tones are almost as stable as the carbon tones.  Note that the primary aging one sees with carbon is that it warms very slightly.  This is actually an increase in the yellow density of the carbon.  It is not fading in the sense of density loss.  In the long run, however, all imaging substances will fade if left in bright sunlight for extended periods. 

 

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.  If the selected areas overlap, apply the different curves to 2 separate copies or layers of the image, and then combine them.  The curve must be on the top layer, and multiple curves applied to the same image will not print well.

 

Curves are available for the following papers.  Use the settings above unless otherwise specified.  Go to my curves download page at http://www.paulroark.com/BW-Info/UT2-curves.html or MIS for copies of these.

 

MATTE PAPERS  (Use with Eboni black ink.)

 

Wood-pulp based papers:

 

 

Epson Enhanced Matte & “Archival Matte” (These are the same paper, and neither is archival due to acidity.  They are excellent for non-archival printing.)

 

Premier Art Dual Matte, 210 gsm, 11.5 mil.  This double-sided matte paper is the

          best bargain in acid free papers.  It has a dmax that rivals Photo Rag. 

          It is a bright, cold paper.  The convex side seems a bit smoother.

 

PermaJet Matt Plus (acid free)

          Use media type “Photo Quality Glossy Film” for the 1280, “Plain Paper” for the 1290.

 

 

Cotton-based papers:

 

Cotton papers are the most archival, but most such papers have suffered from a lower dmax and problems with flaking surfaces.

 

PermaJet Alpha (Optical brightener free, very good dmax, very little if any flaking)

 

PermaJet Omega (similar to Alpha, some optical brighteners)

 

PermaJet Delta (similar to Omega, slightly more optical brighteners)

 

Innova Art has a line of papers that offers an excellent combination of features.

 

PremierArt Fine Art Hot Press (no optical brighteners, but relatively bright; little

          or no flaking, various weights and sizes, 205 is dual sided, the convex

          side prints slightly smoother; 205 is a very good value in cotton papers.)

 

PhotoRag (dmax champ, optical brighteners), German Etching, Torchon, & Albrecht Durer

Brushing or wiping off the surfaces of these papers before printing helps avoid flaking problems, but sometimes it will leave marks.  Compressed air

          or a blower bulb is another option.  PhotoRag’s surface is very soft and easily damaged.

 

Epson UltraSmooth (Appears to be the same as PremierArt, above.)

 

 

GLOSSY PAPERS – WITH EBONI BLACK INK

 

The UT2 inkset does allow one to print on glossy papers even when Eboni ink is in the printer.  However, special curves must be applied.  They will all contain “Eboni” or “Eb” in the name of the curve.

 

For glossy paper, the Epson printer "pizza wheels" may leave marks on the finished print.  I recommend the wheels be removed.  See the instructions at

http://www.inkjetart.com/pizza/

 

Most of these papers have some reflective differentials or artifacts that can be reduced significantly with a spray like PremierArt Image Shield or Lyson Print Guard.  When sprayed, these papers have a surface that is durable enough to be cleaned with a damp paper towel.

 

Curves are available for the following papers:

          Use the default settings, above, unless otherwise noted.

 

Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl & Glossy papers:

          Use "Photo Quality Glossy Film" media type.

          2880 gives noticeably smoother prints.

         

          Ilford Smooth Pearl provides a good image and one of the deepest

          blacks of any paper, but it is not acid free and bronzes.

 

Costco’s Kirkland Signature Pro Glossy Inkjet paper, made in Switzerland,

          is an excellent product that uses the Ilford curves. 

          The paper appears to be acid free, and has the best combination

          of dmax, very low bronzing, and price.  This can be mail ordered

          from Costco even by non-members.  Too bad it’s only in letter size.

 

Epson Premium Semigloss, Glossy and Luster Photo Papers

 

          These papers and the Costco paper, above,

          are the only acid-free glossy papers I know of.    In general,

          acidic papers will not  last more than about 30 years.

          Wilhelm Research rates the Epson Premium papers as having

          a dark storage life of >200 years, the top rating any paper receives.      

 

          These curves do not work on Epson Premium Semimatte.

 

Epson Glossy Photo Paper (also known as “Photo Paper”):

          (This widely-available and modestly-priced paper produces a

very good image, with few if any differential reflection issues such “bronzing.”  However, it is not archival, and some like a thicker feeling paper. )

 

Permajet Oyster and Gloss

          (Use “Photo Quality Glossy Film” media type.)

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

 

Settings when MIS PHOTO Black ink is installed:

 

GLOSSY PAPER SLIDER SETTINGS -- (Use Photo Black ink.)

 

For glossy paper, the Epson printer "pizza wheels" may leave marks on the finished print.  I recommend the wheels be removed.  See the instructions at

http://www.inkjetart.com/pizza/

 

          Epson Glossy Photo paper (aka Epson Photo Paper):

 

                    Media Type: "Matte Paper - Heavyweight."

                              ("Glossy Photo Paper" or "Photo Paper" are

                              OK only when the sliders are

                              in the neutral/"0" positions).

 

                    Sliders:

 

                              To darken the midtones and for a full tonal

                              scale: Brightness -6, Contrast -6;

 

                              Neutral: C +10, M -5, Con -3;

                              Warm: Y +25, M +10, C -15.

       

          Premium Semigloss, Glossy & Luster Photo Papers:

 

                    Media Type: “Premium Glossy Photo Paper.”

 

                    Sliders:

 

                              To lighten print: Brightness +5;

 

                              Neutral: Brightness +10, Contrast -3, C +7, M -7;

                              Warm: Br +12, Contrast -2, C -15, M +10, Y +25.

 

                    (These settings do not work with Premium Semimatte.)

 

                    (Highlights are a little lighter than the target densities.)

 

          Epson Photo Quality Glossy Paper:

 

                    Media Type: "Photo Quality Ink Jet Paper."

 

                              This would be the starting recommendation for other

                              thin photo papers such as Photo Quality Ink Jet

                              paper.

         

                    Sliders:

 

                              Neutral: C + 5, M -5;

                              Warm: C -15, M +10, Y +25.

 

          Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl & Glossy; these settings will also

                    probably work well with Costco Kirkland new Swiss paper.

 

                    Media type: "Photo Quality Ink Jet paper."

 

                    Sliders:

 

                              Neutral: C +5, M -5;

                              Warm: C -15, M +10, Y +25

                                        Contrast -5 might help open up shadows.

 

 

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Image Adjustment curves:

 

GLOSSY PAPERS – WHEN PHOTO BLACK INK IS USED

         

Curves are available for the following papers:

 

          Epson Glossy Photo Paper (also known as Epson Photo Paper);

 

          Ilford Galerie Smooth & Glossy papers;

                    (Media Type:  "Photo Quality Glossy Film.")

 

                    Costco Glossy paper will probably work well with these curves

                              and settings.

 

          Epson Premium Semigloss, Glossy and Luster Photo Papers.

 

 

Nearly all of the glossy papers other than the Epson Premium line and the Costco product have paper backings that are not effectively buffered.  These papers will have a more limited life due to the acids in the paper backing.

 

 

 

 

 

Paul

www.PaulRoark.com 

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PS: For an open forum where I hang out, join the B&W Digital Print form at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DigitalBlackandWhiteThePrint/