Ultra Tone B&W Inksets in General
I almost always use one of the B&W Ultra Tone (“UT”) inksets that I have formulated and MIS Associates sells, with, of course, one of the fine inkjet printers that are made by Epson. I use them for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the quality of the products. So far, market forces and the business models of the companies have facilitated my passion to push B&W digital printing up to the highest level and at prices I and almost everyone who cares can afford. Hopefully we’ll always have the tools and competitive environment that is needed for this to happen.
The UT inksets I list in this index print B&W images on most paper types -- glossy and matte. Many of these inksets can print on these different types of papers without the need to change the black inks. This is a rather unique and very useful feature that other archival, carbon-pigment inksets do not have. Most require both a “matte black” ink for matte paper and a “photo black” version for glossy paper.
While MIS sells the inksets I've formulated, I have no formal relationship with them and do not receive royalties on their sales. I am independent and use what I think are the best inks available. I have also published formulas for most of these inksets based on the Epson UltraChrome inks as inputs.
My goals are to promote the digital B&W medium so that it becomes accepted as equal to the other traditional approaches to the art. I use digital printing
because I think the prints I make with these systems are better than my darkroom, wet-process prints. The best "carbon pigment" inks that I use not only look better, they are also extremely lightfast and probably more archival than the old silver print technology.
The UT inks are predominantly carbon and 100% pigment. There are no dyes in any of the inks I recommend, because dyes fade significantly faster than good pigment inks, especially on high-quality, rag (cotton) papers. The UT inks have done better in fade tests than any other inkset I have tested.
While I have generally categorized the inksets in the index by whether they are "variable-tone" or "monotone," I want to make special mention of the UT-R2 and C86 "EZ" approaches. As such, they are listed first.
For photographers who are new to B&W digital printing or otherwise want the easiest and cheapest system, the Epson C86 with MIS EZ carbon inks ought to be seriously considered. The C86 EZ B&W approach with the Epson driver is the easiest system to maintain. MIS "easy-refill" cartridges makes filling and changing carts very easy, especially since the inks in the color positions can all be the same – such as EZ-Neutral – and there are just 4 inks total. Using these cartridges with MIS bulk inks lowers the ink costs tremendously. Once you try the easy-refill carts, you will not want to deal with any other approach.
Just slightly more complex, but significantly more flexible as a learning tool is the R220 with the UT-R2 inkset. This combination is capable of prints as good as the best. It is the printer I use when experimenting with new inksets. Because it is a hextone (6 ink) printer and more similar to the larger printers, it is the one that I’d recommend for those who want to learn inkjet printing with an eye toward moving up to a larger system later.
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