Older B&W Printing Info

I have generally recommended that those who are just starting to consider printing with B&W inksets consider starting with one of the monotone C88 - 86 or 220 (340) UT-R2 solutions, below. The purpose for this is that they are easier to profile and control. Although the I have generally posted a number of curves or profiles to control the variable tone inksets, for new papers and to adjust for variations in printers and inkset batches, making new profiles or curves is often more than photographers want to deal with.

Now it appears that the latest release of ColorVision's PrintFIXPro profiling software will be able to make good neutral profiles for the UT-3D inkset. This inkset is the first carbon-based B&W inkset to have a full, though very small, "color space," and it now also becomes the first archival, carbon pigment insket to be able to take advantage of state-of-the-art, semi-automatic profiling software, including on the very affordable Epson R220. So, if you need a color profiling system for color printing, this one can also profile a dedicated B&W inkset. If you already have PrintFixPro, you can make good, neutral profiles for the 3D inkset for many different and new papers.

Althought the market is in transition, the Epson C88 and R220 remain the best values and, with third party B&W inksets from MIS, can make outstanding 8x10 inch (letter-size or A4) prints more simply and economically than any other approach. They are a great place to start. My 220 gets more use than any of my more expensive printers. While the 220 is becoming very hard to find, the R340 appears to print exactly the same as the 220.

The new Epson R260 and 1440 may be excellent printers for the future, but so far there are no third party cartridges and chips available for them. Thus it is too soon to buy these for B&W printing.

With respect to variable-tone inksets, I have two relatively new ones that I'm most excited about. First, the UT-3D inkset that now is supported by modern profiling software, and, second, a new "open source" inkset approach that uses mostly standard inks, including four MIS carbon inks, plus light cyan and magenta color pigments. This latter approach requires the use of a rip and is most highly recommended for large format printers, where ink tone stability has been a problem with the blended B&W inksets I've used in the past. It is also, however, an approach that can unify our workflows and inksets across printing platforms. The rip curves that control a 220 will, hopefully, be very close to those that can also control a 9600 with the 4K+ or 5K+cm approach or a k3 printer with the standard color OEM ink arrangment. That is, the goal is one basic inkset and workflow for most printers. For more information on the open source inkset, also known as the "4K+" and "5K+cm" inksets, click here.

EZ Inksets for the Epson C88 and C86

The Epson C88 (like the older C86) is a letter-size, 4-ink ("quadtone)" printer that is often on sale for about $50. This printer with the MIS "EZ" Ultra Tone inks in it is a very affordable and simple route to B&W digital printing. No special software -- not even Photoshop -- is required, nor are any special printing curves or profiles. Yet, the setup is capable of printing very good B&W images -- among the best glossy B&W prints I've ever seen. There is no inkjet printing system that can print more lightfast and archival images. This is a very good value.

For information and settings related to the MIS EZ inksets click here.

To see a picture of a modified MIS Chip resetter for the C86, see this C86_Resetter_Guide.jpg image.

To see a picture of a modified (with a file) MIS Bottom Fill Adapter for priming, see this image.

UT-R2 Inksets for the Epson R220 and other Epson printers

The Epson R220 was an excellent and affordable, state-of-the-art hextone (6-ink) letter-size printer that was often on sale for less than $70. This printer with the MIS UT-R2 inks was one of the cheapest, simplest, and best routes to B&W digital printing. Now Epson has discontinued the 220, but the similar 340 is still available for a bit more money. It appears to print identically with the 220. (The 260 is a very different printer and not supported yet -- no cartridges or chips.)

As with the R200, below, and the EZ C88-86 setup, the R220 with UT-R2 inks can print excellent B&W photos with no special software -- not even Photoshop. In addition to this easy approach, with the R220 I've used Roy Harrington's "Create ICC" program to make ICCs for printing on a number of popular papers. This allows Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, by using a color managment approach, to achieve easier print to monitor matching and consistent printing among different paper types.

This brings the state of the art to entry level B&W.

Comparing the C88 and R220, I favor the C88 for glossy papers and the R220 for matte papers.

For detailed information and settings related to the R220 and the UT-R2 inkset click here.

To download ICCs for selected papers, click here.

If there is no ICC for the paper you want to try, see the next section, below, on how to make a custom ICC with just a flatbed scanner.

The R220 uses the same physical carts as the C88 & C86 (but the chips and inks are different). As such, the links at the end of hte C88 section, above, may be useful.

While I've set up the R220 with R2 inks, note that most Epson hextone and better pritners can probably use the R2 inkset. If both warm and neutral/cool R2 inks are installed, these systems also become, de facto variable-tone printers.

Embedding Curves into ICCs

My newer workflows utilize ICCs to control the inksets. Additionally, most of my older inksets can be converted to this approach. The following PDF shows how to convert older curves to the ICC workflow. In addition to the workflow being easier, it allows users to easily linearize older curves to new papers and turn "canned" curves-profiles into custom ones. See Embedding_Photoshop_Curves_in_ICCs.pdf

Fine Tuning the Dmax

For the above workfllow as well as any that relies on Photoshop curves, I've found I can fine tune the curves to give a better and more consistent dmax with some papers. See Fine Tuning the Dmax.pdf

Making ICCs with a Flatbed Scanner

For a tutorial on making your own B&W ICCs with just a flatbed scanner, click here.

This is an evolving project that may be able to bring the benefits of color management to most B&W printers who print from a grayscale file. I'm just focusing on the grayscale ramp, not the tones of the inks. As such, it's much simpler than full color profiling.

My Latest Fade Tests

For a fade test comparing the MIS UT7 B&W inkset to the Epson "K3" inkset (2400, 4800, etc.), see my message #71745 on the Black and White Digital Print forum. For a fade test that compares the Epson 2400 "Advanced B&W" printing mode to a Rip that does not use the yellow ink and to a dedicated B&W inkset, see my message #71750 on the Black and White Digital Print forum. The key to longevity of digital prints is simple -- no dyes and as high a carbon content as possible. "Carbon on cotton" is my mantra.

Photoshop Elements Notes

Elements 4 is a very nice image editor that has most of what a B&W printer needs at a very reasonable cost -- about $50 on eBay. I'll try to make my workflows consistent with Elements, using version 4 as the standard for testing. With some tips on working around its limitations, Elements users can, in fact, use all the inksets I've worked on.

R2 Inksets for the Epson R200

The Epson R200 is the older version of the R220, above. Like the R220, it can print with just the Epson driver. While I have not made any ICCs for the R200, my Readme file (link below) has settings for the Epson driver that give very good results on a number of papers.

For information and settings related to the MIS UT-R2 inkset on the R200 click here.

For a tutorial on making simple, grayscale curves to fine tune or "linearize" inksets in Photoshop, including specifically the R200 and C86, click here.

Legacy Variable-Tone B&W Inksets

These B&W inksets can print a range of tones from cold to sepia. Just by using the sliders in the Epson printer driver, grayscale images can easily be printed in the more neutral range of the tones. To reach sepia or the coldest tones, and for the most control, Photoshop image adjustment curves or one of the B&W RIPs are needed.

UT-2 Inkset (1280, 1290 & 890)

For information and settings related to the Ultra Tone 2, variable-tone inkset, click here.

To download curves for the UT2 inkset in the 1280, 1290, and 890, click here.

The 1270 will run the UT2 inkset if the 1280 driver is used. However, the quality of that printer with glossy paper may not be up to the 1280.

UT-7 Inkset for the Epson 2200 and 7600

For information and settings related to the Ultra Tone 7 inkset in the Epson 2200 printer, click here.

To download curves for the UT7 inkset in the 2200, click here.

For information and settings related to the Ultra Tone 7 inkset in the Epson 7600 printer, click here.

To download curves for the UT7 inkset in the 7600, click here.

For more curves related to the Ultra Tone 7 inkset in the Epson 7600 printer, go to Bill Schwab's website by clicking here.

For Epson 4000 UT7 curves go to Dirk Hobman's website by clicking here.

Note that large format printers need to be used regularly in order to keep the blended inks in the tubes between the cartridges and heads from separating. If the printer is not used regularly, consider using the MIS Autoprint software.

For a file that shows the approximate tones of the UT7 inkset, click here.

Legacy Monotone Inksets

UT- FS Inksets

In responce to requests for support of older hextone printers, my first step was to utilize the existing UT-FS and UT-FSN monotone inksets and write simple monotone, grayscale curves to control the printers and inksets. These systems are quite easy to use and manipulate, and they use MIS's state-of-the-art Ultra Tone inks -- either the medium warm UT-FS or the neutral UT-FSN.

The quadtone versions of the UT-FS inksets for the 1160 and 3000 have been supported for some time. The curves can be downloaded from the MIS website.

Looking forward, the "EZ" approach that allows driver slider control of the inks will probably be the next step. The R200 is the first to use a complete set of the hextone EZ monotone inks. These inksets have a new light gray ink that is the same density as the UT2 and UT7 inksets. These densities allow the printer to be controlled by the driver sliders. The UT7500 -- what I call the 7500 FSN+, below -- is the first inkset to use the netural version of the new light ink. UT2 LM and UT7 LC are the carbon version of the light ink. Below, I have links to information relating to the older UT-FSN approach, which usually needs a curve and not just the driver controls. For information and settings for the 1280, which will probably also be valid for the 1290, click here.

To download curves for the 1280 UT-FS monotone inkset, click here.

For information and settings for the 1270, click here.

To download curves for the 1270 UT-FS monotone inkset, click here.

For information and settings for the 2000P, click here.

To download curves for the 2000P UT-FS monotone inkset, click here.

Adjusting Photoshop Curves for Monotone Inksets

For a tutorial on how to adjust Photoshop curves, click here.

Specialized UT-FSN+ Inkset for Large Format Printers

This modified UT-FSN inkset for my 7500 was the last blended inkset I used in large format printers. I now no longer recommend "blended" inksets (different pigment types in a single ink) in such printers due to tone instability unless the printers are regularly used.

The goal with this inkset was to produce the best neutral-tone B&W prints on both matte and glossy paper -- without the need to change the black ink. It worked well as long as the printer was regularly used, making the 7500, as well as the 9500, 7000, and 9000 very flexible B&W printers.

Today, however, I recommend the 4K+ inkset approach. Click here for information on the new approach I'm using for large format and other printers.
For information and settings for the older UT-FSN+ inkset, click here.

To download curves for the 7500 UT-FSN+ inkset, click here.

Other Printing Information and Downloads

21-Step, UT2 and UT7 Test Files

I use the 21-step test files for making curves and testing papers. They are very useful.

I use the Purge pattern files to see what the ink colors and densities are that are loaded into my printer. Comparing purge patterns is a good way to see if the inks in your printer are what you expect.

To download 21-step and UT2 & 7 test files, click here.

1160 UT1 Ink Order

The UT inkset (also known as the UT1 inkset) is used in both older quadtone printers like the 1160 and also in hextone printers such as the 1280-1290. The ink order is different in these, which causes confusion. The 1160 has the bluish toner in the yellow position, the 1280 has it in the Magenta and Light magenta positions. To check ink order or your 1160 UT1 inkset, print the Purge4-2 test file, which can be downloaded here, and compare it to a correctly-loaded cart, as shown here.

Simple Method to Compare Viscosities

For a simple method of comparing viscosities, click here.

Monitor to Print Matching

There are several ways to adjust the image on the monitor if the prints and monitor do not match well. Note that the calibration programs that are popular and very useful for color printers are neither necessary nor even that helpful for B&W printing.

Perhaps the easiest way to match the monitor to the printer's characteristics is just to make a Photoshop curves adjustment layer. However, with these you have to remember to deactivate the layer before printing.

Another very useful method takes advantage of Photoshop's preview or "soft proofing" capabilities. This system is excellent once set up, but the process requires that a custom dot gain curve be made in Photoshop. The procedure, which must be followed exactly, is spelled out in detail here.

"Advanced B&W" Test Print 1600 dpi Scans

1. These 1600 Epson Expression 1600 scans show the highlights from neutral and warm test strips printed with a 4800 in "Advanced B&W" mode. The 4800 "B&W" print seems to be predominantly color inks in these highlights. Click here to see the 4800 ABW 5 & 10% neutral test patches scan.

and click here to see the 4800 ABW 0% - 25% warm test scan.

Download this scan and magnify it on your monitor to see the dots more clearly.

In initial fade testing of the highlights of this 4800 print as well as comparable dedicated B&W carbon pigment prints (UT7) the 4800 print appeared to fade significantly faster. This initial test could not determine if it was the amount of color ink in the 4800 print or the overall K3 inkset that was the cause of the faster initila fading.

2. This scan shows 2400 ABW 5% prints on EEM. One with the EEM media type setting, and one with the Velvet Fine Art setting. The amount of color ink used appears to be close. Click here to see the Jpeg of the scan.

"Digital Zone System" via Filters (?)

For a quick sample of an early experiment on expanding the effective dynamic range of digital sensors by filtration, click here.

These were shot with a Canon Rebel XT. The one on the left is a standard shot, the one on the right had #8 yellow and #30 magenta filters over the lens. Both were auto-exposed and processed by the CS2 raw processor at its defaults. (I blacked out the reflection of the photographer -- me.)

Other measures suggest that this filter pack adds about 2 stops of effective dynamic range by "partitioning" the scene's light range among the sensors. The combination of filters results in differing degrees of neutral density over the standard color-filtered pixels.

These filters (8 & 30) were just what I had on hand. Much more experimentation and calibration is needed for this approach. Of course, there may be negatives to the system. For example, the stronger the filtration, the more artifacts may appear. But, bottom line, there may be a way to capture much more range for B&W by using different filtration for different scene luminance ranges. Knowing the range of the scene and what filter may be needed reminds me of the need early B&W photographers had for knowing that range so that they could develop their film appropriately. Rather than "plus" and "minus" devilopment, we may end up with different "plus" filters that add to the range in differing amounts.

Ultra Tone B&W Inksets In General

Why Not Use a Standard Color Inkset?