Making fine prints in your digital darkroom
Black & white
by Norman Koren

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Making fine prints in your digital darkroom
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updated Feb. 15, 2005
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Table of contents

for the Making Fine
Prints series

Getting started | Light & color
Pixels, images, & files | Scanners
Matting and framing
Black & White
B&W | Converting color to B&W
B&W test/calibration chart
Color test chart | B&W workflows
Epson 1270 | Epson 2200
Other B&W processes | B&W Links
Digital cameras | Printers | Papers and inks
Monitor calibration and gamma
Printer calibration | Scanning | Basic image editing
Tonal quality and dynamic range in digital cameras

Color Management: Introduction | Implementation
Profiles with MonacoEZcolor | Evaluating profiles




for Image editing with
Picture Window Pro
Introduction | Making masks
Contrast masking
Tinting and hand coloring B&W images
Example: Sunset, Providence, Rhode Island

Black and White

Although I've focused on color, the techniques I've presented work equally well for B&W. There is less difference between color and B&W work on the computer than in the traditional darkroom. The main differences are, 2880 dpi, available on the Epson 1280 and 2200, doesn't make much difference with color prints, but it may help with B&W. Here is a message from Royce Bair of Inkjetart.com  from the August 8, 2001 archives (slightly edited):
USING 2880 dpi FOR BETTER B&W PRINTING  David Brooks' review of the Epson 1280 in the July SHUTTERBUG magazine mentioned that 2880 dpi printing with the black ink only produced smoother and richer monochrome or B&W prints. Since then, we've noticed similar results with the Epson 5500 at 2880 dpi. While even Epson admits that 720 x 2880 dpi printing shows little improvement ... with color ..., people are discovering that printing B&W with black ink only shows a significant improvement at 2880 dpi. Monochrome results are much smoother, richer and have a longer tonal range than when printed at 1440 dpi. Using only the black ink to make B&W prints completely eliminates the problems of metamerism associated with pigmented inks and also eliminates the color cross-overs that result when trying to print a neutral B/W print by using all 4 or 6 inks (whether dye or pigment). There is a price to pay though when printing at 2880 dpi: printing times are 2 to 3 times longer than printing at 1440 dpi-- but users say it's worth the wait!
This was the only reason I ever encountered for an Epson 1270 owner to consider a 1280; I never bought one. In September 2002 I purchased Epson 2200, which has both black and gray pigment ink cartridges-- it produces superior results with B&W. But my workflow for the 1270/1280/1290, below, provides decent results.

Converting color images to B&W

Black & White images have a unique beauty all their own, perhaps because B&W is a more abstract medium; color is more closely tied to reality, and hence can't be manipulated to the same degree. Less is left to the imagination. A good color image can sometimes look stunning in B&W.

The best way to transform a color image into B&W is with Picture Window Pro's Color, Monochrome... transformation. If you don't have Picture Window Pro, which I strongly recommend throughout this site (it's a great program!), you can download a free thirty day trial version. This transformation, illustrated below, allows you to apply a filter when you convert. The effects of filtration can be dramatic. The red filter (shown) lightens the landscape and darkens the sky. Ansel Adams was particularly fond of red filters; they are responsible for the drama in many of his finest images.

The image is The La Sal mountains from Dead Horse Point, near Moab, Utah. The preview looks grainy because the original image has been sharpened and the Preview window (reduced 1:15 here) doesn't use anti-aliasing. The grain will be far less visible in the final B&W image. TIP: If your image has lateral chromatic aberration (color fringing, most visible near the corners; commonly found in extreme wide angle and telephoto lenses), remove it before converting to B&W.
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B&W test/calibration chart

I have developed a test/calibration chart to aid in the development and testing of B&W workflows. From top to bottom, the chart contains,
  1. White 255-240 (top left) A highlight discrimination chart with pixel levels decreasing from 255 (pure white), top center, to 240, bottom center. Pure white (255) on the left for reference. Alternating rectangles on the right (pixel levels 255, 242) to indicate positions. This chart shows the level where density first becomes visible on prints and monitors. 255 should be pure white. If levels below 254 are invisible on the print, you may want to consider (a) getting a better printer or printer profile (if you use color management), (b) not using more than one level where no image appears, or (c) bringing levels down in the Tint transformation.
  2. A full toned B&W image (top right)  that should look excellent when the workflow is properly set up and calibrated. The image of Dead Horse Point, near Moab, Utah, was originally taken in color, but I prefer it in B&W.
  3. Gamma 1.8  A step chart that closely approximates the Kodak Q-13 Gray Scale when printed with gamma = 1.8 (for older Macintosh systems; 2/2 seems to be the current standard). The numbers in each box are the normalized pixel levels. In two parts: the upper part is uncorrected. The lower (smaller) part is corrected for 1% viewing flare, or equivalently, a maximum print density of 2. Details below.
  4. Gamma 2.2  A step chart that closely approximates the Kodak Q-13 Gray Scale when printed with gamma = 2.2 (for Windows systems). In two parts: the upper part is uncorrected. The lower (smaller) part is corrected for 1% viewing flare, or equivalently, a maximum print density of 2. Details below.
  5. Linear  2 parts:  Upper: A step chart with normalized pixel levels decreasing linearly from 1 to 0 in steps of 0.05 (unnormalized pixel levels decreasing from 255 to 0 with average step of 12.25, rounded). Valuable for identifying the precise level where density or tint needs correction. Lower: A continuous pattern, varying linearly from pixel level 255 to 0. This will reveal any irregularities in your printer.
The full-sized chart, suitable for printing, can be downloaded as a 360 kB high quality B&W JPEG by shift-clicking here. You can also download it as a 400 kB high quality color JPEG (all colors the same) with an embedded sRGB profile (gamma = 2.2) by shift-clicking here. Be careful if you convert to a profile with different gamma (any of the Apple profiles); this can alter the levels in the step charts.
The 8 inch long Kodak Q-13 Color Separation Guide and Gray Scale (cat. 152 7654) is available from Adorama for approximately $17. The Gray Scale, illustrated below, has densities from 0.05 to 1.95 in twenty steps of 0.1 (1/3 f-stop), labelled 0 (A) through 19. (Recall, density = -log10(reflected light/incident light.) Density = 0.05 is the reflectivity of white paper: about 90%. The step charts for gamma = 1.8 and 2.2 (above) have densities from 0 to 1.9 in steps of 0.1. When printed in a properly calibrated system they should closely match the Q-13 because typical paper adds about 0.05 to the density. The match should hold up well to about density = 1.7, where it can diverge for different paper surfaces and inks (the Q-13 has a luster surface).

Kodak Q-13 Gray Scale superposed on printed step chart for gamma=2.2 (region 4).

When the B&W test chart is printed 9.08 inches (23.1 cm) long (0.96 inch borders on 11 inch long paper), the steps align with the Q-13. This makes it easy to observe tonal errors and metamerism (change in print tint under different light sources), by comparing the print with the neutral gray Q-13, which has little, if any, metamerism. The print appears more magenta than the Q-13 under the cold light of the Epson 2450 scanner. The print and Q-13 are much closer under halogen light.

Viewing flare is stray light from the environment (room illumination, monitor illumination bouncing off clothing, etc.) that tends brighten dark areas of monitor images, reducing overall contrast. Viewing flare is also present in prints, where it is caused by reflected light from the front surface of photographic emulsions. It can be severe in matte photographic prints, but less so in matte inkjet prints, where there is no emulsion. The lower portions of the step charts for gamma = 1.8 and 2.2, to the right of "1% flare corrected," are corrected for monitor viewing flare equal to 1% of the white level. This is equivalent to a maximum print density of 2.0. 1% viewing flare is typical, although it can vary widely. These regions are useful for comparing monitor images and prints. If you compare the Q-13 to a printout of the chart (above for the Epson 2200), the Q-13 densities fall between the uncorrected and corrected patches for the appropriate gamma-- closer to the corrected patches on my 2200.

The normalized pixel levels in the step charts for gamma = 1.8 and 2.2 are derived from the equations, luminance = L = (pixel/255)gamma + black level, with black level assumed to be 0 (no viewing flare), and density = d = -log10(L). This results in pixel = round(255*10-d/gamma), where round denotes round to the nearest integer. Normalized pixel level = pixel/255 ~= 10-d/gamma. As a result of gamma, contrast is much lower at low luminance levels (high densities). For example, for gamma = 2.2, luminances for normalized pixel levels 0.95 and 0.05 are 0.8933 = (1-0.1067) and 0.00137, respectively, i.e., the contrast for the highest 5% of pixels is 78 times that of the lowest 5%.
Black level is a complex issue. In monitors it depends on the Black level (Brightness) setting and the ambient light, which results in viewing flare. In prints it depends on paper (it is lower for glossy surfaces), ink, ICC profiles, and viewing conditions. For this reason, you should not expect the match between the monitor and the uncorrected steps in the print at low luminance levels to be precise, but it should be close enough so the print matches your aesthetic intent.

The steps corrected for viewing flare = 1% (0.01) are calculated assuming black level = 0.01. With L = luminance (no flare) and Lf = luminance (with flare),  Lf = 0.99L + 0.01 (normalized to 1) = 0.99(pixel/255)gamma + 0.01; L = (Lf - 0.01)/0.99 is used in the calculations. Density (with flare) = df = -log10(Lf ) takes the same values as d. pixel/255 ~= (10-df - 0.01) / 0.99)1/gamma.

The linear chart (which decreases from 1.0 to 0 in steps of 0.05) illustrates tones and tints at specific normalized pixel levels. Errors can be corrected using technique presented below.
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Color test chart

I've a added a color test chart, similar to the B&W test chart above (features 1 through 5 are identical), with three additional images for color. Squares 6 and 7 contain ranges of HSL (Hue, Saturation, Lightness) colors. See Light & color for more about HSL. Hue varies uniformly from 0 to 1 (Red - Yellow - Green - Cyan - Blue - Magenta - Red) along the horizontal axis of both squares. Square 6 represents all the fully saturated colors (S=1). Lightness increases from 0 to 1 along the vertical axis. Square 6a is a reduced version of 6 (256x256 pixels) that may reveal some edge effects (hopefully) not apparent on 6. Square 7 represents all colors achievable with L = 0.5, which is the level where maximum saturation takes place. Saturation increases from 0 to 1 along the vertical axis. 8 is a replica (mostly) of the Kodak Q-13 Color Control Patches. The two pairs of boxes on the right don't correspond precisely to the original.

This is not a complete test chart, which should include skin tones and familiar subjects-- see charts elsewhere. But a comparison of the printed chart with the monitor image will reveal printer and profile flaws quite ruthlessly-- you may find it useful for diagnostic purposes. I plan to add a page with test results from this pattern-- there is a lot to learn. You can download it as a 400 kB high quality color JPEG with an embedded sRGB profile (gamma = 2.2) by shift-clicking here. If you prefer to work in a different color space, such as Adobe RGB (1998) I recommend changing the embedded profile without changing the data, which is pure numeric.

I am moving this chart to its own page.

B&W workflows

If you print directly from a B&W image you don't have much control over the tonal cast of the print-- you get one cast with your normal color settings and another for black ink only. You can use custom printer driver settings, but they aren't easy to work with-- they don't provided the needed control and they aren't compatible with color management systems.
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You can control the color cast (tint) of B&W prints
with Picture Window Pro's Tint transformation.

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B&W print tonality can be controlled precisely with Picture Window Pro's Tint transformation, which converts B&W images into tinted color images. Tint can replicate sepia toning by substituting browns (dark unsaturated reds to oranges) for grays. Here we use it in a more subtle way, taking advantage of its ability to save and load settings. You can learn more about Tint in Digital Light and Color's white paper, Colorizing Black and White Photos.

I may try out at least one other workflow, based on the Gray Balancer provided with the Epson 2100 outside North America. Several workflows are discussed in Luminous-Landscape.com's excellent pages on the Epson 2200. Carl Schofield's is useful for Photoshop users.

All of these workflows suffer from one limitation: Epson inkjet prints have a degree of viewing illuminant sensitivity-- their color cast changes under different lighting. A 2200 print that appears neutral under daylight appears slightly magenta to reddish under tungsten (or halogen) light. This effect is much more noticeable with B&W than with color prints. It is frequently called metamerism, after the property of human vision that causes images with different spectral absorptions to appear the same under one light source but different under another. The 2200 has less metamerism than the 1270/1280/1290, but it isn't perfect. The 2000P was apparently dreadful-- it was not recommeded for B&W. Ultimately, you have to deal with viewing illuminant through compromise: choose a tint that looks decent under the expected range of illuminants.

A solution for metamerism? Outbackphoto.com claims to have found a solution: the ImagePrint 5.0 Raster Image Processor (RIP). This expensive software ($495 for the 1270/1280/1290/2200, $1,495 for the 7600, and $2,495 (!) for the 9600) completely circumvents Epson's printer drivers: it has its own algorithms for laying down ink. For B&W, it apparently avoids inks that cause metamerism. Since you can get full tonal control without Cyan and Magenta (LC and LM suffice), and since strongly colored inks are the likely cause of metamerism, I suspect the C and M inks are simply omitted. There is no way you can do this using the Epson drivers. I'm not likely to try it soon because of the cost, but I'm tempted. ImagePrint could close the quality gap (prety narrow by now) between inkjet and traditional darkroom prints. Luminous-landscape.com has a review. I'll be watching...

EPSON 1270  The Tint transformation allows you to correct an undesirable color cast or add a desired cast, such as sepia, to B&W images. Settings can be saved and loaded. The procedure below enables you to establish and use a settings file-- to get the tones you want. This is important because taste is an individual matter and printers vary from unit to unit. You can start with a neutral tint (no adjustment; plain gray), or optionally, start with a file that works for me with my standard settings. The latter procedure will be denoted (Optional).

  1. (Optional) Download the initial Tint settings file by shift-clicking on Matte_Hvy_BW_tint_1.cln. Save it in a directory you can easily access. This file works for B&W prints on my 1270 printer using my normal settings for color printing on Matte Heavyweight paper (Photo-1440dpi, HQ Halftoning, Gamma 2.2, Photo-realistic, Brightness +3, Contrast +11, Saturation +5, Cyan +4, Magenta =2, Yellow +4). If any of these change-- and they will from time-to-time-- the Tint settings will have to change. DISCLAIMER: To get pleasing results on your system-- the precise tint you want-- you may want to modify these settings using the trial-and-error process that follows. Please don't e-mail me if the print doesn't look good the first time.
  2. Open Picture Window Pro.
  3. Select a B&W image to print. I suggest that you make test prints half-letter size (5x8 inches) with at least inch margins-- they will print quickly and you won't waste much ink.
  4. Click on Transformation, Gray, Tint... to display the Tint dialog box (bottom right in the illustration below).
  5. (Optional, first and second passes only) In the Tint dialog box, Click OPT, Load..., then load the file you downloaded: Matte_Hvy_BW_tint_1.cln.
  6. Omit the following steps the first time or if you've used a text editor to modify the Tint file.
  7. Click OK in the Tint dialog box to complete the transformation. The color output file is 3 times the size of the B&W input file. You won't need to save it.
  8. With the color output file selected, Click File, Print... Select the Epson 1270, then either use you standard Printing Preferences, or (Optional, if you loaded my file, which works for Matte Heavyweight paper: set Printing Preferences to Color Controls with Photo-1440dpi, HQ Halftoning, Gamma 2.2, Photo-realistic, Brightness +3, Contrast +11, Saturation +5, Cyan +4, Magenta =2, Yellow +4). Click OK (twice, if needed), then Print. Make sure the paper size and margins are correct, then click OK. Printing should start.
  9. Give the print sufficient time to dry. View it under a Halogen lamp and in daylight or under a daylight lamp such as the SoLux (4700K). View it under both light sources, if possible, to account for metamerism. Carefully observe the color cast of the print.
  10. If you are pleased with the result, the setup is complete. Use the simple procedure below for each B&W print. If you are not pleased, delete the color output file, modify the Tint control file (if you choose to use a text editor), then go back to step 4. You should achieve perfection in two or three iterations.
Once you have a satisfactory Tint settings file, here is how make a B&W print.
  1. Select the B&W image you wish to print, then click Transformation, Gray, Tint... to display the Tint dialog box.
  2. In the Tint dialog box, Click OPT, Load..., then select the Tint settings file you have saved.
  3. Click OK. Print the color output file (3 times the size of the B&W input file) with the same settings you used in the setup. You don't need to save it-- Whenever you need a print, just open the B&W file and repeat this procedure. It's fast and easy.
B&W workflow using the Tint transformation
The greenish cast in the preview is not what you see in a print;
it's the complement of the tint in a print made from a neutral gray image.
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EPSON 2200  The Tint transformation allows you to correct an undesirable color cast or add a desired cast, such as sepia, to B&W images. Settings can be saved, edited, and loaded. The procedure below enables you to establish and use a settings file-- to get the tones you want. This is important because taste is an individual matter and printers vary from unit to unit. The Epson 2200 also suffers from a degree of metamerism. Prints that appear neutral in daylight appear reddish to magenta under tungsten light.

My workflow employs Color Management, using the ICC profiles hidden on the Epson 2200 Installation CD in TITLES\PIM\color. These ICC profiles can also be downloaded from Epson Australia and Ian Lyons' site. In the file names, PK denotes Photo black (for glossy papers) and MK denotes Matte black.

Why use color management for B&W prints? Because the Epson-supplied profiles give consistent results over the full range of Epson papers and inks. Color prints match my monitor image nicely, and the ICC profiles are not difficult to use-- complete instructions are given below. If you want to learn more about color management, read my series.

Here is the procedure for setting up your workflow-- for obtaining a Tint settings file that pleases you.

  1. Download the initial Tint settings file by shift-clicking on BW_1_EpsProfl.cln. Save it in a directory you can easily access. DISCLAIMER: To get pleasing results on your system-- the precise tint you want-- you may want to modify these settings using the trial-and-error process that follows. Please don't e-mail me if the print doesn't look good the first time.
  2. Open Picture Window Pro. Make sure Color Management: is Enabled.
  3. Select a B&W image to print. I suggest that you make test prints half-letter size (5x8 inches) with at least inch margins-- they will print quickly and you won't waste much ink.
  4. Click on Transformation, Gray, Tint... to display the Tint dialog box (bottom right in the illustration above).
  5. In the Tint dialog box, Click OPT,Load... On the first and second passes, load the file you downloaded: BW_1_EpsProfl.cln. On succeeding passes, load your own modified Tint file, if you gave it a different name.
  6. Omit the following steps the first time or if you've used a text editor to modify the Tint file.
  7. Click OK in the Tint dialog box to complete the transformation. The color output file is 3 times the size of the B&W input file. You won't need to save it.
  8. With the color output file selected, Click File, Print... Select the Epson 2200, then set Printing Preferences for the correct media type (Premium Luster, etc.), Photo - 1440 dpi, and No Color Adjustment. Click OK (twice, if needed), then Print. Select the appropriate Custom Profile in the Print dialog box (Color management: must be Enabled for Custom Profile to appear). Make sure the paper size and margins are correct, then click OK. Printing should start.
  9. Give the print sufficient time to dry. View it under a Halogen lamp and in daylight or under a daylight lamp such as the SoLux (4700K). View it under both light sources, if possible, to account for metamerism. Carefully observe the color cast of the print.
  10. If you are pleased with the result, the setup is complete. Use the simple procedure below for each B&W print. If you are not pleased, delete the color output file, modify the Tint control file (if you choose to use a text editor), then go back to step 4. You should achieve perfection in two or three iterations.

Once you have a satisfactory Tint settings file, here is how make a B&W print.
  1. Select the B&W image you wish to print, then click Transformation, Gray, Tint... to display the Tint dialog box.
  2. In the Tint dialog box, Click OPT, Load..., then select the Tint settings file you have saved.
  3. Click OK. Print the color output file (3 times the size of the B&W input file) with Color Management: Enabled, using the same settings you used in the setup. You don't need to save it-- Whenever you need a print, just open the B&W file and repeat this procedure. It's fast and easy.
Taste Even though my prints closely match my monitor image, I find a subtle but important difference between them. Images that look good-- that feel right-- on my monitor may look a little soft as prints. This situation can be corrected by editing for higher contrast or by using the Brightness Curve... transformation (illustrated on the right) to boost contrast-- to add a little "snap" to the image. Pay close attention to the feel of your monitor image and prints. How do they compare? (Your situation could be reversed from mine.) You'll need to adapt-- to adjust images on your monitor for the contrast that looks good in prints, even if it seems a little snappy (or soft) on your monitor.

Brightness Curves transformation: increase contrast.
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Customizing the Tint control file
Picture Window Pro's Tint transformation converts B&W (grayscale) images to tinted color images. Tint control (.cln) files have an easy-to-interpret ASCII text format that contains more information than The Tint dialog box, which omits the gray level (normalized pixel level) you are transforming..from. Here is the contents of BW_1_EpsProfl.cln and the corresponding dialog box. Note that color 0 corresponds to control point 1 in the box, etc. A little confusing.
 
Colorline 1.0
ncolors 6
color 0 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
transition 0 line rgb
color 1 0.100 0.100 0.090 0.090
transition 1 line rgb
color 2 0.300 0.295 0.300 0.300
transition 2 line rgb
color 3 0.500 0.485 0.500 0.500
transition 3 line rgb
color 4 0.700 0.690 0.700 0.700
transition 4 line rgb
color 5 1.0000 .996 .996 .996
end
 

ncolors is the number of colors (including black and white). The colors and transitions between them follow. You can add colors and transitions using a simple editor such as Notepad or Wordpad; just be sure to get  sequence (0 through ncolors-1) correct. On the color lines, the entries are,

color sequence [gray-from] [R-to] [G-to] [B-to]
For example, for control point 3, color 2 0.300 0.295 0.300 0.300 maps gray level 0.300 to R = 0.295, G = 0.300, B = 0.300. This corrects a slight visible red cast at level 0.3. These levels correspond to the numbers printed on the B&W test/calibration chart. Since green corresponds closely to luminance, I keep [G-to] the same as [gray-from] unless I want to change the luminance, which I do, ever so slightly, in color 1.  Colors can be represented in HSV or HSL spaces, but I prefer the default RGB.

This file, BW_1_EpsProfl.cln, corrects some of the tonal irregularities in the Epson profiles. Color 1 slightly darkens the darkest ares (which are affected by viewing flare) and gives deep grays slight reddish tint (a preference of mine). Color 2 through color 4 correct for slight reddish casts in the print, which can be objectionable in tungsten light. Color 5 brings down the highest (white) levels so no detail is lost. The value of 0.996 (254/255) was chosen because no density was observed in level 254 when the B&W test/calibration chart was printed without Tint. Even with this transformation, some small tonal irregularities remain with the Epson profiles. George Lepp developed a set of profiles that are more uniform. I had planned to develop a set of tint transformations for them, but they are no longer available due to product license restrictions. David Conn is also working on developing Tint transformations.

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Other B&W processes

Piezography from Cone Editions Press (Inkjetmall.com).  A printing process that uses special pigment inks in older Epson printers such as the 1200, 1520 and 3000, which may (?) be available at reasonable prices in places like eBay. Separate systems for B&W and color. Requires special papers, printer drivers and profiles for Photoshop. Claimed to be highly archival, extremely sharp and possess a wide color gamut. Intriguing, but may require a significant learning curve (color management is a must). Somewhat expensive. Reviewed favorably by Ian Lyons, Michael Reichmann, Vladimir Kabelik, and George DeWolfe. Ron Harris wasn't impressed at first, but he's grown more positive. I'd thought about trying try it on a long neglected 1200 if I could unclog the print head, but the 2200 prints B&W admirably.

Lyson Small Gamut inks for most of the better Epson inkjet printers made in the last 5 years (3000, 740, 800, 850, 860, 1160, 1200, 1270, 1280, 1520, 7000, 9000). (Lyson site) This ink set allows subtle control of B&W print tonality. Jorge Ituarte was initially enthused (using  InkJetArt Micro Ceramic Luster paper, which costs  $55.00 for a box of 50 13x19 sheets; $4.00 per print with ink), but he eventually switched to Lyson Quad Black inks. A few months later fading was reported on photo.net. Perhaps no dye-based inkset is immune from fading.

Quadtone inks can be used to make archival B&W prints with old Epson printers, but getting good results can be tricky. MIS Associates' quadtone workflow page is a good source of guidance. Lyson also makes three Quad Black ink sets: cool, neutral, and warm.

ImagePrint 5.0 Raster Image Processor (RIP), recommended by Outbackphoto.com. This expensive software ($495 for the 1270/1280/1290/2200, $1,495 for the 7600, and $2,495 for the 9600 (ouch)) apparently eliminates metamerism from B&W inkjet prints. It can be used with standard Epson inks as well as quadtones. A friend (John Wislar) isn't completely satisfied with its tonal rendition, but it has many advocates, especially for B&W. Excellent profiles are available for a wide variety of papers.

Epson's StylusRIP Professional for the Epson Stylus Photo 2200 for $200 (you'll have to navigate their site or enter "RIP" into the search box) sounds promising for B&W. Allegedly supports ICC profiles. The PDF user manual is available. This photo.net post has some interesting material, along with the usual hot air. One of my readers had extremely poor results with it. It apparently uses an archaic form of color management; he found that it doesn't support standard ICC profiles. Peter Nelson's page on Black and White Printing on the Epson 2200 is particularly interesting. I've never used a RIP, so I can't comment. RUMOR: Epson may be developing a capability similar to an RIP for controlling ink in B&W prints, to be included in a future release of the 2200 driver software. This would be very good news to consumers if they do a decent job of it (far from certain).

B&W Links

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Images and text copyright 2000-2013 by Norman Koren. Norman Koren lives in Boulder, Colorado, where he worked in developing magnetic recording technology for high capacity data storage systems until 2001. He has been working on Imatest since 2003. He has been involved with photography since 1964.