How many have switched to Ultrachrome printing?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by alpshiker, Jun 20, 2003.

  1. With the new Epsons 7600/9600, there have been hopes that the process would be now qualitatively ready and cost
    effective. After a year or so, have the promises been fulfilled ? How many photographers have switched to
    Ultrachrome for their exhibitions and print sales? Would love to read about your (their) good experiences as well as
    maybe about the problems you (they) encountered !
     
  2. Paul
    I started using an Epson 2200 about six months ago for all my colour print sales.
    Frankly for colour work, the only process that is in the same league is the LightJet process. The overwhelming reason for using Ultrachrome is that the artist/photographer now has total personal control over their prints. The degree of control is quite incredible, allowing the subtlest of nuances. The print quality is simply superb.
    BUT this only applies to producing MATTE COLOUR work. I’m afraid as far as Glossy or Black & White work is concerned the process still has a long way to go.
    www.keithlaban.co.uk
     
  3. Paul, My colour work has been done using epson 7600 and 9600 using on pemium lustre paper. No bronzing, great dmax and colours. The printer needs to be set up with a rip and custom profiles to control ink laydown, and avoid bronzing on glossy paper. The epson driver tends to compress shadow detail as well. As to gamut - http://www.westcoastimaging.com/wci/page/info/articles/printercompare.html - if you check here you'll see that the gamut is wider than lightjet.
     
  4. I use an Epson 2200 and do b&w with a quadtone color scheme that many have compared to Platinum prints. Many people have downloaded the quadtone curves and I have gotten grateful emails with before and after images, etc. See http://www.kenleegallery.com/bronze.htm
     
  5. It sounds as those who have invested are not likely to regret their move! Mastering the whole process is really a plus. I'm sick and tired of paying for lightjets that end up in the trash bin. I scan using highly accurate profiles, work on the images until they are to my eyes at their best, but when the files are sent out for the prints, half of my work is disregarded because the ColorSync chain is broken. I know you have some excellent labs in the US who make good use of the custom profiles, but not the case here. My experience with the Epson 2000 was poor because the metamerism was unbearable, but I since have used an Epson 1290 with dye inks and the results with custom made profiles are great! But they are not permanent.

    So I feel strongly attracted to the Epson 9600. By the way, have any users living in Europe bought one in the States? The price difference is enormous, costs twice the price here in Europe. I had contact with Eximvaios a month ago and Ed was going to send me a quote for the shipping, but I haven't heard of him since. Can you recommend a place to buy? Can you also recommend a RIP for Mac? Thanks!
     
  6. Thanks, Ken. I'll probably have to run OSX or install a PC station to rip the printer, both dreadful to me! I had tried the previous demo version of Image Print with OS9 but it didn't work. I know it should be fine with OSX. But pricy and dedicated to one printer only if memory serves me well.
     
  7. Hello Paul,

    I have just begun to experiment with the 2200 but as a newcomer am struggling with color management issues. I am sure that your knowledge far surpasses mine in this regard. I am able to help you though in pricing of a 7600/9600 from Canada. Please email me offline if you wish to have any information in this regard. There are three aspects which may concern you if you were to buy from North America. The first is that the NA version does not include the "grey calibration" kit that the European does. The second is that there may be a voltage connection issue. Finally you may wish to think about a warranty/repair situation should the printer need service.

    Kind Regards,
     
  8. Paul, Greetings! I have been using Ultrachrome equivalent inks from MSI for some time now in Epson 1270/1280 printers. The longevity is great (200+, I believe) on matte papers, and I've tested using these on Epson's PGPP with success, though I don't know about longevity there.

    That said, you might consider printing Lightjets from US labs that give you their printer profile for you to work with at your computer. I've had very good experience with Reed Imaging (http://www.reedphoto.com/)in Denver ... they provided me with their fuji archival crystal profile, I work on the image on my computer using this profile, I upload the image via the web to them, and some time later a beautiful (large) print arrives at my door via UPS. I just did a 28"x38" print that way and was very satisfied.

    Before spending a fortune on a wide format printer this may be an option worthy of exploration. I'm sure there are other labs that would give you good service ...

    Joffre
     
  9. Looks like I'm going to be the sole voice if dissent here. I contemplated switching from the Lightjet to the 9600 last month because of Ultrachrome's wider gamut. I was disappointed with the apparent "graininess" of the 9600 prints and decided to stay with the Lightjet. Graduated colors looked solarized, and areas of blue sky had tiny white dots in them where the ink had failed to completely cover the paper and the white of the paper showed through.

    Thinking the problem may lie with the service and not the printer I ordered a second set of prints from another service. Same results. Thinking the problem may lie with Premium Luster’s textured surface I had the same images printed a third time on Premium SemiMattte. Same results yet again.

    I contacted the service that did the first set of 9600 prints for me to ask about the graininess. They said it was a characteristic of the Ultrachrome inks and that there was nothing they or I could do about it. They had recently been at a show with several well known photographers (Joe Holmes, Bill Atkinson, David Ashcraft, and Michael Frye) who had switched to the 9600, and all their prints showed the graininess too.

    The graininess is only visible if you look at the prints closely. However, it is clearly visible to the naked eye from a distance of, oh, 10 inches or so. For large images one could argue this isn't a problem, but for smaller prints, say 11x14 or less, one expects close viewing distances.

    The graininess gives the impression that the image was sampled up or processed in a too-small color space. After spending so much time and money creating the best image file I could, it didn't make any sense to me to undo some of that work in the printing step, so I'm sticking with the LightJet. I'm not 100% comfortable with this position because just about every major fine art landscape photographer I know has switched to the 9600. However, I have to go with what my own eyes tell me.
     
  10. David, someone is giving you some bogus information about this grain you're seeing in your 9600 prints. There is absolutely no grain inherent in the 9600 process, in fact the 9600 is sharper and less grainy than images output on the Lightjet. I suspect the grain you're seeing is the result of oversharpening of your file, or some other digital artifact (are you printing from a grainy original?), or possibly it is an artifact of the paper being used for the prints. I make all of my prints from 8x10 originals on Epson premium semimatte paper on a 9600, and my prints are as sharp and grain-free as film. They are perfectly smooth in every area of the tonal range, including skies, with no visible dots or grain pattern anywhere even when the print is viewed with a 12x loupe.

    ~chris jordan (Seattle)

    www.chrisjordanphoto.com
     
  11. I'd second that someone is giving you the BS runaround about the grain - it's not something I've seen come up as an issue on the various prinitng groups I'm on. And my own experience with many prints on the 2200 and 7600 is just the opposite - wonderful smooth skies. Again, especially when from 8x10, grainless.

    Either someone isn't running their printer workflow and settings properly, they are messing up colour space conversions, or you are losing information in working on the image. The blue channel is notoriously bad in many scanners - even some high end ones, which leads to problems in large areas of blues graident (ie skies). And as Chris said, over sharpening or agressive adjustments (curves etc) will lose you information which will show up in areas like skies. Especially if the work is done in 24 bit rather than higher.
     
  12. I can also confirm that I have never seen this graininess, infact quite the opposite. A well printed Ultrachrome is as good as it gets.
     
  13. As an addition to the above.....I've recently been printing a series of images that include large areas of dead flat colour. The only time I have had a problem with these areas was on one occasion when I oversharpened. To correct this I masked the flat colour area and applied no sharpening to it and the problem went away. I am sure that this is not an inherent Ultrachrome problem.
     
  14. Just to test everyone’s patience even further here is yet another addition to the above.
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Paul for solving a dilemma which has been troubling me for some time now…….i.e. how to describe my printing process.
    Giclee is misleading as a print can only really be described as such if it has been produced on an Iris printer.
    Inkjet just isn’t sexy enough, the world and his wife own an Inkjet printer and associate them with the little things they use to print their correspondence.
    Pigmented ink prints sound like a skin disease
    But for God’s sake, why did I not think to call them simply Ultrachromes now there’s sexy
    Thanks Paul!
    www.keithlaban.co.uk
     
  15. Yep Keith, "inkjet" just isn't quite appropriate for prints selling above poster price. Ultrachrome sounds way better and has a
    photographic connotation, you know: Kodachrome, Fujichrome, Ultrachrome... Much more impressive to the client's ears! By the way,
    your images must be stunning printed with Ultrachrome! In fact they are even stunning on the web.

    I have seen some prints made on the 9600, I have a small portrait at hand and the result is nothing short than perfect. Very
    smooth skin tones, no banding and absolutely no grain or dots visible to the eyes. But it was made with Ripstar, the solution proposed
    by Ilford. A well known photographer however told me that he gets very nice results without using a RIP.
     
  16. Well, Joffre, I'm sure I could get good prints from services who provide a custom profile for their Lightjet or Lambda. However, I am the kind who needs to print at least four or five, sometimes more until I think: "That's it! That's what I want". I often hang my prints around and let some time pass. My eyes often deceive me and what seem wonderfully accomplished one day can make me start again from scratch the next day. I now do some test prints on my Epson, but the real Lambda prints are often as far away as they can be. The good point with an Ultrachrome printer is that the same machine outputs a small test print, then the large final print with the same settings. Of course if I invest in such, I'll have to work hard selling prints to get back in my investment!!! Not good having one of these sitting unused in the office.
     
  17. David, if you want to solve your grain issue I'd be happy to help out. I suspect you are getting bad scans and/or photoshop adjustments made by whoever is making your prints, which means you may be getting prints that don't do your originals justice. You should be able to make a killer-gorgeous smooth and grain-free print from a large format original.If you would like to send me a CD with your image file on it (the same file that makes the grainy prints), along with your problematic print, I'd be happy to look at them and give you some thoughts on what's going on. My contact info is all on my website, below.

    ~chris jordan (Seattle)

    www.chrisjordanphoto.com
     
  18. ”However, I am the kind who needs to print at least four or five, sometimes more until I think: "That's it! That's what I want".
    I couldn’t agree more. I always do test strips of a vital part of the image. Each strip will have a single subtle adjustment using curves or unsharp mask and I carry on until I’m sure I have the image exactly as I want it before printing the final version. This can mean that I do a dozen or more variations. Can you imagine what this would cost using LightJet! At least at the end of the process I can truly call the print my own.
    www.keithlaban.co.uk
     

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