Lack of shadow details with b/w printing (R2400)

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by raymond_tai, Jul 16, 2007.

  1. I have been using the R2400 with matte ink, Epson A3 size matte paper, and
    followed the recommended settings such as ABW and best print. While I am
    generally ok with the results mostly due to the lack of color cast and my low
    expectations, I am not happy with the lack of shadow details on the prints.
    Whenever there is any subtlety in the darker zones everything comes out
    completely black. I stuck with Epson papers to make sure they match the
    profiles so am not sure what is wrong.
  2. One of the problems with matte papers is that often the prints can often look pretty flat, and the darker tones can be pretty muddy and mushed together.
  3. Thanks Brian. I went with the Matte Black ink and matte paper due to recommendations from users in this forum and other reviews. Supposedly the Dmax is higher with this combination. Before I invest another hundred bucks on pearl paper and Photo Black ink should I expect improvements in shadow detail and if so should I also expect some sort of down side? Thanks in advance.
  4. I don't know the specifics for your particular printer, but my suggestion would be to print a step wedge of black to white (0-255) that are in 5 step increments. Generally speaking you will see no discernable difference in your black from 0-25 give or take 5. Once you realize where your black point really is, the set your output to utilize that edge of the range. BTW the white range is around 245-255 with most printers too. Each paper has it's own characteristics also. Hope this helps.
  5. Raymond, you could have a clog. However, I would try lightening your image with curves by one middle square and then printing to see if your shadow detail returns.
  6. Canned profiles tend to fall down in the shadow areas. If you can't profile printers yourself (e.g., with Eye One Photo), consider having a custom profile made to suit your particular printer.

    I have also found that prints tend to be somewhat darker than the screen, even with a well-calibrated system. Prints also look less open under room light than sunlight. The solution is that you may have to adjust the images to look better as presented. The most logical way to do this is with Curves, tweaking the toe region. You may also find the Light/Shadow tool to your liking.

    You can create a linear step-wedge image in Photoshop, designating the white point, black point and number of steps. I think you will be pleasantly surprised to see how many steps your 2400 can resolve, and how subtle it can be in shadow tones. I have a 2200,which is not quite as good as the 2400 as I understand. The printer is there for you if you feed it properly.
  7. im curious to knwo from what you print, and how you define your setting in let say CS2, and in the epson driver could change a lot in the shadow subtility. You are NOT applying a ICC profile in CS2 indeed?

    As for what Edward say about canned profile is rigth for the 2400 (the 4800 is pretty good) Also using a matte paper that have a bigger dot gain than a glossy paper could end up blocking you fine detail shadows, use a curve in CS2 and remove 8% of general density on the image, you should get everything you need.

    I also calibrated my screen a bit darker than request by the software to compensate for this difference between my print (inkjet or commercial) and my screen, not much but 2-3% around.
  8. Thanks for the helpful responses. it seems the entire print is darker than what I see on the
    screen so that effects the shadows overall. I will fiddle with the curves a bit to brighten up
    file and try again.

    Patrick, I have been printing from CS2 with color management off, Epson Matte HW, ABW,
    and Best Print. Your previous posts on the subject actually helped me a lot. Thanks.
  9. good! now you just need a little curve then : )
  10. Hi everyone, i just post a new topic, basically is a set of action for better print on a epson. let me know if they solve your problem.

  11. Ditch the ABW and download QTR RIP from You will have full shadow detail without all this trial and error.
  12. ABW does not produce a perfect linear density response on the prints. This is especially pronounced with Darker and Dark settings. There is a toe in the (85-100% in density) resulting in compressing the shadows. This effect also depends on the paper used. Things are improved with "normal" settings but the response is not completely linear. Personnally, I profile Epson ABW by creating correction curves that are used transparently as transfer curves in Photoshop. I wrote some excel sheets for helping me calculating the correction curve automatically after I read the densities on the prints. This way, the density curves (L* vs ink density) produced by ABW are dead linear and... shadows are no longer blocked.

    Getting a linear density response is also possible with QTR but this requires far more calibration if your paper + printer + ink combination has not already been linearized for you by someone else. On the other hands, it offers more parameter to tweak with (ink limits, etc).

    As for me, I can "linearize" a new paper with ABW in less than 10 minutes with my process (+ 24 hours for letting the test print dry before the density reading). The only drawback is that it only works with newest Epson printers supporting ABW.

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