Lightjet vs. Giclee

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by stacy, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. I'm going to have several 30x30 prints done in B&W- I want to try out
    custom printing and direct to print from A&I, but I can't decide
    between Lightjet and Giclee- mostly because I don't understand the
    differences. Can anyone offer me some insight? Is there one that's
    better suited for B&W than the other? Thanks!
     
  2. Hi Stacy,

    Have you checked with A&I?

    What do they say?
     
  3. Hi Stacy -

    I remember reading this recently and thinking that if I was going to get any B/W done up I would investigate it further:

    http://www.ricardobarros.com/html/news/carbon-prints.html

    But to your problem at hand, as I understand it Lightjet is made with a laser jet of light that acts on real photographic paper which is then wet processed as a traditional print would be, whereas giclee is using an inkjet.

    I think it really depends on your preference. If you want glossy I would say Lightjet - if matt then I wold recommend giclee onto a top grade archival matt paper which can look beautiful.

    I am not so up to speed with B/W though and as I said, would enquire into the carbon pigment inkjet described above.

    All that said, if A&I is a proper professional lab and you are getting more than a couple of 30x30 prints made up, I would be incredibly surprised if they were not going to bend over backwards to help you decide which you prefer, possibly even choosing one of your images for them to print up at a smaller size using both alternatives for you to then take home and chew over.

    There is no real right answer to this other than you choose which you personally like best - I would certainly not advise you to go ahead without seeing a proper comparison though.

    Good luck !
     
  4. That was a great idea Robert. I called A&I and they are sending me samples done on lightjet and giclee on all the paper options. After hearing the paper options I have a better idea I think. Lightjet is done on standard paper (matte or glossy or super glossy) where giclees are done on Somerset Velvet or Satin or german Etching paper (no idea what this is- but I'll find out :)

    Thanks!
     
  5. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    A Giclee is in essence an inkjet- though giclee machines have been around longer than consumer inkjet printers and giclee prints are reasonably established in the art world. You'll generally see them on matte fine art papers.

    A LightJet is a form of laser printer that has over the last five years or so been used to print (normally) to type C photo paper. Mostly -though not inevitably - on gloss paper. A LightJet looks like/is a regular photographic print albeit stemming from a scan and digital file. You can get similar prints from Chromira and Lambda machines.

    With regard to your B&W prints you first need to decide what you want them to look like- if you want very glossy prints that's going to push you towards the LightJet; but if you want something like the appearance of a matte or semi-matte fibre I'd rather try to get there on an inkjet. But either way, you have to expect these digital routes to look different to the darkroom product, albeit that difference is reducing. If I were you I'd get a small proof first- most of the more reputable labs offering large digital prints offer a relatively low cost proof at say 8" x 8" as part of their offer.
     
  6. The Lightjet process is digital printing on conventional photographic paper - like a Fuji Frontier only bigger. A Giclee print is an inkjet print (that's a dirty secret), traditionally printed using a large-format Iris brand printer. The difference between an inkjet print and a Giclee print is the latter commands about $300 more (retail) for a 16x20 inch print, acceptance by more galleries, and about 1/4 the resistance to fading.
     
  7. The problem you are going to shortly find yoursel;f with, Stacy, is having a selection of five or six prints all the same image but all on different papers and you are going to think they all look great !

    I have taken this decision away from myself by getting a recent large [colour] print (37.5"x) mounted with Diasec, thus shifting the decision onto the mounting process, which is the finished product, and gives you an amazing glossy luminescent image :-

    (don't look at this unless you want to spend money fast! Your colour shots would shine with this I guarantee it)

    http://www.wilcovak.nl/uk/ukdiasec/ukdiasec.htm


    I think for colour prints I tend towards liking High-Gloss effect (the Diasec option I have gone for is high-gloss acrylic glass) with B/W I am not so sure at all at all.
     
  8. but I can't decide between Lightjet and Giclee- mostly because I don't understand the differences
    Giclee isn't a brand of printer, it's a fancy name for an ink-jet print *usually* made with an obsolete ink-jet printer with out-dated, low gamut inks.
    Ask the lab what specific type of ink-jet printer they are using and then ask them what the advantage is over an Epson 2200 or 2400.
     
  9. Scott- I know Giclee is not a brand- the comment "done on giclee" was bad wording on my part. They use an Epson 9600 according to their website.

    I think I'm leaning more towards the lightjet- I like glossy and I'm afraid of fading. The prints will be framed behind glass but they will be in a sunny place.

    Thanks everyone for your comments!
     
  10. Lightjet prints are RA-4 process prints. The "classic" paper for lightjets is Fuji Crystal Archive, an RC paper. There are some B&W RA-4 process papers out there. You might want to ask A&I what paper they will use for your B&W images.

    Forget the name giclee - it's an old tradename for IRIS prints, which are in general no longer available. What they are selling you is inkjet prints. These are prints on coated fine art papers usually using pigment inks. If you use grayscale inks, your B&W prints can be surprisingly good. You can print B&W with color inks, but in general you loose some quality over using grayscale inks.

    So what's the difference? Lightjet prints will look and feel like RC prints, which they are. They'll have better blacks, especially on non-matte papers. They aren't as fragile - they don't scratch or scuff as easily.

    Inkjet prints look and feel like paper. The variety of substrates and textures is amazing - there are hundreds of inkjet substrates, from silk to ceramic tile, with a raft of papers in the middle. Inkjet prints excell on matte papers where they can show an amazing amount of detail, with good shadow detail and excellent highlight detail. Done right, inkjet prints are very smooth. The pigments sit on top of the paper however, and the surface is therefore more fragile. You can't fling 'em around like photo paper because you'll damage them.

    Is there one that's better suited for B&W than the other? That question really doesn't have a definitive answer. They are two entirely different media. It comes down to which you like. Some images will do better with one medium than the other. "You pays your money and makes your choice."
     
  11. I think for colour prints I tend towards liking High-Gloss effect (the Diasec option I have gone for is high-gloss acrylic glass)
    I've mounted prints on plexi before, and personally I think getting LightJet prints on Fujiflex supergloss (polyester base) provides the same effect. That is, if you like color prints that look like shiny plastic and resemble those that look like the ones sold at kiosks at the mall. I guess our tastes differ.
    I think I'm leaning more towards the lightjet- I like glossy and I'm afraid of fading.
    The LightJet route is the safest route given it's the most common process on common materials. 5 years ago I would have more positive feelings about the Giclee process. However, the only prints I've seen lately printed via Giclee have lousy Dmax, so who cares if you have muddy prints that last 300 years :) I have a really cool tip for you if you decide to go the lightjet route, and that's have your files made on a Fuji Frontier ahead of time for proofing. Same paper - same technology. Might not be calibrated the same as a LIghtJet, but they are usually close, and it sure beats blindly printing 30x30s on a LightJet, and Frontier proofs are only about a buck.
    Lightjet prints will look and feel like RC prints, which they are. They'll have better blacks, especially on non-matte papers.
    Uh, no. Color RA4 papers like Crystal Archive are awesome for color printing on glossy because of it's magnificient gamut range and reputed stability, but Fuji CA has the crappiest Dmax of any paper I've used. It's certainly inferiour to most dye based inks on glossy, and I doubt CA can keep up with Epsons latest K3 inks in terms of Dmax.
    This isn't saying doing B&W prints on a LightJet or Frontier will result in bad prints , but they'll lack the intense density and glow of traditional RC B&W prints, and they won't match the better ink-jets. As I advised about I'd have Fuji Frontier prints made first to verify it's the look you want.By better ink-jets I'm not refering to Giclee' either, which is a process I no longer recommend. Mpix offers printing to true B&W paper to get around the weak Dmax of color papers, but I've heard a lot of grumbling about their calibration.
     
  12. I've mounted prints on plexi before, and personally I think getting LightJet prints on Fujiflex supergloss (polyester base) provides the same effect. That is, if you like color prints that look like shiny plastic and resemble those that look like the ones sold at kiosks at the mall. I guess our tastes differ.
    OUCH ! Scott, you hit hard......
    The reason I decided to investigate that process was because I saw some pictures by Andreas Gursky and then another one by Thomas Demand in the Tate Modern in London and the luminescence of the pictures blew me away.
    One huge advantage of this process is that the print and "frame" are one, so there is no worry about print touching the glass, or other problems that become apparent with very large images.
    I guess I decided I liked colour prints that looked like things I might see in the world's most prestigious art museums, and that were like the kind of things you might see being sold at a New York auction house, over the phone to an anonymous bidder in Japan, for $250,000.
    I guess our tastes differ ?
     
  13. Like I said....if you prefer images that consist of bright shiny colors on plastic, then go for it. I guess I've grown out of that phase.

    I've been printing to the polyester based materials like Cibachrome, Duraflex, Duratrans, and FuijiFlex for a LONG time, and if you want to see 'luminosity' you should see the blue saturation with 20x30 LightJet print on Kodak Metallic paper.

    The mounting process doesn't change the dynamics of what the emulsion in displaying. For me the only way I've seen a print altered in such a fashion is when it's printed on large sheets of transparency medium and displayed in the open between sheets of clear plexi and backlit from a distance. Looks cool for some material, but not something I'd have in my living room. I'm selling way more matte based ink-jet prints than anything else and frankly I think they look better, but I still get the occasional request for hyper gloss Fujiflex,
     
  14. "Like I said....if you prefer images that consist of bright shiny colors on plastic, then go for it. I guess I've grown out of that phase."
    Sorry Scott, I didn't realise that your experience was greater than people that I had seen in major art galleries. I will back down. When does your stuff go on sale at Christies ? Oh, and, while I am learning, what makes you assume that luminosity has anything to do with bright colours ?
    (sorry to go so off topic here)
     
  15. There seems to be a lot of emotion in this discussion going into a rather mundane
    question: whether one likes matte or glossy prints. But it's really a question of what look
    you prefer and the physics of reflectance of light. Ansel Adams states in his book
    _The_Print_ (p. 45):

    QUOTE
    Maximum image brilliance is obtained on a smooth, glossy-surfaced paper, which can
    have a reflectance range of up to 1: 100 and higher...The matte papers have much lower
    brilliance, with a reflection-density range of about 1:25...I use glossy papers comparable
    to Kodak's "F"- surface. Unferrotyped, these papers give a smooth semi-gloss finish with
    long tonal range.
    END QUOTE

    If you want richer blacks and greater dynamic range on an inkjet printer, say, on an Epson
    7600 or 7800, then use the Photo Black ink with glossy paper or glossy-type paper like
    Epson Premium Semi-Matte. I use the latter paper, but then the problem is bronzing and
    gloss differential. To eliminate these problems, I have the prints cold laminated with a
    glossy laminate which produces deep, rich blacks and increases saturation and dynamic
    range. Also, the prints can be mounted or framed without glass. They look good, but don't
    have the "depth" of prints face-mounted on acrylic, which look as saturated as a lab print
    when viewed still wet. Incidentally, there is a reference above to Diasec, a two-sided clear
    adhesive: please note that Diasec cannot be used with inkjet prints; but Seal Optimount
    works well with inkjet prints.

    Now it seems to me that when people started making inkjet prints they fell in love with the
    look and feel of "art-type" paper, like Hahnemuehle Photo Rag. My view is that the "look
    and feel" of these papers disappears when they are displayed under glass. And all this
    depends on how your photographs look: pictures that don't have deep blacks, will look
    good on matte papers, the way platinum prints look good; pictures which have large areas
    of deep blacks will look good on glossy papers.

    BTW, the term "giclee" is absurd, as in French slang it means ejaculation. It's hilarious that
    it was chosen as an artsy-fartsy term that was designed to sound expensive and
    pretentious.

    --Mitch/Bangkok
     
  16. Mitch,

    On a slight tangent, have you ever gotten a large B&W Lambda print made at IQ Labs in Bangkok. Their darkroom B&W enlargements only go up to 16"x20", and I was interested in something around 24"x24".

    - Carl
     
  17. One option about lightjet prints that I don't hear very often, is that its possible to print Ilfochrome materials on a lightjet. Not alot of places do, one place that might still is Suburban graphics in Las Vegas.

    Ilfochrome lightjets are used alot to create slot machine glass, because of there permimence on translucent and transparent media. There also of course is the "duraflex"-type Ilfochrome opache backing materials that most labs that have the opaque and trans materials will also have calibrated.

    If Suburban doesn't any more, try searching for slot glass manufactures.
     
  18. Following is an interesting link about Giclee and pigment prints that you might be interested in.

    http://www.gicleeprint.net/abtGclee.shtm


    From personal experience, if laser printing to photo paper such as with Lightjet and Lambda etc. it's a good idea to be sure the lab uses B&W paper and not colour paper. The print may look B&W when printed on to colour paper but eventually the colours will shift and you'll end up with a print that has a colour tone apparent.

    Also, in my opinion, matt paper is great for portraiture and gloss for commercial high impact images where colour and detail are important.

    And as for giclee prints in B&W, well, it's kind of a mute point because giclee refers to inkjet printers with 8 or more different colour cartridges (4 colour are not giclee). So really any decent inkjet printer suited to the paper size required with high dpi that uses black ink will suffice.

    Also pigment inks need considering as they are more stable and archival on non resin coated papers than on RC or dye inks on any paper or substrate.
    Pigments are also more stable and archival than photo papers especially colour because the colour within the paper are usually organic dyes (that goes for film too) which are damaged by light and pollutants over time.
    Pigments are a large particular material suspended in a fluid medium (vehicle) and therefor has more substance and easily binds with the medium it is applied to (such as non RC papers etc.). Providing more brilliance, dynamic range and longevity.
    Liken it to oil paintings as opposed to water colour paintings.
    The pigments are more resilient than dyes to moisture, light, handling and pollution because of it's physical density and structure.

    However, the on going problem with pigments is that the particles settle to the bottom of liquid medium in the cartridge if not used more regularly than dyes and are a constant problem with clogging. This is why most inkjets are dye inks which are diluted at a molecular level and are more reliable in the printers.

    But giclee colour prints do have certain visual quality of brilliance and detail, even on matt paper that is very pleasing.

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth.
     

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