What is Ultrachrome printing?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by robert_cardon, Jul 7, 2003.

  1. In one of the recent postings, Chris Jordan (Seattle) mentioned the
    ultrachrome process as being the best thing out there for color
    prints. What exactly is the ultachrome process? Who does it? Etc.?


  2. According to http://www.epson.com, it is
    "Epson's newest 7 color ink system combining the long lasting print life of pigment inks, with the wide color gamut traditionally found only with dye inks."
    It is available on their new line of printers, the 2200, 7600, and 9600.
  3. Ultrachromes are the latest generation inkjet prints using pigmented inks from Epson.
    Listen to Chris Jordan, he knows what he is talking about, for colour work on matte papers Ultrachrome is indeed the best thing out there.
  4. OK, thanks for the answers. Now who offers this service and how big can the prints be? Since I don't have the capital for the outlay CJ had made, I'd be looking for someone who could take my chromes and do the whole thing, scanning, photoshop, and make the prints.

    This assumes of course I ever take anything worth spending big bucks to print.

  5. http://www.westcoastimaging.com/

  6. 48" on the short side, almost as long as you want on the long side
  7. I've heard the places mentioned are "get it in - get it out" as fast as possible. In fact, a friend told me that Cylapso advertised that the price included 5 minutes or so to chat with the printer. Wow, what a bargin, actually being able to talk to the person doing the printing, what a big favor!

    So it sounds like to really do this right, one needs to get the smarts and PC hardware/software to pre-flight their own images and send these folks a CD. This way all the interpretation is yours, not theres. It seems that even with a "match the chrome" instructions, there is always a lot of room for interpretation. What is a great print to them, may not be a good print to you.

  8. Robert, my personal recommendation would be to go to Bob Cornelis of Colorfolio (www.colorfolio.com). I know Bob personally-- he does all of my scanning for me, and I frequently refer scanning and printing jobs to him that I can't do myself. I've also worked with Calypso, and they are excellent in every way-- a total class act. My preference falls slightly in favor of Bob, however, because his shop is smaller and the attention to detail is a little more fine I think. He has all of the same state-of-the-art equipment that Calypso has, and he has the expertise and attitude of meticulous care that I would want if I had someone printing my own work. His prices are competitive also, but only because they have to be-- I think you get more for your money with Bob than anywhere else.

    Bob also knows the best ways to scan images (i.e., what resolution to use, etc.), and he's tested every paper out there and can make recommendations on what to use depending on the kind of look you want in your prints. You can put your work in his hands and trust his judgments and advice.

    And when printing digitally, remember that you can do ANYTHING to your image-- you aren't limited by the stuff you could do in a darkroom. For example, you can draw a rough picture of the image for Bob, and label one area to be made darker, but inside that area can be an area that will be brighter, and inside THAT area can be an area to be left alone! You can make one area more blue and another area more yellow, even if the yellower area is inside the bluer area. And you can make one area more contrasty and another area less contrasty. And, you can do all of those things to any level of resolution and detail in the image; for example, if you want to you can soften contrast and warm up an entire image, but make one water drop sparkle brigher and bluer, or whatever. It's really great to be able to use your imagination-- the transparency really is just the score, and you can play it however you want to!

    Have fun, and if you want help of advice or thoughts or whatever, I'm happy to help anytime,


  9. I can offer some ideas into why saying "match the 'chrome" may not yield good results.

    Problems occur because the contrast range and color gamut on the chrome do not correspond directly to those on the print. The print is a reflective medium (ie. it reflects light) and the chrome is a transmissive medium (ie. light passes through it). Typically, the reflective medium has less range and gamut than the transmissive.

    If you map the information in the chrome to the print in a mechanical way (by, say, mapping the brightest and darkest points, and then linearly scaling the information in between), you usually end up with a very "flat" and lifeless looking print. And it may still have out-of-gamut colors, which have to be translated into the print's gamut (or else they are just clipped).

    To make a nicer looking print, you need to use a non-linear mapping of values from chrome to print. In effect, you will compress some tonal ranges in order to give space to other ranges. (In Photoshop, you use "Curves" to do this.) At this point, you are making subjective decisions about the final print. If you give control of these decisions to the service bureau, you might not get what you want.

    While it is possible to try to replicate the overall feeling of the chrome, close inspection will always reveal some discrepancies. Sometimes the discrepancies are minor, but other times they are very noticable. It depends on the content of the image.

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