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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Make A B&W Digital Darkroom

A master photographer needs a master darkroom. We’ll guide you through the key tools you need in the digital age.

Labels: SoftwareGearPrintersPaper
This Article Features Photo Zoom

Epson Stylus Pro 4900
Faster and more versatile than the 3880, the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 also takes papers up to 17 inches wide, but uses Epson's 10-color UltraChrome HDR pigment inkset in 200ml cartridges: orange, green, cyan, light cyan, vivid magenta, vivid light magenta, yellow, light black, light light black and photo black or matte black (automatically chosen to suit the paper being used). The display permanence rating is up to 200 years for color and over 200 years for black-and-white. AccuPhoto HD2 screening and MicroPiezo TFP print head technology improve image quality and speed print times; manufacturer's literature says a highest-quality (SuperPhoto 2880 dpi) 16x20-inch print takes a little under 7 minutes. The 4900 can print on virtually any media, in roll or cut sheet, from letter size to 17 inches wide. Dimensions are 34x16x30 inches and 115 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $2,495.

For those who want to print bigger, the Epson Stylus Pro 7890 accepts papers up to 24 inches wide and utilizes Epson's UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta inkset: cyan, light cyan, very light magenta, light magenta, yellow, light black, light light black and photo black or matte black (to suit the paper being used) and large 150ml, 350ml or 700ml cartridges. The Advanced MicroPiezo TFP print head delivers droplets as fine as 3.5 picoliters and features ink-repelling technology to minimize clogging. The display permanence rating is up to 200 years for color and over 200 years for black-and-white. The AccuPhoto HD2 screening algorithm optimizes print quality. The manufacturer's literature says a 20x30-inch print takes 4:03 to 12:52. The 7890 can use virtually any media type, cut sheet or roll, up to 24 inches wide. Dimensions are 54x27x48 inches and 187 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $2,995.

Ilford Galerie High Gloss; Hahnemühle FineArt Baryta; Moab by Legion Slickrock.
Papers For B&W
You can make black-and-white prints on any paper your printer can handle, and as in the days of film, paper choice is somewhat subjective: Use what gives you results you like. High-gloss surfaces work well for some subjects, but landscapes generally look best on matte surfaces. Textured surfaces hide fine details, so aren't the best choices for landscapes.

If your printer uses pigment inks, get papers suited to pigment inks; if the printer uses dye-based inks, use a paper suited to those. Some papers work well with both ink types. Certain paper/ink combinations provide longer life than others. Check the specs for those you're considering, and if several papers look good to you, pick the one that produces the longest-lasting prints (bearing in mind that manufacturer's specs may be somewhat optimistic).

All of Canon's inkjet papers can deliver fine results in color and mono-chrome with Canon printers and inks, but an especially good one for black-and-white is Photo Paper Pro Luster. This one is optimized for the Pixma Pro printers and inks, delivering quick-drying, long-lasting prints that maintain a consistent look under various display lighting conditions, with rich black tones and smooth tonalities. Estimated Stree Price: $69 (50-sheet pack/13x19 inches).

Epson offers a wide range of inkjet papers, and all can deliver fine black-and-white and color prints. You might start with the Signature Worthy Sample Pack, which contains two sheets each of seven high-quality papers. Exhibition Fiber provides a classic darkroom look and feel, with rich blacks and a soft gloss surface. For a painterly, smooth matte surface, try Hot Press Bright (with optical brighteners) or Natural (no brighteners); if you prefer a textured matte surface, check out Color Press Bright or Natural. Note that textured surfaces work better with large print sizes. Epson has a new, special black-and-white website, which launched in June (www.epson.com/blackandwhite). It features step-by-step video tutorials and interviews with inspiring professional photographers.


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