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Best way to print digital B/W?

Gregory King , Nov 27, 2010; 11:45 a.m.

Hmm, thought this would be a simple question, but Google fails me.

I have to print a bunch of 5x7s in black and white. But my satisfaction with using the traditional photofinishers is that I always get a color cast. I presume this is because they use color photo paper intended for C-41 films. Is there anyone who uses B/W photo paper?

I thought about printing them at home, where I recall getting less of a color cast, but it seems even my home inkjet blends colors to get B/W. So it's not an ideal solution, especially since it bumps up the cost.

What's the best solution? Thanks.


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Tom L. , Nov 27, 2010; 12:29 p.m.

There's a process called Nu-Baryt that has been around for three or four years now. Digital (monchrome) files are exposed via an enlarger on to classic fibre based paper (http://www.variochromat.de/). The paper is then processed the traditional way (developer, fix and wash). Not exactly the budget option though, but neither was b/w printing by hand a few years ago and it does give the best quality as well as lasting prints.
If your lab has an Agfa D-Lab or a Fuji Noritsu and your files are in Greyscale mode, then your images shouldn't have a colour cast as the files do no longer contain any colour information for the machine to read when printing.

Matt Laur , Nov 27, 2010; 12:51 p.m.

Labs like MPIX (Millers, et al) will print "true" B&W from your files, and do a nice job.

Gregory King , Nov 27, 2010; 12:54 p.m.


Thanks. Yeah, serious budget here. 60 photos for a school play. ;-)

My Costco uses a Noritsu, but I still get a purplish color cast. I thought it was because they use color paper which has the inks in it. Regardless of whether there is any color information in the photo, the paper is exposed on three color channels. If the paper doesn't respond exactly, you get a color cast...just as you do with generating greyscales with inkjets.

What am I missing?

Gregory King , Nov 27, 2010; 12:59 p.m.


Yeah, my research just showed Mpix as the only hit on B/W printing. $1.09 vs $0.39...hmm...might be able to swing it. Wonder if they can deliver in time.


Matt Laur , Nov 27, 2010; 01:19 p.m.

They get stuff right out the door, Gregory. Amazingly fast, in my experience.

Tom L. , Nov 27, 2010; 01:38 p.m.

Gregory, I don't think you're missing anything. I think it might well be a case of your lab not having changed the chemistry for a while or something else they do differently. Try a different lab is what I'd do.

Gregory King , Nov 27, 2010; 01:54 p.m.

Matt, Tom...thanks.

I'll give Costco a try again...different one than I usually use. I've never had a problem with their color, so I'm sure the B/W will be "close enough".

But I don't think I've ever seen a B/W on color paper that wasn't noticeably colored when compared to something truly B/W. I was able to print B/W on my Canon, but only with half-tone dither that looks very poor. The "greyscale" prints are quite green in comparison, but have a much better tonality. I could fight with it to get the color cast away, but the cost per print using all the color inks would be significant. IIRC, magenta gets sucked up quite fast.

If I shot more B/W, I'd try Mpix. Some day. :-)

Lex Jenkins , Nov 27, 2010; 03:33 p.m.

http://www.digitalsilverimaging.com/ specializes in printing from digital files to RC or fiber gelatin silver b&w paper. There may be other labs offering this service but my hard drive crashed recently and I lost the bookmarks for a dozen or so labs that still offer custom b&w services.

Gregory King , Nov 27, 2010; 08:51 p.m.

Found a thread where the OP is having my same issue. Hopefully Costco will be having a good calibration day.

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