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Beginner advice on B&W inkjet printing

Matt Stevens , Oct 19, 2004; 01:28 p.m.

I am a relative beginner to photography. However since the advent of affordable digital slrs, I have become a fanatic!

I am moving away from colour printing in favour of Black and white prinitng.

I currently use a canon i9950 printer. Colour is fantastic, B&W is rubbish!

Can anyone out there advise on what I can do to get decent B&W prints

Many thanks Matt


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Chuck Nakell , Oct 19, 2004; 04:58 p.m.

Matt, Just some useful, basic ideas. 1) Begin with a high resolution, quality image. 2) Have your monitor well calibrated. 3) Use Photoshop (or another tool) and learn how to use its Curves feature. 4) Select the correct ink for your paper choice. 5) Begin to explore RIPs like QuadToneRip/ImagePrint to get a fine output.


KL IX , Oct 19, 2004; 05:09 p.m.

Get a dedicated B&W printer, specifically, an Epson supported by MIS Associates (link below). Then get their inksets, and use the workflows on their website.

An Epson 1280 does the trick...


Andy Piper , Oct 19, 2004; 05:12 p.m.

There are 3 basic approaches to B&W from an inkjet printer.

1) Print using all 6 or 7 inks including the color inks. Smooth tones, but often color casts.

1a) For Epson printers, there are specialized RIPs (printing software) that can do a nice job neutralizing the colors, even using the color inks. I don't know if any are Canon-compatible.

2) Use just the black ink(s) - usually an option in the page setup/printer driver options (but I'm not familiar with the Canon's options in this regard). More visible dots, somewhat harsher contrasts, but no color shifts from light to dark areas.

3) Dedicate the printer to B&W printing and use special 3rd-party monochrome inks that substitute medium/light gray inks for the colored inks. The tonality of 1), the neutral color of 2) - but you need to buy a second printer to do color easily and interchangeably, since changing from one inkset to the other requires extensive clearing of the ink channels.

Perfectionists tends towards 3), especially for prints from larger-format film images. I use 2), which works very nicely for 35mm scans and digicam prints, but is a bit rugged-looking for MF/4x5 shots.

Jeffrey Moore , Oct 19, 2004; 05:57 p.m.

Here's a recent thread in this same forum:


Bob Michaels , Oct 19, 2004; 06:23 p.m.

read Clayton Jones' great series of articles at http://www.cjcom.net/digiprnarts.htm That will give you an overview that is much better than anyone could type here. Make sure you read parts 1,2,3,4& 7 as well as the linked interview with Nicholas Hartman.

Personally, I've tried most of the hextone inks but find printing just with the Black Only gives prints that are most pleasing to my eye. I currently have the MIS UT-2 inkset loaded in my 1280 but just use the Eboni K. Others prefer different looks, it's an art thing.

I will put in a plug for MIS inks and their customer service.

ken hughes , Oct 20, 2004; 12:11 a.m.

"More visible dots, somewhat harsher contrasts"

more visible dots only in the highlights and not at all noticable at normal viewing range, the harsher contrasts comment is bogus, I get a nice full range (if thats what I want) and I print with black only on an epson 2200.

I consider myself to be a perfectionist.

funny how no one ever mentions that one of the most important things you can do to get exceptional bw prints digitally is to have a top notch original. (still has to be a bw negative as far as I am concerned)

Jim A , Oct 20, 2004; 12:44 a.m.

Epson 1280 + MIS Enoni Ink = great looking prints with minimal hassle. I don't find the prints harsh. Here's the best praise I could ask for from a print exchange via the Yahoo B&W digital print group:

"I am astounded at how BO printing has taken off (thanks to Clayton's proselytizing), and in Friedman's case, to such great effect. Other BO prints in this batch, Charles' twilight shot (great mood), Davajon's cactus (way over sharpened), and Jim's shot of the young couple all make mockery of the need for full spectrum grayscale inks, especially when viewed at normal distance. I am convinced that unless handled nose-to-paper, BO prints easily out-shine grayscale ink sets in their vibrancy. Jim's print is one of my favorites." For more see here

Matt Stevens , Oct 20, 2004; 03:50 a.m.

Thanks guys for all your help. Much to trawl through, but some great advice Matt

Andy Aitken , Oct 20, 2004; 07:27 a.m.

If you don't need larger than A4 prints you should seriously consider an HP7660 or HP7690 which have special (#59) photo grey cartridges for black and white. The results are superb, straight out of the box, no messing around. I'm so pleased with the results from my 7660 that I only use my "analog" darkroom for larger prints these days.

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