Re: Quadtone Inks & Digital Negatives

From: Kees Brandenburg ^lt;>
Date: 02/05/04-04:50:11 AM Z
Message-id: <p06020401bc47bbf0d9f7@[]>

Hi Rita, Mark and other digital negative printers,

Here are some of my experiences with digital negatives and quadtone inks.

I started some years ago with the piezography
plugin and the original Piezography (now
Sundance) inks which I replaced after some time
by the MIS FS inks <>.
This FS inkset is a Piezography compatible inkset
so I could still use the plugin for printing.

These inks (old style Piezo and MIS FS) and
specially the blacks in these sets do not adhere
very well to Pictorico OHP and other transparant
substrates. Strangely enough they do adhere
rather well to Schoellershammer Inkjet-film
number 6. But Schoellershammer lacks the density
and sharpness of Pictorico and has some visible
and irregular structure of the coating. But I did
some rather nice gum prints with Schoellershammer

Another excellent substrate for printing
negatives is Agfa CopyJet film which I mentioned
earlier on this list. It looks and behaves a lot
like Pictorico at a lower cost. But it has the
same problems as Pictorico with the above
mentioned (old style co-solvent) quad tone inks.

With new generation inksets this is different.
These inksets where formulated after or at the
same time when Epson introduced its pigment based
Ultrachrome inks.

I am using a MIS Ultratone inkset now. The
Piezography PiezoTone inks have similar
Ultrachome style behavior. These inksets (like
the Epson Ultrachromes) come with two blacks, one
for mat paper and one for glossy (with some dye
added to raise D-Max).

Although mat-black inks are preferable for
lasting prints on (cotton fibre) paper like
Hahnemühle Photorag, the glossy inks are better
for negative printing.

The huge number of available inksets is a bit
confusing. PiezoTones come in a wide variety of
tones but all are have the same base. Use the
photo black for negatives. MIS is even moere
confusing because they sell also old style quad
inks and new and even newer Ultratones. use
ultratones (1 or 2) and photoblack for negatives.

MIS is also working on a UltraTone version of the
FS Piezography compatible inkset. The original
Piezo plugin is replaced recently by a ICC based
Quadtone printing system
<> The plugin 9with
another name) is still available at

I am using an inkset of MIS Ultratone inks in
aproximately 100/75/50/25 percent dilutions of
greys. I use Mis Ultratone Photoblack with the C
and M position grey inks from the MIS VM
Ultratone (quad) inkset with the LC inkposition
ink from the Utlratone VM (hex) set. This sounds
very compicated but that will change when the
Ultratone FS set is availble (is has different
dilutions though) or when you use the new UT-2
set (see below).

With these Ultratone inks the smearing problem on
agfa (and pictorico too, I presume, is over).
Inks sink nicely into the coating and are much
more scratch resistant than with the older inks.

The best part is yet to come:

That is QuadToneRIP <>
A project by photographer Roy Harrington which is
a printer driver /raster image processor for Mac
OS X and Linux using modified Gimp-Print drivers.

With QTR it is possible to control individual
inks and make curves for grey separations which
are kept within the QTR driver. This is ideal for
negative making because you can set ink limits
and points where one ink takes over from another.
You can even leave inks completely out or swap
inkpositions. After basic callibration is done
cursves can be linearized very easely.
It is also posible to apply a standard photoshop
curve to this ink description curve.

With this possibility it is even foreseeable to
put the printing process related negative curves
inside of the driver. Imagine printing your file
by just choosing a gum-pictorico or platinum-agfa
preset in your printer driver.

The latest development in inksets is the is MIS
UT-2 set up by Paul Roark
<> This set is
developed by Paul to create foolproof quadtone
printing with tones that go from sepia to very
cool blue-black. Although developed for the epson
driver this UT-2 set works very well with QTR too.

More information on
an excellent list on quadtone printing with Roy
and Paul as listmembers.

So concluding this long post: If your on a Mac
(or Linux) QTR with UltraTone is the way to go.
If not try the UT-2 or even the UT-VM (with
curves by Paul) and use the epson driver.


Hi Rita,

So far I have heard from two other members of the
list who have been successful at printing
Quadtones on Pictorico OHP film. You would make

Unfortunately, I have not heard from anyone yet
who has not had success-though I recall that
someone reported that-it would be just as helpful
to hear also from those who were not successfull
and what substrates they tried in addition to
Pictorico OHP film.

I tried it yesterday and found only one
advantage-since the inks are very expensive and
Pictorico is very cheap, they can be easily
recycled after you print the negative. You just
take a squeegee and wipe the ink off the
Pictorico! The Pictorico is fine, but I guess
you are down to a monoblack mix of ink, rather
than a quadtone. But seriously, it did not work
at all.

So, my guess is that since there are at least 5-6
Quadtones marketed by Cone and each is a
different ink of sorts, some of the inksets are
compatible with Pictorico and some are not. I am
trying to figure out which ones are. I have
asked for specific information regarding the
inksets used successfully.

One additional confusing issue may be that people
are also substituting different black inks with
the inksets-this makes the issue more
complicated, because it increases the number of
combinations that may or may not work.

Then you have the issue that there are other
quadtones besides Cone's and how do they work?

See why I thought it best to discuss it offlist?
hehehehehe it's a bit esoteric.

So, if you could give me specific information
about the inkset name and maker, etc... it would
be helpful. Also whether or not you are
substituting another black ink for the black ink
of the set you are using. I will send a summary
of the inks used to everyone.

Mark Nelson

Kees Brandenburg
Workshops alt. photo | Middelburg | Netherlands
Received on Thu Feb 5 04:50:30 2004

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