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Thread: Piezography: how good do matte prints look?

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    Piezography: how good do matte prints look?

    I know this is a really vague question, but I'm at that point in my life where it's time to get back into printing in-house rather than sending out to MPIX, and I mostly care about B&W, so I'm looking for the least expensive way to get into Piezo prints so I can start learning inexpensively. Subject matter is a mix of portraits, travel photographs, and (maybe soon some more) wedding work.

    My problem: I've never seen Piezography output, and all of my experience is with traditional fiber and RC papers. I liked glossy fiber-based prints, but generally found glossy RC prints were a bit too reflective and scratched too easily. Is it possible to use that as a frame of reference to tell me how matte papers using Piezography look?

    I'm asking because the cheapest way into the system is an Epson 1430, but it's limited to matte only.

    Thanks.

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    Re: Piezography: how good do matte prints look?

    Hi Derek,

    In my experience, those that follow the path of K7 B&W Piezography are seeking something more in terms of print quality---with savings taking a far back seat. There is no doubt in my mind that the current generation of "standard" professional wide format inkjet printers produce better print quality than a "pro-lab" and moreso even with B&W prints. That being said, K7 B&W Piezography is still just a bit better. It really becomes a point of diminishing returns---you do need to invest more to get a bit better quality. But imho, the investment is worthwhile to both the eye and touch with print in hand.

    I'd suggest stepping up a bit to a printer that can handle both K7 matte and glossy MPS printing. Cone is soon to release a new Piezography print system---I believe it is like an offshoot of Piezography 2--the Piezography Pro system I believe it will be called. It's worth investigating.

    The glossy K7 MPS prints aren't so glossy as they are more of a gentle lustre type gloss. These are beautiful. Most like an air dried fibre print.
    The matte K7 prints are also beautiful, but softer in their presentation.

    It's very subjective to taste. I'd suggest spending the time and a bit of money to send off and order some test prints for both K7 MPS gloss and matte----as well as in the different inksets available. My favorite is the K7 selenium on Cone 5 and Cone 2 papers. These are what I use for my fine art printing clients; I've tried many papers but I keep gravitating back to Cone 5 and Cone 2 as my favorites. See, www.carmelfineartprinting.com

    Ken

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    Re: Piezography: how good do matte prints look?

    Ken, as usual, has given excellent advice. Piezography is not for the faint hearted or someone looking to save money. I have a number of posts on my site about my journey with Piezography that may give you some insight.

    I am now using P2 on an R2000 and am very happy with it. I can print matte and gloss with no cart changes. Unless you are printing frequently and at a reasonable volume, you will get issues with any printer which has ink lines. That is why I got the R2000. Cart on head printers are a real boon for low volume printers. What Epson intended them to be is irrelevant when you use PZ inks.
    Cheers,
    Jeff
    www.jeff-grant.com

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    Re: Piezography: how good do matte prints look?

    Thanks Ken and Jeff. That's exactly what I was looking for.

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    Re: Piezography: how good do matte prints look?

    Cone will send you samples for a very small price. Worth it before making decisions.

    Piezography is capable of mind-blowingly stunning results. In general, but not always, I like it better than any traditional process. But it is different from those processes ... and the matte results are different from the glossy results, and there are many papers and inksets to choose from. So obviously the choice is going to come down you comparing them.

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    Re: Piezography: how good do matte prints look?

    A year or so ago I accepted an offer from a Piezo enthusiast to compare prints from the same files. I chose the files for their different contrast ranges / tonal distributions. I was using a middle-aged Canon 6300 at the time, so his Epson Piezo prints had better resolution – barely visible by eye but obvious by loupe. But we and and others agreed that of the four files we printed, neither system bettered the other in all instances.

    I showed the two sets of prints to my critique group, and their opinions varied more with match of tone to subject matter, and with 'interpretation' of the image, than with the printing methods per se.

    I'd ordered the two sets, matte and glossy, of Cone's 5x5 sample prints. The group – and the Piezo printer – agreed that Cone's small sample prints are not very good examples of Piezo printing, compared to his four larger prints. Individual prints in the two sample sets differ markedly from one another in shadow detail. They all, including Neutral, have pretty strong tints under a Fiilex viewing light.

    The results of course varied with differences in substrate as well as ink, and perhaps with printing skills, so this wasn't exactly a double-blind experiment! But it was sufficient to suggest no pressing need to get involved in the current version of the Cone system.

    I was pleased to read in a post above that John Cone is developing a Pro system, and I'll look into that just as soon as it's available. One of the members of the critique group (whose day job is color consulting) expressed the view that the Cone system had lost its advantage over time, because ABW printing has improved considerably. His advice was that they're too close now to justify the expense, conversion, and clogging of the Cone system. But I'm sure he'd change his view if a Cone Pro system steps farther ahead.

    For the time being my suggestion is to wait for that system and then spend the extra bucks. You might in the meantime work with Epson P600/800 ABW and get results that can compare quite well with less expense and inconvenience. The new Epson Matte Black offers a little more density than the 3800/3880 inks. Or you might get a used 3800/3880 – they're inexpensive now – and then later convert it for the new Cone inks?

    Just my two cents,

    Kirk

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    Re: Piezography: how good do matte prints look?

    Thanks, Kirk. That might make the most sense for now...

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