I used for decades a darkroom but what to do with all the digital files? I often gave my pictures for printing to labs like digitaloriginal.de or larger labs like saal-digital.de and never really invested time in printing digital photo files myself. This ends two weeks ago. I read a lot about carbon printing in particular at Paul Roark’s website, to whom I’m really thankful for his “open source” approach. I didn’t want to start big and spend hundreds of Euro to find out that the results are under my expectations. I bought a small 4-ink printer with Eco-Tank (Epson ET-2650) with the reasoning that 1 black and 3 different gray inks should be more than enough to get smooth grayscale tones. Paul had a similar approach using an Epson WF-1100 (13 inch printer, unfortunately not available in Europe). In parallel I ordered the EB4 ink set at inksupply.com. Last piece needed was the paper. For a first testing a bought a package of 50 sheets Epson Archival Matte and a package of Canson RAG photographique (210 g/m²). In total less than 350€.
How far am I now?
- Loading of the ink wasn’t a problem at all. No clogging so far, but I think I need to print on very regular basis.
- Also loading of the thicker paper wasn’t an issue – I’ll try also 300g/m².
- But now I’m struggling with the software…
I started at first without a profile, just switching off any color correction in the Epson driver. Last one is very basic and doesn’t use the full potential of the printer – so far my experience. The prints were too light, but already showing the potential of this printing method. I really love the warm tone of the carbon ink. Also knowing that these prints will last for ages is giving a kind of security. As a next step, I checked the Quadtone RIP software of Roy Harrington, but the printer isn’t supported – probably much too basic… Then I tested all ICC profiles Paul Roark has created for his WF-1100. But most prints are too dark or suffer from some banding, I don’t see using other print methods. I hope to overcome this by creating my own profiles: This is Epson print preview:
I followed Paul’s way to create an ICC based on a printed grayscale wedge and can now at least anticipate better on the screen the result. The best results I get now are based on the following workflow:
- Adjust my picture in Capture One based on the ICC profile I created for visualization.
- Export the file to my – in parallel running – Linux system.
- Print the file with PhotoPrint, a software that uses Gutenprint. I setup Gutenprint using the Epson L-120 printer driver. This is working quite well. At 2880×1440 dpi the printer is really slow!
Here some results (the prints aren’t that warm…):