6 ink quadtones

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How have people found it using the 6 ink quadtones?

I have just ordered some from MIS for my Epson 700 (Win 98/PS5.2)

Do people find these problematic/difficult to use (I just read the VERY complicated workflow on Digital Darkroom - are there easier ways to get good results?).

Am I going to be able to get decent B&W prints, or is this going to be another complicated and ultimately unsatisfactoiry process!?

(Although I want to experiment with some "fine art" type B&W, my main aim is to get decent B&W inkjet prints to go in my Epson inkjet produced portfolio, for editors etc - greenish/magenta tinged prints really don't cut it!! BTW, in comparison, the colour images make a great impact)


Tim A

-- Tim Atherton (timphoto@nt.sympatico.ca), September 26, 1999


I'd recommend that you record a Photoshop action to do the conversion of images into a six channel format. I've done this with my 4 color MIS grey set, and it works well to get me to a comfortable starting point. I've found, however, that the opacity setting for the channell mixer doesn't get set by the action, so remember to set it manually. After you record your action, you can use it in Batch mode to convert a whole folder of images. Goes by fast, too.

-- Marc Sitkin (mbs@digitalmomentum.com), September 27, 1999.

I'm not sure if they're problematic or not. I tried to help Kokleong get them to work on his EX, which is six color, I'm not positive he got really consistant results before he ran out of ink. All this resulted in his web page that you saw. No one else has shared their procedures, MIS instructions are not very useful. I have to admit I'm a touch confused by the procedure being described as VERY complicated. All you have to do is a couple of mode changes and apply some levels, curves, and channel mixer settings that are supplied for you. It goes pretty fast. You don't even have to think! This is very basic photoshop stuff. Quadtones are a slightly esoteric process developed to run on printers that were made to do something completely different, color. There are a few subjective decisions you'll have to make at the end if you're switching to RGB and using the driver. Were you willing to work to learn a bit of craft in the darkroom? Why should this be so much easier, you're working way outside the mainstream here. Will they be decent? That's a matter of opinion. I haven't yet seen a quad print made with a 6 color printer. On a 3000, obviously your color problems are solved, but the dithering is more visible than color prints, but much less than black ink only prints. I would think if someone could nail the process for six color printers, they'd be even smoother. Let us know how you do- Tyler

-- Tyler Boley (tboley@emeraldnet.net), September 27, 1999.

I'm not sure the process should be all that much different on a six color printer -- you are still working with only four channels in Photoshop. The driver splits the photo cyan and regular cyan heads (as well as magenta and photo magenta) from a single photoshop cyan channel and there is little you can do to control this other than blend your inks to match its factory defined split. I believe kokleong has posted that MIS has released a sixtone inkset which does provide two new inks for the photo cartridges and they may come close to the driver's photo channel/regular channel breakout. I suspect the only thing you can really do (if you are using the manual method) is tweak the four channel adjustment layers and print until you get a good hit -- which is pretty much what you do with a four channel printer, just a bit more directly. However, since Photoshop does not have a six channel printing inks setup there is no easy way to get an accurate rendition on the monitor though you might come close. If we could get a good sixtone ICC profile made it would represent the full range of inks as printed by measuring many printed ink patches. This would not do your channel separations for you but it would show a better on-screen rendition of the sixtone inkset (better than the Photoshop CMYK printing inks colors) since it uses a brute strength approach. But every time I've tried to do this with my profile making software (Colorsynergy) I get an error message -- it does not like all those gray patches where there should be color. A more expensive profiling package may do the trick though. So I think my recommendation for six-ink printers (based on some preliminary results in an old SylusPhoto I've used as a test bed) is go with the four channel manual method and let the printer driver worry about the other two channels.

I'm not sure there is as yet any really easy way to get fine art quality with the quadtones (or sixtones). The only easy way would be for an inkset maufacturer to develop a printer driver that understands that it is not using color inks. With that mythical beast all you would need to do is send it a grayscale image and it would separate the channels optimised for gray (vs color) inks. Or possibly a profile that did an optimized channel separation (rather than just a good monitor preview of the ink as printed). Could happen yet!

-- Dan Culbertson (danculb@concentric.net), October 12, 1999.

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