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The ability to print photos with newspaper quality exists almost from the very birth of personal computers. Matrix printers easily provided newspaper-quality prints, and laser printers provided the quality of a good art magazine. With the advent of color inkjet printers, there has been a breakthrough in the printing of color photographs. For a reasonable price, it has become possible to obtain almost photographic quality. The question of comparing black-and-white photography and black-and-white print did not even arise, the quality was not comparable. Over the past twenty years, black and white photography has ceased to be mass and has turned into a purely professional one, demanded mainly by photo artists. Today, the cost of a black-and-white film exceeds the cost of a color film, and finding a laboratory that displays and prints it has become an almost detective task. One could talk for a long time about the peculiarities of black and white photography and the unique possibilities that were not available to her colored sister. But this article is about technology, not about art. I leave the art to readers, and here I will try to talk about the solution implemented by Lyson, which makes high-quality black and white printing available, which allows photographers involved in black and white photography to seriously think about the possibilities of using a computer in their work. I'll start with a picture taken under a microscope. The right and left parts of the picture look, at first glance, completely different. However, if we reduce the image by a factor of 100, we will see a dark gray line and a light gray field next to it, despite the fact that in one case this gray field is printed with Epson T008 color ink, and in the other with Lyson gray ink.

The division price is 0.01 mm. The picture was taken with a Casio QV-4000 camera; the Helios 44 lens was used as an eyepiece.

The idea, implemented by Lyson, has long been in the air. It is based on very simple considerations. If we want to display 256 shades of gray on a photograph and at the same time we will use ink, the drops of which absorb 100% of the light, then in order to convey a shade of 1/256 of the black, we will have to leave the place in which around one black dot is untouched it would be possible to put another 255 such points. That is, in the case of a regular raster, we can imagine an image consisting of squares measuring 16 by 16 points, where the gradations of gray will be determined by the number of black dots in this square. Now imagine that we took inks that absorb only 10% of the light incident on them. In this case, we can get 1/256 from black by printing one gray dot in a 5 by 5 dot square and leaving the rest untouched. If instead of color ink we pour gray ink of different densities, then we can get smooth transitions in shades from annoying rare dots, i.e. You can look at a similar photo not only from afar, but also from a distance of the best vision of 25 cm. Of course, if you mix the colored dots, as in the photo above, you can get almost the same result, but, firstly, if you get closer to the photo and take a magnifying glass, the colored dots will still be noticeable, and secondly, the colored ink will fade at different speeds and in different ways, so the imprint, which was originally neutral gray, may take on a color cast over time. By combining various gray inks, you can get a significantly finer raster than when printing with only one black color, since there is no need to select a field for each point of the image in which 256 drops can be placed.

Gradient fill area with a density of 0-10%. The gray box is printed with color (T007 + T008), black (T007) and gray (Lyson) inks at 1440 dpi on an Epson Stylus Photo 870 printer. The image is scanned on an Epson Perfection 2450 with a resolution of 2400 dpi.

Thus, if the droplet size of the printer is 1/720 inches, then if the image has only 2 shades, black and white, then on 1 inch of the print we can transmit 720 pixels. If we have a grayscale image with 256 shades of gray, then when printing with black ink on 1 inch of the print, we can display only 45 points of the image. In the case of 6 colors, when the minimum density ink absorbs 3.5% of the light incident on them, and the following densities - 7, 14, 28, 56 and 100%, respectively, all 256 gradations can be transmitted, varying the number of dots in a square with a side in 3 drops. Those. on 1 inch of a print you can transfer 240 points of the original image. With an irregular raster, this value can be even higher.

Inkwells and their installation in the printer.

Let's consider how the possibility of printing with gray inks on a color printer Epson Stylus Photo 870 is realized. The native Epson ink tanks are equipped with microcircuits that calculate the number of droplets spent on printing. Initially, Lyson ink tanks did not have microcircuits; it is proposed to insert microcircuits from old Epson cartridges into them, having previously reprogrammed them. For flashing microcircuits, a special programmer is used (judging by the inscriptions on the case from ILRS or JET TEC), which is sold at about the price of 2 ink cartridges. The programmer kit is a little blue box, 2 trays where the microcircuits are inserted, and a plastic spatula for removing the microcircuits from the cartridge.

The programmer is non-separable, inside it is a 9-volt battery E23A, which theoretically should be enough for the rest of my life. We could not resist and broke the programmer, so you can see its filling in the photo.

The reprogramming process is extremely simple. You remove the microcircuit from the cartridge, insert it into the tray, and slide the tray into the programmer.

A tray with an old type microcircuit, for which the programmer is designed, and an empty tray.

At the same time, the LED turns on, which, when programming is completed, will begin to flash at a speed of 1 frame per second. Reprogramming is carried out quite correctly, not only the number of ink consumed is reset, but the record also changes, indicating the ink manufacturer from EPSON to ILRS.

Therefore, after installing the cartridge in the printer, the latter reports that non-native ink is installed, and offers a choice of whether to continue or stop working.

The engineers who developed this programmer use a round pad on the chip to turn it on. This ensures maximum ease of handling and savings on the circuit breaker.

But, as it turns out, they saved in vain. Because the company Epson has changed the shape of the pads installed in the latest series of cartridges that are currently on sale.

A new type of chip in the Epson T008 cartridge.

In general, if you have microchips from the cartridges of the first releases, then everything is in order, a couple of microcircuits will be enough for you to work fully, possibly forever. If you have only modern chips, then the programmer will have to be deceived. To do this, I used a piece of packaging from chewing gum with a one-sided foil coating. Wrapping it around the tray, I inserted the chip into the programmer. The LED turned on and after a while often-often blinked. In general, the emergency mode, but, as it turned out, we completed our task, the ink flow was reset. True, Epson remained the manufacturer of the inkwell.

In conclusion, I note that the system does not care which cartridge you took the chip from, color or black. I used two chips from color cartridges, one of which I put in a cartridge with 5 gray inks, and the other in a black cartridge from Lyson. In the ink information in the printer menu, a message appeared that 2 T008 color cartridges were installed, however, this did not affect further work.

Test results.

Tested Lyson QuadBlack Neutral Ink.

Using the color of the lines in the nozzle cleanliness test, we compare the procedure for replacing colored inks with gray ones and evaluate their density.



Differences between the density of prints made with gray ink sprayed through nozzles designed for light cyan and light magenta inks could not be detected. The variation in whiteness of paper exceeds the difference in ink density, unless, of course, it is.

We compare the system for converting a color image to grayscale in Photoshop and Epson drivers with grayscale obtained by printing a color table with Lyson ink.

1- color image and color ink T008,
2- color image converted to grayscale in Photoshop, T008
3-color image and black ink T007
4- color image converted to grayscale, T007
5-color image converted to grayscale, QuadBlack Neutral
6-color image and QuadBlack Neutral gray ink

Let us evaluate the change in the density of the print of a linear gradient fill made in Corel Draw.

After scanning, QuadBlack Neutral inks are warmer than the original print. The hue of the print depends on the paper. In my experiments, the hue of the print was almost neutral on LOMOND matte paper and substantially warm on Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper.

Note that if you print color fills with complementary colors, then we get a different contrast. Thus, it becomes possible to change the contrast of the print by varying the composition of the ink involved in its creation.

To check the resolution when printing halftone images, a radial world was printed, half of the strokes of which had clear edges, and the Gaussian Blur filter was applied to the rest. The original image had a resolution of 720 dpi. Printing was carried out in 1440 dpi mode. Scanning was carried out with a resolution of 300 dpi. Curves are plotted for the scanned image and the original image reduced to a resolution of 300 dpi. The world contains 90 black strokes. The radius of the red circle is 70 pixels, its length is 440 pixels, the print length is 1.46 inches, i.e. there are 123 black and white lines of the original image per inch of print. You can not only clearly distinguish their existence, but also notice the changes in their density in width.

The original image is a green curve, printed and scanned is red.

Compare the world’s shot with a digital camera and its scanned fingerprint. Resolution 300 dpi. As you can see, virtually all the details have been preserved, although the frequency response has changed significantly.

Bottom of the original image, top scanned print.The original image is a green curve, printed and scanned is red.

Compare the fragments of the source file, the fingerprint from this file on standard photo paper using Gretag Net Printer 812 and the fragments of the fingerprint with Lyson ink on LOMOND paper. Visually, the original photo looks preferable, although it is not possible to say that this better perception is associated specifically with a particular detail that is lost on the printer's print. The microcontrast of the original is likely to be significant. As for the photo print made from a computer file, it looks very believable, but excessive contrast is noticeable. This led to the loss of parts, which, however, are reproduced when printing on an inkjet printer.

The original photo.

A print on the Epson Stylus Photo 870 printer with Lyson QuadBlack Neutral ink.

Fingerprint from file on photo paper.

In conclusion, an example of a print of a photograph made in a "high key."

Scanned at 72 dpi.

Scanned at 300 dpi.

High key implies the complete absence of thick shadows. Ideally, such an image should be generally shadowless, with only separate black “strokes”.

The use of gray ink in this genre is beyond competition. It makes it possible to obtain an abundance of halftones in the lights without spurious "black strokes" caused by a rare raster of black ink.

A company offering products under the Lyson brand specializes in the production of light-resistant inks and papers. The Print Guard protective varnish is also available for application to the finished print and protection against smearing and fading. In addition to the tested QuadBlack with a neutral tint, there are similar inks that have a warm or cold tint. Small Gamut faded inks are also available for a tinted print. There are kits for Epson and Canon printers.

The company also produces color inks: Fotonic - for color printing of photographs, Lysonic - for printing color artistic graphics.

Instruction manual

If you want to make a black and white copy of the page, you must click the appropriate button - black and white drops on the printer panel . It works only for scanned documents.

In order to print a document in black and white only, go to Printer Printing Preferences --> Extended and select the appropriate item "Grayscale Printing " or "Black ink only "or something like that. However, keep in mind that the printer will not print with empty cartridges anyway.

When printing in black and white, instead of black, it prints brown, both black text and black plate. And in text mode and others, all colors are displayed correctly. How to fix it?

First, let's see why this happens.

In "Text ", which implies that you intend to print only black text, the printer prints only a black cartridge. In all other modes, which assume that the print has not only black text, but also text in other colors and / or graphics, the printer gets black and shades gray from color cartridges - cyan, magenta, and yellow (in theory, mixing (CMYK) C, M, and Y should ideally give black, but in practice it will look dirty brown).

Color distortion occurs because the printer is not correctly calibrated. Or even uncalibrated. If you refuse original cartridges in favor of compatible ones and use PZK and CISS and want to get the perfect result, you need to do color profiling.

Now about the color profiling itself. The best option is to order it to specialists. They have accurate equipment and all that. But this, of course, is not free. You can try to find on the web a ready-made color profile for your photo paper and brand of ink. This will not provide perfect color rendering, but to some extent the problem should be solved. You can also profile yourself. But there are no guarantees, it all depends on you.