Piezography in Vancouver BC



I’m not sure if this is appropriate to post here, but…

I am going to scan a few black and white prints in the near future. I am interested to see for my own eyes if piezography will produce better inkjet prints than the R3000. I tried the ABW mode and didn’t like it, at least for the print I was duplicating. However, there are probably many reasons why, first of which the print I had was not an original, so quality of the print was very poor. Is there any one in the Vancouver BC area who is doing piezography and willing to do a couple of prints for me? I’m just not ready to invest in another printer yet, and I’m busy enough, I don’t even have time to deal with my current stuff. (Photography is not my profession, and will never be, so don’t worry, I’m not anyone’s competition).



There is a half-way house between ABW and Piezography, and that is to print with QTR using the OEM K3 inks, which you could do now as-is. A more telling comparison would be printing via QTR with three blacks and standard QTR curves, vs printing via QTR with six or seven blacks and IJM curves. I.e. what difference do the extra three or four inks and the special IJM curves make?

Although a lot of people swear by it, ABW is something of a black-box IMHO. I find that getting predictable and precise results (i.e. a good screen-to-print match while retaining shadow detail) involves a little non-standard alchemy.


A few weeks ago I printed the Proof of Piezography test image using both ABW and Piezography
While the highlights were similar, Piezography kicked ABW’s butt in the shadow detail area…just like Jon claims.


Out of pure curiosity, JeffG and I plotted the (non-)linearity of ABW on EEM for each of its five tonality settings using OEM on a 3880. Some people may have seen Jeff’s post on Lula seeking comment, but every one of the responders completely missed the point, by a rather wide margin in some cases. I’ve attached the plot below.

As you can see, all five settings are non-linear. There’s an s-curve that boosts contrast compared to a linear QTR curve. The middle “dark” setting is probably the most useful, in that it’s the most centred about the pink linear line. Not only are the shadows compressed (too dark), but the highlights are also compressed (too light).

The trouble is that unlike QTR, there’s no way to linearise ABW. The best that you can do is use one of those QTR-create-ICC programs to create a profile so that you can at least soft-proof the result using “preserve numbers”. Or if you don’t mind compressed shadows, you could convert to it for printing.

That said, there is another catch to printing with ABW on Windows, which is that if your image is not in sRGB and you select printer manages colours, as you would for printing with ABW, then recent versions of Photoshop give you a silent conversion to sRGB, which will further muddy the waters. I don’t think that this is a problem on the Mac, but I’m not 100% sure.

QTR seems the better bet, in that you can control and linearise it. The question is, how many blacks? The sole advantage of ABW in my view is that on a desktop printer, you avoid micro-banding in the first and last inch.


A Piezography Studio printing for others in or near Vancouver is francissullivanphoto.com


Do you know of anyone anywhere in Australia running Piezography on anything larger than 17"?


Hi Larry
I am next door in Surrey (çloverdale) and I print piezography using warm neutral on a 3880.
If you would like to connect with me and print out a couple of your images i would more than happy to help out.
Bob Hansen


Thanks Bob, I’m sending you a pm.


I met with Bob yesterday. Thanks Jon for pointing out some one in the area who does piezography… Just so you know how good Jon is, he goes through all the trouble to find a literal next door neighbour… Bob literally works a block from my work place!

Jon, I recall reading that you cannot compare piezography with other forms without doing proper workflow to get the best print out of each method. Only then can you truly compare prints. So, please don’t hang me out to dry on this one… we didn’t have the time to prepare either print properly for each method. What we did was to print the same TIFF file using ABW and then piezography. Doing it this was allowed me to learn better the benefits of piezography over ABW. I was also able to better learn what needs to be done to get the best out of each print for each method.

The first thing I noticed is the sharpness of each print. Using a loupe, I could see that edges in the ABW print were quite dithered as there was less ink placed in regions where light shades transition to darker shades. This gave the ABW print a sharper look. It wasn’t offensive, and my wife actually preferred it. However, that tells me that I have more to learn about ABW printing. There must be a way in ABW to get smoother edges and transitions without losing sharpness.

When I viewed the piezography print under the loupe, edges and transitions were smoother. In terms of matching the onscreen image, the piezography print matched the texture of the screen image best. This tells me two things: 1) I need to learn how to process my image better to get appropriate texture and sharpness where I want it, and 2) the apparent sharpness in the ABW print was unnatural and uncontrolled in my workflow.

The bottom line is that workflow for both ABW and piezography prints needs attention. That said, if I were to put either image on my wall to look at, I`d enjoy looking at either one. (How about put both… the piezo print on my side of the dining room, the ABW print on her side…)



I’m definitely not trying to toot my own horn here. I just thought that anyone trying to understand my own observations regarding the differences between piezography, ABW and QTR with K3 inks, with the goal of learning how to optimize the image for each, it may be useful to include a copy of the image I printed at Bob’s. This is basically the image we printed. I only have LR or Photoshop elements. At the moment I have no need or desire to invest in more expensive photo editors. If I have any extra money I’ve got other things I have to acquire first.

I have since played in Elements to mask off the felt area to the right, and the metallic frame that occupies much of the upper background, to increase the contrast slightly. (This was not done in the image posted). If I had known that my piezography print at Bob’s was going to look so soft compared to the ABW print (Sorry Jon, Brian has warned me you’ll be hopping all over me for saying that, but that’s what it looked like… ) I would have tried to increase the contrast in those areas before bring my file over to Bob’s to print.

I’m sorry if this is all “old hat” for you pros out there. Many say that you can’t see much of a difference in piezography vs colour ink sets on smaller prints. I was surprised of the big difference between piezography and ABW on 8.5x11, however. That difference was huge. I suspect the difference between a good QTR print using K3V inks vs piezography may be much less on that size.


And now there’s an refurbished Epson R1430 available… I’m probably going to talk myself out of it, but it’s so tempting.

By the way, what ever happened to the K5 system with GO? I saw one reference to it in a newsletter or something.


P2 is actually K6 and is both in development and in production (slow rollout you could say). We’re working on another product that is even more interesting than that so stay tuned.

re Piezography vs ABW and sharpness, ABW has way less resolution but much more acutance than Piezography K7. That means that the same image printed from ABW and Piezography will appear softer with Piezography. In other words, you just have to sharpen a little bit more for the piezo print and you will see the optical resolution of the piezo print surpass what is possible with ABW. :slight_smile:

Also Piezography can resolve an image at 2880 PPI (file output-resolution). Not just 360ppi or 720ppi like modern K3 printers. A good way to see this is to print a 300MB file at 4x5 inches through ABW and then through Piezography. The difference will amaze you.





Thanks Walker,

Isn’t the 2880 ppi actually a result of using QTR? I already tried enhancing the contrast and brightness in a couple of areas of my print. The difference was already evident. I’ll try a little more sharpening, or reducing the mask a little.



The resolution gained from Piezography is due to the fact that there are significantly more nozzles firing per tone. The ink curves are shaped such that they maximize the nozzle frequencies for every luminance printed 0-255. Not as evident in shadow areas as in mid to highlights and in fine details rendered across the spectrum (aka, dark hair with light glints).

QTR facilitates this happening.



[QUOTE=walkerblackwell;10335]re Piezography vs ABW and sharpness, ABW has way less resolution but much more acutance than Piezography K7. That means that the same image printed from ABW and [/QUOTE]

This observation surprises me, for two reasons.

(i) It appears to be at variance with things that Jon has said here before. While Jon has never compared ABW and Piezo sharpness directly that I can recall, he has consistently warned against over-sharpening when printing with Piezography, e.g. here and here. I’m sure that there’s another post somewhere here where he says to be wary of over-sharpening because of the resolving power of Piezography. The impression that Jon has created through his various posts on resampling, resizing and sharpening have not implied that Piezography has lower acutance, rather if anything he has implied the opposite - that its resolving power means it needs less if any.

(ii) It’s not consistent with my own experience. Occasionally I print carefully matched ABW, QTR-K3 and Piezography versions of an image for comparison purposes. (The QTR and Piezo prints are matched by the two curves being linear. The ABW print is matched using a soft-proof from an ICC and a Photoshop curve.) Admittedly only in A4 size, but try as I might I can’t see any acutance advantage to any of the the ABW prints.

As Larry alluded to above, he and I have been having a separate conversation on this. From the other side of the planet, I’ve been trying to understand what difference it is that he is seeing between these prints. I think it’s that the ABW print probably exhibits more contrast, which makes the print look crisper.

I say this because my measurements suggest that ABW prints with a contrast boost compared to Piezo. I measured the linearity of the five ABW modes on an 3880 and this is what I found;

Assuming that Bob had a Piezography curve that was dead linear, that he printed the same exact same image via ABW and Piezo without any edits, and that he used the ABW “Dark” setting which is what most ABW users would do, then ABW will print with completely differently tonality to Piezography. That plot shows a pretty sizeable contrast boost. You’d expect that the prints that Bob did for Larry would look very different.

There is another question here, and that is: which is the fairer comparison? Printing the image both ways exactly as-is, or using ICCs to do preserve numbers soft-proofs and edit the images so that their tonality matches? As-is will show the limitations of ABW without any compensating edits, but not its potential.

[[I]Readers who know a thing or two will realise that if you print ABW from Photoshop on Windows, and use Printer Manages Colour as you probably would, then for images not already in sRGB, Photoshop does a silent conversion to sRGB en route to the Epson driver. Rest assured that I am aware of this and avoided this little trap in my testing.[/I]]