Thoughts on LightJet printing vs. Digital Neg. Platinum?

Recently I had a meeting with the Photo Curator at a major city’s Modern Art Museum, one with a strong Photo Collection. I was showing her photos I had printed with Piezo Carbon on PhotoRag 308, from digitized 1960 120 negative my parents shot of architecture under attack.

She was somewhat skeptical of the Carbon warmth, feeling like they were aligning with the look of an earlier era. There were a set of great Albumen photos on the wall outside her office, which I stopped to appreciate on the way in. I mentioned I have a collection of similar photos from the 1800’s, and I like the association, but the Piezo inks are also made in cool tones. She was thinking a more typical cool tone would be more appropriate for 1960 work. I had made an artistic choice, there are other options.

I mentioned the possibility of doing Platinum from DN, assuming I went to Vermont to work with Cone. I don’t see setting it all up myself, haven’t done darkroom work in 40 years. She came back with ‘you can print to silver gelatin directly from a digital file’. Ah, LightJet.

Does anyone here have any thoughts of LightJet vs. DN Platinum vs. ‘matching’ Piezo tonality?

Digital silver prints, Platinum, and Piezo are all very separate things. I would say a majority of exhibiting artists who have once printed in Piezo have migrated to digital silver over the years but IMO Piezo is a bit better as it has no reflections (on matte paper) and is very dark with the recent UltraHD-MK ink. Platinum has a different luminance about it entirely as this medium is metal embedded into matte surface paper. They all have reasons for being . . . I would say Platinum and Piezo are the most aligned in soul and Silver and Gloss inkjet are the most aligned technically. And the curator is correct, a strong warm tone is generally thought of as “old timey” and it can be a hinderance to contemporary thought if the viewer is seeing it through that lens (which they will because they exist in today’s culture).

The technique mastered and taught by Pradip Malde and taught and utilized by Jon Cone allows for a very neutral and contemporary platinum hue. That said, this print-out methodology will not give as deep or homogenous blacks at the moment as other historical print processes or as Piezo. If you are going for absolute image quality Piezo is still going to be the strongest option.


Thank you.

I just had a meeting with an art consultant in fine art photography and when I mentioned the museum Curator pointing to LightJet, it got a wrinkled nose, head shake response. That adds to your cautions about LightJet.

My other concern about outputting photos using LightJet is authorship, me directly making or at least being involved in producing the prints that would be for sale, which is important in gallery-world.

I probably should have Cone output one of my photos in a cool-tone to compare, though I really like the warm of Carbon. Still, having a major museum acquire some prints would be pretty special.

Cone Editions launched an online service at and you can upload and crop your own images and select from the more basic Piezography Pro tones. We are getting a lot of orders through that portal, but we are still able to keep to the dates promised… it is also less expensive than contacting us directly and using a transfer and emails - etc…


Jon Cone