Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem

Started Jan 7, 2011 | Discussions
Redcrown
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Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
Jan 7, 2011

Anybody have experience with Epson Hot Press Bright White on the Epson 3880 printer? Is the Epson canned profile for Hot Press Bright White on the 3880 printer any good? Anybody make a custom profile for this combo, and was it significantly better than the canned profile?

I retired an aging Epson 2200, and got the 3880 3 months ago. Have printed happily with the 3880 on Premium Luster only. Just received some Hot Press Bright White and am very disappointed with the inital results.

My main problem is poor d-max, loss of shadow detail, a general "fog" over the image. I can see this in the soft proof (yes, a fully calibrated system - Nec 2490 with Spectraview), and the soft proof is a good match to the print. In a side-by-side comparison of Hot Press to Premium Luster, the difference is striking. Loss of shadows, a general "muddiness." Prints on Ultra Premium Matte (formerly Enhanced Matte) are virtually identical to the Hot Press prints.

Before buying the Hot Press BW I read tons of reviews, and watched the videos from several gurus praising the virtues of the Hot and Cold Press papers. In the videos they would show "stunning" images, many with heavy shadows, including some florals with solid black backgrounds. I trust their reputations, but I also trust my own expereince. That leads me to think it may all be in the profile?

I've tried to adjust images for print with some detailed custom Curves, but I just can't get the 3880 to print "black" on the Hot Press paper. A soft proof analysis and test print indicates that RGB values below about 30 are lost. I don't have a spectrometer to read the prints, but in one test I printed a simple black to white gradient. It showed a distinct band of solid dark gray on the top. Measured against the digital image, this was the area with RGB values between 0 and 30. After 30, things looked OK. Same gradient printed on Premium Luster looks great, no muddy band in the low values.

Howard Moftich
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Redcrown, Jan 7, 2011

which black (matte vs. photo) did the 3880 pick for the print? I believe it should use MK matte

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Redcrown
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Howard Moftich, Jan 7, 2011

Definitely Matte black ink. I shifted the inks manually from the front panel before I started printing on Hot Press - so I could first do a nozzle check on the never before used matte black cart.

Actually, I screwed up the first print attempt by forgetting to change paper type in the Photoshop/Print Driver dialogue. So as soon as I OKed printing it started to change the black ink back to Photo Black. Found there was no way to stop it. I immediately canceled the print, but it waited until the ink change was complete to actually cancel.

So I wasted two black ink changes. But I've checked and double checked the print settings to make sure I've got the right profile set and that I'm not double profiling. I'm letting Photoshop control profiles, not the printer.

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Hugowolf
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Redcrown, Jan 7, 2011

I don’t know what operating system you are using, but for Windows I got two ICC profiles from the Epson site. One for 1440 dpi and the other for 2880 dpi. Could you be using the 1440 dpi version with the printer set for 2880 dpi, or visa versa?

Also, are you using relative colorimetric or perceptual? And if relative colorimetric, do you have black point compensation set?

I haven’t used this paper, but in PS using relative colorimetric with black point compensation set, the soft proof looks fine.

Brian A

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Adam2
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Redcrown, Jan 8, 2011

Redcrown wrote:

Anybody have experience with Epson Hot Press Bright White on the Epson 3880 printer? Is the Epson canned profile for Hot Press Bright White on the 3880 printer any good? Anybody make a custom profile for this combo, and was it significantly better than the canned profile?

I've tried some sample paper on a 3800 using the Epson profiles. While the paper is fine, I haven't decided to use it and thus haven't made any custom profiles for comparison.

My main problem is poor d-max, loss of shadow detail, a general "fog" over the image. I can see this in the soft proof (yes, a fully calibrated system - Nec 2490 with Spectraview), and the soft proof is a good match to the print. In a side-by-side comparison of Hot Press to Premium Luster, the difference is striking. Loss of shadows, a general "muddiness." Prints on Ultra Premium Matte (formerly Enhanced Matte) are virtually identical to the Hot Press prints.

Enhanced Matte generally performs poorly on the 3800, so I usually avoid it. That's interesting that your soft proof of the Hot Press demonstrated similar characteristics.

Before buying the Hot Press BW I read tons of reviews, and watched the videos from several gurus praising the virtues of the Hot and Cold Press papers. In the videos they would show "stunning" images, many with heavy shadows, including some florals with solid black backgrounds. I trust their reputations, but I also trust my own expereince. That leads me to think it may all be in the profile?

It could be and your soft proof findings are suggestive, but it could also be your settings.

I've tried to adjust images for print with some detailed custom Curves, but I just can't get the 3880 to print "black" on the Hot Press paper. A soft proof analysis and test print indicates that RGB values below about 30 are lost. I don't have a spectrometer to read the prints, but in one test I printed a simple black to white gradient. It showed a distinct band of solid dark gray on the top. Measured against the digital image, this was the area with RGB values between 0 and 30. After 30, things looked OK. Same gradient printed on Premium Luster looks great, no muddy band in the low values.

I haven't checked black values or printed gradients, but you should be able to do better on the low end. Have you printed on any other matte papers? PL uses pK and it's a lustre paper so this isn't a fair comparison. Have you shaken your mK and what are youf settings?

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ChromeLight
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Redcrown, Jan 8, 2011

Matte papers will never look the same as Lustre/Gloss or F surface style papers like the Exhibition Fiber Paper. I have a box of Hot Press Natural, and while it works fine with some images on my 3880, with others it's a mess. Exhibition Fiber is lot better--unless of course you love a matte surface and then it's not better. In the end, you have to want matte for the feel of the paper and its surface.

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Hugowolf
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to ChromeLight, Jan 8, 2011

ChromeLight wrote:

Matte papers will never look the same as Lustre/Gloss or F surface style papers like the Exhibition Fiber Paper.

They are never going to look the same, and that is the point. But they shouldn’t look a ‘mess’.

I use everything from high gloss Canson paper to heavily textured Hahnemühle etching paper, they all look great for the right image. For a 100% rag paper, Hot Pressed Bright has a very good Dmax value. There really shouldn’t be the ‘general fog’, ‘muddiness’, and ‘poor Dmax’ that the OP is getting.

Another thought to the OP: are you sure you are printing on the coated side of the paper?

Brian A

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ChromeLight
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Hugowolf, Jan 8, 2011

Hot Press is a dual sided paper. Saying it's mess was too strong. Bottom line: only use matte if you really understand what images it works with.

Hugowolf wrote:

ChromeLight wrote:

Matte papers will never look the same as Lustre/Gloss or F surface style papers like the Exhibition Fiber Paper.

They are never going to look the same, and that is the point. But they shouldn’t look a ‘mess’.

I use everything from high gloss Canson paper to heavily textured Hahnemühle etching paper, they all look great for the right image. For a 100% rag paper, Hot Pressed Bright has a very good Dmax value. There really shouldn’t be the ‘general fog’, ‘muddiness’, and ‘poor Dmax’ that the OP is getting.

Another thought to the OP: are you sure you are printing on the coated side of the paper?

Brian A

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SEMO
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Redcrown, Jan 8, 2011

I print with a 3880 and have used the Hot and Cold press papers both bright white and natural with excellent results using epson's profiles. The cold press bright white is great for portraits. I recently displayed in a gallery an HDR converted image of a wagon inside a barn. There was a lot of fine detail in the image which turned out fantastic. I printed on both matte and glass paper for proofing and the matte by far looked much more natural, not the glossy photo look. I printed the final image on Hot Press Natural. The straw looked so realistic I felt like I would be able to smell it if I put my nose up to the image. I did use the 2880 profile but I wouldn't think it would make that much difference. Still, IMHO it is not your paper, look somewhere else.

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Redcrown
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Redcrown, Jan 8, 2011

I know that matte papers and coated papers are hard to compare. And I know some images are better suited for one or the other. Years ago I drifted away from matte papers for that very reason. I found few images that were better suited for matte, and those were mostly B&W. The cost and hassle of swaping black inks led me to adandon matte papers completely.

But I got turned on to the new Epson Hot Press paper because of claims that it was very close to the performance of Premium Luster. Gamut maps show it has over 95% of the Premium Luster gamut. Promotional videos by David Lynch, Lois Greenfield, and Vincent Versace show them displaying a wide variety of color prints with significant areas of deep shadow, and raving about the quality. In the free Epson 3880 sample pack is a Versace color image with great contrast and deep, absolute blacks. It's printed on Velvet Fine Art, but the Hot Press is supposed to be even better.

But now I fear I fell prey to marketing hype. I can't show my actual prints, of course. So the next best thing is screen captures of soft proof displays comparing different profiles to each other and the original. That is a far less than perfect approach, and I know a lot of people think soft proofs and screen captures are of questionable value. A bad monitor profile can distort them significantly. But I ask you to trust me. My system is well calibrated, and these soft proof captures are a reasonably good demo of the problem I'm seeing in real prints.

Best to download these and load as layers in Photoshop so you can toggle on and off.

In these first 2, look at the shadow detail just below the horizon line. Watch the histograms shift to the right.

The following two are a small crop from a different image. The hot press version shows what I describe as "muddy" shadows. Look at that flat rock surface on the far left. In the hot press version the detail is gone, exactly what happens in the real print.

As an old film guy, I like "shoulder-toe" density graphs. So I used a simple digital step wedge and soft proofing to measure the changes in RGB values in the low key. Loaded these in Excel and ploted graphs. Here they are for Hot Press and Premium Luster. Look at the "toe" for Hot Press. Look at the values in the table. Indicates that Hot Press can not discriminate RGB values below 30 as well as luster. And that's probably what leads to "muddy" shadows.

So I think I'm convinced that Hot Press is an OK paper for images that don't have any shadow values below 30. Unfortunately, that eliminates most of my images, including my portraits of black haired beauties.

P.S. Here is one of the videos that convinced me. Listen to Versace talk about blacks. Look at his prints in the background. This still leaves me confused.

http://vodpod.com/watch/4729473-vincent-versace-discusses-epson-cold-press-natural-paper

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Redcrown
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to SEMO, Jan 8, 2011

SEMO,

Big thanks for your reply.

Looks like you are the only one here who has actually used the Hot Press paper on the Epson 3880.

I'd really like to see the wagon/barn image you mention, so I can get a little insight on what kinds of images work well on the paper. Can you post a link?

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Dominic.Chan
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Redcrown, Jan 8, 2011

Redcrown wrote:

But I got turned on to the new Epson Hot Press paper because of claims that it was very close to the performance of Premium Luster. Gamut maps show it has over 95% of the Premium Luster gamut.

Here are the comparison of gamma maps of the two papers:
L=50:

L=20:

I would say these are quite consistent with your results.

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Zippa
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Redcrown, Jan 24, 2011

I just tried printing for the first time on Epson Hot Press Bright on an Epson 3800. I followed the Driver setting instructions exactly. Admittedly all I have printed so far are test strips but the file contains a chunked black to white grayscale strip, CMYK, RGB, a photo of skin tone, and a couple of other photographic image bits.

The setting that made a very big difference was changing the Rendering Intent. Perceptual, Saturation, and Absolute Colormetrics all worked well, with nearly imperceptible differences. The Relative Colormetrics setting, however, came out badly. The darkest levels in the grayscale are melded together (sounds similar to what you described). All of the CMYK and RGB colors are decidedly pale with strangely 'off' tinting.

The results of the other three Rendering Intent settings, however, look excellent to my eye.

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JayMitch
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Zippa, Mar 17, 2011

I'm glad this post was started. I routinely print on Epson Ex Fiber, Ilford Smooth Pearl, and Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique. All excellent papers but I really want to try and do more with matte. Purchased a box of the Epson Hot Press Bright after reading great reviews. Understanding matte is an entirely different beast I'm having the same challenges as the original poster.

My question (that I was originally going to post before I did a search) is this - does anyone have any recommendations on how to soft proof and, more importantly, adjust for matte papers in general or specifically the HPB? Working with luster papers the soft proof process is reasonably straight forward. But for matte the extreme difference in contrast is difficult to address and I doubt that the same approach should be used. At least insofar as tonal adjustments are concerned.

This is the photo I'm currently looking to print. It's a pretty heavy black and white conversion with a very slight toning in the shadows for warmth.

Flickr Page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25556585@N02/

Blog: http://jaymitchblog.blogspot.com/

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xilvar
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to Redcrown, Mar 17, 2011

i don't think you mentioned which rendering intent you use. The intent can make a very large difference in appearance for limited black gamut output formats.

Your results are perfectly consistent with typical expected performance in matte papers. There are no magical papers. No paper has vastly different gamut performance than another paper of the same 'type'. If someone claims they do then they probably measured incorrectly or used an inferior profile or technique.

Anyway, you might want to try 'relative' rendering intent if you are using perceptual. typically perceptual is more linear however relative does a better job of correct absolute darkness at the cost of significantly increased black blocking.

xilvar

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JayMitch
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Re: Epson 3880 and Hot Press Bright White Problem
In reply to xilvar, Mar 18, 2011

I actually found through soft proofing that perceptual was much better, at least for my example above. The clouds rendered really odd with relative, almost inverted the light and dark regions.

xilvar wrote:

i don't think you mentioned which rendering intent you use. The intent can make a very large difference in appearance for limited black gamut output formats.

Your results are perfectly consistent with typical expected performance in matte papers. There are no magical papers. No paper has vastly different gamut performance than another paper of the same 'type'. If someone claims they do then they probably measured incorrectly or used an inferior profile or technique.

Anyway, you might want to try 'relative' rendering intent if you are using perceptual. typically perceptual is more linear however relative does a better job of correct absolute darkness at the cost of significantly increased black blocking.

xilvar

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