HDR vs. K3 inks - any practical differences?

Started Dec 2, 2012 | Questions thread
Mark McCormick Senior Member • Posts: 1,164
Re: HDR vs. K3 inks - any practical differences?

MirekE wrote:

Interesting article, thanks! Besides lightfastness, is there any difference in rendering of greens, foliage or any other colors typical for pictorial photography?

If you are asking whether the extended color gamut of the HDR inkset is of any consequence to rendering the colors commonly encountered in nature, the answer is no. When the X900 printers first came into the market, Epson showed a professionally prepared portrait of a pretty model in short dress at the Photo Plus East show in NY and elsewhere. The chosen image showed plenty of skin tones (face, arms, and legs), plus the dress had a floral pattern that contained very vivid  magentas, lime greens, etc., presumably to show of the increased color gamut of the K3 vivid magenta as well as the additional orange and green in the HDR ink set. There were three large prints of this image on Epson Exhibition Fiber paper, each framed identically under glass and placed side-by-side under gallery lighting.  One print was done with the K3 ink set, the second with the K3VM set, and the third with the HDR ink set, otherwise color balance and contrast were very professionally matched by the expert printmaker that made the prints for the show. What was most striking to me about this demonstration was how closely matched the prints were with no obvious clues as to which ink set was which.  IMHO, if someone went and switched the labels, I doubt anyone in the audience would have been able to spot the error.

Epson really intended the X900 series printers for graphic arts market where matching Pantone spot colors is commonly required, and the extra orange and green ink do increase the percentage of "matchable" Pantone colors. As a photographer, if I were buying an Epson wide format printer today, Pantone color matching isn't a high priority for me, but I'd still go with the HDR ink set and even pay the extra money for the IP RIP in order to achieve better retention of skin colors and tones over time. Skin color and tonal accuracy is a big deal to many photographers and clients!  Note: I have no affiliation with Epson or ImagePrint whatsoever.

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Mark McCormick

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