Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs

 

The Art of Digital B/W #003

 

Roy Harrington's Quad Tone RIP (PC and Mac)

review note by Uwe Steinmueller

 

 
 
Now also for Windows (we feature here the Mac version)
 

If you think printing good color images is hard and digitally printing B/W is easier then think twice. We believe that you can match or exceed the quality of top darkroom color prints with today's inkjet printers. But getting close to fiber based B/W white prints is a challenge. Roy Harrington is one of those photographers that took up the challenge.

Some personal history

We know Roy Harrington for about 2 years as we met as members of the "Gallery House". Roy is a passionate 4x5 B/W landscape photographer who produces inkjet B/W prints for some time now. In spring 2003 Roy bought our Epson 7500 (we wanted to upgrade to the 7600). He started right away to experiment with different B/W quad tone ink sets. Here he is not alone. But because Roy also knows programming inside out he started to write his own quad tone driver for his inks and the 7500. From this project evolved his new tool called "Quad Tone RIP". When Roy told us that he gets as good results from the standard Epson Ultrachrome inks (Epson 2200/7600/9600) as from his own ink mix we got curious as we think Roy understands digital B/W printing on a very high expert level.

Quad Tone RIP

This is actually a first at Outback Photo: we review a Mac (Linux) only tool. Roy actually may make a Windows version in the future.

Installation


Installer Content

We are no experts on the Mac and got it running in quite a short period of time (even solved the printing to our 7600 via Ethernet). The installation documentation is precise and gets you going fast. The Quad Tone RIP uses the proven GIMP print utilities and hooks up on them.

0. Download the software (this is Shareware and requires a payment of $50 if you like what you got)

1. Run the installer

2. Install some extra Ghostscript package

3. Setup a GIMP printer for Quad Tone RIP


Printer List

Install new printers with the names Quad2200 (Epson 2200) or Quad7600 (Epson 7600). That way installing the profiles is easy.

4. Install the profiles (assumes you followed the naming instructions)


Profiles

You find also profiles for the 7600/9600 and 1280 on the download page. Best to use the profiles supplied on this download page.

Printing from Photoshop

Now you are ready to print from Photoshop using the Quadxxxx printers. You start with a gray scale image and use the normal printer dialog:


Photoshop Print with Preview

Important is to use: Print Space->Profile: Same as Source. Then hit print and customize the Quad Tone RIP settings. Here you can select two paper specific profiles and mix the colors. We use either 85-15 or 75-25 (first number is the cool part and the second the warm part in our example)


Quad Tone Settings

This is all you need to do for making a B/W print.

Soft proofing

One main problem with printing black an white is to get a good impression on your screen first. Roy also delivers some settings for soft proofing that gets you started:


Soft proofing

If you get the right soft proofing profile you can judge on your screen pretty good how the print will look like. This part was pretty easy to learn. But you also can get down as deep as you want.

Own Curve Design

You can also create your own curves to control your special inks, papers and printer.


Tools and docs for curve design

We did not try this route but Roy uses his own tools to create the standard profiles.

How do the prints look like

Excellent! We think you are mainly limited by your own B/W photos and style you like. Wonderful tool for all Mac users (we did not test the Linux version) at a bargain price.

Highly Recommended

Most likely Roy will join us as a moderator on our new B/W Forum and answer your questions.

Roy Harrington also has a current show at Gallery 9 and is partner in a Gallery/Studio a few houses away from Gallery 9. Here you can see the results from the Quad Tone RIP using an Epson 7500 printer. When we were visiting Roy in the Gallery 9 some customers asked: "Are these fiber based prints?". No, but they look just great.

QTR GUI (Windows only)

Using QTR on Windows can be a pain as the current interface is based on batch files only. This means that it is no real fun to configure the following settings:

  • Printer selection
  • Profiles and their blending
  • Paper size
  • Image positioning

But as a great result of Internet collaboration Stephen Billard jumped in to ease or lives a bit and created a small application QTRGui:


QTRGui main interface

This application is easy to use once the main QTR is installed properly (follow Roy's instructions very carefully). QTRGui allows the following selections:

  • Paper size
  • Printer selection
  • Printer model selection (for selecting a set of curves to be used)
  • Image placement (we use mostly centered)
  • Curve selection and their blending
  • Choice of dithering algorithms used

Once you have setup your page your can use QTRGui in three different ways (be sure that you resized the image for your paper in Photoshop correct):

  • Load a TIFF and print
  • Drop a file name from the Windows Explorer into the area called "Drop Target"

But the probably most powerful feature is the so called monitored folder:

You select a folder and QTRGui will check for new files in intervals you can select. If there is a new file it will be printed with the current setting right away. Once the job is done the file is moved to a sub folder of processed files.

If we use QTR our interface of choice is clearly QTRGui. Stephen, nice work.

You can download from here.

Q&A

Q: Does the Quad Tone RIP support printers connected by firewire?

A: No, because the underlying drivers don't support it right now. Connect your printers via USB.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

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