Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Printing Insights #002

"Inkjet Cibachrome"

Nikon D1

by Uwe Steinmueller

Photos by Bettina & Uwe Steinmueller

When we started photography the darkroom was integrated part of it. First only B&W and later also Cibachrome color prints. Then in the early 80th I did not have anymore time to work in

the darkroom and also preparing Cibachrome prints is much less than pleasant (it smells like hell).

But one thing was sure Cibachrome prints defined for me the term "color quality". These glowing dark colors I have never seen with other prints and also longevity was given (prints hanging now for 23 years at a wall without fading).


Kodak 760

Two years ago we got excited again (never lost the passion) about photography and this time started working in the digital darkroom. Of course printing was in our focus but for that moment the good Epson printers like the 1270 would do.

But now we got more demanding about our prints and wanted:

  • Bigger sizes
  • Better color quality
  • Consistency
  • Resolution
Of course there is always the option to use a lab and we even found one of the best Calypso Imaging who produce excellent Lightjet prints. But it is not quite the same than to have the darkroom process under your own control.
Just in the moment we were preparing some photos for an exhibition I met Jim Collum. Jim is a nature, landscape (also human landscapes) photographer living in Santa Cruz. The kind of photos he makes are very much in line with our style and interest.

Kodak 760

For the moment even more important was the fact that he owns an Epson 9000 printer and claimed to produce Cibachrome like prints with that machine. I instantly believed him as he also told me about his longer experience in Cibachrome printing.

Let me first start to mention his process:

  • Epson 9000 printer
  • Wide Spectrum Inks from John Nollendorfs
  • Xtreme Gamut Gloss Xtra White paper from Charles Berger (he sells this paper though distributors, see sources here)

It looks as if this combination can produce images which might last as long as the real Cibachrome ones (not yet confirmed by Wilhelm Imaging Research).

Before we even had the chance to get some prints from Jim we visited Charles Berger in his office in Santa Cruz. The samples which Charles showed us (also some prints by Jim) made us really excited and we could understand that Jim compared this to Cibachrome (very glossy, intense beautiful colors and wide gamut).


Kodak 760

One week later Jim invited me to his home where he also operates this huge Epson 9000 printer. He then made prints of all the photos on this page (each 18" wide).

Nikon D1x

All (!) prints even exceeded our expectations and were a very close match to what we had seen on our calibrated monitor at home (thanks to Jim's careful and obviously precise printer calibration).

Nikon D1

Everything is fine now? Yes and no: I think the only way to get myself into this world would be to buy an Epson 7000 printer. But this is costly (about $4400 with stand), big, heavy and would also be demanding to operate (even if the Epson professional printers seem to be a lot easier than other machines of this caliber). I also need to look a bit more into the quality of the Epson 2000P prints using pigmented inks. These inks produce really long lasting prints and Epson spends a lot of research on pigmented inks but the gamut might not be quite there.
Here are Jim's thoughts.
Here is a news group for discussing the Printing Insights articles.


For Comments post in our News Group

2000-2007 Digital Outback Photo