Other Equipment – Measurement and Viewing

This article is a slightly dangerous one to read.  It has the potential to discourage the reader entirely from Piezography, by creating the impression that he or she needs to spend truckloads of money on esoteric equipment to get good results.  That’s not true.  You can get good results without buying the equipment discussed in this article.  But people who really want to get the best results most easily will benefit from this gear.  In that sense, Piezography is no different from other approaches to B&W printing, and even to colour printing.  A good screen with a wider gamut will deliver more predictable results.  So will a measurement device that allows you to create paper profiles. 

Measurement

In an earlier article in this series, I made the observation that you can create ICC profiles for QTR curves, including Piezography curves, and use them to soft-proof the print (I address how to use these ICC profiles in a later article on how to use ICC profiles.)  You don’t need these profiles in order to use QTR and Piezography, but the soft-proofing that they enable reduces the amount of guesswork and trial-and-error.  The same applies to printing with ABW.  However in order to create profiles you need a measurement device, and these don’t come cheap.  I use a Gretagmacbeth (now X-rite) i1 Photo, which definitely is not cheap.  You can also use the cheaper X-rite ColorMunki Photo, and the workflow is documented in this article, but it’s not as convenient or flexible.

QTR comes with a couple of small programs that create these ICCs: –  QTR-Create-ICC.exe and QTR-Create-ICC-RGB.exe (MacOS versions don’t have the .exe at the end).  You print a special 21×4 pattern of patches, measure it using special software, such as “i1Profiler” or “Measure Tool” (older and no longer supported on the Mac, but still works on Windows 10), and then process the results using one or other of those small supplementary QTR programs.  Note that while these special software programs used for measurement are expensive, the limited measurement functionality you need works when the programs run in “demo” mode.

You can also use much the same procedure to “re-linearise” or straighten-out a QTR curve, using a third small extra program supplied with QTR – QTR-Linearize-Quad.exe.  See my advanced article on re-linearising Piezography curves.  I seem to recall that InkJetMall are able to supply soft-proofing profiles for some of their curves, so if you can’t justify buying a measurement device, it doesn’t hurt to ask them.  Although that said, soft-proofing using generic ICCs won’t be as accurate as ICCs created using your own printer.

Monitors and Viewing

If you want to accurately soft-proof then you’re going to need a good quality monitor.  The ideal is one that enables you to calibrate it and profile it for printing, and in particular a monitor which you can calibrate and profile directly – so-called hardware calibration.  It also  has to be able to be adjusted so that it can display the image at a colour temperature of 5000K, or D50, since this best replicates printing on most papers.  The New Piezography Manual has a long discussion of monitor selection and the importance of hardware calibration.  The short version is that an Eizo is probably the best choice and most probably one from their ColorEdge range.  These are definitely not cheap either.  The NEC Spectraview range are reputed to be as good as Eizo and are a lot cheaper.  A monitor that you can hardware calibrate is not obligatory, you can certainly do Piezography without one, but it’s easier with one.  In fact all forms of printing will be easier, if you’re fussy about the results.  Jon Cone often will emphasise that it’s the print and not the image on the monitor that counts, and while that’s right, it’s a lot easier to get the print you want faster and with less trial and error with the right / best / well-calibrated screen.
 
Jon will also claim that you need a proper D50 viewing booth to get the perfect print-to-screen match.  I don’t doubt that such a booth would help, but this is where even I draw the line.  I use an Ottlite for a close-enough match.  Solux globes are also good I’m told.

This may sound like you need several prohibitively expensive pieces of equipment in order to use Piezography.  Not so.  But the measurement device and monitor certainly help.  If I had to choose only one, I’d probably choose the measurement device.

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