Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

December 4, 2007

State of Lithography printing

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 9:33 pm

I just purchased the November/December 2007 edition of LensWork and found a very interesting article by Brooks Jensen about the state of the art for Lithographic printing.  You may think of lithographic printing as your local printer (not quick copy center) who prints your newspaper, books and magazine.  The bottom line, is that the very top end of lithographic printing rivals what we can create with a silver geletin print (black density and image ‘quality’). That silver geletin ‘technology’ is about 60 years old and not changing, while the lithography printing industry is continuing to improve what they are capable of.

Now this is only looking at a couple of criteria, with the maximum black density as a key attribute. With a model 400 X-Rite for reading density, he had a glossy silver-geletin print at a Dmax of 2.07  and with a state of the art lithograhic print, a Dmax of 2.25 (Dmax is a value of just how black is black, the higher the number, the blacker the black). I do believe that with the Epson K3 pigment inks on Hahnemuhle and Moab Matte rag, my achievable Dmax is less than 1.8 and I think less than 1.7.  Brooks states that the current issues of LensWork has a Dmax greater than 1.92

So that tells me that more than likely, my images in the Jan/Feb issue of LensWork will be printed with a greater Dmax than what I can print myself with my current matte black printing. Well first, I know that if Dmax was critical to me, I would not be printing on matte paper.  But I would like the option to print a gloss or semi-gloss paper, which is about the only reason I am not happy with my Epson 4800 printer.

I really like the look and feel of the my images on a matte rag papers, such as the Hahnemuhle and Moab.  But once the print is framed behind glass, I loose that tactile feel quality.  And it is not really apparent that the print is on a matte paper either after framing behind glass, but there are some qualities that still can be preceived, such as the ink does have a depth to it, versus sitting on the paper’s surface.

An interesting thought that I can achieve the same Dmax quality in a fine printed book with top end lithography technology, as what I can accomplish myself.

Best regards, Doug

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