What is Piezography?
Thanks for your interest! Piezography was invented by Jon Cone way back in the 1990s for Cone Editions Press. Cone Editions has been printing for artists and photographers since 1980 and is the world's first digital printmaking studio. The system was initially developed for IRIS Graphics printers. Piezography was introduced for Epson printers in the year 2000. It has been steadily developed ever since.
Jon and Cathy Cone own Vermont PhotoInkjet which formulates Piezography ink and develops software. InkjetMall is where the Cones sell these innovative products. Everything starts in the creative studios of Cone Editions Press and ultimately ends up in the printers of tens of thousands of printmakers worldwide.
A Piezography system is a combination of a monochromatic carbon based ink set, software, and an alternative printer driver that are used to convert an Epson printer from an all-purpose printer to a highest standard black & white printer. The software includes proprietary media profiles for use with a special but inexpensive printer driver called QTR. Epson systems use three shades of black ink which are combined with color inks to produce both b&w and color prints. But, it is not a professional b&w solution nor is it a b&w highest standards solution. It is the best compromise that Epson can come up with in order to present a solution that works equally well for consumers, scrapbookers, signage, trade show graphics, photo enthusiasts, and pros.
Piezography is a no-compromise solution designed for only one purpose and that is producing the finest possible b&w prints. Piezography systems use no fewer than 6 shades of carbon-based black ink and as many as 10 shades of carbon-based black ink that when combined with the proprietary Piezography media profiles produce tens of thousands of more gray levels than can an Epson ink set.
Comparing a Piezography print to an Epson print is immediately apparent.
- Piezography system uses finer screening algorithms than Epson to produce significantly higher acuity by increasing the perceived resolution of an Epson printer by three times. Your images will appear more detailed without having to artificially sharpen them.
- A sophisticated monochromatic ink profiler insures that highlights and shadows are greatly expanded and that the grayscale is produced without unwanted defects in smoothness. By using more shades of ink than an Epson ink set, your highlights and shadows will actually be more detailed.
- Free profiles are included for most popular media. An optional profiling system is available so that you can linearize your own media.
- Piezography prints exhibit startling depth along with a unique ability to render smooth tone. This is where tens of thousands of more gray levels pays off!
- Epson ABW allows you to remain in 16bit but can only render a few hundred gray levels. Piezography is the only system that can actually print tens of thousands of gray levels matching the true power of 16bit image files.
- Piezography glossiness is industry unique. OEM systems suffer from varying levels of gloss differential. Piezography glossy prints appear to be replicants of traditional darkroom glossiness in which the tone and paper white have matched glossiness. On some papers, Piezography Pro glossy easily exceed the finest traditional enlarger wet process darkroom prints. See for yourself by commissioning a print of your work from Cone Editions Press.
- Piezography fine art matte prints have a surface that is often described as sumptuous, velvety or containing "breath". Piezography's meticulously prepared carbon pigment has a narrow distribution band of particle sizes resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing reflection of light back to the viewer. With the new Ultra HD matte black (the darkest matte black industry wide) a matte print can not stand up to the density range of a glossy print!
- With the darkest dMax in the industry, Piezography will benefit any photographer wanting to put their best foot forward.
- And if you have one foot or both feet still planted in your darkroom, introduce our PiezoDN digital negative to your silver paper, Pt/Pd, carbon, cyanotype, salt print, or any alt process. You can still make Piezography prints with the same system that makes the world’s best negatives.
Currently we are selling two versions of Piezography inks: K7 and Pro.
The new Piezography Pro inks were introduced in 2016 and is a totally new paradigm in b&w printing. Piezography Pro features our latest generation of ink. It is all new chemistry and is our tightest specification ink ever. We believe it is the tightest specification ink in the world. This ink set is comprised of either a dual quad ink set (for 8 & 9 ink printers) or a dual quint ink set (for 11 ink printers). The dual system features a warm set of shades and and a cool set of shades which have been designed to be blended in software to produce and of one million different tones (hues).
Piezography Pro has all the benefits of a K7 system, but allows for expressive toning and split-toning of b&w prints. We mean it literally when we say that one million blending and split-toning settings are possible in the software. Piezography Pro features one-pass glossy printing whereas Piezography K7 ink sets require two-pass glossy printing. The new Piezography Pro matte black is the darkest matte black in the world. The new Piezography Pro photo black is our darkest ever. The new Piezography Pro Gloss Chroma Optimizer completely eliminates gloss differential and bronzing (two of the most annoying defects in the Epson ABW System).
The iPhone pic above is taken of four rows of sample prints in which it's not easy to visually differentiate between whether the top two rows are the glossy prints or the matte prints. The new Ultra HD™ matte black is significantly darker than any other print system available. The matte prints are on the top two rows. The glossy versions of the same toning settings are on the bottom two rows. This is just 10 different settings in Piezography Pro printed in both matte and glossy. This is what Piezography Pro is all about. Variation from one ink set.
Piezography K7 was introduced in 2005 and still remains today the highest standard in photographic b&w printing. It is light years ahead of Epson ABW. It has better acuity than silver print. It has better tonal range. It is smoother than what silver can produce. It has superior highlight and shadow detail than what silver can produce. When Epson printers are converted to Piezography K7 the perceived resolution is three times that of the Epson RGB or ABW drivers. Partly this is the use of seven gradated blacks over Epson's three blacks. Partly it is the proprietary software which we developed to produce the media profiles for QuadTone RIP. Converting a printer from Epson inks to Piezography inks opens up a world of fine b&w printing. With carbon as the base ingredient of Piezography inks longevity is not a concern. With the highest fidelity in the world, Piezography systems allow a photographer to put their best foot forward. We offer 5 different Piezography K7 ink sets. Each has a specific monochromatic tone (hue). They are Carbon K7, Neutral K7, Selenium K7, Special Edition K7, and Warm Neutral K7.
Why would you choose Piezography K7 or Piezography Pro? Well. you might not want a million variations or even the thought of having to find your variation. It may be more appealing to you to have a defined tone and to allow it to change from paper to paper, rather than try and tune it from paper to paper to your liking. Pro inks are not difficult to master by any means. Some photographers may prefer to use an ink that defines itself as does K7. For example, Selenium K7 is quite cold and typically selenium when printed on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper. The color of Selenium ink was designed on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag. But, when its printed on a warmer paper base, the Selenium ink shifts warmer. So, a K7 ink set defines itself and there is no mechanism to change its hue other than with paper base.
But, there are two other reasons why you may prefer the K7 ink set over the Pro ink set. We know that Piezography Pro can produce better neutral and produce it on a wide variety of paper base th and Neutral K7. Warm Neutral and Special Edition variations can be printed with Pro. The two ink sets which can not be perfectly replicated in Pro are Selenium K7 and Carbon K7. Both of these are just outside of how warm the Pro inks can be blended and how cold (purply) the Pro inks can be blended. Further, Carbon K7 is the only Piezography ink that is 100% pure carbon without other pigments for toning. That may be important to you. Carbon is very warm and we believe Carbon K7 should be chosen for its beauty rather than longevity. All Piezography inks are extremely fade resistant and are all made mostly of carbon. However, if you absolutely require the longest lasting ink set in the world regardless of its warmth, then Carbon K7 is for you.
You can read here about the five different Piezography K7 ink systems that we sell for converting supported Epson printers.
Piezography Digital Negative is a subset of the Piezography K7 ink set. It uses the photo black and gloss optimizer options along with shades 2-6. This means any glossy compatible Piezography K7 ink set can also be used to make digital negatives. When combined with the PiezoDN software, the Piezography digital negative produces the finest film negatives and positives available today. They do not have the defects and limitations of film negatives that are printed with color inks. Piezography digital negatives have the increased acuity, tonal range and smoothness that is associated with the Piezography printing systems. The PiezoDN software is the only system that allows a photographer to contact print a 129 patch target, take a measurement from the alt process print, and produce a finished curve for QTR software. It is nothing short of being absolutely brilliant!
In case you are curious about the calibrated alt-processes above. From left to right: Silver fiber print, salt print, cyanotype, and palladium print.
You can read more about the PiezoDN system here.
Piezography Professional Edition tools is a software system we developed for producing your own Piezography linearizations for both Piezography Pro and K7 ink sets. It works equally well with the Piezography Pro and Piezography K7 systems. We provide hundreds of free media profiles for Piezography - but you may wish to produce your own.
- Use Piezography Professional Edition software to re-profile your environment when something changes, or re-profile a particular batch of paper, or create a profile for a new paper that you find interesting.
- Use curve tuning with our software to match your imagination, or to match your display, or to include a creative Photoshop curve intent inside of a QuadTone RIP curve.
- Piezography Professional Edition offers endless possibilities for creative expression when paired with Piezography Pro inks.
- Create your own autographic system.
- Use Piezography Professional Edition software with existing Pro, K7 and K6 curves to superlatize your output or create profiles for new media.
You can read about the Piezography Professional Edition software here.
Not every Epson printer can be used with Piezography. Partly it is dependent upon the quality of the printer itself, partly whether Epson has prevented its use with non-Epson cartridges, and whether the printer is supported in QTR software.
We support the following Epson Stylus Photo Printers: Epson 1400, 1430, 1500, R800/R1800, R1900, R2000, R2400, R2880, R3000
We support the following Epson Pro Printers: Epson 3800, 3880, 4000, 4800, 4880, 4900, 7600, 7800, 7880, 7890, 7900, 9600, 9800, 9880, 9890, 9900
We have customers using Piezography in Epson 11880 printers but we do not provide cartridges for these printers.
What about the new Epson SureColor printers? We can support the new Epson SureColor printers in Asia, and several of these models in Europe. However, with the exception of the P400 and P600 models, Epson has locked these printers in North America to be ONLY compatible with Epson Brand cartridges. Having said that, QTR software is not compatible with SureColor printers when more than 3 black inks are used.
We are just in the early development stage of a new OS X system level Piezography printer driver for the new SureColor printers. We are hopeful that within a year when this software is available to Asian and European customers, that the Epson printers in North America will either be unlocked for use with consumer choice of consumables or that a working solution for producing new chip serial numbers will have been introduced in order to use these printers with refill cartridges. As it stands, when we release the new OS X system level printer drivers the P400 and P600 will be supported in USA (as well as all out existing supported printer models). It is up to forces outside of our company whether Epson will unlock their larger SureColor printers or a reliable solution to the one-time-use serial number scheme will be found.
How about a free or nearly free printer?
There has never been as good a time as now to get a free large format printer for use with Piezography. In our opinion, the Epson 4900, 7900 and 9900 printers are notorious for clogging when used with Epson inks. Others share this same opinion. You can read about this frustration with this printer generation in many places on the Internet. A YouTube video shows a user fixing his with a sledge hammer! What a waste! We could have re-purposed that printer!
Often when these printers develop one single missing color channel, they are discarded or turned off and shoved into a corner. It is not worth their value to repair. The thing is, these printers perform really well with Piezography inks. They alway have. The 4900, 7900 and 9900 printers have 11 inks and 10 ink channels. We can map out bad ink channels, and provide Piezography ink systems for printers like these.
- With only 6 working channels you can use these for a PiezoDN system.
- With only 7 working channels you can use these to print either matte only or glossy/piezoDN prints and film.
- With as few as 8 working channels we can provide a matte/glossy and film K7 system, or a matte only or glossy only Pro system.
- With 9 working channels we can provide a Pro system.
It has been our experience (because we have received several free printers) that the previous owner was happy to have it hauled away for free. Finally - we want to say that although the printers we received for free were missing one or two channels we were able to recover the missing channels with PiezoFlush! A newly discarded printer less than three months out of operation is best. Shy away from one left to sit with inks drying out.
Do you have an Epson printer with one or more clogged channels?
We may be able to convert it into a Piezography system by mapping out bad channels and rearranging the ink assignments! We do this all the time for our customers. Please contact us. We have successfully mapped out all kinds of printer models for use with Piezography including 3800/3880s, 7880/9880s, 7890/9890s and even 2880s.