Piezography® K7 or Piezography Pro which is right for me?
Piezography® K7 or Piezography Pro; which is right for you?
Both are amazing. Both of these Epson printer coversion systems produce the highest standard B&W prints that will blow away systems from Epson, Canon and HP. They even exceed silver printing in both acuity and tonal range. But, K7 and Pro are fundamentally different systems.
One of the fundamental differences between Piezography K7 and Piezography Pro is the ink set itself.
K7 is an ink set of seven gradated shades that is designed to produce a perfect monochromatic tone. K7 is available in 5 different hue (tone) ink sets with each capable of producing a single hue (tone). These ink sets are Neutral K7, Warm Neutral K7, Carbon K7, and Selenium K7. A fifth set called Special Edition K7 is a triple split tone ink set producing very warm shadows and cold quarter tones with neutral highlights. You can see these ink sets below for comparison. With K7, you must choose one ink set. So if you prefer warm prints, you would select the Carbon K7 inks. The limitation of a K7 ink set is that you can not produce any other tone. So, in this example of choosing the Carbon K7, only warm prints can be produced. Likewise, choosing the Selenium set would only produce selenium toned looking prints.
In addition to producing high standard black & white prints, Piezography K7 ink sets when used with the photo black and gloss optimizer options are compatible with the new PiezoDN software to produce extremely high standard negatives and positives for alternative process. These films do not have the defects and limitations of using color inks to make digital negatives.
Piezography Pro inks is our latest and new 4th generation ink set. Unlike K7 in which you must choose from one of 5 ink sets, Piezography Pro comprises only one set of inks. These inks however are made up of two sets of gray shades; one is a warm set of gray shades and the other is a cool set of gray shades. These two sets of gray shades share the black inks and Gloss Chromatic Optimizer between them.
The Piezography Pro ink set is the first ink set to be formulated in small batches. That ensures repeatable consistency at a specification that is significantly tighter than found with OEM ink batches as well as the K7 ink batches. It ensures the effectiveness of supplied Piezography Pro curve sets over a long period of time.
The Piezography Pro warm/cool inks are designed to be and intended to be blended into different tones ranging from very warm through neutral to very cool. Further, with the use of two QTR curves (a warm curve and a cool curve) there is an option to split this blending separately in the shadows, in the midtowns, and in the highlights when using QTR software. Within just this option of using the supplied warm and cool curves there are one million different toning possibilities. Below you can see just six out of a possible million different hue tones:
Additionally, we supply a third “neutral” curve for each media set that is pre-rendered from a combination of blending the warm and cool curves until neutral is attained. We provide the neutral curves so that anyone wanting a shortcut to neutral has it.
Because each supported media has a pre-linearized cool curve (to control the cool ink set) and a pre-linearized warm curve (to control the warm ink set) and a neutral curve, it is also possible to use the neutral curve in combination with the warm/cool curves to further modulate the tone. In this regard, there is a large amount of tonal possibilities that are just off neutral axis.
Having said all this, the Piezography Pro system does not have to be complicated to use. Yet, at the same time in the hands of an adventurer it can become a richly complex system of highly stylized authenticity. And yet the casual user can arrive at their own autographic system simply by trial and error. In this way, we consider Piezography Pro to be all things to all photographers.
The interface for blending the two ink sets takes place directly in QuadTone RIP using the multiple curves option. Here is an example of blening the cool and warm inks on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper.
In the below example, the Split Tone is checked and the two curves are being blended seperately in the Highlights, Midtones, and Shadows. This is where you can really customize the ink set to your preference. With a million different settings, Piezography Pro is nearly infinitely tunable.
Piezography Pro introduces best in Industry dMax and glossiness
Another fundamental difference between Piezography K7 and Pro systems is the glossy printing. With K7 we introduced a double-print process of laying the inks down first then overcoating the dried print with Gloss Optimizer. Pro inks are based off of an entirely different chemistry that is optimized towards glossy printing. Yet at the same time, Pro matte printing is also exceptional. Matte prints continue to have that velvety Piezography look and feel. With Pro inks we are able to lay down the Gloss Chroma Optimizer at the same time as the inks. Piezography Pro single-pass glossy printing is therefore much more convenient and quicker than K7 glossy printing. The glossiness of the Piezography Pro system is actually superior to K7 glossiness and that may be difficult to imagine if you make K7 glossy prints.
Below is a side by side between the new Epson ABW of the SureColor P-800 on the left and Piezography Pro running on an Epson 3880 on the right. Epson claims to have made improvements to their bronzing and probably they have. Piezography Pro has no bronzing and more important for some it does not have the gloss differential present in Epson prints. That means that the glossiness of a Piezography Pro print is equalized acrosee both the paper and the inks. Epson simply can't do that.
Piezography Pro dMax is industry leading
Although the two new Piezography Pro high density black inks can be used with K7 as an upgrade, they come standard with Pro. These two new black inks are incredibly dark. The matte black is absolutely world leading dark. No other ink company nor printer company can approach the dMax of Piezography Pro Ultra HD™ Matte Black ink. I describe this black as a “makes me smile” type black because it makes me smile no matter how many prints I see on our studio wall. My eyes have never seen a black this dark and I have been printing and looking at photographs since the 1970s.
In terms of comparing the dMax of Piezography Pro to Epson we can compare to previous Epson inks or the new SureColor Epson inks. However, Epson does not permit the choice of consumables in the USA versions of Epson SureColor P pritners. But, it is interesting to note that Piezography Pro inks in older Epson printers produces a dMax significantly darker than the lastest SureColor ABW system. Here are the density measurements on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag. Piezography Pro Ultra HD is 1.84. Epson SureColor HD MK is 1.75. Epson 9900 ABW and Piezography K7 are both 1.64.
At 1.85, a Piezography Pro matte print can stand next to a glossy print at this moment. And I believe that Piezography matte prints are very sexy. They have a certain glow to them - and now with such a dark black they are bound to turn heads if you put prints up at a critique where others are not sharing prints with the same inks. The glossy blacks are comparable if not slightly darker than the latest Epson SureColor glossy prints. The matte simply raises the bar too high for an OEM to compete with. The cost of nano-carbon is simply too expensive to make ink with. We do not regret it! But, an OEM could not live with the small profit from using such expensive material.
We do not consider the Piezography Professional Editions tools to be exclusive to Piezography Pro because it is also compatible with K7. The Pro software tools are actually an impressive option for K7 if you switch the K7 blacks to the new high density blacks. Although you will not be able to take advantage of single pass glossy, you can use the new Pro master curves to greatly increase the dMax of K7 prints.
One current limitation of the Piezography Pro ink set is that we have not yet perfected the PiezoDN master curves. Currently, the Pro ink set is not compatible with the PiezoDN digital negative system software. This is one of our most urgent development topics and is in our intentions to upgrade PiezoDN to be compatible with the Pro inks in the near future.