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Understanding ink types: Dye vs. pigment

From: Inkjet Printing for Photographers

Video: Understanding ink types: Dye vs. pigment

Ben: So the main difference between a photo printer like this and the office-type printer that you've got at home is going to be the type of ink that's in it. Ink comes in two broad categories. There are pigment inks and there are dye inks. Most printers that you find at the computer store or the office supply store are going to be dye-based printers. And they're going to be less expensive than pigment printers, but they are not going to be necessarily always as good as a pigment-based photo printer. Dyes have the advantage of a wider color gamut, meaning they can print a broader range of colors.

Understanding ink types: Dye vs. pigment

Ben: So the main difference between a photo printer like this and the office-type printer that you've got at home is going to be the type of ink that's in it. Ink comes in two broad categories. There are pigment inks and there are dye inks. Most printers that you find at the computer store or the office supply store are going to be dye-based printers. And they're going to be less expensive than pigment printers, but they are not going to be necessarily always as good as a pigment-based photo printer. Dyes have the advantage of a wider color gamut, meaning they can print a broader range of colors.

They are also often better for printing on glossy paper. Pigment-based printers have one really big advantage over most dye-based printers, which is archivability. I don't know if you've ever printed a page on your printer at home and left it sitting in the sun for a couple of days; you probably notice that it almost immediately fades. They are really not light fast. They will--they will fade in a matter of years pretty quickly. This printer, with the Epson K3 inks, on the right paper, these prints we've been making might go 200 years. Now that doesn't mean that like on January 1st 200 years after you print, suddenly the page is blank.

What that means is that there will be a color shift that will start to happen after the extension of its--whatever archival rating that particular paper has. Most papers don't go that long, but most prints out of this printer on decent paper will last over a hundred years. Now you may think, well, I'm going to be real tired of that picture in 100 years. But if you really want to sell fine-art prints, people are going to bother you about that. They are going to say, is this archival? does it work--is it a pigment-based printer? and that kind of thing. So for real fine-art photography, that's what you want to go with.

If you are trying to stay on a budget, there are some dye-based printers that are really good, that have archival ratings of 20-25 years. And again, they will give you a wider color gamut than what you can get out of this. They will also do really, really well at printing on glossy paper. Next thing to think about ink-wise is how many colors are in the printer. So we've got eight colors in here. Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black are what all printers start with. They are the additive primary colors of ink. They're what are used in finger painting class in elementary school.

Mix those together you can get a whole lot of other colors. This printer adds a few extra things: light black, light cyan, vivid light magenta, light-light black. So we've actually got three different blacks. We've got three different shades of gray. That's one reason this printer does so well on black-and-white prints. Those other colors--the light cyan, light vivid magenta, vivid light magenta--those all serve to shore up different weaknesses that the engineers found in the printer. So some of those colors are going to get you better fine detail in light areas.

You've clouds that don't have little dots in them. Some of the other colors are there to--are actually there for black-and-white printing sometimes. If you're printing black and white, they will mix in some of those extra color inks to prevent certain problems that can come up with black and white. Some older printers, when you do black--or even newer printers, when you print black and white, you'll notice that the overall tone of the print changes as you move from one type of light to another. We'll talk about that in a minute. So number of inks, it's not unnecessarily that oh, my printer goes to 11. It's not necessarily that more inks inherently means a better printer.

It's more that these inks can solve certain problems that you want to look for when you're evaluating a printer. If you're in the store looking at a printer, if you have got a chance to look at some prints, you want to look for things like fine detail in highlight areas. How black are the blacks, how well does it do with black-and-white printing, and what's the overall kind of color gamut. Don't get sucked into ooh, look at this real super-glossy print on super glossy paper from this printer. That's what I want. Because that super-glossy printer may do a lousy job with black and white. It may actually not have great blacks and that sort of thing.

So ink choice is going to be your first big demarcation when shopping for a printer and for fine-art photo printing, it's, right now, best to stay with a pigment-based printer. The good news about that is that narrows the choices down to only about four printers. There aren't a lot of pigment-based printers out there. So that's probably going to be the way you're going to want to go in terms of the ink. Any questions? I know I pretty said do this or not. Yeah Male Speaker: So the pigment is one that lasts longer? Ben: Pigment lasts longer. It's sturdier in terms of light-fastness.

It works better with more kinds of media. There is a difference between the way that it reacts to the paper compared to dye.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Inkjet Printing for Photographers
Inkjet Printing for Photographers

68 video lessons · 13322 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 9m 18s
    1. Welcome
      1m 50s
    2. Exploring why we print
      4m 3s
    3. Understanding what you need for this course
      3m 25s
  2. 13m 29s
    1. Why inkjet printing?
      4m 36s
    2. Understanding ink types: Dye vs. pigment
      4m 26s
    3. Discussing considerations for black and white
      1m 48s
    4. Reviewing the features
      2m 39s
  3. 1h 1m
    1. Printing and your workflow
      3m 3s
    2. Printing black-and-white photos
      6m 49s
    3. Understanding the histogram
      7m 37s
    4. Understanding what localized adjustments are used for
      2m 38s
    5. Explaining the histogram with a practical example
      6m 51s
    6. Making a localized adjustment in a practical example
      5m 30s
    7. Evaluating a localized adjustment in a practical example
      2m 29s
    8. Refining a localized adjustment for effect
      13m 36s
    9. Making a gradient adjustment
      6m 47s
    10. Paying attention to viewing conditions
      4m 49s
    11. Summing up
      1m 50s
  4. 54m 36s
    1. Understanding pixels, printer dots, and resolution
      2m 44s
    2. Understanding resolution
      2m 33s
    3. Defining resampling and interpolation
      3m 41s
    4. Understanding where resizing fits into your workflow
      2m 12s
    5. Defining native printer resolution
      2m 39s
    6. Understanding the relationship between viewing distance and print size
      2m 1s
    7. Reducing image size in Photoshop
      9m 11s
    8. Cropping to a specific size and resolution using Canvas Size
      4m 34s
    9. Cropping to a specific size and resolution using the Crop tool
      5m 15s
    10. Enlarging an image in Photoshop
      7m 7s
    11. Creating a triptych
      3m 55s
    12. Creating a triptych using Automator on a Mac
      4m 5s
    13. Exploring the aesthetics of print size
      4m 39s
  5. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding how sharpening works
      3m 18s
    2. Sharpening in JPEG mode
      1m 26s
    3. Exploring sharpening workflows
      3m 47s
    4. Sharpening in Camera Raw
      6m 17s
    5. Looking at noise reduction
      1m 46s
    6. Sharpening output with Smart Sharpen
      11m 52s
    7. Understanding selective sharpening
      4m 25s
    8. Sharpening through an edge mask
      7m 17s
    9. Reviewing high-pass sharpening
      4m 30s
    10. Applying aggressive sharpening
      8m 53s
    11. Exploring advanced sharpening techniques
      9m 7s
    12. Exploring the Print dialog
      11m 35s
    13. Proofing at smaller sizes
      3m 3s
  6. 53m 9s
    1. Exploring how color works
      2m 5s
    2. Reviewing color models
      2m 56s
    3. Defining gamut and color space
      9m 55s
    4. Reviewing when colors go out of gamut
      4m 54s
    5. Configuring Photoshop's color settings
      5m 47s
    6. Changing color space in Camera Raw
      4m 7s
    7. Working in an advanced color space
      6m 13s
    8. Assigning a color space in Photoshop
      2m 20s
    9. Correcting a color image
      9m 17s
    10. Printing a color image
      3m 30s
    11. Evaluating the print
      2m 5s
  7. 34m 46s
    1. What is color management?
      4m 16s
    2. Profiling a monitor
      8m 45s
    3. Evaluating a monitor profile
      4m 37s
    4. Exploring paper profiles
      5m 17s
    5. Understanding soft proofing
      11m 51s
  8. 24m 33s
    1. Understanding how paper quality affects the appearance of black in prints
      3m 26s
    2. Looking at third-party papers
      3m 46s
    3. Looking at paper finish
      3m 44s
    4. Understanding paper traits
      6m 31s
    5. Discussing paper choice and presentation
      7m 6s
  9. 23m 18s
    1. Printing a black-and-white image
      11m 45s
    2. Printing a color image
      11m 33s
  10. 1m 16s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 16s

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