View Full Version : D-max "black" just sorta charcoal

03-03-2012, 10:27 PM
In the 80's/90's we had our own lab in our studio, and the missus and I offered competition-printing services from neg retouching (if applicable) on through *detailed* custom printing, artwork (yea, hand in those days), multiple layers of the 'presentation', and both our prints and others we prepared did very well.

And when we needed a black 'ground', we could get a BLACK from photo-paper, even under the PPA's hot lights.

White House did our prints, and ... knowing that the 'ground' was a 0-0-0 value, and it was a 'competition' print, we were somewhat disappointed when we got the prints and put 'em up in our own comp-print test booth (yep, grey cloth, dark room, metered and all) ... and the blacks were only a muddy charcoal.

Pulled out a ten-year-old comp print to check, and yep, BIG difference in the blacks. But then ... at print comp (Oregon) noticed that most of the other prints also really only went to a dark sooty charcoal. But a few did actually get to black.

2 questions ... what the heck did those labs do to actually get an old-style black ... and should the PPA consider taking a stop off the intensity of the lights as the material for the main can't hold that kind of illumination anymore?


03-04-2012, 01:56 AM
If I remember right, the ground for black has to be 5,5,5. Not sure if I remember why, but I think it has to do with the blacks stretching past the color space and does the reverse of giving you true blacks. But don't hold me to that because it seems counter intuitive now that I've written it out:D

What I do know, is that the labs have improve the blacks because of the use of a bigger color space. I recall just a few years ago, some of the labs were on sRGB color space, now they take all the bigger color space, which would theoretically give you the ability of a wider color gamut. I know that my inkjet has a wide gamut and I get all the blacks I want.

03-06-2012, 07:45 PM
Depends on the printing technology. The D-Max of say an Epson Pro printer on say Exhibition fiber exceeds that of any conventional silver based process.

As for the 5/5/5 ‘rule’ it should kind of be dismissed as the profile that converts data to the output space should handle this mapping correctly. And there is nothing to say that you would not want some tone in your image to be 0/0/0 and map to the blackest black the output device can render.

Size of color space and density of black are unrelated. IOW, you can have either a very big (wide gamut) or small color space and differing blacks. Even on the same printer (take an Epson, substitute Matt for Photo Black, alter the paper, different D-Max).

03-06-2012, 08:40 PM
I've seen some very deep blacks on ACI competition prints. I hate to admit that because Millers is our lab and I LOVE them.

03-06-2012, 10:06 PM
So does it make a difference if you send it to the lab and specify it's for competition? I know some labs have a category for that and I'm assuming that means they'll be watching out for that.