banding problems

I’ve just been calibrating negs for silver printing. I understand how to make my way through the calibration process now.

However I am getting inconsistent negs with banding.

I’m using the warm neutral inkset, a brand new Epson 1500W that has only had inks in it for about three weeks. Getting a perfect nozzle check and purge check, but still problems. Everything installed correctly. What is to blame? Surely only the inks. Before I blamed the printer, but now I have ruled almost everything out. Very depressed at the results. I’ve struggled for about 2 years with this. Tried literally everything and still unsatisfied.


I thought it might be the drying time so I left the neg overnight. Still the same thing. I am using Premium Pictorico, not Ultra premium but should it really make this much difference?

Also, does the smoothness value in Excel have a difference to the appearance?

Really don’t know what to do from here

It’s not the inks. It could be the film. PiezoDN utilizes a higher ink load across the entire tonal range than other methods. Pictorico <span style=“text-decoration: underline;”>Ultra</span> Premium has a higher ink capacity than regular Premium. This could be from too much ink for the film. Smoothness value in Excel has no bearing on this.

Are you sure you are printing at 2880dpi and uni-directional? Screenshots of all of your PrintTool and QTR setup windows might be useful.

Yes 2880dpi, uni-directional. Checked all the colour settings. Tiff, 600dpi Adobe 1998, 16 bit grayscale, 2.2 gray gamma.

If it’s not the film then i’m totally out of options.

I worked somewhere that produced superb platinum prints on a range of negative substrates from the OEM ink. It even worked on the local copy shop colour separation film.

I can’t see why the medium would be the issue. Especially from the same manufacturer with a very small difference between two products. I’m doing it for silver printing using the master curve. It’s not like it’s a process that needs massive density, so shouldn’t need that much ink.

I spoke with Sandy King earlier and he doesn’t think the substrate is the problem but rather an issue with head alignment, which I’ve since checked to no avail. There is no obvious answer there. Or, a blocked nozzle which I’m not seeing.

Checking an old OEM neg (second hand printer) and the most recent PDN neg (new printer, perfect nozzle check) side by side on a light box it’s clear the former has no banding and the latter does.

Before the problem seemed to be that an old printer was unable to accept overly sensitive ink (blockages/old heads etc) but this cannot be the case now.

It’s ridiculous. The calibration process is fantastic but absolutely pointless if I can’t get a smooth neg.

That is really nasty banding. Why don’t you upload a hi-res nozzle check for us to look at and see if we can spot something. It is winter there in UK - and you may be using heat that dries the air. Humidity according to Epson should be minimum 35% - so buy a small digital hygrometer for a few quid to check your conditions. Dry air produces banding. My understanding is that you made a stellar neg from this setup a few weeks ago. Something may have changed in your conditions or print head.

Here. Some screenshots…

I’ll pop the nozzle check up now. It’s one small gap

It’s winter here but not that cold. There’s actually no heat coming out of the radiator at the moment. The humidity is 58%. Checked the hygrometer in my darkroom.

The banding can also be seen in the i1 Colorport profiler target I printed two weeks ago. The same target I used to calibrate salt printing.

I was happy with overall the tonality of the salt printing. The calibration process worked great.

However I was unable to tell if the neg and resulting print were smooth using a hand-coated process on the wrong size of the paper.

On Ilford resin coated paper the results are glaring. I’m not satisfied with accepting the faint banding is disguised by the tooth of the paper. Not if these are ‘the best negatives in the world’

I don’t see what my options are from here. Buy some Ultra premium to try, then try a second hand pro printer? More money and time down the endless chute.

This is the 3rd printer I’ve used and still problems. It must be something else.

There’s my nozzle check. You can see one tiny gap in the Cyan channel furthest right. Everything else is perfect. It’s recurrent but wasn’t there when I printed my last neg. The whole thing was solid. Did a head clean and nozzle check before printing the neg.

That shouldn’t be enough to cause banding in multiple areas of the print. I’m certain someone said before one or two small gaps shouldn’t make a difference.

Two close-ups. PDN with WN inks and OEM viewed on a lightbox. Taken with a digtal camera.

First clearly has banding second doesn’t.

Have no idea how to remedy this. Seems like a total dead end. These are the problems I was having right from the beginning. It can’t be the printer or blocked nozzles or the environmental factors like you’re saying. Following the workflow completely as it’s laid out. It just will not work.

Should I try printing it on a Mac, see if that makes any difference? Should it?

Should I even keep trying?

Seems that Pictorico’s online European supply outlet closed down on December 1st too :slight_smile:

that should be ‘side’ of the paper

that one gap will cause banding. No one here at home base has ever said one or more gaps won’t cause banding. They will in Piezography. They may not cause any detectible banding with OEM because OEM prints at a very low resolution in comparison to Piezography. Piezography reveals everything.

My other suggestion you should not ignore. It is known to cause nozzle gaps and is something we have espoused for a long time.

I already said that I had NO GAPS when I printed the nozzle check a second time, following a head clean. Prior to printing the neg.

Your other suggestion being the dry environment? I already said that the environment is 58% humidity and there is no central heating on in the house. It’s 21 degrees centigrade.

Any other suggestions?

Just to prove it, I just did a nozzle check and scanned it and took a picture of my hygrometer next to the printer. The only thing wrong is the time on the hygrometer!

I’m now going to print a new neg and if I get banding what the do I do next? Besides having a meltdown and putting my shiny new printer through the window.

Ok, here’s the new neg. Still unacceptable.

Printed a nozzle check after printing that neg. Still no gaps. Humidity has dipped to 55% 22 degrees centigrade. I think that’s within the right range still.

Gareth, we have all had problems with our printers. Be glad that your 1500W is relatively cheap.

About 4 years ago I lost a 7600 to a head failure. I tried on and off for a year or so to revive it, including replacing the head and various other parts, before finally giving up and giving it away to a guy who wanted it for parts. I replaced it with a Canon ipf6400 which had a weird problem right out of the box of sometimes depositing faint fuzzy lines on the back of a print. For the first year Canon did everything short of replacing it to try to fix the problem including sending an engineer who made a small modification that seemed to help for a while. But after the 1 year warranty period they refused to do anything more. I gave that one away too.

A little over a year ago I picked up a used 4880 with the intention of using it for Piezography. Jon convinced me to wait until PiezoDN was ready, which I did, but when going through the ink replacement process last summer, it suffered a complete electrical failure. Nothing, including replacing the power supply board has shown the slightest sign of reviving it. I replaced it with a refurbished 3880.

A month or 2 ago I was doing a routine cleaning of that 3880 and when I moved the head away from the capping station to clean the cap and wiper, I noticed a loose hunk of plastic with a thin metal bar attached at the far right of the cap assembly. Eventually I was able to determine that it had broken off of the top right rear of the carriage assembly. I have no idea how or when. Fortunately, the printer is still functioning well. I also have a second 3880 that runs the OEM color inks that has also been flawless and trouble free.

The 1430 (same as your 1500W) that I started out using with PiezoDN last spring, and which I was still using occasionally for experiments, gave an error when I turned it on one day about 4 weeks ago. Somehow it is no longer recognizing when the head is in the home position, and refuses to do anything. I have not been able to solve this riddle and gave up after a couple weeks. I just replaced it with a refurbished one for $200.

On the other hand 2 3800s that I had for a long time are still chugging along in the hands of new owners. I replaced the entire ink supply system in one of them.

The point of this tale is to suggest that you don’t give up. There may be some problems that can’t be solved, but most of them can if you have the patience to persist.

Transparency film is the most unforgiving of materials, and printing negatives on silver paper is going to reveal even the minutest of flaws. My next suggestion is to make some K-6 prints on glossy paper (since that is most similar to film) and examine them very closely for any of the symptoms you are seeing.

Thanks, I think I see it. Let me eat supper, download the jpg of your nozzle check, and then point out what I am seeing on it with arrows. I’ll be back online later. I promise!