Ziatype Support 3880

When will Ziatype curves be added for the Epson 3880?

We just got a spectro in that will allow us to do the translations but I have to validate that it actually works (it’s from Italy). The software is built.

Mind you, this is 1 type of Zia (many others have different contrast ratios).


Any update on the Ziatype curves for the 3880?

Art, I’m wondering why you would not rather make your own custom curves? There are so many variables in all of the alternative-processes in general and in Ziatype in particular that you would almost certainly need to modify it anyway. It is not that difficult. I’d be happy to help.

Thanks for the offer. We are in the process of making custom curves and are running into issues. I’ll be contacting you offline.

Like Keith said, the ziatype we made was for only one type of maybe 20 or 30 on the list at Maine Media Workshops, it’s best to make ones own.

Please ask all questions on this forum. If everyone asks questions off-forum than it becomes a complete insane mess for me to answer and support the community.



Sorry Walker your response before I sent Keith a message. Here it is… Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Keith,

We started the process by first trying to find the base exposure with our setup.

As an aside, we are using Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag, and noticed speckling that you mentioned in your review of the paper. We don’t have Tween 20 on hand right now, so instead we wet the paper first, on advice from Dana at B&S. It eliminated the speckling.

Our issue right now is that in using the Master curve for the 3880, in printing a 21-step wedge, the darker tones flatten out too quickly, which makes me believe that I won’t be able to linearize it using the droplet tool.

We tried doing a series of 21-step wedges, increasing the exposure time in one minute increments. At a lower exposure time, it comes out more linear (or at least it doesn’t flatten out), but the dMax is lacking.

We noticed that the master curve appears to be based on a different process with an exposure time of 2 minutes. We can get fairly linear behavior in that time range, but the dMax is lacking. This is why were were looking for a Ziatype curve.

In the manual, there is a section on ink limiting, but not the opposite. We were thinking about doing the opposite, but haven’t worked on it.

By the way, we are new at alternative printing, but experienced with piezography.

In order to build a beginning master for a new ziatype process what you need to do is actually do a dramatic manual adjustment to the .quad using the Piezography_Curve_Adjustment tool. Take the 21 steps that was printed at the correct time (that is flat/dark) and make a new curve in photoshop that would correct those tones if the print was actually a file in your monitor. (keep in mind, only 4 data points can be used, and you can’t modify the start and end points).

Adjust the master .quad with this curve and reprint the 21. You should get enough data at this point to do an initial linearization. This was how we dialed in Gum/Salt/Cyanotype/etc at Maine Media. Also silver.

This documentation is on my list to write.




Hi Art,

My experience in printing is more or less opposite of yours. My introduction to alternative processes was in 1980, and Pt/Pd has been my main medium since 1991. I’ve been involved in digital printing for about 15 years, but not nearly as deeply as darkroom printing, and though I have used Piezography previously, I have just recently come back to it after a hiatus of 2 or 3 years since the printer I used to use for it died.

The Pt/Pd process is inherently compressed in the shadows. Ziatype, while it is a printing-out process as opposed to traditional Pt/Pd which is a develop-out process, is still species of Pt/Pd and suffers from that same affliction. Digital negatives give us the ability to overcome that by linearizing the negative to fit the characteristics of the printing process.

I am going to assume that the 21-step wedge that you refer to above is a Stouffer 21-step FILM wedge and not a digitally printed 21-step. Please let me know if I am mistaken. The correct way to use it to determine base exposure time is to find the time at which steps 1 and 2 merge (this endures that you have reached Dmax), then reduce that time by 1/2 of a stop. (It may be difficult to see a difference between steps 2 and 3, but if your densitometer or spectrophotometer can register it that is good enough.) For instance, if it took 6 minutes to get the first 2 steps to merge, your adjusted time would be 5 minutes. To be really precise, you multiply your original time by 0.71 to get a 1/2 stop reduction, which in this case would be 4 minutes and 56 seconds.

It is very important to understand at this point that you do not want to overexpose in an attempt to get higher Dmax. Also, be sure that you have chosen all of the chemical parameters of the printing process and stick to them. Any change that you make later will require recalibrating the negative. Ziatype has a lot of variants and can produce a wide variety of hues and contrast ranges. Don’t worry about the exposure time stated on the IJM data sheet; it is irrelevant to your results.

If you are getting separation throughout the 21-step, even if it is very little towards one or both extremes, chances are you will not need to adjust the ink limits.

I just reread your post and see that you are using a digital 12-step made with the 3880-PiezoDN-Master curve. In that case, you should be determining your exposure time before starting with the digital 21-step. Something is screwy if you don’t think you are reaching Dmax before you start to see steps merging. Keep in mind that our eyes are much better at distinguishing between close tones at the highlight end of the scale than at the shadow end.

Since you are new to alternative process printing, I’m going to ask a few other questions.

  1. Is Ziatype the first process you have tried? Are you teaching yourself or did someone teach you?
  2. How experienced are you at coating paper? Are you sure you are coating well and consistently?
  3. Are you coating with a brush or with a glass tube (aka Puddle Pusher)?
  4. What mix are you using for you coating solution? How much solution? How much paper area are you coating?
  5. Do you have a Stouffer 21-step wedge, preferably the 4x5 version?
  6. Are you consistent with every step of the process including coating mix (ingredients and volume), time between coating and exposure (or drying method), environmental conditions (i.e. temp and humidity in your workroom), wet processing steps, etc.
Sorry for the interrogation! I just need more information about your skills and where you are in learning the printing process to be able to offer useful assistance. I'm wondering if the problem here may be more on the printing side than the digital negative making side.


Walker, we’ll give your suggestion a try and let you know how it goes. A question, though. If the data is not too flat, but rather a very shallow slope, would it be better to linearize or use the curve adjustment tool first. Would I lose dMax by using the curve adjustment tool in this case?
In answer to your questions Keith,

  1. Is Ziatype the first process you have tried? Are you teaching yourself or did someone teach you?
    Ziatype is the first process we’ve tried. Yes, we are teaching ourselves.

  2. How experienced are you at coating paper? Are you sure you are coating well and consistently?
    Not experienced, but getting better at coating.

  3. Are you coating with a brush or with a glass tube (aka Puddle Pusher)?
    Tried both brush and glass tube. We haven’t made up our minds which tool we’ll stick with.

  4. What mix are you using for you coating solution? How much solution? How much paper area are you coating?
    Mixing Lithium Palladium Chloride and Ammonium Ferric Oxalate. 7 drops each on a 5x8 sheet.

  5. Do you have a Stouffer 21-step wedge, preferably the 4×5 version?
    No, we don’t have a Stouffer 21-step wedge.

  6. Are you consistent with every step of the process including coating mix (ingredients and volume), time between coating and exposure (or drying method), environmental conditions (i.e. temp and humidity in your workroom), wet processing steps, etc.
    We are trying to be consistent. The temp about 75 degrees and RH about 56%. We’re still experimenting with drying times and methods, humidification, etc., but we understand that consistency is important.

We were having issues determining the base exposure. A couple of sources suggested covering half the sheet with transparency film, and exposing incrementally. When finished, you examine the print and determine where the uncovered side matches the side covered with film. The time corresponding to this is supposed to be the base exposure.
For us, the half that was not covered with negative film was more pale than the side covered with film, except for the part of the print that was exposed first. And it appeared to be the match. Then we tried it again, increasing the time. And the part of the print that was exposed first was again the match. But the time was different.
It didn’t make sense that the part not covered with transparency film was more pale. We’re thinking that it was more pale because it was drier than the part under the film at the time it was exposed. Except for the first part, which were equally dry.
Which is why we tried printing 21-step wedges at different exposure times. We had read about the self-masking property and how highlights will continue to expose even after the shadows have reached an optimal value. We wanted to see graphically what was happening with increased exposure time, and if any of the exposure times would yield linear results.
You mentioned that you do not want to overexpose in an attempt to get a higher dMax. We noticed at longer exposure times, the whites were progressively getting darker. Other than this, what reasons would you not want to overexpose?

Art. Assuming you have figured out your darkroom and coating variables properly and are exposing with the minimum time/amount for the maximum black and you see a fairly even slope into the shadows with clearly defined tones either on the 21step target or the 129step target, you will be able to linearize.

Both the linearization process and the manual tuning process do not change the base (clear) density or the max (opaque) density on the film. PiezoDN is built to have these be at their logical extremes. The linearization and tuning adjustments only effect the tones between max and min densities. You will not see a change in dMax. That is only effected by your control over the darkroom process.



Art, I have several comments and suggestion based on your reply. I think I’ll put them in what I consider to be the order of importance.

  1. The problem with simply covering half the coated area with clear film and exposing incrementally looking for where the covered and uncovered parts merge is that as you get close the entirety of the print is black or near black and it is exceedingly difficult for our eyes to distinguish tones the closer you get to maximum black. This was driven home to me with extreme clarity in a densitometry workshop I took in 1995 with Phil Davis, author of Beyond The Zone System. One exercise we did was to take a set of pure tone squares printed on photo paper in 1% increments and put them in order 0 (white) to 100 (black). The mid-range was easy, the light tones a bit more challenging though everyone got it, but the dark tones above 92 or 93% were impossible and no one got that part. A densitometer could read the tones clearly, however. This is the reason behind the 90% ANSI standard for photo paper calibration, and is important for Pt/Pd printing too where shadow compression is even more of an issue. Digital negatives do allow us to overcome this to a large degree.

  2. Solarization. This is what you are seeing where you see the uncovered part is lighter than the covered part. The material has reached its maximum density and further exposure actually causes it to begin to lighten. It is indicative of overexposure, and is more often an issue with pure palladium prints. It can also mean that your coating is a bit thin. Moisture in the paper at exposure may play a role too.

  3. Moisture. Ziatype is a printing-out process. The more moisture in the paper at exposure, the more those little molecules can move around during exposure, and the more print-out occurs, at least that is the case with traditional develop-out Pt/Pd. With Ziatype it likely affects printing speed.

  4. Coating. I think this is the single most important skill for someone new to hand-coated processes to acquire. If you are not coating well and in a consistent way, nothing else is going to matter much. The first year or 2 that I was doing Pt/Pd I printed only 4x5 negatives - hundreds of them. They are small enough that the material cost was not much of a factor, and after a while I really knew what a good coating was.

  5. Stouffer Step Tablet. A 4x5 21-step Stouffer step tablet has been the single most useful tool in my darkroom for learning about alt-processes and their characteristics and variations, and how I can learn to control them. It is a photographic film step-tablet with 21 steps in 1/2 stop increments that are large enough to read with the fairly large sensor of a spectrophotometer like my SpyderPrint3. I have probably printed thousands of them over the 25 years I’ve been doing this. They are also great practice for learning to coat and testing variables. It shows you things that you will never notice printing actual images. When this looks good your prints should look good too. Note: This is not a substitute for the digital step charts we use to calibrate our digital negatives. They serve different purposes and both are important.

I think that’s enough for now, unless you have specific questions. :slight_smile:

I finally got a Stouffer Wedge to help determine the base exposure. Based on a 12 minute initial exposure, it looked like steps 4 and 5 merged, so I calculated a 3 minute exposure time.

The attachment shows the Stouffer Wedge at a 3 minute exposure time. I also included some partial step wedges, so I could see what 100% black and 100% white would look like. The step wedges were printed using the 3880 master curve.

Three questions:

  1. Any comments on my results?

  2. What can be done to get the 100% white from the partial step wedge to match the 21st step from the Stouffer Wedge?

  3. Does this mean that the maximum black on the negative is not black enough?

It may mean the max dens is not black enough. Download the most recent version and drag/drop the (new) 9800 master curve into your 3880 folder and install it. This has a “bullet-proof” black dMax of 3.5 or so. Should do the trick nicely. Printed out methods seem to need some really intense negatives!

Step 21 on the Stouffer tablet has a UV density of about 3.20 (optical is about 3.05, but UV is more relevant for our printing processes). That means that since you are getting such a long tonal scale with your Ziatype process, you really need a solid black on step 1 of your digital neg. On my current setup, a 3880 with K7 Carbon inks, I am getting a UV density of about 4.00 or a little higher. Previously, on a 1430 with the standard K6 Selenium inks recommended for PiezoDN, I was getting a maximum UV density of about 3.20 which is right on the edge for you. A little less than that and you would see some tone in step 1 of your Ziatype just like in your attached image.

That is likely the issue you are having, and hopefully Walker’s new Master curve will kick it up enough for you. Any chance you have a transmission densitometer available to check this?

I didn’t even read the UV density of the new master. Probably something well over 5. Will test tomorrow.

Yeah, just read the density. The machine couldn’t even give me a reliable measurement. Over 5 though.



So I downloaded the most recent version of the (new) 9800 master curve. It really helped with the white point.

Before linearization…

and after linearization…

Before I move on, any concerns with the “new” curves?



No concerns with the new curves. I’m in the process of bullet-proofing all of them. I’ve tested them on the x8xx printers and x900 printers as well.




ps: There is no logic limit to how dense PiezoDN black can get. The original curves only have the K at like 15%. I just don’t want people to waste too much ink if they don’t need to.