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Using QTR to Make Optimal Digital Negatives v3

Using QTR to Make Optimal Digital Negatives v3

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Published by Jon
The Quadtone RIP (abbreviated QTR) is a printer driver that can be used in place of the driver that came bundled with your Epson printer. QTR is the tool of choice for
making digital negatives since it offers more control over the process than any other competing system.
The Quadtone RIP (abbreviated QTR) is a printer driver that can be used in place of the driver that came bundled with your Epson printer. QTR is the tool of choice for
making digital negatives since it offers more control over the process than any other competing system.

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Published by: Jon on Aug 13, 2012
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The QuadTone RIP ManualUsing QTR to Make Optimal DigitalNegatives
Version 3 March, 2009
 
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The Quadtone RIP Manual: Using QTR to Make Digital NegativesVersion 3Ron Reeder, Mercer Island, February 2009Table of ContentspageIntroduction: Why QTR?
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Download, install and print with QTR 4Install a custom profile 6Constants and variables in a profile 7Four steps to making a profile 10Step by step instructions to make a profile 10Making and evaluating a step wedge test print 13Making a gray curve 14Another way to insert a gray curve into a profile 17Tweaking a gray curve 18Ink distribution curves 19Introduction: Why you ought to use QTR for making digital negatives.
The Quadtone RIP (abbreviated QTR) is a printer driver that can be used in placeof the driver that came bundled with your Epson printer. QTR is the tool of choice formaking digital negatives since it offers more control over the process than any othercompeting system. In this Introduction I will explain why this is so. If you just want tolearn how to use QTR, you can skip this Introduction and go straight to the section onQTR downloading and printing.There are three problems to consider when making a digital negative, and QTRoffers advantages in solving each of these problems.
Negative contrast.
The first problem is setting the contrast range of the negativeso it matches the range of the emulsion you will be printing on. In QTR this is
 
 3accomplished by raising or lowering the ink limits of the dark inks until ink density in thedarkest patch of the step wedge negativeis just sufficient to print as pure white in the finalprint.
Linearization of print midtones.
All digital negative systems except QTRlinearize print midtones by applying a Photoshop correction curve to the digital imagefile. This is not optimal since such correction curves invariably result in more or lessimage degradation. In addition, these correction curves are often rather severe and thusare difficult to fine tune (small changes to the curve result in large changes in the finalprint). With QTR, print midtones are brought roughly into linearity by raising orlowering ink limits in the printer driver and without touching the digital image file. Finallinearization is done with a Photoshop correction curve. But, in QTR this curve isapplied to the ink curves, not to the image file. In addition, the correction curve isusually rather mild and is accessible for fairly intuitive tweaking if needed.
Balancing inks for maximum tonal smoothness.
All printers print all of theirinks as dots of close to equal size. For the smoothest possible print tones, it is importantthat all of the printer’s inks are utilized, and it would be nice if they could be balanced sothat they filled in the holes around each other’s dots as completely as possible. In actualfact it is not possible to achieve this ideal with normal Epson inks because they vary sowildly in their ability to block various wavelengths of light. In this Manual I advisetreating all the dark inks as if they had equal blocking power by assigning the same inklimit to each dark ink (and doing the same for the light inks). I know this is not true, butin practice it results in very good negatives and simplifies writing QTR profiles.If you are interested, I have described a more rational approach to balancing theEpson inks in an article elsewhere on this website titled “Making a digital negative forprinting on variable contrast silver gelatin paper”. The ability to balance inks formaximum tonal smoothness is unique to the QTR approach.I have seen excellent prints made using nearly every available digital negativeapproach. However, QTR clearly offers the most control for making the optimalnegative. It is worth the extra effort required to master its somewhat steep learningcurve.

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