Marrutt Printer Inks

The inks and equipment from Marrutt in the handy box they supply

It’s now been a year (and what a year) since my post dated 19 December 2019 where I said I would come back and post my results on using the Marrutt bulk ink system for my Epson SC-P600 printer. I think that the experience of using the Marrutt system has been overwhelmingly positive.

The cartridges. The bung can be seen on the VM cartridge and the priming hole on the left most one.

I found the filling of the replacement cartridges very easy. There is a small coloured bung on the top of each which you take out to facilitate the filling using one of the syringes in the pack supplied for each colour ink. Don’t lose the bung, it needs to go back in the filling hole afterwards and the syringe rinsed out with clean water.  I actually labelled the syringes after I used them with the letters of the colours I used them for. If it is the first time that you have used the refillable cartridge, then you have to prime the cartridge by extracting a small portion of ink (Marrutt recommend about 4-5ml) with a syringe that has a nozzle that fits the hole underneath the cartridge which attaches to the ink feed in the printer. This is used for all the colours and is washed out after use. It does not have to be used once you have filled the cartridge once.

Here are the 9 inks together with the syringes. The primer syringe is at the front of the picture.

The first time I changed from an Epson to a Marrutt cartridge, I waited for the printer to tell me the colour needed replacing. I then refilled the cartridge with the correct colour inserted it into the printer and it recognized the cartridge as full.

However, changing the printing paper from gloss or pearl etc to Matte paper means that the printer needs to switch the main black ink from Photo Black to Matte Black and vice versa. If there is not enough ink in either one of the cartridges (under 10%) it will not let you switch. Inserting the relevant Marrutt cartridge to replace the one that has nearly run out will not help because the printer has registered the original cartridge as empty and so will treat the new one as being at the same level, which means it will not start the ink switch. It was because of this that I purchased an SC-P600 chip resetter. The cartridge chip of the refilled cartridge is placed against the pins on the resetter and when a green light shows on it then the cartridge chip has been reset so that the printer will read it as full. Replacing the cartridge will then mean the ink switch will then go ahead. 

The cartridge resetter showing the pins and confirmation diode at the bottom.

Overall, I am more than happy with the Marrutt inks and system and the cost saving is fantastic. A 60ml bottle of ink from Marrutt at the moment is £13.55, an Epson cartridge is 25.9ml costing £29.00. That means 60ml of ink using the Epson price would cost £67.28 that’s 5 times the price. The little bit of hassle filling the cartridges is well worth it for such a price saving with no loss in print quality.

Getting that final print right

As I have said before on this blog, I started photography many years ago and learnt darkroom printing techniques whilst I was at university. At that time I obviously learnt about making test strips to make the print with the right exposure, density, contrast and depth. Even after test prints, you might still want to make alterations after you have lived with the photograph for a while. So on that test print, you would mark areas on it where you might want to burn in or dodge and once again the test strips would come in useful as a reference guide for the kind of timings that would be looking for.

The photograph below shows how annotations were made to a test print to guide the printer in making the right dodge and burn areas on the paper.

The actual photograph was taken by Dennis Stock and the annotations were made by master darkroom printer Pablo Inirio prior to making the final print. It’s obviously difficult to read Inirio’s notes, but the gist of them can be made out by virtue of what he was encircling on the image.  The numbers are obviously the additional or less amount of time in seconds that he would burn or dodge that particular part of the final image.

Here’s another image by Stock and printed by Pablo Inirio of Audrey Hepburn.

In the image on the left, you can see that Inirio has noted where he would have to again, burn-in or dodge – even down to the side of Hepburn’s nose. On the right is the completed print by Inirio after using all of his notes. And you can see when comparing the two images where he has dodged the image, particularly along the side of the car and the windows at the top left.

Before I obtained my digital printer, I used to use commercial outlets to print my photographs. The ones I used produced fantastic results and they did brilliant work with the images that I supplied them. However, once I got them back and put them up somewhere in the house where I could see them every day I would start to see things that I would like to alter. Such and such needed burning in or a particular area needed lightening. But of course, I could only do that by altering the images and getting a new print done and as they were not cheap, sometimes fiscal responsibilities dampened down artistic integrity.

Once I bought my printer however I was introduced to another level of artistic independence which meant that I could use a particular wet darkroom technique that I was taught and found very useful – the test print annotation.

I now process the photograph I am working on the computer to what I think the final image should be. This is all done using the monitor screen which obviously is regularly calibrated. I then print a small copy of the image, usually a 7” x 5” print and examine it carefully. I leave it for a while somewhere I can see it and then after a couple of days maybe I will note on the print where I think I need to adjust it to get it exactly how I envisaged the finished photograph. I will circle areas on the print and mark them with a “+” or a “-“ denoting dodging and burning, an “s” for sharpening or a “c” for contrast each with a prefix of “+” or “-“ to either increase or decrease the effect and I will also make notes along the edge of the photograph to remind me of other work I will do like a line showing where I want to crop perhaps. I then take this back to my digital processing software and carry out the changes to the image.

After I have completed the changes, if necessary, I will then make another  7” x 5” print to check that the work I have marked on it as being needed has been done correctly. Sometimes however I just know after altering the photograph that it is ready for the final print.

Below are a couple of my 7” x 5” test prints and some of the annotations I have made prior to making that final print.

It was a good ‘un

As I have already said I have been going through my archives and printing the images that I like and think warrant it. Whilst going through the photo in my database I obviously have images that have been made on cameras that I no longer have.

Cameras like the Olympus four-thirds (not micro) cameras E-30, E620 and the fabulous E-1 (above). I really loved the E-1. It had been designed from the ground up for users. It felt good in the hand and all the controls seemed to be in the right place for instant adjustment. It had a tiny LCD screen on the rear and the back itself was sculpted to fit oh so comfortably in the hand. Introduced in 2003 it had a Kodak sensor which gave it its almost legendary fame amongst Olympus users for its colours. There was something about the colour images that it could produce that was beautiful. It was only 5 megapixels and like the other E cameras it suffered from bad noise at high ISO’s – I never used it above 400 ISO and even then I got noise.

But, I loved using it and going through some of the images I produced on it has made me realise how good it was. With a Zuiko pro lens on the front of it, it could produce awesome sharpness and tonal quality.

Being only 5 megapixels I didn’t want to print my E-1 prints to full A4 size as that would reduce the resolution and dpi, so I reduced the size on the paper until the image came out at about 300 dpi. The results were excellent.

Just goes to show that it’s nice to have the all-singing and dancing cameras, but some of the old ‘uns produced the goods.

Printing your own

Many years ago I used to print my own photographs in a little wet darkroom I had in a walk-in wardrobe at home. With the advent of digital, I was happy with processing the images and placing them on Flickr etc. I did get some images printed for galleries, my Royal Photographic Society submissions and for commissions. I used The Printspace for all these and provided you prepare the image correctly, e.g. calibrated monitor, correct ICC profile and soft proofing, the results were excellent.
I have now decided to print my own and have purchased an Epson SC-P600 printer. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been testing the printer with different papers, profiles and photographs, and I have to say I am really pleased with the results.

 

I soft proof and print directly from Lightroom using the dialogue in the Print module to output to the Epson. I take mainly monochrome images and so I use the Epson ABW (Advanced Black and White) driver for producing these, which means the printer is managing the printing rather than the software.

For colour, I use Lightroom and the relevant paper profile to produce the prints. I did have a slight hiccup when I forgot to stop the printer interfering with the colour print process and my images were coming out with a magenta cast as a result of the conflicting profiles, but once sorted everything was fine.

The output of the printer is excellent. I print to a 6 x 4 size as a test print before I do a full-sized version. I find this test photograph helps me to see any alterations I may have to do to the image to get it exactly how I want it to look.

I was a little worried before I bought the printer that it would take too much of my time away from actually taking and processing photographs, but once the printer was set up and I got the hang of how everything worked, it became a part of my standard workflow.

Printers that can give professional (whatever that means) results at home are not cheap, but the act of printing your images and actually holding them to view and handing them around is really the last stage in the creative process and should be embraced. If you ever get the chance to print your own, please do so – I’m sure you won’t regret it.

 

Get ’em printed.

I’ve just finished framing some prints that are to go up in a new gallery to open locally soon.

I don’t print my own, I have mooted it but at the moment my time is taken up with taking pictures and processing them. I’m still going through those photographs I took in March of this year, cataloguing, sorting and editing so I am well behind on my workflow.

So, I currently get my photographs printed by Peak Imaging who are quick, moderately priced and whose quality is excellent, whilst the frames and mattes for all of the images come from Ezeframe who make it so easy to order and who deliver quality frames.

The thing that always strikes me about having pictures printed and framed, is the sheer, fabulous thrill of seeing your photographs blown up, printed really well and framed tidily. it’s the only way to look at your photographs. If you don’t want to frame everything, at least get your best images printed up to A3 size – you won’t regret it.
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