Which is the most linear Epson ABW mode?

With this question in mind, I printed a set of targets using each of the available Epson Advanced Black and White driver modes: Light, Normal, Dark, Darker (default) and Darkest. After letting the prints rest for some hours, so the color stabilizes, I measured the results using a Datacolor Spyder3Print Spectrocolorimeter.
Published by Fábio Pili on July 29th, 2011. Last updated on July 5th, 2015.

With this question in mind, I printed a set of targets using each of the available Epson Advanced Black and White driver modes: Light, Normal, Dark, Darker (default) and Darkest. After letting the prints rest for some hours, so the color stabilizes, I measured the results using a Datacolor SpyderPrint Spectrocolorimeter.

Each of those modes have a different distribution of tones throughout the grayscale. The ideal tone response is the most linear one, meaning that the ink shades are distributed evenly from paper white to solid black.

Below are the results for an Epson 3800 printer. All professional Epson models with Advanced Black and White modes have similar tonal characteristics.

epson-abw-linearity.png

"Dark" is the most linear tonal setting.

Based on those results, my recommendation is to use the Dark Tone Setting to achieve the best screen to print match and also tonal quality, when using the ABW mode.

Quick tip: My working space of choice for black and white images is the QTR – Gray Lab, bundled with QuatToneRip. This profiles uses a linear gamma curve and has much better shadow detail than a gamma 2.2 profile, like Gray Gamma 2.2.

Read more: Black and White ICC profiles and soft proofing 

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