Digital Negatives w/ Canon Pixma Pro 100


I’ve been surprised to find such little information about making digital negatives with this printer, as it’s been such a popular printer for so long (almost a decade?).  I recently purchased one with its holiday rebate that dropped its price to $150 with a large box of paper, with the intention of printing digital negatives.

After testing, I would much rather have purchased a printer that uses pigment based inks, preferably an Epson printer compatible with QTR.  But this printer can produce negatives with enough UV light blocking capability for processes like cyanotypes, gum bichromate, and collotype printing.  I have yet to test its output with more demanding processes.  It seems somewhat doubtful as evidence of exposure can be seen under the most opaque areas of the negative with cyanotype (although those areas clear during washing).

But for those who already own this printer, or can’t afford a higher end printer, these are the settings which I found produces an appropriate negative for cyanotype printing.  It follows Christina Z Anderson’s Digital Negative instructions on Freestyle Photo’s website.  (I’ve tested Dan Burkholder’s old colorized negative technique, but I find this method uses too much cyan and magenta inks in the midtones that results an unpleasant grainy texture.)

The setting below utilize more yellow and light gray inks that produces much smoother separations. In the main print menu, select Glossy II and the highest quality (1) setting. Below are the settings for manual color adjustments.

I use Precision Colors Refillable inks, so I use their Printing Profile.

For linearization, I prefer this 101 step scale from Peter Mrhar’s website. I stretched it to fit as large as possible on a scrap sheet of transparency. I prefer this step scale because it is easy to determine the darkest tone of the negative, by covering the 10-row with a ruler and looking for distinctions of the gaps between the blocks in the 0 row begin. In my case, the line between the 6th and 7th blocks is not visible, but it is visible between the 7th and 8th blocks. Therefore, the maximum tone of the negative needed is the tone of the 7th block, which translates to 237 on the photoshop light curve.

The curve that linearizes a negative for cyanotype printing needs to be lower than the -50 contrast setting of the printer.

For convenience, I only flip and invert the image in the Output menu of the main print settings. This is done by checking Negative, Emulsion Down and choose a background color 0,0,0 RGB. You may add a masking border and registration marks in this dialog box if needed.

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