U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | 16-bit printing no longer a fantasy...sort of

16-bit printing no longer a fantasy...sort of

In light of the recent discussion(s) on this list re: 8-bit vs. 16- bit, I thought I'd share some news from Apple and Epson. Those of you who've upgraded to Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) can now (in theory) send full 16-bit files to your Epson printer! Epson's print drivers for OS X 10.5 have the ability to send 16-bit data directly to the printer without converting to 8-bit.

More info can be found here:

...and here:

For a list of release dates for the new drivers (although they seem to be late on the December 2007 release):

Of course, this comes with some caveats. For example, Photoshop, even in its CS3 incarnation, converts files to 8-bit before the print driver can get its hands on them. Therefore, prints made from Photoshop will continue to be limited to 8-bit until Adobe gets their act together. I'm not aware of any imaging apps for OS X out there that will actually send 16-bit files to print drivers without converting to 8-bit; does anyone know of any?

Also, as mentioned a few times here, commercially available (translates to "affordable") printers apparently won't go that high, although I have yet to see any official information either way. Can anyone provide sources to confirm or deny this?

I can see potential benefits for digital negatives, but I'm questioning just how much of a visual improvement true 16-bit print will be if/when they're possible, since according to what I've read we shouldn't be able to see a difference between 8 and 16-bit prints. Thoughts?

Camden Hardy