Wrestling with Printer-Induced Roller Marks on Paper

Problems with the mechanics of how printers handle fine quality paper for printing

Caveat Emptor
Detailed explanation of the problem
Understanding Canon’s pinch roller mechanism
How I modified the printer’s pinch roller springs

This is what the problem looks like, is totally unacceptable and one way or another, I had to make it go away, somehow.

Canson BKF Rives 310gsm paper loaded into Canon iPF8400 printer, showing pinch roller marks. This is equivalent to the worst-case scenario with my first iPF8400 if the paper was passed under the rollers about 5 times or more. For some reason, my documentation from seven years ago was lost, so I had to re-create equivalent roller pressure on the paper. Illumination is indirect sunlight from the balcony to the right, somewhat diffused but sufficient to notice the problem. The dents running vertically down the paper correspond perfectly to the roller positions. Note the grey lever mechanism in the lower right, which the user manually operates to raise and lower the pinch rollers (the little grey cylinders about 13mm wide running horizontally on the far side of the visible portion of the paper).

Caveat Emptor

Do not be mistaken that this problem is isolated to only Canon imagePROGRAF iPF8400 printers or due to the fact that they were no longer made in Japan. Apparently, there were quality issues when Canon shifted manufacturing to China, but those are unrelated. I now know the problem had already existed on older, made-in-Japan printers, and also on other printers from all of the Big Three (Canon, Epson & HP).

Canon Japan eventually made an official statement via the Southeast Asia regional headquarters to me that any printer using rollers to feed paper will definitely leave marks from said rollers, which will inevitably be more obvious for softer papers, and they do not consider it a machine defect. Read: they cannot do anything at all to help you. Don’t expect any different from the other Big Threes. There have been tens of thousands of online exchanges for well over a decade that perfectly demonstrate this point. Open a case with them at the risk of your sanity.

The iPF8400 shares the same pinch roller mechanism (identical replacement part number specification; it is identical) as all iPF 8xx0 and iPF9xx0 printers, dating back over a decade and half of this platform. The new Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000/2100 and 4000/4100 printers share a similar though not identical pinch roller design and are potentially vulnerable to the same flaw. I’ve not heard of any complaints, but then I didn’t either at the time of purchase for my iPF8100 and iPF8400 which I both owned and operated for several years. Watch out.

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Your Cameras and Lenses are Crooked and How to Adjust Them

Plus a bunch of tidbits about some of the challenges in making astro-landscape photographs

TLDR Preface
Choosing lenses for astrophotography
Establishing some standards
Your camera’s sensor is crooked
Adjusting the camera
IBIS Variation
Adjusting the lenses
Yet more alignment pitfalls
Possibly another method

TLDR Preface

Photograph of Milky Way Core in 2017

Silver River Shimmers, 2017
Photograph notes: This image is a composite of 4 vertical frames stitched for the sky and another 4 vertical frames stitched for the land for a total of 93.8 million pixels, using a Sony a7R II at ISO 800 and Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM. Each of the sky frames was stacked and averaged from nine 32-second exposures at f/2.8. The land frames were stacked and averaged from four 32-second exposures at f/4 made 23 mins later at predawn to avoid shadows from the sun. 52 exposures were used in all. The sky exposures were tracked with a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer.

In December 2017, it was first suggested to me by my friend and esteemed colleague, Joseph Holmes, that my Sony α7R II’s (or more commonly written as a7R II) sensor might be crooked relative to its bayonet mount. Don’t laugh yet, it’s not a problem exclusive to Sony. I had previously known about the same problem with digital medium format backs from precisely the same person, who put out two extensive articles on the topic over a decade ago, here and here. Neither of us wanted to believe this initially. One would certainly like to assume that 35mm format camera manufacturers, making single-unit camera bodies rather than modular system digital backs, could hold the sensors to tight enough tolerances with today’s technology. Alas, we discovered that it was not quite good enough for what we wanted from our cameras.

A diffuse and complex story unfurls, necessary for the explanation of small details in great detail. For anyone wanting the very best out of their powerful, modern, wide-aperture, breathtakingly-sharp lenses, on equally modern, high-resolution (read: highly revealing of alignment errors) digital cameras, photographing the most optically demanding subject matter in the known universe – the starry night sky – you will want to sit up and pay attention. It’s entirely fine if one does not care about subtle differences between what’s in-focus and out-of-focus. I would not soon be forgetting how many failed to appreciate the camera-shake induced blurring from the original Sony a7R violent shutter mechanism. If one only wants photos displayed no larger than Instagram thumbnails, none of this is pertinent and you should stop reading now. Alright then, some good news! We have fortunately found reasonable solutions to the worst problems. I share them below freely.

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Anti-reflection Picture Framing Glass – Part 2

This is the second installment to “The Framing Glass” article, which delves into new 99% UV filtering anti-reflective (AR) glass and comparisons of more AR framing glass from Schott, Guardian, Flabeg and Luxar, which were not included in the first article.

Since January 2016, picture framers have been blessed with two exciting new developments. Groglass announced a brand new 99% UV filtering AR glass, with no ripples in the optical coatings, called Artglass UV 99. Tru Vue also launched an updated Museum Glass product, which unlike the earlier product, also has ‘no ripple or “orange peel” effect on [the] glass surface’.

Interference vs Absorptive UV coatings
Both Artglass UV 99 and Museum Glass employ a UV absorptive coating on one side of the sheet, and then AR coatings are applied to both sides. Since the UV filtering coating is an absorptive type, it is effective at all angles of light entry. I consider these to be the only meaningful products to use if UV filtering is required.

Other products such as Artglass WW UV (>90% UV protection), Flabeg ArtControl UV90 (>90% UV protection) and Schott Mirogard Plus (~84% UV protection) use interference-based coatings to block UV light. There are three downsides to that. Firstly, they can only achieve a maximum 90% or so UV filtration between 300-380nm. This doesn’t sound too bad until the transmission band shift at oblique incident light angles is considered. So the second problem is the transmission band shifts to shorter wavelengths when light strikes the glass at shallower angles, allowing more UV light to pass through. Since in practice no artwork is illuminated solely straight on (the viewer’s shadow will be in the way), the added UV protection in the real world is not as significant as their manufacturer specifications would suggest. Thirdly, interference-based coatings tend to have a wide cut-off band, as seen in the spectral transmission graphs of Museum Glass and Artglass WW UV in the earlier article.

New Museum Glass vs Artglass UV 99 coating ripples casting shadows comparison

Artglass UV 99 and new Museum Glass
Both products have largely similar specifications: AR coatings resulting in less than 1% reflection, 99% UV filtration (from 280nm-380nm for Artglass UV 99 and from 300-380nm for Museum Glass) and similar glass thicknesses, the standard products are 2mm for Artglass and 2.5mm for Museum Glass. The base substrate is regular soda lime float glass rather than low iron glass. The UV absorbing coating is an orangey-brownish color so when combined with the aqua green color of regular glass, they balance each other out resulting in a visually more neutral transmission color. Using low iron glass does increase the overall transmission a little but since it is so neutral, adding the UV coating makes it look overly yellowish in tint. The transmission rating for both is ~97%, though AR glass with lower UV protection ratings tend to have better transmission ratings, up to >99%.

Both manufacturers also claim to have no rippling pattern in their coatings. The previous version of Museum Glass was plagued by quite serious ripples in the UV coatings, which became even more obvious under non-diffused light sources. Let us first investigate these claims.

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The Framing Glass—or rather the lack of it

Thoughts and evaluations of Anti-Reflection Picture Framing Glass

This article is targeted mainly at artists, custom framers and conservators who are particular about the way artwork is presented, preserved and protected. If you are squeezed for time, skip to the evaluations here, or the conclusion here. But if you are new to all this I suggest reading from the beginning.

9 Sep 2015 Changed spectral graphs to include UV spectrum, revised article language.
9 Nov 2016 Revised article language. I have since received samples from the other manufacturers of AR glass, and am awaiting samples of newer products such as Artglass UV99 and the new “ripple-free” Museum Glass. Some of my conclusions and recommendations will be revised in light of the performance of these new and updated products in a future article.
2 Jul 2017 Revised article language.
5 Aug 2020 Updated product names to reflect manufacturer changes. The illustrations still retain the old naming conventions, so watch out!

As a maker of finely crafted prints, I want them to look as good as possible, so it is rather bothersome when we cannot see them as well once they are framed behind glass, due to its obtrusive reflections and greenish tint. Framing without glazing is out of the question for fine prints in the interest of long-term preservation. It shields the art from physical damage, atmospheric pollutants and to varying extents, degradation from ultraviolet (UV) light. What we need then is highly transparent, anti-reflective glass.

Uncoated “regular” soda lime glass (and clear acrylic) reflects about 8% of light in total (4% off each side). The glass itself absorbs another ~2% or more of light. But the absorption is not uniform across the visible spectrum. Iron oxides naturally present in silica, the main ingredient of soda lime glass, is responsible for its green tint. This is most visible when looking at the edges of float glass. Low iron glass is manufactured from silica with very low iron content. This makes the glass almost completely neutral in colour and light absorption is reduced to about 0.5% or less. Clear acrylic has the advantage of having absolutely no colour tint and absorbing virtually no light at all.

To increase the transparency of glass still further, we need something else to reduce surface reflections—anti-reflection (AR) coatings.

Artglass specifier frame comparing regular glass to anti-reflection glass.

Artglass specifier frame comparing regular glass to anti-reflection glass.

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