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Review: Moab’s Somerset Photo Satin

May 11, 2008

We recently purchased some of Moab’s Somerset Photo Satin, a new paper that we first encountered at this year’s PMA show in Las Vegas.

Somerset Photo Satin is a thick (300gsm), 100% cotton fine-art paper made by St Cuthberts Mill, one of the oldest paper makers in the U.K. It is quite white, with a brightness of 97.5%, and it is free of whiteners and other optical brightening agents (OBAs). It does, however, contain buffering agents designed to help protect the paper from atmospheric contaminants.

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Topics: Paper resources, Reviews | Comments Off on Review: Moab’s Somerset Photo Satin

Version 1.0.2 of ColorMunki now available

May 5, 2008

X-Rite has posted Version 1.0.2 of the ColorMunki software, which reportedly fixes “all the software glitches that some of you have been reporting.”

We haven’t had a chance to play with the update yet, but if you have a ColorMunki device, you can get the new version by using the Software Update feature in the ColorPicker application.

Topics: News | 3 Comments »

ColorMunki 1.0 problems

May 2, 2008

Over on his thinbits blog, Dave Camp has posted a lengthy review of his initial experiences with the $499 ColorMunki Photo, which just started shipping.

To summarize, the product was a complete failure for me on multiple machines and multiple printers and I cannot recommend it to anyone. My friend has problems as well, so there is definitely something wrong with the product as a whole. The only thing keeping me from returning it at this point is the promise of better software this week. X-Rite is known for having quality products, so it’s baffling as to why they shipped the ColorMunki in this state.

We recently received a unit as well, and our experiences out of the gate pretty much parallel Dave’s, especially with respect to profile building. We’ve been assured by X-Rite that a Version 1.0.1 update — which will reportedly fix some of the bugs we’ve run into — is imminent, and we’ve frankly been holding off on writing our review until that ships. We doubt, however, that the update will fix Dave’s (valid) complaints about the user experience aspects of the ColorMunki, specifically in providing help on printing with ColorMunki-generated profiles from different applications.

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Topics: News | 4 Comments »

Epson RX680, HP C7280 all-in-ones reviewed

April 28, 2008

Macworld recently posted our reviews of two letter-size, all-in-one photo inkjets: HP’s Photosmart C7280 and Epson’s Stylus Photo RX680. While neither of those printers would be considered “pro-level,” they are both a good value for what they are: six-color photo printers that do additional duty as general-purpose printers and scanners/copiers. (While the reviews are understandably Mac-centric, we’ve tested both printers on Windows-based systems as well.)

Photosmart C7280: bargain utility printer with big features

The C7280 lists for $300, but you can find it on Amazon right now for $165 (with free shipping). At that price, it’s a very good buy, with multiple connectivity options (802.11n wireless, Ethernet, USB); a built-in duplexer; secondary tray for 4" by 6" and 5" by 7" photo paper; and a sheet feeder for the copier. We had a couple of minor issues with the wireless networking, but once you have it up and running, it’s a great general-purpose inkjet printer. And, if you use it wirelessly, you can still scan directly to computers on your network that have the HP driver software installed. This is a great feature, one we’ve found extremely helpful in the months we’ve been using the printer.

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Topics: Reviews | 4 Comments »

HP Photosmart Pro B8850 review

April 21, 2008

b8850-small.pngIn mid-2006, HP entered the archival printing market in earnest with the Photosmart Pro B9180, the company’s first fully pigment-based printer. The B9180 produced great prints in both color and black and white and had a number of innovative features, including a smart mechanism for adding third-party paper types directly into the print driver. While the B9180 hasn’t knocked Epson off its perch as the king of the archival print, it has made it a much more competitive market, especially in that all-important sub-$1,000 market.

Now, hot on the heels of Epson’s Stylus Photo R1900, HP has released the $550 Photosmart Pro B8850 (Amazon link), which retains the best qualities of the B9180, at a lower price point (identical to the price of the R1900). We’ve been working with both pre-release and shipping versions of the B8850 for a few months now, and we’ve had few surprises: it produces very good prints with a few minor issues, much like its older sibling.

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Topics: Reviews | 10 Comments »

Epson Stylus Photo R1900 review

April 13, 2008

R1900 smallEpson’s Stylus Photo R1900, which was announced in January to quite a bit of fanfare, is now readily available (Amazon link). We’ve been working with a shipping unit in the Printerville labs for about a month now, and overall, we have been quite impressed with this $550 photo inkjet.

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Topics: Reviews | 75 Comments »

X-Rite announces ColorMunki profiling tool

March 20, 2008

colormunki.pngAt the WPPI show in Las Vegas this week, X-Rite announced ColorMunki Photo, a $499 spectrophotometer designed to calibrate displays and projectors, as well as create ICC profiles for RGB and CMYK printers.

Using a small-number, large-patch sample, X-Rite claims that the ColorMunki will produce highly accurate ICC profiles in a fraction of the time it takes with more expensive devices. You can also use it to measure a room’s ambient light, and will be able to create custom profiles for different lighting conditions.

ColorMunki has a funky-cool look, sort of like a tape measure. It will work with both Mac and Windows systems, and is small enough that you can carry it with you when you’re working on a remote job. In addition to the profiling and calibration capabilities, ColorMunki can capture spot color from any spectral surface and can extract specific colors from your photos, to help build custom palettes.

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Topics: News | 1 Comment »

Stylus Photo R1900 speed test results

March 18, 2008

We received our Stylus Photo R1900 recently, and have been quite busy testing Epson’s new pigment-based photo printer. We should have a full review online in the next week or so, but overall, we’ve been quite impressed with the R1900’s output. The glossy prints are as beautiful as we’ve ever seen from a pigment printer, which is no surprise, given the gloss optimizer and the new screening technology. But we’ve also been quite taken with photos printed on matte and fine art papers — they are rich and vibrant, and look as good, if not better, than output from other printers in its class.

While we’re finishing up the review, we wanted to post the initial results of our benchmark tests. While print speed is rarely the first concern when choosing between two higher-end photo printers, it can still be a consideration — especially if you feel that the output is comparable. Below are two charts, noting the print speeds for six different print sizes on the R1900 and its predecessor, the R1800, as well as against the immediate competition: HP’s Photosmart Pro B8850 and Canon’s dye-based Pixma Pro9000.

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Topics: Reviews | Comments Off on Stylus Photo R1900 speed test results

Sale on pro paper at HP site

March 10, 2008

HP is running a special “Buy 1, get 1 free” promotion on 13" by 19" paper for many of its professional line of papers for the B9180 and B8850 printers. If you’re a big fan of the HP/Hahnemühle Smooth Fine Art and Watercolor papers, or HP’s Professional Satin Photo Paper (one of our new favorites), Aquarella Textured Art or Artist’s Matte Canvas, it’s a good time to stock up. Simply add two packages to your cart, and one package is free; HP’s even offering free shipping on the deal.

Given that HP’s Smooth Fine Art is regularly $4 per 13" by 19" sheet—although it’s a more reasonable $2.40 per sheet via Amazon—getting it for $2 per sheet is quite nice.

Topics: News, Paper resources | Comments Off on Sale on pro paper at HP site

More on Epson’s Radiance color matching

February 21, 2008

While we were at PMA a few weeks ago, we caught up with Patrick Chen, the product manager for Epson’s new Stylus Photo R1900. During our discussion, we talked a little bit about Radiance, the new color-matching technology built into the R1900. Patrick shed some more light on the science behind it, and we felt it was worth passing along.

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Topics: Technology | 4 Comments »

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