The Printerville review: Epson’s Stylus Photo R2880

Epson’s Stylus Photo R2880, an $800 large-format (13″) printer, enters a vastly different printer market than that of its predecessor, the Stylus Photo R2400. When the R2400 debuted in 2005, Epson owned all aspects of the archival photo printer market, and the R2400’s only real competition was the model it replaced, the Stylus Photo 2200. The R2880, however, joins a market crowded by competitors from HP and Canon, as well as Epson itself: there are now five large-format, pigment-based photo printers priced between $500 and $1,000, and Epson’s competitors have done a superb job of catching up to their longtime rival’s print quality. There are many observers who believe that Epson still has the edge in quality, but there’s no disputing that HP and Canon have put themselves into the game, HP with the Photosmart Pro B8850 (and its older sibling, the B9180) and Canon with the Pixma Pro9500. How does the R2880 match up? Read on.

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Canon cost per print data from Red River

We recently noted Red River Paper’s ink cartridge testing for the Epson Stylus Photo R2400 and Stylus Photo R1900 printers. These tests attempt to come up with a real-world cost-per-page metric for inkjet cartridges—which is one of the hottest topics in the world of photo printing—and they’re great data points to have when you’re evaluating printers.

Over the weekend, Red River’s Drew Hendrix posted their latest results, covering Canon’s Pixma Pro9500 and Pixma Pro9000 inkjets. Their results show that the dye-based Canon Pixma Pro9000 offers roughly the same cost per print as the pigment-based R1900, while the Pixma Pro9500 has a slightly better cost per print than Epson’s R2400. (The Stylus Photo R2880, which was introduced in June, is probably much closer to the 9500 in cost per print, based on our tests, which use the same test image and similar methodology to Red River’s.)

We’re currently testing the HP B8850 with some slightly different methodology, but one that we hope will give us slightly more accurate results. Stay tuned—we think this is pretty important stuff.

Red River ink life testing

Following up on our recent post concerning ink cartridge life, Red River Paper, one of our favorite paper companies, has posted some similar test results regarding Epson’s Stylus Photo R1900 and Stylus Photo R2400 printers. They used the same test image and similar measurement techniques to come up with a cost per print for images printed at 4" by 6", 5" by 7", 8" by 10", 11" by 14" and 13" by 19". They also work a bit deeper on trying to define a metric for something they call “Cartridge Equivalent Usage,” or CEU.

This report addresses concerns and arguments about the true cost of ink in desktop photo printing. Using the Epson R2400 and Epson R1900, we conducted a series of print tests to determine how much ink is used in a full coverage 8”x10” print. From that figure we extrapolated ink usage per square inch. The objective is to share a realistic cost per print vision with inkjet users. The choice to pursue photo inkjet printing is in the end an individual economic choice.

We think this is pretty important stuff, and it’s good to see others working on similar tests — the data regarding the R1900 is especially welcome, and it looks like Red River’s results on the R2400 are very similar to ours, which speaks well to this style of test’s repeatability. If you’re interested in this topic, it’s worth going through the report.

Based on some of the comments we’ve received, we think there are a few tweaks we can make to get the test methodology a bit more secure, and be extended to HP and Canon printers. Stay tuned.

Stylus Photo R2880 review: speed tests

We’re continuing to work on our full review of Epson’s new Stylus Photo R2880, which we hope to have online in the next week or so. In the interim, we have been able to finish our benchmarking of the new inkjet, comparing it with its predecessor, the Stylus Photo R2400, and the two semi-pro printers closest to the R2880 in fighting weight: HP’s Photosmart Pro B9180 and Canon’s Pixma Pro9500.

We know that speed is usually a secondary or even a tertiary consideration when looking at photo printers, but, with today’s increased competition, it can be a factor for some people when they’re choosing an inkjet. Below are two charts, noting the print speeds for six different print sizes, ranging from 4" by 6" to 12" by 18" on the R2880 and the other three printers.

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New Epson wide-format printers announced

At the Drupa trade show in Germany this week, Epson announced two new wide-format printers, the Stylus Pro 7900 and 9900. The new printers, which have a maximum print width of 24" and 44",respectively, incorporate a new pigment-based ink set, called UltraChrome HDR. The HDR inks include photo and matte black inks, light black, light light black, cyan, light cyan, vivid magenta, vivid light magenta, yellow, orange and green, and use an 11-channel head that switches automatically between photo and matte black.

Ink cartridge size (a hot topic these days) is quite large — 350ml and 750ml — and Epson claims that the 7900 and 9900 offer significant speed improvements over the existing Epson wide format devices.

Also notable in the new printers is an optional built-in spectrophotometer from X-Rite, called the Epson SpectroProofer, which provides “automatic color measurement data to the printer, allowing user profiling and linearization, enabling professional color management while at the same time reducing labor costs.”

The Stylus Pro 7900 and 9900 are expected to ship this spring in Europe and Australia, although pricing was not announced. Epson America representatives stressed that this announcement was made by Epson Europe, although we would assume that ultimately the new printers and inks would reach the U.S. and Canada at some point not long after they ship elsewhere.

[Source: Print21, an online publication produced by the Australian trade association, Printing Industries.]

First look: Epson’s new Stylus Photo R2880

Epson Stylus Photo R2880Epson today announced the Stylus Photo R2880, the long-awaited replacement to the Stylus Photo R2400. The $800 printer, slated to ship in June, is a B-size (13") inkjet that uses pigment-based inks, including two light-density black inks designed to produce optimal black-and-white prints on all types of media. And, while the R2880’s pedigree shows a clear link to the R2400, the new model takes advantage of Epson’s recent technology advancements from both the higher-end Stylus Professional printer line and the recently released Stylus Photo R1900.

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Review: Moab’s Somerset Photo Satin

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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ColorMunki 1.0 problems

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.

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