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.]

Version 1.0.2 of ColorMunki now available

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.

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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X-Rite announces ColorMunki profiling tool

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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Sale on pro paper at HP site

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.

Crane & Co. sells Museo paper business

museo-logo.jpegWe’re currently getting ready for the annual PMA convention, which will be held next Thursday through Saturday in Las Vegas. While we were working on lining up meetings with the media companies, we discovered that Crane & Co., the venerable stationers based in Dalton, Mass., had sold their Museo line of digital fine art media to a new company, Intelicoat:

On December 17, 2007 Crane & Co. announced the sale of their digital fine art paper business, including the Museo brand of products, to Intelicoat Technologies. Intelicoat is the leading coater and converter of inkjet media including papers, films, canvas, and other fabrics. Crane will continue to supply the base paper and existing technologies.

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HP ups the ante: the Photosmart Pro B8850

We’re only two weeks into the new year, and already, 2008 is shaping up to be a big one for photo printers. Last week, Epson unveiled the Stylus Photo R1900, a B-size (13″ by 19″) photo printer optimized for glossy output. Today, Hewlett-Packard is announcing the Photosmart Pro B8850, a B-size printer similarly designed for the advanced amateur photographer, and priced at $549.

The B8850 uses eight pigment-based inks, including separate black inks for photo and matte-finish papers; a gray ink for printing improved black-and-white photos; and the standard set of cyan, magenta, light cyan, light magenta and yellow inks found in most midrange to high-end photo printers. It has a bottom-feed paper tray that can handle approximately 50 sheets of standard photo paper, and a manual feed tray for handling rigid media types up to 0.7 mm thick. It has a USB 2.0 port on the back, and LED status lights for each cartridge that turn on when the ink level dips below a certain percentage.

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Closeout deals on R1800

As we noted yesterday, Epson’s new Stylus Photo R1900 is replacing the R1800.

If $550 is too rich for you, and you don’t mind using yesterday’s printing technology, Epson is currently offering the R1800 on its online store for $400 (after a mail-in rebate), with free ground shipping.

[Update: it looks like they’ve run through their inventory. The printers are listed as ‘out of stock.’]

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Epson announces Stylus Photo R1900

Epson today announced the Stylus Photo R1900, a $550, B-size (13″ by 19″) desktop printer with pigment-based inks, advanced paper-handling capabilities and productivity features aimed at serious amateurs and professional photographers. Unlike the pricier Stylus Photo R2400, which is best known for its black-and-white printing capabilities (and its voracious appetite for ink), the R1900 is designed primarily to produce optimal color prints. In place of the R2400’s light black and light light black inks, the R1900 has a gloss optimizer cartridge that sprays a clear overcoat on top of glossy media, producing a “superglossy” print that lacks the bronzing or dullness found in glossy prints made with most pigment-based printers.

The R1900 uses a reformulated inkset, called UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2, consisting of eight individual inks: the gloss optimizer, matte and photo black, and cyan, magenta, yellow, red and orange. Epson claims that the orange ink, which replaces blue in the original Hi-Gloss inks, increases the printer’s overall gamut and provides improved flesh tones, while the new formulations of magenta and yellow inks improve the blues and greens, respectively, in most prints.

In conjunction with the new inks, the R1900 incorporates a new color imaging technology, Radiance, co-developed by Epson and the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Munsell Color Science Lab. According to Epson, Radiance provides an advanced color gamut; better ink efficiency; reduced grain; and minimized metameric failure, which results in “improved color constancy under different lighting conditions.”

R1900

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