Moab ships Somerset Photo Satin 300

Moab by Legion is now shipping Somerset Photo Satin 300, a cotton-based, traditional fine art paper produced by St Cuthberts Mill in the UK. The paper, which is free of optical brighteners, has a very smooth finish and a neutral white color. While the term ‘Satin’ might lead you to believe that it has a glossy- or luster-style shine, there is almost no reflectivity in the sample images we’ve looked at, and the blacks were exceptionally deep, while still holding significant shadow detail. It is optimized for pigment inks.

Somerset Photo Satin is designed for use by photographers interested in selling their work, and is priced accordingly: it’s a little under $3 per letter-size sheet, and $6.50 for a 13"x19" sheet. It is also available in 17", 24", 44" and 60" rolls.

First look: Photosmart Pro B8850

b8850-small.pngHewlett-Packard’s recently announced Photosmart Pro B8850 is a $549, B-size (13″ by 19″) inkjet printer designed for amateur photographers who want the advantages of pigment inks, advanced black-and-white printing, and a larger print size, but who also aren’t sure they want the full throttle of a 17-inch powerhouse like Epson’s Stylus Pro 3800.

We’ve been playing with a final-release sample of the B8850 for a few weeks now, and have been quite impressed with the overall performance of the printer. What follows is our short take on the printer. While there might be some small details that change with shipping units, we think the tenor of our review will be the same.

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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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HP Z3100, Canon iPF6100 reviews posted

Macworld.com has posted our reviews of two wide-format photo printers, HP’s Designjet Z3100 Photo Printer and Canon’s imagePROGRAF iPF6100. Both of these printers offer excellent color and black-and-white print quality on glossy, matte and fine-art papers and have good ink efficiency and strong performance.

The Z3100 is priced at $4,095 and has 11 inks; a 12th cartridge, which is a gloss optimizer for reducing the bronzing effect when printing on glossy paper (Unlike most high-end photo printers, it does not have a cyan ink, using blue and light cyan to . The printer also has an embedded i1 spectrophotometer from X-Rite, which lets you easily create ICC profiles for new media types, as well as update the profiles for existing papers (which is often recommended when changing inks). The Z3100’s software is among the best we’ve ever seen for adding new media and keeping ICC profiles current across all your network machines. One other unique attribute found in the Z3100 is the fact that, when printing in black and white on matte or fine art papers, the printer uses four monochrome inks—photo black, matte black, and two grays—in essence giving you quadtone prints. (Epson and Canon printers use photo black with glossy papers and matte black with fine art papers.)

The iPF6100 (which also comes in a 17-inch version, the iPF5100) is priced $500 less than the Z3100. It has 12 inks and supports direct printing of 16-bit images via a Photoshop plug-in for both Mac OS X an Windows XP and Vista. We found the print quality of this generation vastly superior to the iPF5000/iPF6000 series (although subsequent firmware updates did improve the print quality somewhat), and it was definitely one of the faster wide-formats we’ve tested.

These are the first printers in this class from Canon and HP that approach the print quality of Epson’s Stylus Pro line. During our jury testing, when showing prints from Epson, HP and Canon pro-level inkjets, pro photographers and amateurs alike could not consistently pick which printers produced which prints. This is a far cry from years past, where Epson printers consistently produced prints that were recognizably better than the competition. We think Epson’s printers are still top notch, but HP and Canon have gotten into the game.

Product links: Z3100, iPF6100