fine prints in your digital darkroom
updated June 2, 2005
In this page we introduce printer technologies, then we describe
Epson 2200 (my current printer), the 1280/1290,
and a few others. We include troubleshooting tips.
The page ends with a discussion of the number
of pixels required for high quality prints. Related pages:
has revamped its line of Ultrachrome printers with a new series that
takes the 8-color Ultrachrome K3 ink set. The new models include the R2400
(13 inches wide; $850 USD), 4800 (17 inches wide; $2,000
USD), 7800 (24 inches wide; about $3,000 USD), and 9800 (44 inches
wide; about $5,000 USD). Useful links:
has released the 17-inch wide R1800 printer with the gloss optimizer for printing on glossy (RC) surfaces. It is not a replacement for the 2200 (see above). It produces excellent results on glossy paper ($530 USD).
- Joseph Holmes'
early review is well worth reading. The Dmax (deepest printable black
tone) is apparently impressive. (His number for the old Ultrachrome
printers is identical to the number I measured for the 2200 using Imatest Print Test.)
- Epson R2400 and Ultrachrome K3 Ink Report by Jeff Schewe confirms Holmes' claim that the new printers have outstanding Dmax.
- Michael Reichmann (Luminous-Landscape.com)
was somewhat disappointed by the 4800. There are problems with ink
waste when changing the black cartridges, and the native B&W
quality (with the Epson Printer Driver) wasn't up to his standards. He
is a big fan of Imageprint, which he uses with the 4000.
- Photo-i.co.uk has an announcement. Expect an excellent review.
has released a new set of ICC profiles for the 2200 printer. The profiles
are for 1440 and 2880 dpi for Premium Luster, Semigloss, Glossy, Enhanced
Matte, Watercolor - Radiant White, Velvet Fine Art, and PremierArt™ Water-Resistant
Canvas. I haven't had a chance to evaluate them. Finding them can be a
little tricky because you can't link directly to Epson pages, and as of
February 2004 they're not yet on Epson USA's Drivers
& Downloads page for the 2200. To locate them you must click on
(in the left column), then click on New
ICC Profiles for Epson Stylus Photo 2200.
They obvouisly won't be there forever; I'll update this page when they
I have a problem with the workflow in their How
to use ICC profiles document. In Step 7 for Windows, it recommends
selecting Assign working RGB: Adobe RGB (1998)
for documents that have no embedded ICC profile. This is generally a bad
practice because the Windows default color space for images with no embedded
profile is sRGB. But there are exceptions. If you convert a RAW file to
Adobe RGB (1998) with Canon's (mediocre) File Viewer Utility, it won't
embed a profile. Bad practice, but Epson's recommendation is appropriate
in this case. Then in Step 8 it recommends assigning a different profile
if the color balance appears incorrect. Very slipshod! It's best to select
the correct profile when you open the file, then use other adjustments.
to inkjet printers
Several printer technologies are available-- laser, inkjet and dye sublimation.
Inkjet printers, particularly those with six or more ink colors, lead the
pack for photographic image quality. Inkjet printers fall into two categories:
dye and pigment-based.
Dyes are chemicals that come
dissolved, usually in water. Dye-based inks are less expensive than pigment
inks and tend to have larger color gamuts, but they are less lightfast
and chemically stable. Early dye-based inkjet prints faded very rapidly--
in months, but newer dye-based inks have much better lightfastness-- 25
years or more when displayed under glass. Dyes can interact chemically
with coatings on papers-- you should always make sure a paper is compatible
with your inks. Most dye-based inkjet prints are susceptible to rapid,
unpredictable chemical fading caused by oxidation from air pollution--
the notorious red shift in Epson and Canon
prints. It tends to be worst in standard glossy or semigloss papers. Swellable
polymer papers such as Epson ColorLife (semigloss surface)
Galerie Classic (gloss and pearl surfaces) last much longer. The definitive
source on print longevity is Wilhelm
Pigments are tiny particles
that come suspended in the solvent-- they aren't dissolved. Pigment inks
tend to be more expensive than dye inks, but they are much more lightfast
and chemically stable. Lifetimes are estimated at 80 to 200 or more years.
Early pigment inks had poorer color gamuts than dye inks (in part because
pigments tend to be more opaque than dyes), but recent pigment inks are
competitive. Early pigment inks also tended to clog printer nozzles, but
newer pigment inks are much improved (though far from perfect). Epson is currently the only supplier
of a wide range of pigment-based inkjet printers, but several independent ink manufacturers
supply pigment inks. Because pure pigment inks have a difficult time achieving
high Dmax (deep blacks), dyes are often added to pigmented inksets. Fortunately,
black dyes tend to be more stable than colored dyes. Epson has a
page of Print
permanence results from Wilhelm Imaging Research with longevity results
for pigmented inks on different papers. (If this link doesn't work, go
to Epson North America,
click on Paper & Media, Matt Paper Heavyweight, Print
Permanence Ratings. It has some surprises. Watercolor paper (Radiant
White), which isn't 100% cotton, is one of the longest-lived.
dominates the market for photo quality printers, but Canon
and Hewlett-Packard offer serious competition.
The inks in the older Epsons weren't lightfast, but that changed
in 2000 with the introduction of the Stylus Photo 870 and 1270, which print
8½ and 13 inches wide, respectively. And things continue to improve.
mm ( 8.3x11.7 in)
297x420 mm (11.7x16.5 in)
420x594 mm (16.5x23.4 in)
594x841 mm (23.4x33.1 in)
(All have a 1:1.414 aspect ratio.)
(ledger): 11x17 in.
A3/B: 13x19 in.
Epson photo printers fall into three categories:
Dye-based 6-color printers (Epson 1270/1280/1290, etc.): Colors
are C, Y, M, K, light C, and light M. Brilliant colors; 10-25 year display
life depending on paper, but some fading (red-shift)
problems caused by air pollution. Low cost. Popular. I used the 1270 between
March 2000 and September 2002.
Early pigment-based 6-color printers (Epson 2000P, 5500, 10000,
etc.): Less color gamut than dyes. 100-200+ year life using "polymer-encapsulated
pigments." Slower and more expensive than consumer dye-based printers.
Acceptable to galleries and museums. Largely supplanted by the "Ultrachrome"
I can't keep up with all of Epson's new models, especially the letter-sized/A4
printers. Here is a page from Epson UK that compares
printer models (still confusing; many of the A4 models differ in minor
(Mostly) pigment-based 7 or 8-color "Ultrachrome" printers (Epson
Stylus Photo 2100/2200, 7600, 9600, 4000, R800): The 2100/2200, introduced
June-August 2002, has excellent color gamut and a 75+ year print lifetime,
and it's much faster than the 2000P. These are landmark products: They
promise to outperform the best silver-based color papers (Ilfochrome, Fuji
Crystal archive) in every respect. The seventh color is light black
(gray), which greatly improves the rendition of B&W images. Some dye
has evidently been added to the pigments to improve the color gamut and
Dmax (density of deepest black tones). These printers give you a choice
of two black cartridges: Matte Black for matte papers and Photo Black for
glossy, semigloss or luster (RC) papers. These are now the printers of
choice for serious photographers. Epson and Canon dye-based printer produce
excellent results at lower cost; they are excellent choices if archival
print lifetime isn't a high priority. HP dye-based prints have better longevity.
My top choice for a printer today would be one of the Epson Ultrachrome printers. In October 2002 I purchased the Epson
Stylus Pro 2200 (replaced by the R2400 in mid-2005), which prints 13 inches wide. Reasons: long print
life, excellent color gamut, and good B&W performance. The 17 inch
wide 4000, 24 inch
wide 7600, or 44
inch wide 9600 are
the printers of choice for high volume work. The 13 inch wide Epson 1280/1290
and Canon S9000/i9100 printers would be my second choices: less expensive,
but shorter print life (about 25 years) and not quite as good for B&W. (See news above for the 2005 replacements.)
Among 8½ inch wide printers I'd consider the
R800, which uses Ultrachrome inks and the Hewlett-Packard
7960, which uses 8 dye inks that last nearly as long as Epson Ultrachrome
pigments. The 8 inks include black and two grays: it's reputed to
be outstanding for Black & White printing.
Confession: I don't keep up with smaller printers, so this is almost certainly out of date..
Ultrachrome printers: Stylus Photo 2200 (2100 outside North America)
Stylus Photo 2200 (2100
outside North America; replaced in mid-2005 by the R2400), introducedAugust 2002, was the first of Epson's
7-color "Ultrachrome" printers. It has seven ink cartridges-- one for each
color, which saves ink because you don't have to replace a 5-color cartridge
when one ink runs out. But the 18 ml cartridges can still be expensive
if you do a high volume of printing. Prints up to 13 inches wide
(A3+/Super B print size). $650.
to the 2000P it features better color gamut, deeper blacks and faster printing,
but less image permanence: 75-100 years instead of 200-- still very good.
4 picoliter droplet size. The ink set includes gray (light black) and a
choice of matte or photo black (for matte (fiber-based) or RC papers,
respectively). It is better suited for B&W than the 2000P, but it still
has some metamerism (change in appearance under different light sources).
Its roll paper holder has an automatic cutter (a big improvement
over the flimsy piece of trash that passed for the 1270 roll holder). It
also has a special feeding slot for thick fine art papers.
Ultrachrome printers have been a tremendous
commercial success. As a result, several models are now available.
7600 and 9600
$2,995 for the 24 inch wide 7600 and
for the 44 inch wide 9600. Cheap
if you're a professional who does a high volume of work.
Serious competition for LightJet printers at a fraction the price. 110
or 220 ml ink cartridges are more economical than the 18 ml cartridges
in the 2200. 4 picoliter droplet size. The main drawback is large amount
of ink wasted when you switch between black cartridges (not a problem with
the 2200 or 4000).
Stylus Pro 4000 Available January 2004 for $1800. An industrial-strength
(85 lbs!) A 17 inch wide printer with 8 ink cartridges. Uses 110 or 220
ml ink cartridges. Both black cartridges are installed; the appropriate
one is automatically selected. 3.5 picoliter droplet
size. It has generated a good bit of excitement: Read previews from
Reichmann | Photo-i.
I bought a 2200 in September 2002 and gave
the trusty 1270 to my son (it seems to have worn out since he got it).
It does a superb job. I'll continue to add material as time goes on. Some
links to the Ultrachrome printers are,
Stylus Pro R800 Available early 2004. The 8-color 8½
inch model features high gloss Ultrachrome inks (less "bronzing" on glossy
papers?) with tiny 1.7 picolitre droplets. Both black cartridges are installed;
the appropriate one is automatically selected. The cartridegs are a little
different from the other Ultrachrome printers: it includes Red and Blue
has a full
Here are some observations about the 2200.
Epson Stylus Photo 2200 Reference Guide is available online.
New printer drivers (version 5.40) were released in April and May 2003.
These drivers allow you to apply ICC profiles directly from the printer
driver software. You should apply the profiles here or in the image editor,
but not in both.
Go to Epson.com
and click on Drivers & Downloads. (A direct link won't work.)
A thorough review and several articles with tips and workflows. A must-read
you're considering a 2100/2200.
(UK) Highly detailed review. Also a must-read. I don't intend to repeat
everything in these two comprehensive sites.
Digicams Stylus Photo 2200 review. Another good one.
has some interesting information about ink cartridges and refilling them.
I haven't dared to try it. It also has some particularly fine links.
I'll wait to see if anyone develops a Continuous Inking System (CIS).
Zembowicz discusses Windows XP installation problems, profiles,
and has some excellent links.
River Paper supplies papers for the 2200. ICC
profiles are now available. My initial impressions are very positive--
see comments below.
Lexjet A Florida company
that offers nice prices on Epson
ink cartridges and some intriguing media, especially their 10
mil Photo Luster and Melinex
high gloss media, recommended by Scott
Bourne. Both are compatible with the 2200.
Livick (an artist/photographer/mystic
living in London) is conducting a series of tests on inkjet
longevity on Epson Ultrachrome and other printers. Somewhat disorganized,
but interesting to navigate.
Briot has an excellent 9600 diary. The 9600 is a very different
beast from the 2200 (it prints up to 44 inches wide for starters), but
it uses the same inks.
Nelson has written some interesting articles about inkjet printing,
printing on the Epson 2200, where he did a high resolution scan of
the dots at (R,G,B) = (242,242,242) to illustrate metamerism-related issues.
Papers - I use Epson papers for most of my
work. My favorites are Premium
Luster and Enhanced
Matte, both of which have outstanding print quality-- deep blacks and
large color gamut. Other Epson papers, including Premium
Glossy and Semigloss
(similar to luster), are equally fine. I'm interested in Velvet
because its base is 100% cotton; it's longer-lasting than Enhanced Matte
(which used to be called "Archival Matte," but isn't, although it has a
very respectable lifetime). Inkjetart.com
has a valuable list of media
Imagng Research has tested the longevity of Ultrachrome inks on a variety
of media (using the 9600). I list papers, primarily from independent manufacturers,
in Papers and inks.
Papers from independent manufacturers -
Because pigment-based inks are much more chemically stable than dye-based
inks, the 2200 can be used on a wider range of papers
than dye-based printers (though it's not compatible with all papers).
I look for papers that have ICC profiles. Red
River Paper caught my eye because they have profiles, sheets of
the ideal size for panoramic prints (13x38
inches), and Epson
2200/pigment sample kits. My initial impression of 76
lb. Premium Matte is extremely positive.
Colors and tones are comparable to Epson Enhanced Matte, but it's much
heavier. Unlike Enhanced Matte, it doesn't tend to ripple when ink is applied
(though Enhanced Matte tends to flatten when it dries). It handles very
well-- thinner papers tend to damage (kink) more easily. This is the matte
paper of choice for panoramic images-- and maybe for all my large images.
Prices are reasonable. Although Premium Matte is not 100% cotton or acid-free,
Henry Wilhelm's tests indicate good
longevity: over 55 years unprotected; 80-100 years under glass. Red
lb. LuxArt is 100% cotton, and (no surprise) it's much more expensive.
The Papers and inks page contains a
of inkjet papers.
Two black inks - Photo Black (the default)
for glossy and semi-gloss papers and Matte Black. Matte black gives much
richer blacks on matte papers such as the excellent Enhanced (Archival)
Matte. If you've worked in a traditional darkroom you'll be surprised by
the deep black tones-- better than any matte photographic paper--
and colors are rich. Switching between the two black cartridges in the
2200 uses a small amount of ink. But switching cartridges in the
7600/9600 printers wastes a large amount of ink-- an advantage for the
2200. (Knowing this helps with my 7600 envy problem; I'd still love one.)
The new 8-ink 4000 has eight cartridges-- both black inks are permanently
installed, so there is never a problem changing inks.
Ink reflectivity - This may disturb some people.
The inks (except for yellow) are shinier than the Luster and Semigloss
surfaces. This leads to an effect called "bronzing,"
which is only noticeable when you look at specular reflections-- something
you normally avoid when viewing a print. But it can look strange. Reflections
in white and yellow areas look dull compared to other inked surfaces; sometimes
you can see an almost negative-like effect. I'm about to mount my first
2200 Luster prints behind glass, where this effect should be less noticeable.
It's less bothersome with the Glossy surface, where there is a slight embossing--
small ridges near boundaries. It's not a problem at all with Matte surfaces.
I rank this problem as a mild annoyance-- not a show stopper. People who
are fussy about surfaces may be more bothered.
Ink usage - In my early experience, Light
Magenta ink was used up the fastest, followed by Light Black, followed
by the other light colors: Light Cyan and Magenta. Darker colors-- Black
(both types), Cyan and Magenta seem to last longer. Overall ink costs are
likely to be slightly lower than the 1270 because you don't have to replace
the entire color cartridge when one color goes dry.
Water resistant - The new inks seem to be
highly resistant to water damage, which was always a concern with the 1270/1280/1290,
particularly with ColorLife paper.
ICC Profiles - A set of ICC profiles is hidden in the Epson
2200 Installation CD in TITLES\PIM\color. They're not mentioned in "Printer
Basics" manual; a friend found them by accident. Epson' printer profiles
can also be found on Ian
Lyons' site, (apparently the same profiles as the installation disk).
In the profile names, PK denotes Photo Black (primarily for glossy papers)
and MK denotes Matte Black ink (matte papers only). The Archival Matte
MK and Watercolor-RW MK profiles worked so well (No Color Adjustment, 1440
dpi) that I haven't bothered to make custom profiles.
Australia also has some profiles. (Why not US, UK?).
Lepp had a set of custom profiles, created on $7,000 worth of equipment
(X-Rite AutoScan Spectrophotometer
with the MonacoPROOF software;
not your average flatbed scanner) that he had to withdraw due to licensing
restrictions. (Imagine if Bill Gates controlled everything you created
with Word.) To learn more about using profiles, see my series on
Black & White workflows - I've put up a B&W workflow on
my page on B&W printing.
An alternative workflow
is based on the Gray
Balancer provided with the Epson 2100 outside North America. The Gray
Balancer can be downloaded from Epson
France (choose STYLUS PHOTO
2100). An English
tutorial can be found on a page in photo-i,
along with an English patch for the
program. Remember, this is unsupported in North America. The instructions
workflows are discussed in Luminous-Landscape.com's
excellent pages on the Epson 2200. For highest B&W quality, ImagePrint
RIP is widely recommended. Digital
Outback Photo's Epson 2200 Diary reports excellent results. Michael
on Imageprint 5.5 is a good general introduction to RIPs.
Roll holder - Difficult to install following instructions in the
printed manual. For better instructions, load the Printer
Movies and Manual from the 2200 installation disk
and bookmark it. Only the small tabs on the roll holders were inserted
in the back of the 2200, a little lower than I initially tried. When you
insert the paper, make sure it's snug against the right guide. You'll definitely
want to use the paper cutter along with the roll holder. Paper handling
is nightmarish otherwise.
Ink runs low during a large print - This can happen, for example,
with long (12.5x34 inch) panoramas. No problem. Depending
on what the Status Monitor window shows, either press Pause,
change the cartridge, then press Resume,
or press How to... and follow instructions.
Don't press Stop. Printing resumes
- can be a problem with the 2200 and R2400, even though they're
greatly improved over earlier Epson models. It's a good idea to run the
nozzle check before making high quality prints. That way you won't
waste a sheet of expensive paper. Run one or two cleaning cycles if
needed. Unfortunately it uses all ink colors, even if only one is
clogged. I've installed a humidifier near my R2400, which clogged
several times in its first three months.
Stylus Photo 1280 ( 1290 outside North America)
Stylus Photo 1280 ( 1290
outside North America) About $380.
Uses the dye-based same inks and papers as the 1270 but prints up to 2880
dpi. Its principal advantage is that it can make borderless prints. Color
rendition may be slightly improved. From all accounts, actual sharpness
at 2880 dpi is barely distinguishable from 1440 dpi, and print speeds are
much slower. Here Ron
Harris's comment about B&W, "With the 1280 you only get 2880 dpi
if you use Epson Premium Glossy. For matte paper it's 1440 dpi. I have
made some prints at 2880 dpi using black ink only. The results are not
up to the standard of fine art photography." I've established a workflow
to get good B&W results with the 1270/1280/1290. But the 2200
is the printer of choice for serious B&W. You can learn more from
News & Tips, February 20, 2001, and from reviews by Michael
Reichmann and Ian
Stylus Photo 1270 (replaced by the 1280/1290 February 2001) 1440
dpi. Prints up to 13 inches wide using relatively lightfast dye-based inks,
rated by Wilhelm Research
at 10 years on Premium Glossy paper and 25 years on Matte Heavyweight.
The prints are beautiful! Color gamut is excellent. All surfaces reproduce
deep rich black tones. I used a 1270 between early 2000 and September 2002,
when I got the 2200.
Available papers for the 1270/1280/1290
Papers not on this list may have longevity problems due to chemical interaction
with the dyes. My printer settings are on the Printer
calibration page. Epson also recommends Premium Glossy or Semigloss
for the 1280, but I don't; I removed them from the list below because of
their susceptibility to red shift fading.
Heavyweight - The real surprise. Photographic (silver
emulsion) matte papers can't reproduce deep black tones, but this surface
succeeds beautifully. I like almost everything about it-- I'd perfer it
to be a little heavier. Epson's most colorfast paper-- 25 years estimated
lifetime. Epson Archival Matte paper, which is slightly heavier, is not
recommended for dye-based inks.
- A semigloss paper, introduced in late 2001, using a "swellable
polymer" technology designed to combat "red shift" (cyan dye fading). Requires
handling for protection against moisture. Excellent lightfastness (comparable
to Matte Heavyweight) but poor water resistance (Epson's other papers are
surprisingly good). ICC profiles (different for the 1270 and 1280/1290)
are available from Epson's support
website, but my
settings work well for me. I love this paper-- it's beautiful!
offers Ilford Galerie "Classic" papers, which have similar swellable polymer
technology, in two surfaces: pearl
fading in dye-based printers (Epson 1270/1280/1290, Canon S9000 etc.)
A few months after the 1270 was introduced, people
started noticing that Premium Glossy prints would occasionally and unpredictably
turn orange or red due to fading of the cyan dye. This turned out to be
a big embarrassment for Epson. I saw the "red shift" once.
left a Luster print in my bright skylit living room where it received direct
afternoon sun, and it faded severely in just one week-- with
rapidity for such a short period. I did a few tests-- it
was something in the air, not sunlight or summer heat. A Luster print in
a shady part in the same room faded at the same rate, but the same print
in my cool dry basement didn't fade at all. None of the Matte Heavyweight
"Red shift" is caused by oxidation of the cyan dye. The culprit was
originally thought to be ozone (O3 )-- a particularly potent
form of oxygen, but it's now recognized that plain oxygen (O2 )
in combination with still unknown atmospheric contaminants which act as
catalysts can cause the fading. Not nice! My Luster paper turned out to
be an old batch. Anti-oxidants were added to Premium Gloss, Premium Semigloss,
and Premium Luster starting in 2001. (See the Inkjetart.com
article.) This improves things, but doesn't fix the problem entirely--
fading can start when the anti-oxidant is depleted. And display life is
only rated at 10 years. Framing the print under glass eliminates the problem.
Polypropylene sleves offer some protection. Check out Bob
Meyer's site for more detail on this problem.
As a result, the only papers I can recommend for the 1270/1280/1290
are Matte Heavyweight and swellable polymer papers, such as ColorLife,
which has a lovely semigloss surface and a claimed longevity
of 25 years. Canon dye-based printers suffer from the same problem.
printer troubleshooting and maintenance tips
your prints don't look right,the
first thing to do is to run the nozzle check check. If any of the
six colors fail the test, run the Head Cleaning cycle. The test doesn't
take much time or ink, and you can use scratch paper. You access it through
the Utility tab in the printer Properties window.
Ink formulation has been changed
from the original. Ron
Harris no longer likes B&W with Matte Heavyweight paper. Here is
Tip #0302 Ink
Color Variance in Stylus Photo 870/875/1270
(from Epson, undated. 2001?)
is a valuable tip from Inkjetart.com's
NEWS & Tips - 10 Dec 01. It seemed to fix my communication error
problem (below) for a while. I strongly recommend subscribing
to this newsletter.
We are aware
that some of our customers use special color matching techniques to precisely
calibrate the color performance of Epson Stylus Photo printers. We are
alerting such customers of a change in manufacturers of dye components
used in the color ink that results in a very slight change in the output
from Epson Stylus Photo 870, 875, and 1270 printers. This slight change
would not be descernible with printers less capable of continuous tone
printing, and most users of Epson Stylus Photo printers will also not notice
any changes in color performance.
who are particularly discerning, however, may notice that colors such as
blue are very slightly more vivid and gray tones are very slightly cooler.
This change affects T008201 and T009201 cartridges. The affected cartridges
have lot numbers that begin with the letter "A".
Is your inkjet printer
starting to make awful sounds and/or making a mess of the files sent to
it? It could be that your print heads are suffering from "rail drag". This
is one of the most common repair problems we hear of (often costing a minimum
of $50 if your printer is out of warranty, or at the least several days
of down time even if it is under warranty).
stops part way through a print with "communication error."After
about a year my 1270 would intermittently stop part way through a print
and give me a "communication error" message.
This problem drove me crazy.
I reinstalled the drivers from the USA and UK sites, rearranged the IRQ's,
reinstalled Windows 98, etc., to no avail. Cleaning the rails (above) seemed
to help for a while. I changed the
motherboard, installed Windows XP Pro, removed the USB hub and made sure
there was sufficient disk space on the C drive for a scratch file-- at
least five times the image file size for 1440 dpi printing. But the problem
The most common culprit is
"rail drag" due to a dirty and/or dried out print head rail. If you're
experiencing problems, try cleaning the rail (the chrome bar) that the
print heads glide back and forth on -- before you go to the repair shop.
Use WD-40 or a light sewing machine oil (some use gun oil) and wipe off
the excess. (Yes, a repair shop has no problems with charging you $50 just
for doing this simple procedure!) Do this with a clean cotton cloth about
every three months, or monthly if your printer is under heavy use. Whenever
the printer motor experiences any extra friction or resistance from the
print head assembly it will "fail-safe" and stop, or go to a default position
so as not to force the issue and damage the motor or the print head drive
assembly. The cleaning of the printer head rail eliminates most of these
I heard that the only
surefire solution is to switch from USB to a parallel printer connection--
slower on my old computer with Windows 98. Perhaps not so slow on my new
computer with Windows XP.
I bought a USB 2.0 PCI card
to accomodate my Epson 2450 scanner.
It uses different drivers from standard USB 1.1 cards.
2.0 card fixed the problem.
|Here is a solution from Rich Hureau of Hampton, NH.|
recently purchased an Epson 1280 and soon started to get the
"communication error." But I found a simple soution, based on
experience with my older Epson 900. For years the Remaining ink display would periodically be grayed out,
but it would print OK. This didn't affect the printer performance at
all, and would go away after rebooting (although I could also just
When the 1280 started giving me these pesky
"communication" errors, I wondered if it was related. So I looked in
the printer driver settings. In the Utility tab, there is a button
labelled "Speed and Progress". If you click it, another dialog pops up
with a button labelled "Monitoring Preferences." Click this, and
another dialog appears, with several checkboxes. One says:
"Communication Error," with a On/Off setting. By default, the Epson 900
has a setting OFF on this checkbox. But the 1280 has a default ON. So,
I set it to OFF, and it seems to have solved the problem. The Remaining
ink display occasionally turns gray, and when it does, the Status Monitor shows a Communication Error, but the printer keeps on printing.
|That box is still there-- and still equally hidden-- in the R2400. Fortunately it is OFF by default.|
Windows XP printing
errors? Most errors can be fixed by installing
Service Pack 1, which includes the latest USB 2.0 drivers.You will need
to update the drivers for the USB host controllers. Robert
Zembowicz (and Microsoft)
have some valuable advice on doing this. Before
I installed it the print spooler often failed to clear completed print
jobs. Here's what I did. (1) Close the print spooler (spoolsv.exe). The
quickest way is to open the Task Manager (Ctrl-Alt-Del) and end the spoolsv.exe
process. (2) Remove old print jobs by deleting *.SHD and *.SPL files from
C:\WINDOWS\system32\spool\PRINTERS. Explorer must be set to view hidden
and system files. It might be a good idea to do this whenever you cancel
a print job midstream. (3) Restart the print spooler. This can be done
by clicking Start, Run..., and entering spoolsv.exe in the Open: box. It
can also be done from the Task Manager. I made a shortcut (to C:\WINDOWS\system32\spoolsv.exe
) to speed up this process. Sometimes spoolsv.exe takes a minute or so
to restart. When you check print job status in the Printers and Faxes window,
you may want to click View, Refresh. It doesn't always show current status.
An alternative approach to stopping/restarting the print spooler is to
open the Control Panel, double-click on Administrative Tools, Services,
click on Print Spooler, then stop it. Delete the *.SHD and *.SPL files,
then restart it from the Services window. Before I found these fixes I
always had to reboot my computer, sometimes
twice, whenever it refused
to print. But these fixes weren't perfect. The software sometimes
failed to recognize the printer-- the ink level boxes in Printer Preferences
remained clear white or grayed out.
cotton has a page on printer maintenance.
Stylus Photo 2000P Introduced in 2000. About $900. Prints
up to 13 inches wide using "polymer-encapsulated" pigment-based inks. 100-200+
year print lifetime. Less color gamut than Epson's dye-based printers,
but reviewers generally find it acceptable. Prints suffer from
-- a substantial color shift when viewed under different light sources.
Not acceptable for Back & White. I didn't buy one because the black
tones on the sample I've seen were not as deep as the 1270. Print quality
may be improved by increasing the contrast in the dialog box (below) to
10 as Ron Harris
suggests, or setting the mode to "Vivid" as Michael
Reichmann suggests. Inkjetart.com compared
of the 1270 and 2000P. For all practical purposes, the 2000P has been
replaced by the 2100/2200, which is faster and has a superior color gamut,
though its pigment longevity is only 75-100 years.
has several 6-ink dye-based printers that compete with Epson. Like the
Epson dye-based printers they suffer from the red-shift
problem, which is dealt with by using matte or swellable polymer glossy
papers. Photo-i has a review of
the 5-ink i865,
which is classified as a business printer-- fewer cartridges than the Photo
printers listed below..
dropped its 6-color photo printers in favor of 4-color office printers
in 2000 but returned with a promising new line in 2002. A good thing because
they have excellent technology. They claimed up to 75 year print life (excellent).
I was impressed by some prints I saw, and Wilhelm's
results indicated a 73 year lifetime for images printed on HP Premium
Plus Photo Paper- Glossy-- far better than other dye-based prints and
nearly as good as the Epson 2200. Photographers will start paying more
attention to HP when they come out with a 13 inch wide model, but an insider
friend told me that Epson's marketing gurus can't imagine why any consumer
would want a printer wider than 8½ inches. Here are some highlights
in their current
Wide body (up to 13x19 inch) 6-ink
dye-based printer with 25 year estimated life. Very fast.
Replacable (but expensive) print head. It apparently doesn't print longer
than 19 inches-- so it won't do for large panoramic images. Michael
Reichmann was favorably impressed. Steves-Digicams
gave it a rave
a lengthy review in which they express a few reservations. Is being replaced
by the i9100, but it's still available at an attractive price.
Replacement for the S9000. Makes borderless 13x19 prints. (I prefer borders
for protection against edge damage.) Steve's
Digicams has a detailed review.
8½ inch wide version of the i9100. The slightly more expensive i900D
has a built-in LCD display for direct printing.
Black and White printing is discussed in B&W,
matting and framing.
7960 8-ink printer includes two shades of gray in
addition to black. Excellent for B&W printing-- superior to all other
dye-based printers. Longer print life than Epson or Canon dye-based printers.
Digicams have excellent detailed reviews.
Deskjet 9650 prints up to 13x19
inches. I believe it uses 6 inks-- not up to the same standard as the 7980.
They don't list it among their "Photo" printers.
websites with printer news, reviews, and products
Contains reviews and up-to-date news on the Epson 1270, 1280/90,
2000P and 2200.
has a particularly comprehensive set of printer reviews.
Photo-i (UK) Frequently
has outstanding printer reviews.
Digital Photography Now
keeps up with Epson's latest printers, including those recemtly announced
in Japan. Europe gets new models ahead of the US.
Inkjetart.com has an abundance of information
on Epson printers. An excellent source of supplies, particularly paper.
is worth subscribing to.
Lexjet A Florida company that
offers nice prices on Epson
ink cartridges and some intriguing
media for dye and pigment-based printers.
Wilhelm Imaging Research
Henry Wilhelm's definitive site on print longevity. Has new information
on print longevity for the Epson
9600/7600/2200/2100 (ultrachrome), HP
Deskjet 5550, and HP
DesignJet 5000/5000PS printers. His classic 1993 book, The
Permanence and Care of Color Photographs (a source of embarrassment
to my employer at the time), is now available as a free
Photo Fade-Out in PCWorld.com. A discussion of print longevity by Anush
Yegyazarian from the July 2001 issue of PC World magazine. Contains
news of Epson's latest paper for the 1270/80/90 and a Canon printer with
comparable print lifetimes. Epson needs competition!
Ian Lyons' Computer Darkroom
Contains excellent tutorials on the use of Epson printers as well as Photoshop
and color management. Has ICC
profiles for several Epson printers.
compares the 1270 and 2000P for B&W printing. He prefers the 1270.
Bob Meyer has a fascinating
page on the Epson red shift fading problem that also discusses other printing
systems. He tests papers and inks in an ozone chamber. Yes, Canon has the
same problem. Epson ColorLife is much better. Last updated August 2001.
With Quadtone inks you can make archival B&W prints with old Epson
printers, but getting good results can be tricky. MIS
workflow page is a good source of guidance.
Finding new papers
by Peter Wolff (PHOTOgraphical.net).
Discusses criteria for selecting papers from independent manufacturers.
Peter has an Epson 1290 (1280 in the US). Fairly elementary. He has some
test results, obtained using test charts from my article on Evaluating
many pixels do you need?
A printer's dpi rating (1440 or 2880 dpi for Epsons at their highest quality
setting) is sometimes called its "resolution," but it is not
resolution. It is the amount the stepper motor moves
between printing dots. It takes several printer dots to reproduce an image
pixel. If you are using
Picture Window Pro
or Qimage Pro (a Photoshop
post-processor), you don't need to resize an image for printing; you don't
need to worry about the exact mapping between image and printer pixels.
The image is resampled and sent directly to the printer. Prints are optimally
sharp. You will, however, need to resize images if you send them out to
a lab for LightJet printing.
Your only concern is that you have sufficient image pixels per inch
on the print. The following table has some useful guidelines.
||Outstanding. As sharp
as most printers can print; about as sharp as the eye can see at normal
to 300 PPI for small prints, 8½x11 (or A4) and smaller.
Outstanding quality in large
prints, 11x17" (or A3) and larger, which tend to be viewed from greater
||OK for large prints.
Adequate, but not optimum, for small prints.
||Adequate, but not optimum,
for large prints. Mediocre for small prints.
These numbers are actual pixels per inch, not necessarily the dpi or
ppi "resolution" of the image file, which is actually a scaling factor.
Print file size and scaling are discussed in Pixels,
images, and files. Print sharpness measurements are described in Understanding
image sharpness part 3: Printers and prints.
Digital Dog's 1600x2000
pixel test image looks very sharp printed at 200 pixels per inch on
Letter-size paper. There is only a small improvement in going to 300 pixels
per inch. If I don't plan to print larger than Letter size, I scan at 2000
dpi with the Canon FS4000US (1800 dpi with the Hewlett-Packard S20). This
keeps file sizes smaller and speeds editing. If I plan to print A3 or larger
I scan at maximum resolution.
graphics: another world So
you invested heavily in the burgeoning Internet industry in 1995 and decided
to sell your stocks when they seemed a bit high in 2000. Now your problem
is what to do with all that money. I offer a solution. There's another
world out there-- the world of professional graphics; of giclée
printing; of huge prints and high volume industrial strength equipment.
A good entry is the FLAAR websites-- verbose and opinionated, but always
fascinating. I often disagree with them, particularly when they dismiss
consumer grade equipment like Epson printers, which are capable of remarkable
quality, but don't have the speed or ruggedness to meet professional demands.
Still, a wide format giclée printer (24 inches or more) would be
and text copyright © 2000-2013 by Norman
Norman Koren lives in Boulder, Colorado, founded Imatest LLC in 2004, previously worked on magnetic recording technology. He has been involved with photography since 1964.