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|Product:||Epson Stylus Photo R1900|
Epson Stylus Photo R1900 - Walking around taking photos with a fancy camera is one thing. But then to go home and print your pictures on a dot matrix printer is plain silly. Matt Grayson takes a look at a decent replacement for his.
Replacing the popular R1800 and with an entirely new colour to dazzle you, the R1900 is trying its hardest to sway you with fluttery eyelashes.
- Max document size: A3+
- Resolution: 5760x1440dpi
- Ink system/type: UltraChrome Hi-Gloss2 ink
- Quantity of inks: 8
- Screen: No
- Memory card reader: No
- Roll media: Yes
- CD/DVD printing: Yes
- Operating system: Vista, XP, 2000, Me/Mac OS X v10.2.8, v10.3.9 or later
- Connectivity: Dual Port USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
- Size: 616x322x214mm
Epson Stylus Photo R1900: Modes and features
The front has only four buttons for Power, Paper Alert/Delete, Ink change and Roll Feed. This makes everything very simple and easy to use, which is something I've always liked about Epson. The Pictbridge connector is located on the front of the printer in the bottom left corner while the two USB connectors are found on the rear of the printer, less than a stones throw from the power cord outlet which is a simple figure eight lead.
Building on the Epson Stylus Photo R1800, the R1900 prints an A4 sheet two seconds faster and is physically smaller by a good 60cm in places. The dual USB ports on the R1900 are for PC and Mac compatibility. The R1800 only has one port, but does have a Firewire port for faster downloading.
Epson say the R1900 is louder at 5db, compared to the 4.7db of the R1800.
More importantly, the inks have been improved upon for the release of the R1900. With the new printer using UltraChrome Hi-Gloss ink alongside K3 technology.
The ink tanks are quite small for an A3 printer and are tiny compared with larger printers such as the Pro 3800. However, they are quite economical and I managed to print off twenty pictures and clean the heads three times. The levels looked like they'd hardly moved, with the exception of the Gloss Optimiser, which ran out.
The tanks do have to be shaken before inserting them into the printer for the first time. This is because the pigment particles in the ink can sink to the bottom of the tank and potentially clog up the pipes.
During my review of the R2400 for the A3 printer group test, I mentioned that the K3 technology is not entirely accurate. The R1900 is similar in that it can only actually take two ink tanks at a time. The light light black tank has to be swapped when printing black and white images. While I can understand the reasoning behind this (if you print black and white sporadically you could end up using an entire tank without effectively using it if you clean the heads frequently), I still don't think it should be classed as three blacks unless that amount are present all the time.
Epson say that the Ultra-Chrome pigments reflect light evenly for a higher colour gamut. The third black ink (K3) is the light, light black which works alongside photo black and replaces light black. This is to aid the others in monochrome work mainly but, according to Epson, also aids colour printing.
The blue ink from the R1800 has been replaced with orange on the R1900 for better skin tone reproduction.
The loading and collection trays are three tiered and even though they are bendy, there doesn't seem to be a risk of breakage. It also appears that the days of having to shake the trays because of the telescopic parts are stuck at an angle are over.
The rest of the printer is well built and intelligently designed. The rear of the unit is sparse with only the power cord and dual USB ports for you to play with. Those double ports can be used for mini networking and can work with PC or Mac and for those of you using both Mac and PC together, the Epson will be able to connect to them simultaneously.
Installing the printer driver onto the computer, takes around six or seven minutes from inserting the CD into the drive to taking it out and rebooting the computer.
Interestingly, when it was asking me to confirm my language profile, it came up with Dutch as my default language. It was only because I was unfamiliar with this procedure that I checked as I sometimes just OK everything assuming that the manufacturer knows I want to install it English.
The Epson Photo Stylus R1900 doesn't have a memory card slot for direct printing so if you don't want to use your computer, you'll have to employ the Pictbridge port.
Epson Stylus Photo R1900: Performance
Printing through Photoshop CS2 is a simple process until you decide to start messing around and to make any amendments, the properties box has lots of options for you to choose from.
You can get there by going to Print Preview>Page Set-up>Printer>Properties. At this window, the two main pages you will use are the first ones called Main and Advanced.
The main tab allows you to select the quality of the print, which will speed up the printing process, but gives less regard to print quality. You can also adjust the paper type, size, which tray it's coming from and whether you want borders or not. The ink levels are also shown with purchase information for when they need replenishing and a technical support link to a trouble shooting page on the Epson website.
Clicking over to the Advanced tab repeats the paper options and also has a secondary orientation switch. The first one can be found on the Page Set-up window and this will tell the printer whether the image is upright or lengthways.
If you're printing a long document with lots of pages, they can be printed in reverse order so that page one is on top, which is a really neat idea and could potentially save a lot of time.
The Colour Management area is for the software to make its own adjustments to how it thinks the picture should look using PhotoEnhance. Alternatively, you can click on ICM releasing an extra part of the window which is otherwise hidden. This area allows you to access the many profiles that the Epson printer has stored. The Epson profiles are very good and you can also make your own to store so that all your prints will be printed uniformly.
The portrait shot was printed at A4 in 3min 8sec which is faster than the standard A4 printers and faster than many A3 printers. Take a look at the previous A3 group test to see how other printers compare.
The Main tab is the general information page for generic changes.
The Advanced page gives you access to the ICC profiles.
The shots I printed have been scanned in on an Epson Perfection 3200 flatbed scanner with no prior adjustments made to the settings. For the colour chart test I've printed the image out and photographed it beside the actual colour chart, so you can see the print next to the real thing.
The portrait shots were taken on the Olympus E3 DSLR and tweaked in Photoshop CS2 while the flower shot was taken on a Pentax K100D Super and also had some adjustment in Photoshop. The adjustments were made before I printed the images out so bore no effect on the performance of the printer.
On the colour chart, the blues are a little darker as are the reds with the yellows being more muted. The tones around the edge have been produced quite faithfully, but the white in the middle which makes up part of the original GretagMacbeth chart is more grey. Looking at the writing at the top of the chart the print shows a slight blue cast.
The really pale blue next to the primary blue and a pale green two squares below are barely registering on the print. The skin tone looks a bit faded compared to the original but the greens have more saturation.
The flower shot has come out with the petals more red than the original. It's an unusual one because on this occasion, it doesn't detract from the image, however the original shows them with a magenta tone, so the printer has failed to pick that up.
What has worried me is the banding that's present on the green areas of the image. They aren't present on the black & white image or the colour chart.
The colour portrait is the most interesting shot as the new orange ink is designed to help with this type of image. On the shot I printed the skin tone is more coloured in than the original, which is unfortunate, but could be down to the printers automatic settings overriding what the shot is actually like.
The light side of the face looks a bit tepid because of this, making the model look ill. The dark side of her face has suffered from banding too. Interestingly this isn't present on the black dress, so it seems to just be a problem in the mid range.
The colour chart image was printed out from an image of the original taken on a Canon EOS 350D DSLR. I've placed the print on top of the original chart so you can compare for yourself.
This black and white shot has been reproduced well. The blacks are black and the whites are white with no cast on the paper.
The colour portrait has come out with more colour in the skin.
The banding is also present in the darker side of the face, but not in the black dress.
The flowers have come out nicely, but the image is let down by the petals being too red. The original has the petals with more of a magenta tone to them.
The banding can be seen clearly at full size enlargement.
Epson Stylus Photo R1900: Verdict
The first print I got from the R1900 was clear and crisp. In fact from all the images I've printed on it I haven't had a reason to complain apart from the banding on the flowers and portrait shots.
The addition of the orange ink is designed for better portraits as it helps with the skin tones, yet the colour chart test showed that it was more geared up for landscapes as the greens and blues deemed more close to the originals.
I still like this printer because of it's ease of use, build quality and, if you can avoid the banding, gives very good results.
Epson Stylus Photo R1900: Plus points
Easy to use
Good black & white reproduction
Epson Stylus Photo R1900: Minus points
Banding in mid tones
Small ink tanks
The Epson Stylus Photo R1900 costs around £380 and is available from your friendly neighbourhood ePHOTOzine shop here.