Friday, January 27, 2012

One week with the Epson 9900

I thought I'd sit down and try to convey my thoughts about the 9900 after having it for a week. Don't expect to see weekly or monthly updates as I just wanted to share what I've learned to date.

There's no reason to use the best photographic gear you can find; process images using the best software on the biggest computer you can afford if your images suffer in the final stage.  It's senseless to print an image on inferior media or a lackluster printer.  The printer is just as important, and in some cases can be more important than anything else.

As noted before, I used an Epson 9800 for over 5-years.  It got to the point the printer was just another fixture in the studio; just sitting there waiting for the next printing session.  I see the 9900 doing much the same.

There has been somewhat of a learning curve this week as I've not only changed printer but media as well.  I won't lie and say everything has gone smoothly; however, I'll admit the problems were all caused by operator error and not the fault of the printer.   

The majority of my work is printed on canvas, using Epson canvas for as long as I've owned the 9800. I'd still be using Epson canvas if they hadn't changed it. Instead I now use Breathing Colors Lyve. The reason I add this here is that using Epson media on an Epson printer is easy as everybody talks to one another. You set the type of Epson media you're using and the printer takes care of the settings. Not so using another brand.

Little things like setting the media type.  In the case of Lyve the setting is for Watercolor Paper-Radiant White (Matte Black) or Premium Glossy Photo Paper (Photo Black ink) (I choose to the watercolor setting).  Setting the platen gap to wider will also go a long way to creating a perfect print.  All this reinforces the need of using an ICC profile for the media used.

So what have I learned/observed this past week? Glad you asked.

The print quality is better. The tone in general is richer than I've seen before. This can be the result of using new media as well as the printer itself. However, I've seen this in the paper prints as well as the canvas. I've been using Hahnemühle Baryta for a number of years and had enough left on the roll to print 3-images of an order for Jackson Hole. The paper images looked better than I'd ever seen them.

I think I can explain the quality difference (to my self) on the canvas.  Previously I'd been using Epson satin which used photo black ink.  I'm now using Lyve which is a matte canvas and uses matte black; that small difference is significant.

Changing from matte to photo black and back. One word. Easy. Or if you prefer, super easy. Set the media profile (I'm using CS5) and click either matte or black then sit back and let the printer take over. It's that easy.

Changing media.  Again, easy.  It now takes less than 1/2 of the time it used to in changing the media.  The lack of the spindle reduces the weight and in general makes the process so much faster.  I've changed rolls of Lyve canvas from 42" down to 36" then changed it again to a 36" roll of paper without feeling like I was wrestling an alligator.  Press the button (no lever) and the media rolls back onto the roll.  Open the lever and move the locking mechanism to release the roll and remove it from the printer.  Release the end caps and store the media.  It took longer to explain it than it actual takes.
Ink.  I just logged onto (nice touch Epson) where I see that in the week I've had the printer I done 23 prints jobs, used 546 mil ink for 119 sq ft. (Epson warns this is an estimate).
One last thought - the cutter.  This thing is a work of art.  And scary.  The first couple times the cutter activated I nearly jumped out of my chair.  It's fast. A little noisy compared to the printing process.  But gives a clean smooth cut.  It's nice to be able to cut canvas without having to first add a $400 manual cutter which I had to do on the 9800.
Speaking of cost.  The printer ended up costing less than the 9800 did even with the rebates.  I'm also surprised that I've been able to print so much using the original 110 mil cartridges as I'm now just about to change 8 of them.

The 9900 might not be for everyone due to cost and size; however, I'd recommend anyone thinking of purchasing a new printer, either as a first or replacement visit the Epson site for more information. 

In case you haven't been able to tell, I'm very pleased.

Thanks for allowing me to share.


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