|Excellent Paper Handling||Seven Ink Jet Cartridges|
|Superior Color Gamut||Some Paper are Expensive|
|Color Fast Inks||Need to replace cartridge for matte printing|
|Prints Super B to Edges||Big|
|Superior B&W Photos|
|Good Driver Software|
|Both Firewire & USB Interfaces|
The Epson Stylus Photo 2200 will probably appeal to serious photographers. It prints excellent photographic images on a variety of glossy, egg shell and mat papers that will last a long time. Epson claims 75 years for some ink paper combinations. I have no way to test the duration, but they are dramatically more durable than other ink jet printers including the previous Stylus Photo models I have tried. Print quality is also superior to any other ink jet I have tried and rivals the best dye sublimation printers. The B&W print are the best I have seen from any printer, especially the mat (using a mat black cartridge sold separately). Being able to print on Super B (13x19 inches) and on roll paper up to 13x44 inches are also nice.
The printer comes with a graphic installation poster which uses drawings to show assembly, avoiding the need for Japlaness or multi-language instructions. The assembly process was easy and swift. Although I have had no use for the roll paper feeder or automatic cutter yet, that installation doesn’t appear challenging.
The Epson prints on glossy photo paper, an egg shell surface photo paper (Epson calls it Luster), a semi-gloss photo paper, a water color matte paper, a enhanced matte paper and a velvet art paper. The matte papers require a matte black ink jet cartridge that doesn’t come with the printer. I have also printed on HP glossy premium photopaper and Epson photo-quality ink jet paper.
Printing on glossy papers produce excellent image quality with all the glossy papers I’ve tried. Improvement in quality over the HP Deskjet 1220C I tested it against would not be sufficient to justify buying this printer but the Epson is slightly superior.
Printing on egg shell textured paper is spectacularly superior because the other printers can’t print on this paper. Since glossy is not always the best choice this is a definite improvement. The semi-gloss prints are also a dramatic improvement. Both produce prints with have a wider angle of view. That is they change color less when viewed at an angle.
The matte prints require you to go buy another ten dollar matte black ink cartridge. Printing to the water color paper with the regular black cartridge produces a washed out color. Switch to the extra cartridge and the blacks are saturated and intense. The ability to print on “art” type papers is a big step forward for photographers. Every time you swap the black cartridge you lose a little ink so frequent swaps will be expensive.
Printing with the matte black cartridge on the velvet art paper with a gray scale image produces simply lush prints. The Epson simply blows other printers out of the water for black & white printing.
To test longevity I printed the same image with the Epson and the HP Deskjet using the manufacturer’s gloss photo paper and put the prints on the fence in my back yard. Yes there was a little rain, light drizzle, during the test. The HP print began noticeable fad in about 20 days. The Epson print was untouched. No proof that the Epson print will last 75 years but I was impressed.
Fig. 1: Comparison of print durability between an HP printer (left) and the Epson (right). The HP print has begun to fade and some ink has run while the Epson print is unaffected.
The Epson has better color gamut than the HP Deskjet and resolution is marginally better. An additional factor is the color appearance under different lighting conditions. The Epson prints have less color shift between incandescent lights, sun light and fluorescent light. Although these color shifts are subtle those wishing to make subtle prints will find this convenient. I also compared the Epson to the Fuji dye sublimation printer. The Epson print is indistinguishable from the dye sublimation printer without a loop. This is especially impressive considering there is more than a ten to one price differential.
The negatives are:
The Epson is not a general purpose printer but for those wishing to make photographic prints to Super B size will not find a better printer on the market. Results rival the best dye sublimation printers for a fraction of the cost. I use this printer to print photographs only and I can imagine it being used to print art. I can see the printer being used to make small prints on large sheets, gang printing, as it would be cost competitive with conventional photographic printing. Anyone wanting to print 8x10 “snap” shots will probably want a cheaper model. Serious photographers, however, are going to want this printer.