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As a professional photographer I have written many reviews on Dooyoo and Ciao about the various cameras I have used or tested and much of the other accessories that go with the job, well after the images are taken they of course need to be printed, I use a local lab to do the majority of my printing but for budget priced prints and one hour turn around shoots I print myself in the studio and if it is anything up to an A3 print I use the Epson stylus photo R1900.
This is a serious piece of kit and it is not like the typical Epson printers in size or weight, this is a large based printer sized 616 X 322 X 214 mm and weighing in at a hopping 12000g, it takes 8 ink cartridges rather than the typical six but what you get with this huge lump of a machine is prints you can cherish and like I do, sell confidently.
On the front of the machine there is only four buttons present, Power, Paper Alert/Delete, Ink change and Roll Feed, which makes it simple to use, on the rear there are two USB ports, one for PC and one for MAC, right next to these you will find the power cable but no firewire port as Epson have removed this option from this model even though there was one on the earlier R1800.
The build quality of this unit is better than the average £80 Epsons most people will go for, it is a very sturdy unit, the loading trays are three tiered and although made of a much flimsier plastic than the rest of the components I am fairly sure that the risk of them breaking is very slight and they do seem to be of better quality than the loading trays of previous Epsons.
On to installing this printer and although I have installed it only once and that was some time ago I do remember it to have been a very simple and straight forward process, simply use the provided disc, follow the simple on screen instructions and around about ten minutes time and your printer will be fully functional and raring to go.
Performance wise this printer is reasonably fast without being rapid, it cannot compete with lab printers but it outshines cheaper Epsons and other brands by a good distance. An 8X10 photo in best photo format will take around 90 seconds to print which is pretty decent, the older Epsons used to take around double that for this size of print.
The actual appearance and quality of the print is staggeringly good for a non lab printer, the 8 ink system allows the Epson R1900 to create a staggering 18,446,774 trillion colour combinations which is far, far superior to any of the earlier Epsons and around double what a typical Kodak printer can produce.
This excellent performance and print quality comes at a price though and I do not mean the £350 that the printer will cost but rather the £100 a time it will cost you to replace a set of inks, the inks used are known as UltraChrome Hi-Gloss2 and you now get as well as the cyan, magenta and yellow inks, matte black, photo black, red, orange and gloss optimizer, the orange ink replaces the blue ink previously used with UltraChrome Hi-Gloss and Epson themselves say that this allows them to get a much beter skin tone colour reproduction as well as offering a much better reproduction of the shades of green and blues when HDR photography is used.
Whilst we are on the subject of the inks, you need to shake the inks before you use them for the first time, Epson say this is because the pigment particles in the ink can sink to the bottom of the tank and potentially clog up the pipes.
As well as printing photos this machine can make light work of documents too with an A4 document printing at only 2 seconds per page if you are printing of large documents of many pages you do not have to wait a lifetime for them to be ready.
The photo side of the printer is of course where its best performances lie and I can honestly say that I have been very happy with the quality of prints this machine has turned out, I have been using the Epson R1900 for over a year now and have printed somewhere in the region of 5000 8X10 photos with it and it has as of yet not needed a service nor has it thrown up any problems except for once when it failed to print but that was due to a faulty ink and not the printer.
You can purchase third party inks that will work with this printer, I of course never do as I am selling the photos professionally and would not trust the third party inks but they are out there should you choose to use them and they do of course cost a fraction of the price of the Epson ones.
As a portrait photographer the new orange ink and the better skin tones are something I can certainly say that I believe in and this does make my job in the editing suite much easier, the one thing that I do not believe in however is Epsons claim that the finished photos are better than lab quality, a claim which Epson makes with lots of their printers now but for me a lab quality print will always outshine these and that is why my budget range prints are less expensive by quite a bit over my lab prints.
The only other slight points of note on the down side of this printer is that there is a slight banding on the prints through the mid tones, this cannot be seen unless under magnification but it is there and the other thing of note is that the ink tanks are a bit on the small side for such a large printer but overall it is a great piece of kit really.
I do a lot of black and white photography and believe it or not printers tend to find this harder to get right than printing in colour, the blacks can often look washed out and the ability to produce highlight and shadow in black and white photos is beyond many printers but with the use of the extra black and the gloss optimizer this Epson R1900 has great black & white reproduction.
As well as printing on the typical glossy photo paper I also use matte and canvas papers and this is the point that a lot of printers fail miserably but although the Epson R1900 does give its best result on premium glossy papers it can operate very well on matte and canvas papers too which is a huge thing in a professional environment.
When I purchased this printer it came with a set of start up inks which were only half full, this is standard procedure for Epson, the gloss optimizer however was full and there was a spare one too, the reason why soon became apparent, the optimizer covers the entire surface of every print and therefore soon runs out, I get about 30 8X10 prints per optimizer cartridge, luckily these can be purchased much cheaper than the ink cartridges at only £8 for a pack of four.
Epson Stylus Photo R1900 Specification
Max document size: A3+ Resolution: 5760x1440dpi Ink system/type: UltraChrome Hi-Gloss2 ink Quantity of inks: 8 Screen: No Memory card reader: No PictBridge:Yes 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 Weight:12000g
TO SUM UP:
I would be quick to recommend this printer to people very serious about their printing or who consider selling their prints but for occasional printers and people just printing for scrap books or family albums the running cost of this printer might just be simply too high.
The only other thing that I perhaps should mention and might be a drawback to some is the lack of a screen or built in card reader on this printer but that is because this printer is designed to be used with a computer and editing suite so they are really surplus to requirement.
This is an excellent printer all round with only a few cons which I have mentioned and I have to say that at the £410 I paid for it over a year ago it has been excellent value for money but that is easy for me to say as I sell my prints and the printer has paid for itself over and over again, I am still fairly sure though that the value for money thing counts equally if you are looking for top quality prints that you can produce at home.
What you get every time is crisp, clear and vibrant high contrast images that you can be very proud of so if you can afford the price tag or simply justify it by making the money back selling your prints then this is an excellent choice of home photo printer.
DESIGN 9/10 BUILD QUALITY 9/10 FEATURES 9/10 EASE OF USE 9/10 IMAGE QUALITY 9/10 VALUE FOR MONEY 9/10 OVERALL 9/10
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