Jul 2, 2005

Epson Stylus Pro 4800

Source: Luminous Landscape
Written By Michael Reichmann

Unless you’ve spent May 2005 on another planet, you’re almost certainly aware of the new generation of Epson printers using UltraChromeK3 inks; the Stylus Photo 2400 / Stylus Pro 4800 – 7800 – 9800.

My article on this announcement and further details on these new printers and inks can be read here. In early June the 2400 and 4800 printers started to ship in several markets, while the 7800 and 9800 won’t become available until the end of the year.

The Out-of-Box Experience

Within 20 minutes of carrying the 4800 into my office it was up and running and starting to churn out a print project that I’d had on hold for a couple of weeks. In large measure this was because the printer is functionally very similar in design to its predecessor the Stylus Pro 4000, which I’ve been using daily for the past year or so.

If you’re not familiar with the 4000, take a few minutes to read up on it in the 4000 review of 2004. I won’t bother repeating here most of what is the same or similar between the two printers. But, needless to say, the 4800 is a very large and heavy printer and I advise you to have someone help you with transport and installation. Otherwise, it is possibly the finest photographic quality printer available to the busy fine art and commercial photographer. But it’s complex, and takes a bit of learning to get the most from its capabilties.

A lot of photographers wonder why they might want to spring for a Stylus Pro printer rather than a Stylus Photo; the 4800 rather than the 2400, for example. The reasons are many. Firstly, they are capable of handling paper up to 17″ in width rather than 13″. Secondly, they are able to take 110ML and 220ML ink cartridges, which are vastly larger than the ones that can be used in the Photo series of printers, thus reducing ink costs and also the frequency of cartridge changes.

But, one aspect that one doesn’t see mentioned often, is that the Pro series, such as the new 4800, 7800 and 9800 printers, are made in a very different manner than the 2400 and other Photo series printers. The difference is that the Photo printers are mass produced on an assembly line basis. Manufacturing tolerances are high, and consistency is quite good, but that’s all that one can hope for.

In the case of the 4800 and other Pro series Epson printers I am told that each printer is essentially built and tested by hand, by one individual. Each printer is then linearized, and this data is burned into a ROM for that printer. This produces a printer with a much higher degree of consistency and linearity. So, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

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