Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2005

New Epson Printers: Three Shades of Black, and Much More

Sometimes it pays to wait.

I've been on the verge of buying a semi-large-format inkjet printer, and was this close to ordering Epson's highly regarded R1800.

I'm glad I didn't. Today, Epson announced a major revamping of its pro and semi-pro printer line, and the new Stylus Photo R2400 ($849US street price) is exactly what I'm looking for. Like the R1800, it's a "Super B" printer: capable of printing a 13 by 19-inch print. But the R2400 uses a new ink formulation that sounds spectacular.

Whenever a cool new photo-related product is introduced, one of my first stops is Michael Reichmann's Luminous Landscape site. After reading his description of the new printers, I'm all the more excited.

I'm particularly interested in printing black and white photos—something most inkjet printers don't do well. The new Epson printers use a new ink scheme, named UltrachromeK3, that provides three different black inks. (Read the details at Epson's site.) As Reichmann writes, "having three separate black inks means that dark tonalities can now be created almost entirely with these inks, rather than a blend of colour inks. And since we know that the reason that CMYK printers use black ink (K), is because while theoretically blending Cyan, Magenta and Yellow produces pure black, in the real world impurities prevent this, and we get muddy blacks instead."

I'll be ordering one of these kids as soon as I can find a dealer that's taking orders; they ship later this month.