Posted Monday, June 20, 2005

The Monday Mélange: Choosing Between Epson's R1800 and R2400 and Tomorrow's Apple Store Appearance

G'day! Let's kick off the week with a comparison of Epson's R1800 and R2400 printers and a reminder of my Apple Store appearance in San Francisco tomorrow.

Which Epson to Buy?
Over the weekend, I posted a photo on Flickr that shows part of my studio, with a 13 by 19-inch, black-and-white print emerging from my new Epson Photo Stylus R2400 printer.

That photo prompted a question from a fellow Flickrer (or is it "Flickrr"?): why choose the $849US R2400 over the less expensive R1800? It's a good question: both printers can handle 13 by 19 paper, and both have earned high marks for their output quality.

Here's my answer.

Reason 1: Quality. The R2400 uses the Epson's new UltrachromeK3 ink system, which provides a wider color gamut (the ability to print a broader range of colors) than other Epson ink technologies. And thanks to three different black ink cartridges (black, light black, and light-light black), the R2400 also provides a significant increase in the density of blacks.

The R2400's driver also has an "Expert B&W" mode that lets you print exquisite black-and-white prints directly from color images. Many serious B&W photographers prefer to do color-to-B&W conversions themselves—you can get more control over tonality by tweaking settings in Photoshop (or in iPhoto, as described on page 133 of my book). But the R2400 gives you another workflow option, and it's an appealing one—and it's one that the R1800 doesn't provide.

Photographer Jeff Schewe, a renowned Photoshop guru and the editor-in-chief of PhotoshopNews, put it this way: "the new Ultrachome K3 inks have made tremendous advancements in the state of digital fine art printing and moved B&W digital printing out of the dog house and into the mainstream."

Reason 2: Media Handling. The R2400 can print on stiff card stock as thick as 1.3mm, thanks to a straight-through paper path. (You can manually feed stiff media through the openings in the front or the rear of the printer.) The R2400 can also print on canvas and other fine-art papers that the R1800 doesn't accept.

The R1800 does have one media-handling feature that the R2400 lacks: It can print directly on CDs or DVDs. But hand me a Sharpie and I can, too.

One's a printer, the other's a darkroom. In the end, the R2400 is the better printer for serious digital printmakers. I'm an amateur when it comes to digital printmaking, but I take very seriously the wisdom of professionals like Jeff Schewe, Greg Gorman, Michael Reichmann, and Joseph Holmes. Their verdict is clear: the R2400—and, more generally, the Ultrachrome K3 ink system—is now the printing technology to beat.

Meet me in San Francisco
Tomorrow (June 21) at 6 pm, I'll be appearing at Apple's flagship San Francisco retail store. I'll be sharing some of my favorite iLife '05 tips and talking about the new edition of my book and DVD—and how the Mac was used in every aspect of their production.

If you live in the Bay Area, stop by and say hello!

Or save gas and just buy the book. is selling The Macintosh iLife '05 for $23.09—34 percent off the cover price. It's a swell deal for a 345-page, full-color book that includes a two-hour, 43-minute instructional DVD. Learn more about the top-selling iLife book, then order yours.