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Author Topic: Epson 3800 screen pattern--a real improvement?  (Read 8021 times)
jrkeat
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« on: December 31, 2006, 09:25:57 AM »
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In their advertising materials, Epson claims that "Highly precise screening technology uses a radical new algorithm for determining dot placement, resulting in an extreme level of photographic image quality".

Can anyone with experience with a 3800 comment on whether this is a real improvement, and how it improves the prints over previous Epson printers?

One of the reasons why I still use a Lightjet rather than an inkjet is that inkjets have a visible dot pattern in untextured areas, skies in particular.  Does the 3800 partly or completely resove this problem? (...assuming you agree that this is a problem.)
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John Moody
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2006, 09:53:52 AM »
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If you still prefer a lightjet to the 4800,7800,9800, then no, it does not resolve the "problem".

I'm no expert, but it looks like the 3800 shoots multiple small dots in close proximity, depending on the ink and image density.  The dither has been described as more analog, without any resolution increase over the other x800 printers.  I agree with that assessment.

In darker colors e.g., deep reds and oranges, the black dots are still very visible to me in a 4x6 sized print; it bothers me.  Bigger prints, when viewed as a whole, I do not see the dots.
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2006, 10:15:58 AM »
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Hmmm...  If we're talking printer ink droplets, I've never had visible dots in my skies or dark reds or anywhere else in an Epson print unless I put a loupe to the print.   But then I always print using 1440 printer resolution and only have normal eyesight...  

If you're talking noise from within the image that may have been sharpened or otherwise accentuated during processing, then that is a different story and would not be the printer's fault.  The effect in small prints sounds to me more like an error in the way it was sized than printer issues.

Anyway, I compared identical 17x22 prints from my 3800 and 7800 side-by-side and I would say you can't really quantify the difference.  For me, it is more of a sense that the 3800 print is a bit sharper or perhaps cleaner, but overall it is pretty subtle.  Comparing them under a loupe, you do see the effects of the dithering patterns, and IMO here the 3800 looks tighter, perhaps more analog than the 7800.  However, if you have Superman eyesight then you will probably see more of a difference than I do.

Cheers,
« Last Edit: December 31, 2006, 10:21:05 AM by Jack Flesher » Logged

John Moody
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2007, 06:14:41 AM »
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Yes, black ink dots visible at 8" with unaided eye.  I do find the 3800 prints  smoother at 2880 than 1440; more so than previous epsons.
I see the black dots on printer targets as well, so it's not an image issue.  BTW, on "real" skies I never see dots, the color is light enough to not need black ink.

An obvious example of the dots can be seen by printing the yellow flowers in Bill Atkinson's test image.  Epson pigment printers put black dots in the darker yellow areas, while a Claria ink printer has much smoother continuous tone in the same areas.  ('not comparing claria to pigment; thats apples and oranges, just the look)

I'm not saying that it is unacceptable, but it falls short of the lightjet smoothness  when viewed at 8", something the original poster is concerned about.  His comment about the skies is odd, as Jack points out.  I have to agree with Jack; that sounds like an overprocessed and/or bad film scan.  I don't see how you could get obvious sky dots from a decent dSLR image with the current x800 printers.
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2007, 11:53:15 AM »
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An obvious example of the dots can be seen by printing the yellow flowers in Bill Atkinson's test image. Epson pigment printers put black dots in the darker yellow areas, while a Claria ink printer has much smoother continuous tone in the same areas. ('not comparing claria to pigment; thats apples and oranges, just the look)

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93111\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well this is interesting...  I use Bill's test target as one of my printer test images and I very definitely do *not* see any "visible" black dots in the yellow flowers coming off either my 3800 or 7800.  I do see them in the dither pattern if I view the print under a 10X loupe, but would hardly call this "visible".  It is probably an eyesight issue -- and mine's not bad -- or possibly a profile issue or paper issue?  I primarily use Epson Premium Luster and occasionally Gloss.  

I'll map that range of colors and create a large gradient patch to print out and inspect, then report back.

Cheers,
« Last Edit: January 01, 2007, 11:55:43 AM by Jack Flesher » Logged

Gemmtech
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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2007, 04:07:43 PM »
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Not to sound obnoxious, but if you can see dot patterns from one of today's inkjet printers then I would have to say it's simply a major hallucination!!  Under a loupe, sure ABSOLUTELY you can see the dots, but the naked eye?  NO WAY!!  I'm NOT buying it.  

Gary

PS,  My eyesight is absolutely phenomenal
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jrkeat
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« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2007, 04:14:37 PM »
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I thought I'd clarify what I see since you're working to duplicate it.

In loking at a grey gradient, I start to see the dots at about 15", and they become clearer as I move closer.  I looked through a bunch of my inkjet prints, and most of the places that I notice the effect is in skies.  I think that just because they are uniform, not because of the blue hue.  I have 20/14 vision with correction, so I'm probably more sensitive than most.

I thought that my annoyance with it was just my own craziness, but I was doing some art reproduction for my wife, and she demanded that it not "have any dots".  It turns out she had been privately annoyed by the same thing, without knowing that the inkjet was producing tiny dots.  Before that, I had felt that if I had to work that hard to see it, I shouldn't worry about it.  It's also possible that this is all psychological bias--we both think of lightjet or other chemical prints as "real" prints, so any cues that indicate that it is not a chemical print annoy us.
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2007, 05:24:39 PM »
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In loking at a grey gradient, I start to see the dots at about 15",

Exactly which Epson printer are you seeing this from, and is it from more than one version of Epson printers?  

I ask because my eyesight is currently 20/15 uncorrected, but only at distance.  Closer up, when reading or examining prints, I wear cheaters so I can see any print anomolies very easily -- and I am not likely to miss something you can see in a print from 15" away.  Bill's test target that you refer to has a very large and long gray gradient, and I have *never* seen dots of  any sort in it and on any of the papers I normally print on.

Cheers,
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Christopher
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« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2007, 05:26:52 PM »
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Sorry, but I rally can't see any dots in my R2400 prints. I mean if I really would see them up close I would never print on it and sell the prints. Sorry but there are no dots here.
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AlanS
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« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2007, 05:44:07 PM »
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I upgraded my 2200 for a 3800- i was very happy using velvet on a 2200; No pattern is visible. The reason for the upgrade was to get the k3 inkset to print on coated paper- the "upgraded" pattern is really subtle and in my mind not a reason to upgrade.

I feel you should not see a dot pattern without a loupe. In fact when i was reviewing what printer to get I chose the 3800 over the 5000 because when i checked out a gradation under a glass I preferred the 3800 (without a glass both looked similar).

Since you currently use a lightjet what epson inkjet printer and paper combo were you using. Is it possible the printer has quality issue, did you followup with epson service or show them samples?

Good luck
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jrkeat
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« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2007, 06:39:20 AM »
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Exactly which Epson printer are you seeing this from, and is it from more than one version of Epson printers?

I ask because my eyesight is currently 20/15 uncorrected, but only at distance. Closer up, when reading or examining prints, I wear cheaters so I can see any print anomolies very easily -- and I am not likely to miss something you can see in a print from 15" away. Bill's test target that you refer to has a very large and long gray gradient, and I have *never* seen dots of any sort in it and on any of the papers I normally print on.

Cheers,
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93202\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I'm afraid my statement that you quoted was not correct--I didn't choose my description carefully enough. Strictly speaking, I do not see dots at 15". With prints from a 2200 (see below for printer distinctions) at 15", I perceive smooth areas as being subtly textured). At about 8", I can see the texture clearly enough that I could, say, make a drawing of it, but still can't identify the individual dots. The most noticeable features at that distance are not, in fact, the dots, but the white spaces in between. Taking my glasses off, I can identify the individual dots at ~5", but can't see them at 7", the limit of my ability to focus with glasses.

Most of the prints I've been looking at are from a 2200 on premium glossy, but I also have some from a 4800. The 4800 is, in fact, quite noticeably better, something I didn't recognize until prompted by others' comments. In the 2200, the white spaces tend to line up, making them identifiable at greater distances, while they do not with the 4800. In addition, the 3 black inks reduce the amount of texturing in the grey gradient. The texturing is clearest in the yellow to black gradient.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 06:41:56 AM by jrkeat » Logged
eronald
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« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2007, 06:51:14 AM »
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I don't care much about the dots, but I've had complaints from the gallery that sold my prints.
They weren't hallucinating.
The problem here is that my print was pasted to the store-front and people ouside could stick their nose right on it, in direct sunlight. And the short-sighted, like me and the owner could see dots. Cannot remember whether this was 2100 or 2400 - that print didn't sell and I think I gave it away.

Edmund


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Not to sound obnoxious, but if you can see dot patterns from one of today's inkjet printers then I would have to say it's simply a major hallucination!!  Under a loupe, sure ABSOLUTELY you can see the dots, but the naked eye?  NO WAY!!  I'm NOT buying it. 

Gary

PS,  My eyesight is absolutely phenomenal
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93193\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 06:54:50 AM by eronald » Logged
jjlphoto
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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2007, 09:07:17 AM »
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The problem here is that my print was pasted to the store-front and people ouside could stick their nose right on it, in direct sunlight. And the short-sighted, like me and the owner could see dots.
Edmund
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93259\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
 

Those cads!

(I too, cringe when I take prints out to the car and witness how cruel the intensity of broad daylight is.  )
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2007, 09:56:42 AM »
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With prints from a 2200 (see below for printer distinctions) at 15", I perceive smooth areas as being subtly textured). At about 8", I can see the texture clearly enough that I could, say, make a drawing of it, but still can't identify the individual dots. The most noticeable features at that distance are not, in fact, the dots, but the white spaces in between. Taking my glasses off, I can identify the individual dots at ~5", but can't see them at 7", the limit of my ability to focus with glasses.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93258\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Okay, now we're getting somewhere!  First off, texture versus dots are very different things and second, you should still not see either and especially not dots even at 5".

Howeverbut, the 2200 is NOT a pro grade printer!  As such, the heads will go out of alignment with some regularity.  You need to do the ADVANCED manual head alignment, which first runs you through lining up the colored lines, but then hit the advanced tab that takes you to the dithering pattern itself and allows you to tweak that.  My 2200 was off so far, I had to choose the last pattern on the right and then the printer actually prints another complete set -- in that second set, I found a truly smooth dithering pattern.  After that, my 2200 print quality improved by several orders of magnitude.  

The 4800 -- up printers do this very well automatically, and probably explains why you did not see it in prints from it.

IMO it is time you upgraded your printer
« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 09:57:23 AM by Jack Flesher » Logged

jjlphoto
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« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2007, 11:37:55 AM »
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..... the 2200 is NOT a pro grade printer.....[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93282\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Words of wisdom. Printers below the 4800 are considered consumer grade, and as such, epson tech support is geared towards the consumer (highly frustrating albeit), tolerances between machines vary widely- evidenced by inconsistant canned profiles, etc. The 3800 has pro-level support, canned profiles are dead-on, and time will tell if they are built as ruggedly as the 4800 and up printers.
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2007, 01:14:02 PM »
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The 3800 has pro-level support, canned profiles are dead-on, and time will tell if they are built as ruggedly as the 4800 and up printers.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93292\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

While the 3800 has a far more substantial build than the 2200, it is pretty clearly NOT in the same robust league as the 48/78/9800 printers.  However, that 'lesser' construction also means the 3800 can sit on top of just about any normal printer stand
« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 01:14:46 PM by Jack Flesher » Logged

John Moody
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« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2007, 07:41:15 AM »
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I believe that we are all looking at very similar 3800 output when using Epson luster with the supplied profile, or a gradient printed with no color adjustment.

A possible reason for our different assessments, is that I do my critical print examination at an illumination of 4000 Lux under a diffused Solux lamp.  The things that jump out at me at that level are still visible under normal gallery illumination, probably because I know they are there.

In any case, we all seem to agree the 3800 output is very good or great.  That's not bad.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2007, 07:41:50 AM by John Moody » Logged
Jack Flesher
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« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2007, 09:35:27 AM »
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A possible reason for our different assessments, is that I do my critical print examination at an illumination of 4000 Lux under a diffused Solux lamp. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93452\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I doubt it John...  I view all my prints under a proofing hood too and simply don't get visible dots OR texture.  IMHO, if you and jrkeat are getting visible patterns in your 2200 prints you need to manually adjust the dithering pattern per above.  If you're seeing them in 3800 output, you need to do another auto head alignment and if they persist after that, I'd suggest your 3800 is defective.

Cheers,
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jrkeat
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« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2007, 11:54:54 AM »
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Okay, now we're getting somewhere!  First off, texture versus dots are very different things and second, you should still not see either and especially not dots even at 5".

Howeverbut, the 2200 is NOT a pro grade printer!  As such, the heads will go out of alignment with some regularity.  You need to do the ADVANCED manual head alignment, which first runs you through lining up the colored lines, but then hit the advanced tab that takes you to the dithering pattern itself and allows you to tweak that.  My 2200 was off so far, I had to choose the last pattern on the right and then the printer actually prints another complete set -- in that second set, I found a truly smooth dithering pattern.  After that, my 2200 print quality improved by several orders of magnitude. 

The 4800 -- up printers do this very well automatically, and probably explains why you did not see it in prints from it.

IMO it is time you upgraded your printer
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93282\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks, Jack!  The calibration did wonders for my printer.  Even metamerism was dramatically reduced.  It now looks similar in terms of smoothness to 4800 output.

I wanted to disagree with your claim that dots and structure can't be seen.  I have seen output from a 4800, a 7800 and a Canon 5000, and the universally produce visible dots on glossy paper.  Under bright light (roughly 3000 Lux), I can see structure to many untextured areas at 8-10" and see dots clearly at ~5".  I don't think John's printer is defective.

Yes, it is time I upgraded my printer.  One of my motivations for my question was determining whether I should bet a proofing printer (2400 or 3800) and Lightjet "serious" prints, or switch to inkjet completely.  I need to do some head-to-head comparisons now that my printer isn't pathologically bad.
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Let Biogons be Biogons
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« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2007, 09:56:30 PM »
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If the dot/dithering pattern/algorithm oif the 3800 is superior to that of the 4800/7800/9800 is it something that Epson can add to the 4800/7800/9800 printer through a software/firmware/driver update?  Or is it very much a function of the 3800 hardware?
« Last Edit: January 12, 2007, 09:56:43 PM by Let Biogons be Biogons » Logged
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