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Author Topic: Epson x800 print softness  (Read 8970 times)
ares
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« on: December 01, 2007, 02:10:19 PM »
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Hello,

someone may remember that a few weeks ago I asked if someone else was having softness problems when printing from a 7800 on custom page sizes from OSX. Well, after testing 3 different 7800 and 2 9800, and various combinations of PowerPC, Intel, OSX 10.4.x , 10.5.x, Photoshop CS, CS2, CS3, and all the available Epson drivers (including the latest for Leopard), I've concluded that the issue is real and perfectly repeatable. See the attached image. I've also tested Lightroom, but apart from the fact that I'm not able to obtain a good crisp printout event with sharpening set to high, the issue is present too.

Epson is not interested in solving the issue, their only advice so far has been to print from Windows (wich is bug free, prints appear exactly the same on both default and custom paper sizes) or buy a RIP.

Now I'm wondering why nobody else seems to have noticed this problem (or at least I can't find any mention of it on the Internet), and I'm also wondering if the newer x880 printers have this issue too. I was thinking about getting an 11880, but being forced to run Parallels to print from an old version of Photoshop Windows wich I have is not acceptable. Why spend so much money and then get so miserable results, at least printing from OSX? Is printing from OSX to Epson machines definitely out of the question?
Besides, does anyone know if the salmon color bug has finally been fixed? I've noticed that with the latest Leopard driver the default color profile in ColorSync for the x800 printers is no longer Standard but PLPP250, and this makes the trick of changing the Standard profile to Generic RGB impossible.

[attachment=4095:attachment]
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2007, 09:34:26 PM »
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Hello,

Epson is not interested in solving the issue, their only advice so far has been to print from Windows (wich is bug free, prints appear exactly the same on both default and custom paper sizes) or buy a RIP.

Now I'm wondering why nobody else seems to have noticed this problem (or at least I can't find any mention of it on the Internet),


[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=157526\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

If nobody else noticed the problem, maybe the problem is with something you are doing and not the machine or the operating system. Very many people use Epson printers with Mac operating systems and produce excellent prints. I'm a Windows user, but I know from what I've seen that fine results from Epson professional printers on the Mac OS are certainly attainable. If you're using Epson's current high-end machines and you are in the game for a unit like an 11880 Epson is normally responsive about these things. Are you dealing with the ProGraphics Support Group?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Brian Gilkes
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2007, 04:48:36 AM »
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This is very odd.
I've been using a 9800 for over 2 years now , with some very critical clients. Every print is on  custom paper size , all printed out of OSX. No-one has ever had  a problem with sharpness. Maybe no-one was looking for a problem, or doing the comparative tests you describe. I would be very interested if other high end users could come up with similar conclusions. If I can squeeze the time in, I'll do some basis comparisons and see what I come up with.  I can't imagine what would cause such a result.
Brian
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ares
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2007, 07:21:05 AM »
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If nobody else noticed the problem, maybe the problem is with something you are doing and not the machine or the operating system.

I would like this to be the case, but I'm afraid it's not. Or at least it's not so simple. First a little background: I had a 7800 and a 9800, then about two months ago I sold the 9800 to a friend of mine because I need a larger printer (the 11880). A client of mine sent me a very high quality scan of a painter artwork (true 600 dpi, 800 MB TIF) to be printed on canvas. While making test prints I noticed that sometime the printout was softer. It took me many hours (and much ink and paper) to pinpoint the cause to the use of a default paper size vs. a custom one. Then I took Bill Atkinson's test image and used it as a reference, printing on many different papers, including Epson PGPP250. Same result. I downloaded and installed the Windows driver under the copy of Windows XP wich I run under Parallels on my iMac, and this time the results are the ones expected, i.e. no difference whatsoever between default and custom paper size. Note that I used exactly the same image with exactly the same driver settings.
So I went to my friend's studio to repeat the tests with my old 9800, and the results were absolutely consistent with mine (no difference in Windows, softer on custom paper size when printing from OSX).
After that I went to a certain number of print shops with an Epson x800 machine and OSX, and asked them to print my target image two times, one on a default paper size and the other on a custom one.  Again, same result, softer on custom. Note that at this point the test had been made on various combinations of OSX (10.4.9,10.4.10,10.5.0,10.5.1), processor types (PowerPC and Intel) and Epson drivers.
I'm in Europe, but just to be sure I downloaded firmware and drivers from the Epson USA site and tested them with my own 7800, but the results were, again, the same.
Meanwhile, I've contacted Epson, and their response was vague, with something like "maybe you are making mistakes in Photoshop", "maybe you have clogged nozzles", "print from Windows or buy a RIP".
Yesterday I made another discovery: the degree of softness depends on the size of the margins you choose when creating a custom paper size. If you click on "
Manage custom sizes...", then "+", you end up with an Untitled size with margins fields already filled with 0,63cm for top, left and right, and 1,45cm for bottom. If you use these values, changing only the size of the paper, the printout comes out sharper. Not as sharp as a print made with a default paper size, but in the middle between default paper size and custom paper size with any other values for margins (Photoshop CS3 10.0.1, OSX 10.5.1, Epson driver 6.11 downloaded from UK site).
At this point I don't know what else I can do.
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ares
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2007, 07:31:19 AM »
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interested if other high end users could come up with similar conclusions. If I can squeeze the time in, I'll do some basis comparisons and see what I come up with.  I can't imagine what would cause such a result.

I'd be extremely happy if you can repeat on your system the test I've already done. If you prefer I can send you the image I'm using.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2007, 07:31:44 AM by ares » Logged
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2007, 08:33:26 AM »
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Ares,

OK - the amount of testing and research you've done is impressive and far more extensive than I understood from your previous posts. One clue PERHAPS differentiating your comment from Brian Gilkes' is that you mention you are using driver version 6.11. I wonder whether Brian is using the previous driver version. IF SO, that would point in the direction of an issue with the Epson driver, because the control of paper sizes and the ink laydown and dithering done by the printhead are all intimately related to the driver. So it could be helpful if you and Brian compared driver versions.

I've not had this experience - don't use a Mac so I'm not the one who can say "been there, seen that and here's what to do" - that would be nice, however I'm confined to helping with pointers about where to look - but you clearly know that already.

What surprises me more than the technical problem is the kind of lacklustre customer support response you appear to be getting from Epson - not only because of what they should be doing for you as a high-end customer, but also because just in case your experience is the tip of an underlying iceberg, they need to know about it, take it seriously and fix it for everyones' benefit. One presumes that drivers are tested for custom paper sizes, but one never knows. It's not impossible that there are gremlins in the nooks and crannies waiting to be discovered and dealt with!
« Last Edit: December 03, 2007, 08:34:16 AM by MarkDS » Logged

Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2007, 09:02:09 AM »
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understood from your previous posts. One clue PERHAPS differentiating your comment from Brian Gilkes' is that you mention you are using driver version 6.11. I wonder whether Brian is using the previous driver version.

I've tested, on my own 7800, driver version 3.6d (from Epson UK) and 3.5aE (from Epson USA) under OSX 10.4.10 and 10.4.11 on a PowerMac G5 dual core and on a new iMac 24" Core2 Duo. I've also tested both these drivers under OSX 10.5.0 (Leopard), because they work, albeit without the new enhanced user interface, both on the PPC and the Intel Mac. I've also installed different printer firmwares from both Epson UK and Epson USA sites.

Then I've tested the new Leopard drivers, version 6.11 from Epson UK and the beta version from Epson USA (they are both 6.11 but are slightly different) on the iMac and then on the PPC. I've tested both Leopard 10.5.0 and 10.5.1.

I've also installed and old version of Photoshop CS to be sure it is not a problem with Photoshop CS3.

In all these tests, the printout obtained using default paper size (I've used many sizes, both sheet and roll) is absolutely the same, both for sharpness and color. Instead, the results obtained with custom paper sizes vary slightly in sharpness (now I believe it is due to different margins), but they are always inferior to the ones printed using default paper sizes. The color is the same.

Printing from Windows is bug free, i.e. I obtain exactly the same results on both default and custom sizes.

BTW, I've tested 1440, 1440 HS, 2880 and 2880 HS, with both photo black and matte black inks, and while the resulting sharpness is obviously different, the relationship between default and custom paper sizes is always the same (the former is sharper, the latter is softer).

As for Epson support, I don't know what to think.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2007, 09:59:06 AM »
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Wow - you must have devoted a huge amount of time and effort to this. The sheer size of the test matrix is becoming hard to keep straight in one's head. This is intriguing (for me - for you I can see it being a royal pain). Now let me see if I understand your results correctly:

On Windows there are no problems period. Whether you use old drivers, new drivers, custom sizes or standard sizes the sharpness is the same and satisfactory.

On Mac, whether you use old drivers or new drivers, UK drivers or US drivers, OSX4.xx or Leopard, sharpness is fine as long as you stick with standard sizes. However, under all these conditions, as long as you make a custom size, sharpness diminshes.

Have a I got it right?

One last question - I suppose you do this, but just to be sure. When you create a custom size, do you save it as a preset and then recall this preset before trying to use the custom dimensions? I have found this necessary in the context of the whole print-centering business we went through with CS3, and I'm wondering whether this could be a factor contributing to your problem. If you are saving the custom size as a Preset and then recalling it for use, then if no-one else with more experience reading this thread has better ideas,  I think this is an issue which you really need to escalate to the Epson ProGraphics people in the USA, regardless of where you live.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2007, 10:50:29 AM »
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.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2007, 10:53:47 AM by ares » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2007, 10:53:05 AM »
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Wow - you must have devoted a huge amount of time and effort to this. The sheer size of the test matrix is becoming hard to keep straight in one's head. This is intriguing (for me - for you I can see it being a royal pain). Now let me see if I understand your results correctly:
I've printed almost 50 tests.

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On Windows there are no problems period. Whether you use old drivers, new drivers, custom sizes or standard sizes the sharpness is the same and satisfactory.
Correct.

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On Mac, whether you use old drivers or new drivers, UK drivers or US drivers, OSX4.xx or Leopard, sharpness is fine as long as you stick with standard sizes. However, under all these conditions, as long as you make a custom size, sharpness diminshes.
Correct.

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One last question - I suppose you do this, but just to be sure. When you create a custom size, do you save it as a preset and then recall this preset before trying to use the custom dimensions?
With Mac drivers there is only one way to create a custom paper size: you select "Manage custom sizes..." at the bottom of the OSX "Paper Size" drop down list (in the "Page Setup" dialog), then a new window opens. You enter your values for paper size and margins, then you close the window (after naming the new paper size something else than Untitled, but this is not mandatory) and at this point your new paper size is saved. After that, its name will show at the end of the Paper Size list, and you can select it like you do with any of the default ones. You cannot use a custom paper size before saving it. It's all managed by OSX itself, but every printer driver fills the Paper Size list differently, according to the printer capabilities.

In fact, there should be no difference at all between a custom paper size and a default one. The only difference, at least for Epson large format printers drivers, is that there are multiple choices for every single paper size, one for sheet paper and the others for roll. For example, you have "A4", "A4 roll paper-banner" and "A4 sheet", and, depending on wich one you select, the driver automatically chooses the correct paper source for you (sheet or roll). Instead, when using custom paper sizes, you have to select the correct paper source by yourself, from a drop down list, in the "Basic" tab of the "Print Settings" section of "Print" dialog.
OSX printing dialogs and workflow are totally different from the Windows counterparts.

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are saving the custom size as a Preset and then recalling it for use, then if no-one else with more experience reading this thread has better ideas,  I think this is an issue which you really need to escalate to the Epson ProGraphics people in the USA, regardless of where you live.
I would like to hear from someone else with a x800 printer and OSX. I've done may tests on different machines, but maybe I'm still doing something wrong. But I'll try to contact Epson USA as well.
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Brian Gilkes
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« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2007, 03:18:30 PM »
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I will get some tests through as soon as I can. I have a very big run with a deadline at present, using Somerset White Book paper and utilising Auto Expand  to print on deckles, which would throw some other variables into the equation.I will contact a couple of colleagues who are very critical with their 9800s to see what they think and report.
Your tests are comprehensive , but not qualitative . The next step, assuming similar qualitative results from elsewhere , would be to devise some more exacting tests involving measurements.
I'll think about that one.
Cheers
Brian
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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2007, 03:52:46 PM »
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Your tests are comprehensive , but not qualitative . The next step, assuming similar qualitative results from elsewhere , would be to devise some more exacting tests involving measurements.

Well, that could be interesting, but is it relevant? What I have found is a difference in output quality where there should be none. In fact printing from Windows there is absolutely no difference between an image printed on a standard paper size (e.g. A4) and the same image, printed with the same driver settings on the same paper, but using a custom paper size. No difference at all, you cannot tell one print from the other.

Instead, I've found that, doing exactly this with the OSX driver, you'll always end up with a difference in sharpness. Why? Is it my fault? I've tested more than one printer, but maybe all these printers are defective. I don't think so, because they work perfectly (apart form this problem), and they work perfectly at all when driven from Windows. This is why I've asked if someone else could try to replicate my results, simply printing the same image twice, and then comparing them. If they are different, it's Epson's problem, not ours. If not, I'll see to have Epson send someone to check every printer and every Mac I've tested to determine exactly where the problem is, because I don't know what else I could do.
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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2007, 01:35:16 AM »
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I didn't mean to be picky, and was not criticising your methodology; it's just the old science degree rumbling in the reptilian brain.
I have emailed the associates that I mentioned, and subsequently spoken by 'phone to one. Like me he is currently printing a major project , but we will resolve this one as soon as possible. At this end, I need to get uncoated matte off the printer and get in something like Harman gloss. That will pick it up.
I would hope a few other LLers , who try to squeeze out the last drop, have a go too. If we all concur , Epson and/or Apple and or Adobe, will have some explaining to do.
Cheers,
Brian
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2007, 02:44:35 AM »
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I didn't mean to be picky, and was not criticising your methodology; it's just the old science degree rumbling in the reptilian brain.

Brian, obviously I appreciate very much your help, and I didn't mean to attack you. It's only that, since we have paid good money for our printers, Mac and software, I think that if the issue is confirmed it's not our duty to investigate it and find a solution.
Not only that: even if you or your associates are not affected, I surely am, I don't know what else I can do and I am not receiving a good support from Epson. On top of that, it's now clear that many prints I've made on custom paper sizes came out softer than they should've been, and you know perfectly well what this mean.

Just to be sure, I redid my usual print, then scanned it at 2400 dpi. On the left is the one on default paper size (A4) on the right is the one printed on a custom size. You can see that many details (look at the reflections in the eyes) are simply not there.

[attachment=4121:attachment]
« Last Edit: December 04, 2007, 02:45:19 AM by ares » Logged
Wayne Fox
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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2007, 02:48:54 AM »
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Curious as to what paper sizes you used.  I assume there was no chance the driver was having to resize one.

Curiousity got the best of me.  I used the Lab Image from Bill atkinson's site, which includes the Photodisc image as one of about 15 images as well as some color gradients and solid color patches.

I "resized" without resampling to a 13x16 inch image, which yielded a 424 ppi value.

I printed one print on Lustre paper (didn't have glossy on hand) using the build in A3+ setting, and another creating a custom paper size of 13x19".

I really couldn't find any apparent differences using a 10x loupe.  I then scanned the images with an Epson 4270 scanner at 1200 dpi.  Attached are 3 very small segments from each scan.  The file is saved at maximum quality to minimize jpeg artifacting, so it's pretty big ...

... 1.4 mb ... just fair warning if you have a slow connection.

Anyway ... curious if anyone sees that either the top or bottom row is "better". I can't.  I can find areas on each row that appear sharper than the same area on the other row, but it goes both ways, and I can't see that one row is obviously sharper.

I'll try this on my 11880 tomorrow on glossy paper.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2007, 02:51:50 AM by Wayne Fox » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2007, 03:12:27 AM »
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Curious as to what paper sizes you used.  I assume there was no chance the driver was having to resize one.

No, I've always used paper sizes much bigger than the image.

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I "resized" without resampling to a 13x16 inch image, which yielded a 424 ppi value.

But you should send a 360 ppi image to the printer, otherwise the printer driver will scale it.

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I'll try this on my 11880 tomorrow on glossy paper.

I've attached a JPG version of the original image I'm using for my tests. It's already sharpened (0,5-160). Could you be so kind to try with this one?

[attachment=4123:attachment]
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Sven W
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« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2007, 06:40:06 AM »
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I printed a Kodak Color Evaluation Target on Harman Gloss today.
Power Mac G5 Quad, MacOS 10.4.9 and Epson Driver 3.8c for Ep11880.
Photoshop CS2 with my own made RGB profile.

First "default size A3" and then I made a customized A3.
Printed both. Beautiful as usual  

And even with my best Pentax 8x30 loupe I can't see ANY difference at all.

(I've been printing inkjet since 1997)
/Sven
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« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2007, 07:47:44 AM »
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Well, it seems finally I have found a solution, or at least a workaround.

When creating a custom paper size, you have to set all four margins to 0. This of course makes no sense, because the printer cannot print borderless on all four sides, but if you do, the sharpness is the same as the one obtained when printing on default paper sizes.

I need some more testing, but so far the results look promising.
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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2007, 12:41:35 PM »
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But you should send a 360 ppi image to the printer, otherwise the printer driver will scale it.

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True, but the scaling should be identical in either case so it shouldn't result in a difference.

As far as image, what you included was a section of the image I am using.

Regarding the border size, when creating a "border" with your custom setup, did you do it by selecting your printer which creates the correct default border for a printer/paper combination, or did you use your own numbers and create a "border".

I'll try this tonight on my 11880.
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« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2007, 02:06:01 PM »
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Regarding the border size, when creating a "border" with your custom setup, did you do it by selecting your printer which creates the correct default border for a printer/paper combination, or did you use your own numbers and create a "border".

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. I create a cutom paper size first by selecting "Manage Custom Sizes..." (picture 1), then clicking on "+". At this point, I obtain what is shown in picture 2.

If I leave the values for margins alone, I end up with a soft print. Instead, I've discovered today that if I set all four margins to 0, the resulting sharpness is good. But this should not be the case, because margins should not have anything to do with printing sharpness (unless, maybe, you use auto expand or something like this and the driver resizes your picture). Besides, using the Windows driver I can set whatever margins I like and the output is always as expected.
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