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Author Topic: Comparison of Epson 7900 versus HP Z3200  (Read 46104 times)
BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2008, 05:38:15 PM »
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Quote from: alan a
But engineers have been morons before.  It may be that the hubris of Epson results in a $1,500 spectro that is only good for RIPs or proofing and fails to include APS-type software to profile papers.  So my view is that the jury is out on the 7900 until we get definitive answers on how the spectro works.  And have detailed, yes even precise answers, on the software that is, or is not, included to profile papers.

In closing, I agree with Scott Martin that the HP Z series has a "huge notable advantage" in including a built in spectro along with high quality software that makes profiling ANY paper an automated process.  

I respectfully, and strongly, disagree with Schewe that automated paper profiling should not be a significant factor in which printer to buy.  Anyone who has gone through the laborious process to manually scan targets knows what a pain that is.  HP set a new standard in that regard for a completely automated approach.  Epson needs to meet that standard.

Depending on how many different papers you are using, and the variance in the characteristics of those papers, we might have 3 other options:

1. Have someone make profiles for the papers. Personnally, I intend to standardize on 2 papers probably, namely Hanemhule Photorag and Photorag Baryta,
2. Use profiles created by the paper manufacturer. One can reasonnably expect the 7900 and 9900 to belong to the list of printers for which companies like Hanemule would consider creating profiles
3. Use a RIP like Imageprint with built-in profiles for major printer/papers combinations. The problem with this being that Colorbyte is usually way too slow in supporting new printers, and tend to charge their customer a recurrent license fee each time they support a new set of printers by only supporting the printer with a new version of the software. Imageprint for large format printers is also pretty expensive.

As a result, option 1 is probably the best if you can find a suitable company to handle these matters.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
Schewe
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« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2008, 06:07:40 PM »
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Quote from: alan a
I respectfully, and strongly, disagree with Schewe that automated paper profiling should not be a significant factor in which printer to buy.  Anyone who has gone through the laborious process to manually scan targets knows what a pain that is.  HP set a new standard in that regard for a completely automated approach.  Epson needs to meet that standard.

I guess I really, really don't see it. Sorry...but my experience is that once the 78/9800 printers came out and I went through the process of building profiles using ProFileMaker and my Eye1 IO and compared the results with the profiles supplied by Epson I lost a lot of incentive to build my own profiles. Yes, I tend to use almost exclusively Epson papers (and even then I'm down to 2 primary papers, Sommerset for Epson and Exhibition fiber). Yes, I was involved in helping Andrew Rodney build the EFP profiles that PixelGenius released...but seriously, unless you are printing on a dozen papers and always needing to rev profiles (something you simply don't have to do with Epson pro printers), I really, really don't see the onboard spectro as a big deal.

It is a big deal to proofers and other people who pump a tone of prints through rips...and that's what the Epson spectros are designed for. I have no idea what software will come with the spectros for non-rip use. All the major rip makers have signed up to offer support for the the new printers.

Again, I really think a person should buy a printer based on the merits of the printer, print quality and one's return on the investment. Not what "accessories" are optionally available.
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alan a
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« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2008, 07:01:57 PM »
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Quote from: Schewe
But the spectro really should NOT be a factor in the decision on these printers...get yourself ProfileMaker & an i1iSis (even if you DO get an HP) because these will be far better (and more useful) than an onboard spectro. Seriously, this is NOT a factor you should be weighing...

Quote from: Schewe
Again, I really think a person should buy a printer based on the merits of the printer, print quality and one's return on the investment. Not what "accessories" are optionally available.
We agree with regards to your important point.  Our fundamental agreement on the most important point apparently got lost in my long posting.

In my long posting, a few sentences may have been overlooked:  "Is the Epson superior enough in all other areas, as compared with the Z3200, to justify buying it even when it does not include automated paper profiling? Or is the Z3200 pretty close to being as good as the Epson in all other areas, so that the added bonus of automatic paper profiling tips the balance in its favor? Each of us will have to make that judgment call, and it is a personal decision."

I therefore agree with you.  The core qualities of the printer -- the merits of the printer and print quality -- must shape any decision on a printer more than whether it has an on-board spectro and software.  A bad printer with an on-board spectro will always be a bad printer.  It might make great profiles and do so accurately, but it would still be a bad printer.  

As I said above, if the Epson is superior in the areas that matter -- as a printer -- we'd all buy it and that is true regardless of whether it has a spectro that can do paper profiling.  

To illustrate that we agree on this point, I also modified my original posting at the top of this thread, and moved the spectro to the bottom of my original posting.  I agree with you that all of the other qualities of a printer are more important -- and the spectro is icing on the cake and should be on the bottom of the list.

Our only disagreement comes down to this.  In your earlier posting you asserted that having a spectro that can automatically produce printer profiles is not important at all and, based on your earlier post, should not even be a factor deciding what printer to buy.  (Those who own a Z3100 would, I believe, strongly disagree with you that it should not be a factor at all.)

I am simply saying that is a great feature, and should be a factor in making a decision about what printer to buy, although print quality and the other issues I listed in my original post clearly should take priority.  We do agree on the latter point.

The question will come down to whether the Z3200 is equal to, or pretty close to, the standards of the 7900, if the 7900 spectro can't do paper profiling.  Then some consumers might feel that the addition of the spectro and APS is an "added bonus" that "tips the balance" in favor of the Z series.

My basic point is that if Epson is producing a spectro, that sells for same price as high quality profiling packages, it would be great if the Epson spectro included software to produce printer profiles.  Those who want to purchase that option could then do so.

Surely, we can all agree that Epson is better off to be able to advertise that option -- automatic creation of printer profiles with the accessory spectro -- than to not be able to do so?  

Even if the price is higher for the printer plus spectro as compared with the HP Z series, Epson would then have the option and can compete directly with HP Z series.  To produce and market a spectro, but not include profiling software to drive it, would seem to be an illogical marketing decision by Epson.  Epson would be handing that sales pitch and feature to HP and the Z series.  On the hand, if they include a spectro with profiling software, it is certainly plausible that Epson will be say that BOTH the printer and the spectro are of higher quality and meet higher standards -- and that justifies the higher price for the package of both combined.

Common sense says that Epson is better off to be able to make that argument, and to at least be able to compete with HP with regards to that feature, than not at all.  That is my point, along with the obvious observation that if the 7900 and Z3200 are about equal as printers, consumers might opt for the one with the very nice additional feature -- a spectro with software to profile papers.  The Z3100 provided tangible proof that it is an important consideration for many consumers, all other things being equal.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2008, 09:28:12 PM by alan a » Logged
rdonson
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« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2008, 07:29:06 PM »
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Epson maintains that their LFPs are calibrated and linearized at the factory and will never need to have those tasks performed again.  Some will question this, some won't.

Epson seems to be saying that the onboard spectro will be used in conjunction with RIPs.  RIPs are handy for their ability to perform linearization in addition to layouts,  etc.  Unless Epson is going to release its own RIP they'd have to provide some open APIs to the RIP providers to take advantage of the onboard spectro.  Otherwise its just a cable out the side of the printer.

At this point I think we simply don't know enough about the onboard Epson spectro to make any statements or judgements.


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Ron
alan a
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« Reply #24 on: October 19, 2008, 07:32:03 PM »
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Quote from: rdonson
At this point I think we simply don't know enough about the onboard Epson spectro to make any statements or judgements.
Agreed!  

So the back and forth with Schewe might have been a bit dumb, at least on my part.  We should just wait to see what Epson announces.

And when the printers are released and reviewed, I hope that the list of items in my original posting can help guide that process.  I tried to present an impartial list that included the strengths of both printers, and am happy to modify or add to it in that regard.
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Schewe
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« Reply #25 on: October 19, 2008, 07:43:12 PM »
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Quote from: rdonson
Epson seems to be saying that the onboard spectro will be used in conjunction with RIPs.  RIPs are handy for their ability to perform linearization in addition to layouts,  etc.  Unless Epson is going to release its own RIP they'd have to provide some open APIs to the RIP providers to take advantage of the onboard spectro.  Otherwise its just a cable out the side of the printer.


As far as i know, all the major rip makers out there are going to be supporting the onboard Epson spectro. I don't know for an absolute fact that the software makers such as X-rite will be including the Epson spectro in ProfileMaker or Profiler. I just don't know. I also don't know what sort of Epson supplied software will be made available. These are questions that Epson will no doubt explain when they officially announce the printers here in the US...all I DO KNOW is that people at Epson USA have stated, repeatedly that they are doing this to address the needs of the proofing industry and that it's not designed (nor suggested) for general fine art printing use.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2008, 07:44:43 PM by Schewe » Logged
jule
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« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2008, 01:54:59 AM »
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From Northlight images   http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/printer....html#austraiia

Half way down page on link above in the "from Australia" information-
From Epson Australia
Epson's optional integrated spectrophotometer with mounting device uses the latest X-rite technology to provide automatic colour measurement data to the printer, allowing user profiling and linearisation, enabling professional colour management while at the same time reducing labour costs.

"The spectrophotometer works with both Epson colour management software and third party RIPs. For customers using the Epson printer driver, the Epson software performs the complete process from print to measure, automatically, and can calibrate all resolutions at the same time."

Julie

edit ; added one paragraph in quote.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2008, 02:40:03 PM by jule » Logged

Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2008, 04:43:48 AM »
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Quote from: alan a
Common sense says that Epson is better off to be able to make that argument, and to at least be able to compete with HP with regards to that feature, than not at all.  That is my point, along with the obvious observation that if the 7900 and Z3200 are about equal as printers, consumers might opt for the one with the very nice additional feature -- a spectro with software to profile papers.  The Z3100 provided tangible proof that it is an important consideration for many consumers, all other things being equal.

The spectrometer aboard has been an important feature for the purchasers of the Z3100 and the same will happen again for the Z3200.
The Adobe Postscript version of both models addresses the pre-press needs as well and that one includes the APS profiler extension in its price.
The Z3200 Pantone color descriptions are another feature included and the Z3200 will be as frugal on ink use as the Z3100 is.
In short, pre-press shops could decide to get the Z3200 PS solution instead of an Epson x900 + spectrometer + RIP.

If RIP support for the Z3100 and iPF9000 is an example of what to expect of RIP support for the new N-channel models with and without spectrometers then I would be very critical of what they actually bring. On color control iPF9000 + Z3100 and spectrometer support for the Z3100 I know at least 3 RIPs that couldn't deliver the goods the normal driver already made possible, not to mention the OEM PS version. They are fine when the CcMmYK inks are involved and will lay down a nice spot color mix including the RG( inks but for real complex N-color mixing in photography and art reproduction it has to be seen whether they can cope as good as the OEM drivers do right now. For pre-press work CMYK + spot could be all that is needed but one has to check the other RIP abilities carefully if one aims for more RIP tasks than pre-press.  The Wasatch SoftRip supported the Z3100 calibration but nothing more. It did a lousy job in 10 ink mixing on the Z3100. Its use of gloss enhancer was however more controllable but I understand that the Z3200 driver got the same control now. Where the gamut size on different media could be a criteria to select a specific printer in photography and art reproduction, any printer that covers the gamut of the conventional presses to be proofed will do its job in pre-press and it gets a premium if it covers the spot colors as high as 95%. So the Z3200 PS will not be inferior in that market either. For pre-press the shops will check what Fogra tested on a variety of paper, printers and printer/RIP systems. Next comes convenience, speed and price.



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rdonson
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« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2008, 06:51:15 AM »
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Quote from: jule
From Northlight images   http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/printer....html#austraiia

Half way down page on link above in the "from Australia" information-
From Epson Australia
"The spectrophotometer works with both Epson colour management software and third party RIPs. For customers using the Epson printer driver, the Epson software performs the complete process from print to measure, automatically, and can calibrate all resolutions at the same time."

Julie


I'm not sure I understand the quote.  Calibration is a long way from creating profiles in my mind.  Then again, we could all be using terms inappropriately.
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Ron
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« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2008, 10:10:52 AM »
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Quote from: Ernst Dinkla
I know at least 3 RIPs that couldn't deliver the goods the normal driver already made possible...
I've found EFI and GMG both deliver superior color on the Z3100 than what the driver is capable of. The driver's separation parameters (ink mixing) leaves something to be desired and these RIPs are simply smarter in this respect. The end result is a larger color gamut and lower Delta E variances for spot and process colors.

As for the other printers, I agree, the drivers are excellent and it can be challenging (but not impossible) to meet or exceed the quality of the driver with a RIP. That's a nice change to have watched happen over the last 5 years.
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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2008, 01:28:36 PM »
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Quote from: Onsight
I've found EFI and GMG both deliver superior color on the Z3100 than what the driver is capable of. The driver's separation parameters (ink mixing) leaves something to be desired and these RIPs are simply smarter in this respect. The end result is a larger color gamut and lower Delta E variances for spot and process colors.

As for the other printers, I agree, the drivers are excellent and it can be challenging (but not impossible) to meet or exceed the quality of the driver with a RIP. That's a nice change to have watched happen over the last 5 years.


May I guess, superior color in the darker slices of the gamut shape?


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Scott Martin
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« Reply #31 on: October 20, 2008, 03:43:18 PM »
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Quote from: Ernst Dinkla
May I guess, superior color in the darker slices of the gamut shape?
You bet, especially in the reds. The Z series driver prioritizes the orange ink (I can't call it red) for red colors while these RIPs are smarter about mixing orange with magenta and yellow to achieve a better red primary, for example.
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alan a
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« Reply #32 on: October 20, 2008, 10:15:26 PM »
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If any owners of a Z3100 will actually be seeing an operational 7900 at one of the upcoming photo shows, I have a suggestion -- for those of us who will not be so fortunate.

Select one of your photos than when printed without gloss enhancer suffer from serious gloss differential and/or bronzing on photo paper.  Such as a shot of a mountain with dark rocks against snow.  Take two samples -- one with GE applied and without GE applied.  Along with a DVD containing the master photo file.  Ask the Epson rep to make the same size print on photo paper -- and then compare.  Compare the Epson version to the two versions from the Z3100 -- with and without GE.  

I suppose this test is best done using Epson paper, especially one that illustrates the problem, like Epson Premium Semi-Matte photo paper.  Or any Epson paper that clearly results in gloss differential with the photo in question.  Even better, take a few sheets of the Epson paper with you and ask them to use their own paper.  Epson can't complain that a test using their paper with their own ink is in anyway unfair.

The GE is a great feature on the Z3100, and certainly makes a big difference compared to my last Epson printer, the 4000.

I find it hard to believe that Epson has totally conquered the problem of gloss differential.  The only way to know for certain is for someone who owns a Z3100 to run a head-to-head comparison and report back.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2008, 10:21:40 PM by alan a » Logged
BruceHouston
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« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2008, 10:23:11 PM »
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Quote from: alan a
If any owners of a Z3100 will actually be seeing an operational 7900 at one of the upcoming photo shows, I have a suggestion -- for those of us who will not be so fortunate.

Select one of your photos than when printed without gloss enhancer suffer from serious gloss differential and/or bronzing on photo paper.  Such as a shot of a mountain with dark rocks against snow.  Take two samples -- one with GE applied and without GE applied.  Along with a DVD containing the master photo file.  Ask the Epson rep to make the same size print on photo paper -- and then compare.  Compare the Epson version to the two versions from the Z3100 -- with and without GE.  

I suppose this test is best done using Epson paper, especially one that illustrates the problem, like Epson Premium Semi-Matte photo paper.  Or any Epson paper that clearly results in gloss differential with the photo in question.  Even better, take a few sheets of the Epson paper with you and ask them to use their own paper.  Epson can't complain that a test using their paper with their own ink is in anyway unfair.

The GE is a great feature on the Z3100, and certainly makes a big difference compared to my last Epson printer, the 4000.

I find it hard to believe that Epson has totally conquered the problem of gloss differential.  The only way to know for certain is for someone who owns a Z3100 to run a head-to-head comparison and report back.

Great idea!
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alan a
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« Reply #34 on: October 20, 2008, 10:24:33 PM »
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Quote from: BruceHouston
Great idea!
I plan on doing just that at the Epson Print Academy.  We'll see if they will run the test during one of the breaks.

But there could be a number of reasons that they might not do it for me -- too busy, short break, non-functional 7900 -- you name it.  So if anyone else can do that same at one of the photo shows, we would all appreciate it.  As you can tell from the response by Bruce.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2008, 11:18:24 PM by alan a » Logged
alan a
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« Reply #35 on: October 20, 2008, 10:36:42 PM »
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It can't be said that I am not trying to be fair and even handed.  Above I comment that we need proof that Epson is as good at dealing with gloss differential as HP, since the Z series includes the great gloss enhancer.  Below I report that the Epson 7900 might be twice as fast as the HP Z series -- not insignificant for those of you who print large print sizes in volume quantities.

Here is an unscientific test of printer speed.  Stress unscientific.  A reliable test would be printing the same file under identical conditions on both printers.  That is not the case in the below report, since I only have access to one of the two printers.

The Epson spec says that the 7900 can print a 16x20 in Superfine Mode at 1440 dpi in high speed and bidirectional mode in 3:47.  

It can print in Fine Mode at 720 dpi in high speed and bidirectional in 2:53.

Here are the speeds for printing a color 16x20 on the Z3100.  These aren't based on any published spec, they are my own times based on printing a color 16x20.

Best print quality, Maximum Detail On, Extra Passes Off, 1200x1200 dpi -- 17:55

Best print quality, Maximum Detail off, Extra Passes Off, 600 x 600 dpi -- 10:20

Normal print quality, Max Detail On, 600 x 600 dpi -- 5:35
(Max Detail off is reported in the driver as 300 dpi)

Fast print quality, Max Detail On, 600 x 600 dpi -- 5:10.
(Max Detail off is reported in the driver as 300 dpi)

The Z3100, as far as I can tell, does not allow for bidirectional printing in the Best mode at 1200x1200.  At least I don't think that is bidirectional.  Thus the very slow time for the Z3100 of 17:55 at 1200 dpi or 10:20 at 600 dpi, as compared with the Epson time for 1440 dpi of 3:47.

But surely the Z3100 Normal print quality at 600 x 600 is a fair comparison at 5:35, and that is bidirectional from what I can tell.  The 7900 is roughly 50% faster by comparison, that is comparing the Epson 1440 dpi speed of 3:47, and Epson is twice as fast at 720 dpi at 2:53 -- assuming the published spec can be believed and is reliable.

When I have similar times for 20x30 I will add to this same post.  So stay tuned.  

I never bothered to actually time the Z3100 until now.  If these times are the same for a 20x30, then it would make a significant difference for those of you have print multiple copies of really large prints.

Twice as fast is quite a speed difference for those printing large prints in volume.

I don't believe that HP is claiming that the Z3200 is any faster, so comparing the 7900 and the Z3100 is a fair comparison for speed -- if the Epson published spec is accurate.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2008, 11:21:53 PM by alan a » Logged
neil snape
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« Reply #36 on: October 21, 2008, 01:11:19 AM »
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I hadn't been able to print my images on the same or similar paper at Photokina but can say that what I saw confirms gloss differential is controlled by HP to the point of a non issue for GD, but don't forget the increase in cost and printing time, and fragility of the surface. Epson has very GD by nature, but is not completely eliminated, nor is it for any pigment printer I have seen to date.

It is extremely variable though on different surfaces. For example, at the Innova stand they had all three brands of printers. Kind of surprising to see , they had many great images printed on bad combinations of media and image style. On certain media the Epson VM inkset and the 7900 had substantial GD on glossy Innova (can't remember the name), as did the Canon too. HP with GE there was little or rather none in the highlights.

So say what you will, but remember the media is just as important as the inkset. The same is true on HP, as without GE it can sometimes be quite poor, whereas both Epson and Canon get the job done well. One of the reasons I felt when the Z 3100 was released the GE was not marketed as an important element as it should have been. It is a good solution, one that works. IF not for GE, the inkset they have is not up to par with the others as far as gloss diff goes.


As far as speed goes ; the Epson is faster period. How's that for unscientific. I suppose you'd have to wait for a review by someone like Julian who had or has both, who can record spool times etc on the same host computer.

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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #37 on: October 21, 2008, 02:25:45 AM »
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Quote from: alan a
I plan on doing just that at the Epson Print Academy.  We'll see if they will run the test during one of the breaks.

But there could be a number of reasons that they might not do it for me -- too busy, short break, non-functional 7900 -- you name it.  So if anyone else can do that same at one of the photo shows, we would all appreciate it.  As you can tell from the response by Bruce.

Add to that list of reasons the policy on exhibition booths that no USB stick of a stranger is accepted.


Ernst Dinkla

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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #38 on: October 21, 2008, 02:54:00 AM »
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Quote from: Onsight
You bet, especially in the reds. The Z series driver prioritizes the orange ink (I can't call it red) for red colors while these RIPs are smarter about mixing orange with magenta and yellow to achieve a better red primary, for example.

Well, that's what the Wasatch Softrip media presets + profiles have in common. Little black generation and mixing of all the hues available in the total space, even up to the neutral spine. Comes closer to the Epson gamut of the 9800 etc. It probably is done better in the EFI and GMG systems but on the Wasatch Softrip it is a waste of ink, longer drying, harder to keep neutrality and I didn't find the color better in practice. What's more I asked them to improve the few generic media presets + profiles and it got worse. Next Time I asked they threw in the towel with the reply that they didn't do custom profiling. I wrote that they didn't do generic ones either for the Z3100. If you check the media presets available it is far less (3) for the Z3100 than for any other supported printer. In my opinion an indication that it is a difficult job for them.

Are their many media presets of EFI and GMG available or is it limited to proofing papers right now ? Is it doable for the user to design the right CMYKxxxxx profiles with the suitable profile creators ? External spectrometers and no support for the integrated spectrometer ?


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« Reply #39 on: October 21, 2008, 08:26:05 AM »
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Quote from: Schewe
I guess I really, really don't see it. Sorry...but my experience is that once the 78/9800 printers came out and I went through the process of building profiles using ProFileMaker and my Eye1 IO and compared the results with the profiles supplied by Epson I lost a lot of incentive to build my own profiles. Yes, I tend to use almost exclusively Epson papers (and even then I'm down to 2 primary papers, Sommerset for Epson and Exhibition fiber). Yes, I was involved in helping Andrew Rodney build the EFP profiles that PixelGenius released...but seriously, unless you are printing on a dozen papers and always needing to rev profiles (something you simply don't have to do with Epson pro printers), I really, really don't see the onboard spectro as a big deal.

It is a big deal to proofers and other people who pump a tone of prints through rips...and that's what the Epson spectros are designed for. I have no idea what software will come with the spectros for non-rip use. All the major rip makers have signed up to offer support for the the new printers.

Again, I really think a person should buy a printer based on the merits of the printer, print quality and one's return on the investment. Not what "accessories" are optionally available.

From my (very) limited printing experience view I would agree, even with profiles you still need to learn how a paper will look when printed. So limiting your choice of paper is the first step, I don't see the need to spend a fortune on print profile calibration machinery when you only need a small number of papers and profiles. Find a paper you like and stick with it, unless something super wonderful comes along that really improves your printed images, then get a profile made and learn that one.

Kevin.

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