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Author Topic: Mark D Segal's review of Epson 4900  (Read 16091 times)
Geoff Wittig
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« on: December 31, 2010, 07:03:54 PM »
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Nice review; all the stuff a potential owner would want to know before pulling the trigger.

I had to chuckle at his photograph of Letchworth State Park; I live about 20 miles away from the park, and have photographed from that exact location many times. I am very familiar with that particular tree in the left foreground! Because of its location right at the edge of a striking vista, you almost have to include it as a framing element.
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dchew
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2010, 08:40:15 PM »
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...Because of its location right at the edge of a striking vista, you almost have to include it as a framing element.
Unless you use it as a rappel anchor! 
;-P

I also enjoyed the review; thanks Mark.  I never knew there was a way to make the bottom margin smaller than 0.56 in an Epson.  Does that work with a 7900?  I need to check around in the driver...

Dave
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2010, 10:13:37 PM »
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Excellent review, Mark.

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2011, 09:43:01 AM »
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Thanks for the feedback guys and all the best for 2011.

Dave, I think it should work for the 7900 also - it depends on what paper options they have included in the driver. If they do not have an equal border option for the paper sise you use, the alternative is to create a custom paper preset which does have all four borders equal, ad load it into your printing preset. That should work.
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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 #4 on: January 01, 2011, 02:32:56 PM »
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Mark,

Pretty good review...the one thing you don't mention (as far as I can see) is the real importance of running the head alignment. The Auto alignment does a better job of trying to do a manual alignment. I also note that you stated the manual said to print out with High Speed Off? You sure? It's been my experience that if you have properly aligned the heads, the print quality with High Speed on or off is the same. Obviously, if you have High Speed on, the printer is 2x the speed since it prints in both directions. To be accurate, this is my experience when working with a 79/9900 printer and not the 4900 which I don't have yet. So, this is something you should test on your 4900.

The other thing I would mention is that the head, with 360 nozzles/inch can handle high resolution image detail very, very well. With my P65+ back images, I routinely feed images through Lightroom at high PPI numbers up to 720PPI. Some images with high frequency texture may benefit from actually upsampling in Lightroom to 720PPI and then output sharpening (a huge benefit if printing from Lightroom as you don't need to spawn off different sized image iterations)...this is another thing to test for yourself.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2011, 07:19:23 PM »
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Mark,

Pretty good review...the one thing you don't mention (as far as I can see) is the real importance of running the head alignment. The Auto alignment does a better job of trying to do a manual alignment. I also note that you stated the manual said to print out with High Speed Off? You sure? It's been my experience that if you have properly aligned the heads, the print quality with High Speed on or off is the same. Obviously, if you have High Speed on, the printer is 2x the speed since it prints in both directions. To be accurate, this is my experience when working with a 79/9900 printer and not the 4900 which I don't have yet. So, this is something you should test on your 4900.

The other thing I would mention is that the head, with 360 nozzles/inch can handle high resolution image detail very, very well. With my P65+ back images, I routinely feed images through Lightroom at high PPI numbers up to 720PPI. Some images with high frequency texture may benefit from actually upsampling in Lightroom to 720PPI and then output sharpening (a huge benefit if printing from Lightroom as you don't need to spawn off different sized image iterations)...this is another thing to test for yourself.

Hi Jeff, thanks and all the best for 2011. I did not run the auto-alignment, because according to page 125 this is recommended upon seeing banding or graininess in the prints. There is no evidence of any of that. On High Speed Off - yes - I'm sure - at least according to the manual and based on discussion with Epson. Haven't really felt the need to experiment with it, but out of curiosity I shall print the same image both ways one one of these days. I suspect the visual difference to be de minimus. And yes, it handles high frequency detail out of LR or PS very well indeed.
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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: January 01, 2011, 10:37:34 PM »
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I did not run the auto-alignment, because according to page 125 this is recommended upon seeing banding or graininess in the prints. There is no evidence of any of that.

Doesn't matter what the manual says...what I know from experience is that a newly installed (or moved) printer SHOULD have the heads aligned...you seriously DO want to do this regardless of what the manual states (cause the manual is wrong if that's what it says). Do it before you do any serious printing...and I'm not kidding. And once done you really only need to redo it if you notice any micro-banding or once in a while (say 2-3x a year at most).

Actually, I'll have to give the product manager some shyte for not stating in the manual that at least an initial auto head alignment required...
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Farmer
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2011, 01:27:38 AM »
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Hmmm, there's certainly no harm in doing the alignement, Jeff, I wouldn't say it's a mandatory thing to do - plenty of printers (and from my direct experience last year with basically every model, including several 4900s) gain no benefit. 

That said, the 4900's head alignment process is faster than previous models, so I can't really argue against doing it :-)

As for high-speed (bi-di) versus not high-speed (uni-di) I agree 100% with Jeff.  Except at draft resolutions, you just won't see the difference and the new LUT, the TFP head and other hardware and firmware improvements really make that comment in the User Guide redundant.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2011, 01:21:02 PM »
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Doesn't matter what the manual says...what I know from experience is that a newly installed (or moved) printer SHOULD have the heads aligned...you seriously DO want to do this regardless of what the manual states (cause the manual is wrong if that's what it says). Do it before you do any serious printing...and I'm not kidding. And once done you really only need to redo it if you notice any micro-banding or once in a while (say 2-3x a year at most).

Actually, I'll have to give the product manager some shyte for not stating in the manual that at least an initial auto head alignment required...

Jeff, How "required" it is I guess "depends". So I'll do two things: (a) raise the alignment question with the same product manager - I'm sure we're talking to the same guy, and (b) I'll test the high speed "on" option to see for myself whether their advice is purely academic or makes a practical difference. My previous experience with head alignments on the 3800 (because I have done it on that printer when I had an issue which I thought it may address) has shown zero difference before and after. (The issue I had turned out to be unrelated and got resolved otherwise.) I can imagine that if the printers got seriously banged in transit, which one wouldn't know, a head alignment is good insurance, so I'm not saying you aren't making sense here - only that unless one sees evidence of the need for it, I wonder how important. I have a penchant for leaving well enough alone, and the print quality, detail rendition etc I got out of the box is so good I didn't see the need for it. Anyhow, I hear you and TBD.
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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 #9 on: January 02, 2011, 02:48:32 PM »
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I can imagine that if the printers got seriously banged in transit, which one wouldn't know, a head alignment is good insurance, so I'm not saying you aren't making sense here - only that unless one sees evidence of the need for it, I wonder how important.

I view doing an auto head alignment as a "best practice" for Epson printers simply because unless you actually DO a head alignment you don't know for a fact they are aligned–even if you don't see visible mis-alignment. Since it takes little time and paper I guess I wonder why you are reluctant to do it and know for sure your heads are aligned?

Look, I have a lot of experience dealing with a lot of Epson printers over the years-some that have been crated up and shipped from location to location (some just sitting in my studio) and I would never print any serious work until I did a head alignment (easy and fast with auto more time consuming and twiddly doing it manually). Often the auto head alignment results in no alignment needed but you don't know that for a fact till after you run it...and an accurate head alignment IS required for running the printer bi-directionally and getting the same quality as uni-directional. Which I think, since it doubles print speed, is useful.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2011, 02:56:44 PM »
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...................

 Since it takes little time and paper I guess I wonder why you are reluctant to do it and know for sure your heads are aligned?

..................... Often the auto head alignment results in no alignment needed but you don't know that for a fact till after you run it...and an accurate head alignment IS required for running the printer bi-directionally and getting the same quality as uni-directional. Which I think, since it doubles print speed, is useful.

I'm not at all reluctant to do what I think needs to be done, but based on the results I've seen so far, I haven't been the least bit motivated to do it; but since I haven't printed high speed either, the need has been even less apparent. Anyhow, my mind is open on both issues and I'll report back anon. 
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
datro
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« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2011, 04:32:02 PM »
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Hi Jeff,

Not to highjack this thread, but can you comment on whether it makes any sense to do the head alignment using one's "standard" media?  My 7900 manual says to do it using either the supplied Doubleweight Matte or Premium Luster.  But I'm wondering if there might be any logic in doing the alignment with the actual paper that I use most of the time (which for me is either Ilford Gold Fibre Silk or Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique).  Does the media play any signifcant factor in the alignment procedure?

Thanks,
Dave
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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2011, 05:13:18 PM »
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Does the media play any signifcant factor in the alignment procedure?

No...
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Farmer
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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2011, 07:34:08 PM »
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I think "Mostly, no".  I wouldn't attempt to do it on canvas and I wouldn't attempt to do it on something that was very close to the working limits of the printer (very thick, for example) or even if it required a platten gap adjustment.  You want to do all printer adjustments with the printer in "default" setup.
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« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2011, 10:49:50 PM »
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Good point...yeah I agree that you shouldn't use a media at the "edge" of the thickness range. Any standard Epson media should be fine like Luster, Matte, etc...
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Schewe
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« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2011, 10:51:02 PM »
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Anyhow, my mind is open on both issues and I'll report back anon. 

Good...do the Auto head alignment and know for sure...
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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2011, 03:21:39 AM »
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Mark,

Nice review.

Some questions:

Images shown next to one another, one with the wrong profile, the other with the correct one, may not tell correctly what the gamut difference in practice is between a CcMmYKkk and CcMmYOGKkk printer. But those images and the article's gamut shape illustrations confirm my conclusion that the OG inks do a lot for photography as well while there have been messages that the x900 models are mainly there for proofing tasks. What do you think with both printer versions available to you?

There was one reported observation in this forum that the 4900 showed more color inconstancy with changing light ("metamerism") compared to a 7890 printer output. Julian Mussi will probably check that too but maybe you can give an answer already? Given a RIT research report I came across last week it becomes even more unlikely. An Epson supported research to find algorithms for N-color ink mixing (LUTs) that will reduce color inconstancy. One would expect that Epson used that for the entire x900 range and the GS6000.

http://www.art-si.org/PDFs/Printing/CIC03_Chen.pdf


met vriendelijke groeten, Ernst Dinkla

New: Spectral plots of +190 inkjet papers:
http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm




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« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2011, 03:33:40 AM »
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Mark,

I wish to know if you have the model# or manufacture's type of table this is that you show the printer resting on in your review.




Thank you.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2011, 09:15:14 AM »
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Mark,

I wish to know if you have the model# or manufacture's type of table this is that you show the printer resting on in your review.


Thank you.

IKEA. "Galant".
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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 #19 on: January 03, 2011, 09:36:03 AM »
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Mark,

Nice review.

Some questions:

Images shown next to one another, one with the wrong profile, the other with the correct one, may not tell correctly what the gamut difference in practice is between a CcMmYKkk and CcMmYOGKkk printer. But those images and the article's gamut shape illustrations confirm my conclusion that the OG inks do a lot for photography as well while there have been messages that the x900 models are mainly there for proofing tasks. What do you think with both printer versions available to you?

There was one reported observation in this forum that the 4900 showed more color inconstancy with changing light ("metamerism") compared to a 7890 printer output. Julian Mussi will probably check that too but maybe you can give an answer already? Given a RIT research report I came across last week it becomes even more unlikely. An Epson supported research to find algorithms for N-color ink mixing (LUTs) that will reduce color inconstancy. One would expect that Epson used that for the entire x900 range and the GS6000.

http://www.art-si.org/PDFs/Printing/CIC03_Chen.pdf

met vriendelijke groeten, Ernst Dinkla

New: Spectral plots of +190 inkjet papers:
http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm


Hello Ernst. Thanks - glad you enjoyed the review.

I don't do proofing. I use these printers for making final photographs; many professional photographers and service bureaus who print for fine art/commercial photographers use the x900 series printers for final output on inkjet fine art papers. They are meant for this purpose as well as for proofing.

I really haven't been concerned about colour inconstancy since the Epson 4800. It was definitely a big deal with the 2000P - you may recall a short ten years ago or so it was the first in the Epson line of desktop pigment printers promising archival properties, but at the cost of a narrower gamut and very noticeable colour inconstancy. This was dramatically improved but not eliminated with the 4000, and by the 4800 I stopped paying attention to it as an issue. I have no basis to compare with 7890 since I don't own one and never seen its output, but I would expect the behaviour of all the x900s to be very similar. Maybe I'm not the best judge of this, because mentally I expect to see some difference in a print when I am looking at it under warmer versus cooler illumination - I know this is a different matter, but it affects overall perception to the extent, especially with these newer printers, that you really need to look very "analytically" beneath this overall effect to see whether you can detect colour inconstancy. When it gets that good, I think the issue becomes a bit theoretical. I did some interesting B&W stuff last night, so as we speak I looked at the image under real daylight, then took it to an incandescent bulb and for the life of me, I couldn't detect any corrupting of the grayscale, whereas in the days of the 2000P I could clearly see a change from grayish to greenish. No more.
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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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