Forum Login

Epson Stylus Photo 2000P

A Super-Archival Printer for Fine Art Photographers

 

 

 

 

 

A History Lesson

In the early spring of 2000 Epson brought out the Stylus Photo 870/1270 printers. Their main claim to fame was inks and papers with archival keeping properties better than most traditional photographic media. In the case of Epson Heavyweight Matt paper this is almost 30 years.

In May, almost as soon as these new printers became generally available, Epson announced the Stylus Photo 2000P, along with the 7500 and 9500 model printers. In late July the 2000P started shipping in the U.S. and Canada. (A small number of units became available in the U.K. in June.)

These three new models have been a shock to most observers because they have raised the bar again; this time to a height that no one expected this soon. Epson claims as much as a 200-year life span for the special inks and papers used in the 2000P. (All of this applies to the 7500 and 9500 printers as well. These simply have wider carriages and somewhat more robust heads and transport mechanisms. Otherwise the same inks, papers and droplet size are used. More details on the 7500 and 9500 wide carriage printers can be found here.).

These longevity claims might be taken with a large grain of salt, except that the highly respected Wilhelm Research has independently rated these inks and papers as having greater than 100 year, and with some papers as much as a 200 year life span before noticeable deterioration. It must be noted that this is far in excess of any other colour print process ever made available, including Cibachrome / Ilfochrome and even Dye Transfer printing. This means that a framed print, hanging behind glass, exposed to normal room conditions, will still appear much as it does today when my great-great-great-great-grandchildren view it. Since as recently as last year inkjet prints could fade in as little as a few months the progress that Epson has made is truly astounding.

Who¹s It For?

Let¹s establish right up-front that this printer isn¹t for everyone. This is a photographic printer. While it is capable of printing text, pie charts and the like, it¹s slow and not of particularly good quality for these applications. I repeat. This is a photographic printer, first, foremost and essentially exclusively. This means that it cannot be your only printer, further increasing the cost.

Oh ya. The cost. At $899 US list, it is close to double the price of an Epson 1270, its closest competitor.  You have to be very serious about your prints to pay this premium. But, of course, if you are serious, this printer is worth twice its price for what you get.

Muskoka Sunset Panorama #1, 2000

How Do They Do It?

Pigments. All consumer level printers to date (and most high-end commercial ones as well) use dye-based inks. Dyes are inherently unstable and fade when exposed to heat, light, humidity, and air-born contaminants including ozone. Pigments, on the other hand, are much more stable and resistant to the assaults of the natural world. The problem has been to develop pigment based inks with a wide colour gamut and the ability to be sprayed though nozzles as fine as .1 microns. (That's one tenth of one millionth of a meter!) This Epson has now achieved with its line of archival printers. Let¹s see what the results are like.

What Do the Prints Look Like?

Unfortunately there¹s no way to show you on a web page what they look like, even if they were in some way different than prints from another state-of-the-art printer such as the Epson 1270. They¹re not. That¹s the exciting news though. Side by side with 1270 prints they appear almost identical.

While some early commentaries have been made about a reduced colour gamut from these pigment based inks, if there is one it¹s very subtle. I¹ve now made a substantial number of test prints on the same or similar papers, on both printers, and the differences are very small indeed. Not that they¹re not there. They are. But they are so small on most images as to not be worth being concerned about. And, if you still feel that you need a bit more punch, play with the PhotoEhance4 mode and try the Vivid setting. Instant Velvia for those that want it.

As far as settings go, with a well calibrated scanner / screen combination and using ICM / ICC profiles, like with the 1270 results straight out of the box are almost perfect.

Is it Slow?

Yes and no. When set for the new Archival Matt paper the 2000P and the 1270 print at about the same speed. The default setting here is for bi-directional printing. On Premium Semi-Gloss paper the 2000P is slow, almost a third of the speed of when printing on Matt paper; 19 minutes Vs. 7 minutes for a 10² X 3² image.

While a wedding or portrait studio might find this of concern when printing a large order, as a fine-art photographer the fact that a large print might take a long while to print doesn¹t concern me much. Simply start the print process and go do something else.

Triple Falls, Grand Canyon ‹ May, 2000

Operating Costs

This will not be an inexpensive printer to operate. The inks will cost about 10% more than the inks for the 1270, about $33 for the Black cartridge and $38 for the colour cartridge. Papers are also likely to cost a bit more than consumer grade papers. Because of the limited distribution there likely will be less discounting as well.

About the New Papers

This for me has been one of the more interesting aspects of testing and becoming familiar with the 2000P. There are currently 4 archival papers designed for use with the 2000P. Other papers can be used, but there¹s no point since as discussed previously elsewhere on this site, when it comes to archival keeping qualities papers and inks are intimately linked. If you want to print on other papers, get a 1270.

Archival Matt Paper

This paper is much like the Matt Paper Heavyweight that Epson introduced with the 1270 printer. The earlier paper had a weight of 167g/m2 while Archival Matt has a weight of 192 g/m2. Similarly the new paper has a thickness of 10 mil Vs. 9 mil.

I really like this paper. Readers of my Epson 1270 review will have noticed that I was immediately taken by this Matt surface paper. It has a subtly that works very well many images. The new Archival Matt¹s extra weight is really noticeable. It doesn¹t appear to wrinkle when there are large black areas the way that the previous paper did.

This paper will be available in Letter (8.5X11"), A3 (11X17") and Super B (13X19") sizes.

Note: Matt paper is rated as having the longest life span of any of the new papers ‹ as much as 200 years. Other Epson photo papers are rated as 140+ years, (but who's counting)?

Premium Semigloss Photo Paper

This paper is an extremely pleasant surprise. To my eyes no inkjet paper from any manufacturer has yet looked like a traditional darkroom paper. This one does! It has a satin surface that is half-way between a gloss and a matt finish. There used to be a Kodak Luster surface that this is quite reminiscent of. Unlike a glossy paper, when it reflects it doesn¹t reflect like a mirror, instead it blurs the reflection. In terms of reflectivity it¹s like the difference between a sheet of ordinary picture framing glass and antireflection glass, if that helps you visualize it. I'll be using this paper a great deal from now on.

It has a thickness of 10 mil and a weight of 251 g/m2. As you can see, the same thickness but quite a bit heavier than the Matt paper.

This paper will be available in Letter, Super B and 4" X 26 foot rolls.

Watercolor Paper ¯ Radiant White

This paper is much like a cold-press fine-art paper, like Arches. It has a thickness of 11.5 mil and a weight of 190 g/m2. I¹ve never been a big fan of watercolor papers with inkjet printers, but I know that many people are. If you like this sort of thing, you¹ll like this paper. It also won¹t shed paper dust and clog the printer¹s heads the way some other fine-art papers can.

This paper will only be available in Super B size.

Premium Luster Photo Paper

This is the only one of the four new papers that I have not been able to test yet. It is described in the literature as a resin-coated photo-weight paper having a ³light sheen and textured surface². As soon as I have a sample tested I¹ll report on it here.

This paper will be available in all of the above sizes as well as 13" X 33 foot rolls.

Roll Paper

I was at first under whelmed when I noticed that the 2000P comes with a roll paper holder. This is not an application that I have great need for. Then I saw in the manual that Premium Luster Photo paper will be available in 13² wide rolls.

This is exciting because for the first time Epson will have a high quality paper for making panoramic prints. The 2000P, like the 1270 and 1200 before it is capable of making prints up to 44² in length. I have quite a few panoramic images that are just waiting for this paper to appear!!

USB Issues

Epson in their manuals state that the printer, when attached using USB, should be attached directly to the computer, or at worst to the first tier of a hub. They mean it. I had a lot of problems both with the 1270 and the 2000P with a USB extension cable and with a second tier hub.

Was the 1270 Rushed?

When the 2000P was announced so soon after the 1270 many observers seemed to think that the 2000P had somehow been rushed to market. That¹s not the case. In fact, I¹m told that if anything it was the 1270 that was rushed.

The 2000P, 7500 and 9500 along with their archival inks and papers have been the result of a long-term development effort at Epson. They were scheduled for introduction this year.

It seems though that Epson brought out the 870/1270 models sooner than anticipated because of a concern that one or more manufacturers were going to be bringing out competitive products in this segment. It could be that the problems that Epson has had with orange coloured fading on some of its 1270 print materials could be the result of this rush. This is just speculation on my part though.

Tumbleweed Dunes, Monument Valley AZ, 2000

All in The Family

The 2000P is cousin to the 7500 and 9500 archival printers. (The 9500 will ship in late August and the 7500 in September). I am told by an Epson representative that the inks and papers are identical and that the ink drop size is as well. The only major difference is the size of the transport mechanism.

I only have use a few times a year for very large display prints. In the past I have had LightJet 5000 prints made by a commercial lab. No more. Fortunately a local digital dealer and lab, Vistek in Toronto, will have a 9500 as soon as they become available, and so I will use them for anything larger than 13² width prints. Most cities will soon have similarly equipped labs. If they don¹t, well, there¹s a business opportunity available!

Cosmetics

The 2000P is from the same mold (literally) as the 1270. They differ cosmetically, with the 1270 being all beige and the 2000P having a black base and sliver coloured top. The 2000P has a smaller head-area viewing window as well. All in all I like the look of the 2000P on my desktop much better. It has a more technical air about it.

Printing Black & White

July 28, 2000

I have done some brief testing doing monochrome prints on Archival Matt paper as well as Premium Semigloss. The Semigloss prints are quite nice and are fairly neutral under indoor light. But, under daylight they have a cyan cast. (This may be related in some way to the green cast found in colour prints viewed under daylight conditions, mentioned at the bottom of this page). 

In the past with the Epson 1200 and 1270 printers I have had good results making Black and White prints using the colour inks, but with turning the image into monochrome beforehand within PhotoShop. (Either Image / Mode / Grayscale or Image / Adjust / Channel Mixer / Monochrome will do the job. The later provides more control though). ( A tutorial on this technique can be found on Ian Lyons excellent site on digital image processing). The reason for using colour inks is to achieve a broad range of monochrome tonalities though the blending of the inks. 

I have spent considerable time and paper trying to create acceptable black and white prints on the 2000P, but without really acceptable results. The problem is that it seems impossible to get a neutral gray cast under all lighting conditions when using colour inks on Semigloss paper. When using black ink only on this paper there is no colour cast, but there is an unsightly "texture" to clear areas such as skies.

On Archival Matt paper neutral prints can be made with black ink but I find that I can't get good solid blacks. (Please note that this is only when printing Black & White, not colour). I'm continuing to experiment with various settings to try and come up with an acceptable solution but without much hope.

See Ron Harris' comments below for more on monochrome printing with the 2000P.

The Pause

Just a small operational note. Unlike with previous Epson printers, when the 2000P is finished printing there is a 5-10 second pause before the paper is released. At first I thought that there was a problem, but this seems normal. Just different.

Should I Buy One?

If you exhibit your prints in galleries, sell your prints as fine art or commercially for display, or simply wish to preserve your art for many generations then, yes, by all means get an Epson 2000P.

If you want a high quality printer that will produce lovely prints that will last for several decades, costs only a third as much and is much more versatile as a general purpose printer then the Epson 1270 is for you.

Where Do I Buy One

The Epson 2000P will be sold through specialty dealers, not the mass merchandisers that carry other Epson printers. Here in Canada Vistek in Toronto and the Henrys chain of photographic retailers among others will carry them. In the U.S. and elsewhere please contact your Epson distributor for details.

What¹s Next?

So, what will Epson come up with next? Is this the holy grail of printers? Not by a long shot. The archival ink battle has been won but there are still advances to be made in colour gamut, higher resolution and glossy papers. By the way, expect to see a 3000 equivalent model using these inks and papers before year¹s end.

Also, we haven¹t yet heard a rumble from Kodak, Canon, HP and Lexmark, to name just a few. None of these companies though are going to abdicate the photographic marketplace to Epson. The next few years should be even more exciting than the last few.

In the meantime we can get on with making beautiful prints on our desktops that will last outlast anything from the traditional darkroom. I for one am very happy.

Michael H. Reichmann
July, 2000

Please note that while the photographs used to illustrate this article were some of the ones used in testing, they are not intended to illustrate in any way the qualities of the papers or inks used in the 2000P.

Epson's original Press Release for the 2000P cab be found here.

Update: June 18, 2000

Wilhelm Research has updated information about their ongoing tests of Epson's 2000P inks and papers.

Update: July 21, 2000

Ian Lyons of Computer Darkroom recently had an opportunity to spend a few hours with a 2000P and has posted his preliminary impressions

Update: July 27, 2000

The Green Shift: The 2000P shipped about a month earlier in the U.K. than it did in the US and Canada. There have been reports from there of a "green shift" visible on prints. (Apparently one of the British photo magazines has already commented on it.) At first I didn't see this, but I've now discovered what appears to be the issue and why some people see it and others don't. 

Under incandescent lighting indoors there is no green shift visible. But, under natural daylight on some prints the shift is quite visible. It is particularly noticeable in mid-tone shadow areas.

Obviously, if one has never viewed a print outdoors then the problem wouldn't be visible. I'd judge the shift  to be about -5M on the Archival Matt paper and maybe -10M on the Premium Semigloss. It would appear that this is a characteristic of the inks and the way they reflect light. I'm surmising this since the inks are more "on the surface" with the Semigloss paper and deeper into the paper on the Archival Matt. We'll see.

_________

After the above was first posted I received the following information from a well informed contact. It confirmed my discovery that the green shift is a daylight problem. Please note that at this time the following information has not been confirmed with a second source.

Epson discovered the green cast problem late on in the development of the product and hence they clearly state in their technical information that the printer will not print neutrally.

Background technical papers from Epson state that the 2000P shouldn't be sold as a Black and White printer ‹ it just cannot print neutrally, nor can it get anything better than a deep gray on monochrome prints. In a colour print this does not present a problem but with black and white its a real issue. 

For more on this issue see my closing comment below.


Update: July 29, 2000

Contributor Ron Harris now has his 2000P and below provides his evaluation of it as a B&W printer.

A B&W Photographer's Review of the Epson 2000P Printer

The first thing I wanted to know about the 2000P was how bad the color casts are when printing B&W images using color inks.  Unfortunately, this new printer fails my test, especially when compared to the Epson 1270 printer.

B&W images made using the 2000P on Epson Matte, Archival Matte, and Premium Semigloss papers behave like a chameleon when moved into different lighting areas.  Under incandescent lighting, an image looks magenta, and under natural window light, an image looks cyan/green!  The same was true using Epson Photo Glossy paper with previous printers.  With the 1270 printer and Epson Matte paper this is a very minor problem.

For 2000P prints made for incandescent lighting I am able to "tone" the print to the color I want, which is similar to a selenium-toned B&W darkroom print.  Prior to printing I make a Mode change to RGB and make a Color Balance Adjustment Layer, with shadow: 1 unit magenta, midtone: 2 units magenta and 1 unit red, highlights: 1 unit red.  When printing, PCM is OFF, Color Space: RGB Color, and in the printer driver:  media type chosen, print quality: photo, color controls checked, mode: automatic,  gamma 1.8, high speed unchecked.  I set the Contrast slider to 10 in order to improve the dark tones. Otherwise the blacks are washed out.

I don't think such color casts are unique to Epson, and have seen them in B&W prints made on other printers, including those by Kodak and Fuji.  The same is true of prints made with 3rd-party grayscale inks for Epson printers.  Even darkroom B&W prints have a color.  The human eye is very sensitive and can detect even minor color casts on grayscale images.

The choice here is to make essentially color-cast free prints on the Epson 1270 using Matte paper and have a 30 year print life or to make color-cast problem prints on the Epson 2000P using Archival Matte paper and have a 200 year print life.  A compromise might be to tone the Epson 2000P prints to be a little too magenta under incandescent light to help offset the the cyan/green shift under natural window light.  However, the size of the color shift is too large to make this acceptable.  I have decided to stick with the 1270 for B&W images.  Maybe the next generation printer will have solved this colorcast problem and have a 200 year life as well.

Ron Harris

A Closing Comment

The green colour shift problem refuses to go away. After making dozens of additional prints and discussing the issue with other users in different countries as well as Epson, and a major retailer, here is where things stand.

The problem is most noticeable on Premium Semigloss paper. It is more subtle, but still visible on Archival Matt paper. It is not visible on all images. A photograph needs to have areas of neutral gray tonality for it to be an issue. Clean mid-tones areas display the problem most noticeably.

Monochrome prints (as noted by Ron Harris above) display the shift most prominently. This printer, inks and papers are not suitable for monochrome printing.

I've had a dialog on the green shift issue with an Epson rep. Here is an excerpt from his response...

"... this is a colour calibration issue (not printer or media). The default driver settings are optimized for indoor lighting conditions, in keeping with the printer's mission of reproducing fine art output. The user is required to create a revised profile if the print is to be displayed outdoors. Product management at Epson America reports that an "Outdoor" profile could be created and added to the driver (on CD shipping with the product) if 2000P users start requesting it. The Stylus Pro 7500 and 9500 (using a similar ink formula) are geared more to commercial (potential outdoor posting) uses of their output and have planned for the Green Cast you detected."

An excerpt from my response to the above follows...

"Thank for your reply. Unfortunately I don't find it a satisfactory response.

Your product literature describes the 2000P system as being "for pro or semi-pro" photographers and artists producing "fine art and museum prints...". Based on your response, as a fine art photographer involved in selling prints to collectors and galleries I would have to either provide them with two prints, one suitable for indoor display in rooms with no daylight encroachment, and another for rooms which have a high daylight component. This is patently absurd. Also, the last paragraph of your response is, with all due respect, doublespeak. Commercial users of the 7500 and 9500 will have the same issues of mixed-light usage as will users of the 2000P.

Frankly, this is an unacceptable situation. I have just today laid out CDN $1,500+ of my own money for a 2000P because I expect this product to meet the high standards that Epson has set in the past. To suggest that a user such as myself can not expect to make acceptable prints displayable under mixed lighting conditions as found in homes, galleries and museums is to doom the product to failure, and an ignominious one at that....."

Bottom line? The 2000P is an amazing printer able to produce stunning colour prints that will outlast you, your grandchildren and their grandchildren. Quite an achievement. I hope and believe that Epson will respond appropriately and resolve this issue. But, only you can decide if the current green shift problem is one that you can live with.

As and when there is more information available I'll post it here.

Please note that this product review and everything else on this page is copyright and may not be reprinted in whole or part without my written consent.

Michael

Ongoing Technical Discussions

The issue of the green shift and related topics are now being discussed on a number of the boards and forums around the Net. Several correspondents are keeping me informed, as it's obviously difficult to stay on top of the veritable tidal wave of information found on the Net these days. (If you come across credible information you can send it to me.

In an attempt to stay on top of this discussion I am excerpting below, on an ongoing basis, segments of these discussions that I feel shed light on the issue. Be aware that these are people's opinions (what isn't?) removed from their original context and therefore should be judged accordingly.

"It's Tough Being Green" ‹ Kermit The Frog

The following is from the Colorsync Listserve....

"...Specifically, I just can't seem to eliminate color casts from the neutral grays with custom ICC profiles for either the new Archival Quality Matte or the Premium Semigloss papers. I hope someone may have some thoughts on what might be causing this."

________

" Rest assured Epson is aware of this situation and is takings steps. There is a seperate, related issue which will not be solvable by software adjustments, which is a metameric change in gray balance under different light colors. So an image that is neutral under tungsten light will be blue under fluorescent; while one neutral there will be pink under tunsten... Epson warns not to use the inks for black and white work due to this; but it will have some effect color images as well. Those issues aside, this is an amazing printer..."

________

Update: August 3, 2000

A colleague in the U.K. has just forwarded to me a review of the 2000P from the August edition of Professional Photographer magazine. They comment extensively on the green cast problem. Unfortunately they see it as a colour profiling issue that can be solved either by the user or, preferably, by Epson. I do not believe this to be the case.

I can see how this can happen though. If they have been doing their testing in an office lit predominantly with skylights or large windows (as many offices are) then the prints will always have a green cast. It's only when the prints are moved from one light field to the other that the problem become clearly visible.

Update: August 9, 2000

I've had occasion to speak with two retailers today regarding the 2000P ‹ sales so far and the green cast problem. Both have been somewhat disappointed by early sales. In both cases the comment was made that price seems to be an impediment. At almost double the cost of a 1270, and with more expensive inks and papers, the 2000P appears to be limited to photographers who are very serious about longevity because they sell or exhibit original prints. Otherwise, the 1270 which produces visually identical results, with very acceptable longevity by most standards, seems to be selling strongly.

As for the green cast problem, one of the dealers explains the problem to each customers and is also imprinting on their sales invoice that this issue does exist and that the customer agrees that he/she is aware of it. This is their way of avoiding returns at a later date.

I've been doing further printing with the 2000P and continue to be favourably impressed, particularly when printing on Archival Matt paper. The green cast is very slight on this paper, if visible at all. As much as I like the new Premium Semigloss paper, until the inks are reformulated to remove the cast I'll be avoiding its use.

Letters

The following are letters that have been received by me regarding the green cast problem. Opinions stated are those of the authors.

A Letter From Lawrence Beck:

From: Lawrence Beck <lbeck@primitive.com>
To: kermit@luminous-landscape.com
Subject: green cast with pigmented inks
Date: Thu, 03 Aug 2000 14:53:11 -0700

Michael,

Thank you for all the research/good work you have done in your efforts to get to the bottom of the "green cast" problem with the new Epson archival inks. I have a thought on this... and it might help in your efforts to find out why this is happening.

For the past two years, I have been having my fine art images printed by an extremely knowledgeable printer/scanner operator here in California. He was involved in the design and R&D aspect of drum scanners from the infancy of these tools. He currently uses the Heidelberg Tango Drum scanner and feels that this is "state of the art". He knows more about scanning, profiling and color than anyone I know of. He has been using the 52" Roland Hi-Fi jet printer with Pantone Hexachrome-certified pigmented inks for the past two  years. I am not mentioning his name as he is getting too busy to do my own work in a "timely manner"... and I don't want to add to the problem by circulating comments that he is a "master printer/scanner". Apologies.

I have noticed that his Roland prints (all on Concorde Rag or Somerset Velvet Radiant White) turn green when brought into a room with a good amount of daylight. They look perfect when he prints them, however, and I'm not sure that the problem is in the actual pigments or in the dry/down or exposure to atmospheric pollutants (he lives on the coast in an area that has no smog whatsoever and regular sea breezes that keep pollutants away).

I speculate that since the Roland uses Epson-built micro piezo heads, albeit those designed and built two years ago, there is a strong likelihood that Epson is using inks manufactured for the Roland printer as their "new 100-200 year archival inks". Epson is not using the terms "Pantone Hexachrome-certified" in their marketing... and this might be so as not to encourage people like us to draw a comparison between the Epson and Roland inks. I think you will find that once Wilhelm has concluded his tests on the Epson archival inks we will discover that they have the same estimated permanence as the Roland inks. (Wouldn't it be more cost effective for Epson to use Roland's existing product, proven in over two years of printing, than to develop their own?) 

Epson realizes that there is a mint to be made in consumables... and they might have had to pay Roland a bundle to license their inks (and avoid using the Pantone Hexachrome moniker.) I agree with you that this is not a printer driver problem as my printer would have solved this problem early on had this been the problem with his Roland Hi-Fi jet.  It would be interesting to find someone who uses both the Roland and the Epson printers with pigmented inks to compare the output. In any case, the fact that inks for the 2000P are back ordered by ALL suppliers and will be bought in larger than normal quantities by ALL serious fine art printers who own or intend to purchase the 2000P is an indication as to the wisdom of Epson in releasing this new product... albeit prematurely. They're going to do the "Epson shuffle" and bullshit the consumer with nonsense about printer driver problems just as they did with the orange cast problem on the 1270 and the cyan cast on the photo glossy paper etc etc. The money to be made is so great that they (and MIS/Generations etc ad nauseum) have thrown integrity to the wind as people like us will spend small fortunes on consumables while the company waits for the general public to trouble shoot their premature releases. (I wrote to you last year about the MIS pigmented inks and the lack of integrity this company has shown by making claims about their inks and NEVER releasing the long overdue tests done by RIT. Their inks clogged my 1200 heads and the printer had to be returned). 

Anyhow, consider the above as "speculation" based on personal experience and a fair amount of research. I don't anticipate a "quick fix" to the "green cast" problem anytime soon as Roland hasn't been able to solve this problem in two years... I haven't read about this problem as it relates to Roland printers as not many fine artists have the $18,000 USD to buy the hi-fi jet. 

Best of luck in your efforts to light a fire under Epson's rear end... and thanks for your unselfish efforts to educate the world on the beauty of photography. Epson should know that your opinion will influence tens of thousands of potential customers... and handle your complaints accordingly.

Respectfully, Lawrence Beck

A Letter From Greg Governale:

From: "Greg Governale" <powildlife@dellnet.com>
To: <mreichmann@luminous-landscape.com>
Subject: 2000p
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2000 11:43:36 -0500


My name is Greg Governale, I own an Epson 1200,and an Epson 2000p.I have been reading with great interest your comments about the 2000p. The green cast is not restricted to the 2000p.I have been trying to color correct a 300MB file for fine art reproduction.Many times I had thought that I had achieved a 95% or better color match. However the next day when I would view the print I was very disappointed, the color match I thought I had achieved was no longer there.....it seemed impossible, but after moving the original and the prints into various lighting situations it became very clear that some compromise would have to be reached.

Even the original painting when moved into various lighting conditions will shift a great deal. My friend who painted the image is a very well respected artist, his work has been displayed in museums throughout the country. At first he didn't believe what I was telling him. But after he carried his original into various lighting situations the truth was clearly evident. The paint that he so carefully chose was shifting color in various lighting conditions. I ended up making a color match that looks great in daylight, I also created a color match that looks great in incandescent light. To me this is a lot of extra work and a cause of great frustration.

I don't believe you can pick on Epson, for not producing a profile, or print driver setting, that can handle this situation. Since even an artist original produces the same type of shift. It has made no difference whether I use the 1200 or the 2000p the shift is still there. Let me remind you, that the shift takes place when working with original paintings. For now, we were forced to make a compromise, I color corrected the file to look good in gallery light.

I hope you find this information interesting if not frustrating. And if you have an opportunity to actually attempt to color match an original painting you will find that what I am stating his true. Good luck and thank you for a wonderful web site, your effort has not gone unnoticed.
Greg Governale

Greg ,

Thank you for your email. You're quite right, you know. Colour dyes and pigments do appear differently under different light conditions. No one would argue this.

The problem in the case of the Epson 2000P and Semigloss Paper is the degree. This is not a small shift. This is not a shift that one stares closely at, going back and forth between the incandescent light and the daylight, searching for the difference. This is a difference that with certain prints jumps out and whacks you in the face. That's my problem, and that's what I believe Epson has an obligation to fix.

Regards,

Michael

A Letter From Daniel Bliss:

I've written to you before on scanning and Epson 1270 color shifting, but I've been following the 2000p debate avidly because I need to get some kind of a pigment-based printer (or else contract out to someone with a large format HP that takes UV pigmented ink). 

I'm wondering if the problem with the color shift could lie, not in the pigment, but in the coating that enables the pigment to pass through the print head without the clogging that afflicts MIS and Generations ink (clogging that has wrecked my Stylus 740).  A polymer coating suggests to me a certain degree of reflectivity and even a "lens" like effect as light passes from the pigment through the coating to the eye.  In a neutral grey area, so my theory goes, the polymer takes over from the pigment as the dominant influence on color.  

On a somewhat reflective paper where the ink sits more on the surface you might even see a situation where you're getting a double dose of reflectivity, both from whatever substance Epson (and I guess Roland, if that's where the ink came from) put on their pigment and from the surface of the paper -- possibly even light bouncing between the paper and the polymer on the ink particles.  

I'm at a loss as to why else color balance would shift so dramatically from one light source to the next, and as to why else you would see such a dramatic shift in color on the semi-glossy compared to the matte; -5M is irritating, and the jump from -5M to -10M is obnoxious.  I guess I should be thankful that I don't care for glossy paper anyway. I also think this could explain why your correspondent from California, Lawrence Beck, has had such a persistent problem with his Roland prints. 

 If the problem is as fundamental as this coating ‹ which apparently is the prerequisite to using this ink in Epson's unusual print head ‹ I suspect we could be waiting a long, long time for it to be corrected, possibly until HP sees fit to release one of their UV pigment printers in an affordable price range and really give Epson the scare they need.  Maybe Epson naively thought they could finesse the problem with profiling, and then "discovered" the problem "late in development" (i.e. finally became resigned to the fact that it isn't fixable with profiles) and decided to act as if there was nothing particularly odd about this. I'd be interested to hear if people using HP's $10,000 to $15,000 printers with UV Pigmented inks are having similar trouble, or if their prints actually work everywhere. 

Regards, Daniel Bliss

A Letter From William D'Erasmo

I am in complete agreement with what Daniel Bliss had to say. As I read your review of the 2000p and the ongoing discussion of the green cast phenomenon, it occurred to me that this effect was most likely caused by interferometric attenuation in the polymer coating of the pigment particles. You can see this same effect in the multi-coating of some camera lenses (my 24 mm Nikkor comes to mind; a beautiful example of green/magenta attenuation and reflection), the "iridescence" of an insect's wing and an oilslick on dark, wet pavement to name a few. I suspect the mechanism involved here also depends on the shape of the pigment molecules themselves. It may only be present in one or two of the colors of ink used. This can be tested by printing bands of each ink color on glossy, black media. I believe the reason this color cast problem does not show itself under incandescent lighting is simply that the blue-green component is too low at this color temperature to be noticeable. 

Regards,

Bill D'Erasmo

Update: August 21, 2000

Though to the best of my knowledge the 7500 and 9500 printers are not shipping anywhere in the world yet, Epson UK has the drivers on their web site. Some folks have suggested that the green shift problem will be resolved by these drivers. I doubted it, and after downloading and testing the 2000P with the 7500 driver I find no improvement. I really does appear that the problem lies in the inks.

Update: August 22, 2000

After some discussion with Epson it is my sense now that the green cast issue has stabilized in the following way. As I have discovered, it is less of a problem with the Archival Matt paper and Watercolor Paper ‹ Radiant White than it is on the Premium Semigloss. For this reason Epson is working with dealers and customers to understand that this generation of the product is likely best used with these first two papers to minimize the green cast problem. I concur, and am pleased that Epson now recognizes that there is indeed a problem.

The 7500 and 9500 models are scheduled to ship soon and they use the same inks and papers. Epson believes that it is these matt and fine-art papers that will be predominantly used with these two wider format printers and so again, the green cast will be less of an issue than if glossy papers were used. It's my guess that we will not see the inks (the source of the problem ‹ as I surmised)  reformulated during the life of this product (1 year?).

Since the green cast is slight with matt paper, and only visible on some prints, not all, it looks like that's where the issue will rest. Just be aware that if an image has large areas of neutral tonality ( a gray rock wall, for example) it will show the green cast even on matt paper. So, unless there are any unexpected changes it looks like the subject is closed for now, but remember that as noted above by Ron Harris, the 2000P remain an inappropriate printer for B&W work. The 1270 is a much preferable choice.

Bottom line ‹ if you must have the greatest archival life from your prints and are satisfied with printing on matt paper, then by all means purchase a 2000P. If you want the best all-around photographic printer and can live with somewhat shorter print life (though still quite excellent) go with the Epson 1270.

Update: September 19, 2000

The September, 2000 issue of Shutterbug magazine contains a highly favourable review of the 2000P by David Brooks. But, I was dismayed to see that there was no mention whatsoever of the green cast problem. Since this issue has now been documented extensively elsewhere, and admitted to by Epson, it seems to me to be a great disservice to readers by both this author and magazine to not have mentioned it. Also, since he hardly mentions the slowness of the printer in comparison to previous models it makes me wonder whether Mr. Brooks didn't simply write his review from a reading of Epson's press release.

Update: September 21, 2000

There is now a very well done article on the green cast problem (metamerism) at inkjetart.com. It provides a clearly described explanation of what the problem is and some suggestions on how to adjust prints for differing viewing conditions. Not a solution, but some good ideas.

Update: September 25, 2000

A discussion forum dedicated to the Epson 2000P has recently been formed and looks to be a worthwhile venue for finding out the latest news about this printer, its promise and its problems.

Update: October 3, 2000

A couple of weeks ago I criticized Shutterbug magazine for not reporting on the Epson 2000P's green cast (metamerism) problem. I now see that Outdoor Photographer & PC Photo Magazine (same review) have also quietly ignored the problem.

What's wrong with these publishers? Is the power of advertising revenue so strong that they turn a blind eye to product faults? Or, are the reviews simply becoming advertorials, the way they have been for years in Petersons Photographic?

Update: November 7, 2000

Byte.com has another excellent article by David Em on Epson's latest generation of printers, papers and inks, and the problems that they're having. You can read it here.

Update: November 17, 2000

If you're dissatisfied with colour saturation when printing with the 2000P on Archival Matte paper try changing the Color Management setting in the printer driver to PhotoEnhance4 and set Tone to Vivid. I know, I know, you're using ICM profiles. Fugetabout it. Try my suggestions. Rich saturated colours and solid blacks. Bizarre. 

Premium Luster Photo Paper

Epson has released its 13" X 33 foot-long panoramic photo paper. It's been worth the wait.

Filed Under:  

show page metadata

Concepts: Printing, Inkjet printer, Color, Paper, Ink, Incandescent light bulb, Printer driver, Coated paper

Entities: Toronto, Epson America, Kodak, Wilhelm Research, Vistek, Lexmark, HP, HP, Canon, U.K., U.S., Canada., Super B, printer driver, image processing, PhotoShop., polymer, PCM, Monument Valley, Michael Reichmann, Epson, Matt paper, matt paper, Ron Harris, Matt Paper, Archival Matt, Ian Lyons, Dyes, Lawrence Beck, Roland, Greg Governale, Daniel Bliss, Wilhelm, David Em, Michael H. Reichmann, Rich, Archival Matte, Channel Mixer, the Roland, Henrys, David Brooks, PC Photo Magazine, Shutterbug magazine, Professional Photographer magazine, California

Tags: Epson, paper, prints, inks, green cast, matt paper, archival, color, archival matt paper, image, green cast problem, Premium Semigloss, green shift, printing, semigloss paper, pigment, fine art, glossy papers, Epson printers, archival inks, Roland, premium semigloss paper, lighting, Ron Harris, lighting conditions, epson 2000p printer, photo, Matte paper, colour prints, printer driver, Epson archival, color match, epson photo, shift problem, Epson 1270 printer, Epson Matte, incandescent lighting, green shift problem, large, Archival Matte paper