Epson has had a long mainstay in the printer category and with more number of photographers and artists embracing digital photography, a professional photo printer definitely makes for a worthy investment, not only for budding enthusiasts, but also for pros. They are also a necessity for graphic designers, artists and photographers who require extremely high resolution prints for their studios, rather than them being used for general everyday printing. After the R2880, Epson launched the latest Stylus Photo R3000 printer, which aims to beat the competition out there. Let’s have a look if it does so.
Design and Build Quality
The R3000 looks relatively miniscule in its closed state, as compared to when you’ve got all it’s flaps and covers open. It comes in a dual-tone finish of black and silver and inspite of all the plastics involved in the build, it looks quite sturdy and is built to last. It’s incredibly heavy at 15 kg, but considering that it’s going to just sit out there in your lab, studio or work room, there’s no reason to worry about the weight. The finish on the front is glossy and tends to attract fingerprints over a period of time.
Button placement is quite good
The back consists of the power cord, the LAN port and the standard printer port to connect to the computer. The printer supports rolls of paper, which are present at the back of the printer. The top consists of two flaps – the first one to feed the various paper formats, and the second one gives access to the printer’s insides, the cartridge tanks and rollers. The front consists of the power button, enter, delete and return buttons as well as the directional keypad. Button feedback is pretty decent and there’s a click sound everytime a button is pressed. The ink check light above the delete button flashes when there’s an error or when the ink in the cartridges is low. The LCD panel fits neatly in the middle of the buttons and though not the most vivid of displays, it’s pretty enough to get your work done. Overall, the design and construction of the R3000 is definitely impressive.
But see the transformation when opened
The R3000 comes with 9-colour Epson UltraChrome K3 ink cartridges with the Vivid Magenta pigment ink. Each cartridge is filled with 25.9 ml of ink and the printer is capable of producing images at a resolution is 5670 x 1440 dpi. A wide number of paper formats, including A4, A3+, A3, letter and the small 4 x 6 photograph prints are supported. The paper roll mechanism allows continuous printing on the A3 sheets, but there’s no cutter, so that bit of work will have to be done manually. The printer accommodates cut-sheet and roll paper in sizes up to 13-inch wide and supports photographic and fine art paper, canvas, art boards and CD/DVDs as well. Connectivity options include Wireless 802.11n and 100 Mbit Ethernet support, but don’t expect it to print off USB or SD cards because those options aren’t really required.
Nine colour cartridges
The printer comes with two black ink tanks – one meant for photo and matte and depending upon your source paper, the printer uses the appropriate black. The ink changing mechanism is automatic and is initiated when you press the print button. The R3000 also comes with a sleep mode feature, which utilizes relatively less power than when it’s in the normal printing mode.
Simple User interface
The user interface is pretty simple and navigation is facilitated via the directional keys. Also, the various icons and their functions are displayed on the LCD screen, so you won’t end up meddling with the wrong options. The control panel has detailed instructions and simple guides that show up on the screen if you’re unsure about a particular function, which saves you the trouble of referring to the user guide. The status panel on the screen also displays the ink levels on each of the cartridges and which of the two – photo or matte black, are currently in use.
The R3000 takes roughly two and a half minutes per photo printed on an A4 sheet. This includes the warm up times, but not the conversion times for the matte and photo black cartridges. Printing times will also vary based on the complexity of the print. Conversion times range from two to two and a half minute depending whether it's from matte to photo or the other way round. This printer, however, doesn’t want to impress you with statistical numbers it’s the quality that it cares about. Here’s how the printer performed.
An excellent printer
We took a range of test images to gauge the effectiveness and the quality of the prints, and in a nutshell, the prints are quite stunning. Colour transitions are extremely smooth. Black and white images are pretty crisp as well and the colour tones appear natural. There’s absolutely no discolouration and colours are quite vibrant and rich. The overall image may be a little darker than your original image, but a little tweaking in the settings and you can have the desired amount of contrast and colour. Reds, in particular, appear slightly lighter and have a light pinkish hue to them. Detail capturing, also, is amazingly accurate. Even the smallest of details are picked up and represented precisely on the prints (for example, the craters on a golf ball the size of a button, or the pine needles on a pine tree) Shadow capturing and gradients come out extremely well.
We’ve tried to showcase on the image the details we’re talking about, but a lot of factors like the LCD brightness, image scan settings will leave discrepancies, so it’s best for overview purposes.
Moreover, we tested water proofing of the images we printed and the printer passed with flying colours. There was no smudging or any visible change in the quality of the prints when we poured half a glass of water on it and that’s impressive, to say the least.
The next feature, CD printing, requires you to manually mount a tray (included with the printer) with a printable CD onto the printer, but it’s a fairly easy procedure. The bundled software is quite easy to use as well and you’ll have your CD printed in no time.
Another thing to note is that not all third party printing papers are compatible with the R3000. Well, you can obviously print with them, but the results will be extremely disappointing, so we’d suggest you get Epson’s printing papers or an alternative high quality paper because the changes in quality and reproduction of images is quite big. Secondly, third party papers did seem to use up more ink than Epson’s papers, so if you’re looking for a cost cutting alternative, you’ll have to ensure find the right balance between paper cost (it costs approx Rs.15 for a single Premium Photo Glossy Paper from Epson) and ink usage per paper, along with the cartridge costs – which remain more of a constant. The entire new cartridge set will cost you roughly Rs.15,000, based on a conversion of the pricing on Epson’s U.S page.
Stunning quality prints
The Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Inkjet Printer is priced at Rs.69,000 (M.O.P). It doesn’t target casual users requiring general everyday printing of say, documents, images or PDFs. The main USP of this device is photo printing and it does that exceptionally well. If you’re a designer or a photographer or even an amateur hobbyist requiring a personal printer for serious quality printing of your designs and images, the Epson Stylus Photo R3000 will definitely not disappoint you. It’s an extremely impressive printer, and is easily, one of the best out there in the market.
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