Finally! A true, *archival* photo inkjet printer, with 200+ year fade resistance!
Page 4: Operation
Review First Posted: 1/25/2002
MSRP $899 US
Operation The 2000P works like any other desktop printer, with printer drivers and utility
software for both Windows and Macintosh platforms. Together, they provide a wide
range quality and speed settings, image editing functions, color management, and
page layout controls. The following is a list of the four basic printing modes
and Epson's recommendations for the use of each mode:
Draft: This provides the fastest speed for text printing. The Draft mode is best for emails and draft text documents.
Normal: This is the printer's default setting. It is best used for Web pages, business letters, documents with text and graphics, PowerPoint shows, etc.
Fine: This is the printer's fastest mode for printing photos on Photo Paper.
Photo: Photo mode is best used for detailed photos and graphic images. A "Super" option is available when a gloss or semigloss paper finish is selected, providing the highest resolution. (In practice though, I couldn't discern any difference between Super and non-Super print quality.)
The printer driver has a full array of image enhancement controls, including Automatic or Advanced printing with Saturation, Brightness, and Contrast settings. It also provides Tone, Detail, Smooth Edges, and Color controls, with options for using Epson's automatic PhotoEnhance mode, No Color Adjustment, or sRGB or various color spaces.
The more standard controls include paper size options, paper types, Border Free printing, page layout, and the Utilities section, which controls print head functions like nozzle cleaning, alignment, and ink level checks. You can also create and apply a watermark to your images, with suggested templates for "Confidential," "Draft," "Urgent," and "Priority."
For a more detailed explanation of the menus and options available in the print driver software, see the "Computer Drivers" section below.
I guess it's reasonable that you'd have to trade off some aspect of performance to get the archival print life that the 2000P delivers, and as it turns out you do indeed have to give up some print speed. Probably not quite as much as you might think though, given the general rap the 2000P has generally gotten on the Internet and in print publications.
In its highest quality print mode, on semigloss or "Lustre" paper, the print time is indeed an agonizing 25 minutes or so per 8 x 11-inch page. This is very slow, but not that far off from Epson's dye-based inkjet printers operating in their highest-quality 2,800 x 720-dpi resolution mode. (For comparison, the 1280's print time for the same file as cited above is just a hair over 20 minutes.) Granted, the dye-based printer is delivering higher resolution and a completely invisible dot structure, but the fact remains that a 25-minute page time isn't totally unheard of. As with the 1280 and its siblings though, the 2000P has a print quality setting one notch down from its maximum (the non-"Super" option) that delivers prints indistinguishable (to my eye at least) from those of the highest quality mode, but in just about half the print time. The roughly 13 minutes the 2000P takes to print the same image in this mode compares favorably with the slightly less than 11 minutes taken by the 1280.
For whatever reason, it's the ~25 minute print times that have been publicly attributed to the 2000P, without regard to whether anyone actually needs that particular print mode. I maintain that 99.9 percent of the time, no user would ever need more than the "non-Super" option's quality, and print times of 13 minutes per sheet are certainly much more tractable. (Thirteen minutes is still a fair chunk of time, and keep in mind that this is only for a letter-sized print. Printing a 13 x 19-inch image would still take a good 35 to 40 minutes.) Still, for many pros, the prospect of taking complete control of their prints is a very enticing one, and even a half an hour is still enormously faster than waiting a day or two for the lab to get your prints back to you. And, thanks to the very functional spooling option in Epson's print drivers, you can easily queue up a dozen or more prints and just let the printer run while you do other things.
As is the case on most of my other printer reviews, the times in the table
below were measured on my main workstation, a 500 MHz PowerMac G4, with 640MB
of RAM. My terminally flaky Windows 98 machine simply wasn't up to having another
print driver loaded on it, so I don't have timing data for that platform. (An
all-new computer with Windows XP running on it is on the equipment wish list,
planned for purchase in the next month or two.)
Photo, "Super" mode (semigloss)
Photo, non-Super (semigloss)
Photo, non-High Speed (matte)
("Super" mode n/a with matte paper)
Photo, High Speed (matte)
Fine, High Speed (matte)
Normal, High Speed (plain paper)
Draft, High Speed (plain paper)
Text Page: Fine, non-High Speed (plain paper)
Text Page: Fine, High Speed (plain paper)
Text Page: Normal, High Speed, "Finest Detail" (plain paper)
Text Page: Draft, High Speed (plain paper)
I've included Text-mode print times in this review, and intend to do so in the future. Many people need to buy a single printer to cover multiple uses, so text printing on photo printers is important. Photo printers will be *much* slower than so-called SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) multipurpose printers when printing text, but they can do it, and do it fairly well. Text-mode printing is a bit rough in Draft mode, with occasional horizontal gaps, and is still quite slow compared to any general-purpose inkjet printers. Printing in "Normal" mode though, the text is razor-sharp and beautiful, although the printer is so slow that you wouldn't want to use it for more than an occasional page or two.
The 2000P's six-color printing requires two ink cartridges: one Black and one Color (cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, and light magenta), which sell for $29.70 and $34.20, respectively, through Epson's online store. (Both cartridges are widely available online for a street price of about $25 each.) Epson also has a range of five special paper types available for use with the 2000P, all intended to maximize print life with micropigmented inks. Paper prices range from about $0.32 to $0.75 per 8.5 x 11-inch sheet (list price), depending on the paper type and surface.
Working almost exclusively in the "non-Super" Photo quality mode, I was able to print about 23 7.6 x 9.5-inch prints on 8.5 x 11-inch paper on my 2000P test unit before running out of color ink. At that point, the black cartridge was still about 80 percent full. Running the numbers, I came out with a per-print cost of about $1.74 per print for the ink, based on Epson's selling prices for the ink on their site. (Assuming the roughly $25 street price for the cartridges would give an ink cost of about $1.30 per page.) Epson's Premium Luster photo paper runs about $0.60 a sheet on the Internet, while their archival matte paper is about $0.24 per sheet, again on the Internet. The overall price per letter-size print is thus somewhere around $1.90 on Premium Luster and $1.54 on the Archival Matte paper. These figures are about 40 to 60 percent above the average cost per sheet for inkjet prints, another part of the price you have to pay for archival print life.
Print Longevity & Durability
This is where the 2000P really comes into its own. While most inkjet printer manufacturers have made great strides lately in print-fade life, the 2000P is the first device to have truly catapulted inkjet printing into the archival realm. The rated print life for the 2000P on Epson's Archival Matte paper (the substrate with the longest rating) is 200 years. Even then, it turns out that what prevents a longer rating is not the pigments in the inks, but the paper itself! The 200-year life is actually the projected time before the paper yellows too much to be considered acceptable. (And this is under "typical" viewing conditions. Kept in a museum-grade archival photo storage facility with controlled humidity and no atmospheric contaminants to damage the paper fibers, the actual life would likely be much greater.)
Bottom line, the 2000P is a true breakthrough product, in that it finally removes the big objection to inkjet prints for serious artists, which is an ephemeral print life. Pros can now deliver their final product as inkjet prints with the confidence that they'll outlast those made with virtually any conventional photographic process. And amateurs can finally afford truly archival photo prints, guaranteeing that their prints will be as bright when viewed by their grandchildren's grandchildren as the day they were made.
Speaking personally, the archival print life offered by the 2000P was the last link in the chain I needed to be comfortable completely shifting my own photography to digital. The 2000P is the photo printer I ended up selecting to sit next to my Mac as the destination for all my own digital images.
As far as I can tell, Epson doesn't make any claims for the water resistance of the 2000P's inks or media, and I don't have any formal test myself. I was very impressed with just how waterproof prints made with the 2000P proved to be in my own informal tests. I could not only splash water on them with impunity, but found that even scrubbing the surface with a wet finger for a minute or so produced no visible effect. This is a really amazing level of water resistance, far beyond any other inkjet printer I've seen thus far.