Epson Stylus Photo R2000

    leadpic_Epson_R2000

    Photo Review 7.5
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    Epson Stylus Photo R2000

      In summary

      A mid-range A3+ printer for photo enthusiasts who require WiFi connectivity. Replacing the Stylus Photo R1900 in Epson's enthusiast's printer range, the Stylus Photo R2000 uses the same UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 pigment ink set. However, each ink cartridge contains 17 ml of ink, compared with 11.4ml in the R1900. Like the R1900, this printer has been designed mainly for use with glossy and semi-gloss media but works equally well with the right kinds of matte papers. . . [more]

      Full review

      leadpic_Epson_R2000

      Replacing the Stylus Photo R1900 in Epson's enthusiast's printer range, the Stylus Photo R2000 uses the same UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 pigment ink set. However, each ink cartridge contains 17 ml of ink, compared with 11.4ml in the R1900. Like the R1900, this printer has been designed mainly for use with glossy and semi-gloss media but works equally well with the right kinds of matte papers.

      Epson_R2000_angled_sml

      Epson's new Stylus Photo R2000. (Source: Epson.)

      It also offers the same flexible media handling and support for a wide range of paper types and sizes as the R1900. Options include cut sheet and roll paper, photographic and fine art media, canvas and art boards as well as coated CDs and DVDs.

      Although the ink set is unchanged, a couple of improvements have been made to the user interface improve the printer's usability and performance. Aside from reducing the frequency of replacing ink cartridges, separate channels are provided for Matte and Photo Black inks, eliminating the need for ink switching. Epson claims the gloss optimiser has also been improved to give a better finish with glossy media.

      Along with these revisions, the R2000 has a new MicroPiezo AMC print head, which is similar to the heads in Epson's professional printers. It has an ink-repellent coating that helps to reduce maintenance and increases overall reliability. With eight channels, it produces a maximum resolution of 5670 x 1440 optimized dpi and variable-sized droplets as small as 1.5 picolitres, which is similar to the minimum droplet size for Epson's dye inks.

      The R2000 is one of the few printers in its category equipped with a Wi-Fi interface. Combined with USB and Ethernet connectivity, Wi-Fi enables the R2000 to fit easily into any studio or home environment. Users can also print remotely from iPhones or iPads using the Epson iPrint app.

      The new model is slightly larger and heavier than the model it replaces and a little more boxy in appearance. With a footprint of 622 x 418 mm in its working configuration, it occupies quite a bit of desk space. However, the roll paper holder locks neatly into the rear panel and you can allow the front paper tray to overhang the edge of the desk, if required. (See below for the requirements for printing on heavy fine art paper.)

      The plastic case is a lot like the previous model's, being mostly black with a silver-grey trim strip along the front and down the sides. Unlike the R1900, the control panel is on the front panel of the printer, just under the trim strip.

      Setting Up
      Setting up the R200 is straightforward, although you have to remove about 20 strips of blue plastic tape before you can plug it into the mains. This done, you can install the ink cartridges, each of which is vacuum packed in its own plastic bag.

      Each cartridge should be shaken vigorously before it is installed to mobilise the pigment particles. You then remove the strip of tape that protects the outflow port. Cartridge slots are colour coded to show which colour goes where.

      R2000-loading-inks

      Loading the ink cartridges.

      After the cartridges have been installed you close the cover and press the ink button, which is indicated by a droplet icon and orange LED. This initiates the process that charges the print head, which takes roughly four minutes and uses part of the ink in the first set of cartridges you install.You can then install the software from the supplied CD, which takes a few minutes.
      Like its predecessor, the R2000 can use cut sheets or roll paper and offers three options for the former. Papers with normal thicknesses are loaded through the top auto sheet feeder. Normal fine art media are fed in one sheet at a time through the rear manual feed using the same slot as roll paper. (The roll paper holder must be removed.)

      Thicker fine art media is loaded from the front of the printer and passes through it as it is printed. A space of at least 320 mm must be clear for the paper as it is printed.

      A pair of holders is supplied for roll papers and these must be pushed into each end of the core before the paper is loaded. The leading edge of the roll must be cut straight and the cut edge must be clean or the paper will not load correctly.

      The holders clip into slots on the back of the printer and the leading edge of the paper is fed carefully into the printer until it stops. Holding it in position for roughly three seconds engages the loading process and the paper is pulled into the printer. (You can check it is in position by raising the printer cover.)

      Once the print is made, the printer will move the paper forward, leaving a margin for cutting. If you press the paper button at this point, the printer will print a cutting line and feed the paper a bit further to allow a margin for the next image. Paper cutting facilities are not provided in this printer.

      The R2000 provides the same facilities for printing labels on optical disks as its predecessor and comes with a CD/DVD tray that slots into the front manual feed tray. No changes have been made to the printing strategy.

      The Ink Set
      Epson's UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 pigment ink set contains eight cartridges: photo and matte black, cyan, magenta, yellow, orange and red plus a gloss optimiser cartridge that applies a coat of glossy resin to the printed surface to enhance its appearance and make it more durable. In essence, this is equivalent to six ink colours, with the orange and red inks replacing the light magenta and light cyan inks in a traditional six-ink set.

      R2000-inks

      The R2000's ink cartridges in position.

      The red and orange inks are provided to improve the quality of skin tones and allow more vibrant warm hues to be printed. We couldn't see much difference in prints when we compared them with prints from our R2400 and would much prefer the traditional ink set because ink usage with it is more even. (Details of ink usage can be found in the Printing section below.)

      The printer will automatically choose between the photo and matte blacks, depending on the paper selected in the printer driver. This is much more convenient than having to swap cartridges manually and less ink is wasted during the swap-over.

      The default Gloss Optimiser setting for glossy and semi-gloss papers is on, although it can be switched off in the printer driver or set to cover the image area only or the entire page. For matte papers, the Gloss Optimiser is not applied.

      GO-driver

      Settings for the Gloss Optimiser in the printer driver.

      Despite giving the printer the same RRP as the model it replaces, Epson is doing some interesting juggling with pricing the ink cartridges. The Gloss Optimiser is actually cheaper than the R1900's equivalent; $12.99 instead of $17.00.

      For the colour inks, each cartridge will be priced at $31.99, compared with $22.99 for the R1900. However, the R2000's cartridges hold roughly 50% more ink, which makes the ink cost for this printer just over 30% lower.

      A complete set of inks (136 ml in all) is valued at $236.92. Working on the basis of on our experiences during the testing period, we calculated the average ink cost per A3+ print at roughly $4.65, allowing for a 20 mm margin around the image. For A4 prints, the average ink cost per borderless print works out at approximately $2.33. (Paper costs depend on the type of paper used.)

      Printing
      The driver for the R2000 is similar to Epson's mid-level drivers and provides a basic interface plus a limited range of canned profiles. Unfortunately, no canned profiles were available for most of the papers supplied with the review printer, including the Ultra Glossy Photo Paper, which has been on sale for several years. A Greyscale setting is provided for monochrome printing but the Advanced Black and White interface is not included because the printer has no grey ('light black') inks.

      R2000-driver

      The R2000's driver interface.

      You can print directly through the driver, using Epson's Standard, Vivid and Photo Enhance modes or print through an image editor using ICC profiles. The latter requires use of the Off (No Colour Adjustment) mode.

      Panorama prints are easy to make on roll paper and the Print Preview display shows you the position of the image on the roll. (Like all previews, image tones are not accurately reproduced.)

      R2000_print-preview

      Previewing a panorama print.

      Colours were slightly desaturated with the Standard setting, while the Vivid setting slightly increased both brightness and saturation. Black and white prints were generally well handled with only faint traces of colour casts visible, regardless of the paper surface. The Vivid setting added a touch of emphasis to tones that was a definite improvement.

      On the whole, we obtained the best results for both colour and monochrome prints by printing through Photoshop. This method also provided more control over the output quality than printing directly through the driver.

      Subtle differences were evident between prints from the R2000 and the R2400, which has three levels of black ink and light cyan and magenta inks in addition to the full-strength cyan, magenta and yellow. Surprisingly, strong red and orange hues in sunsets were printed with similar strength and vibrancy by both printers.

      This brings into question the usefulness of the red and orange inks, neither of which was consumed to a significant degree in the course of our exhaustive testing. Overall, the R2400 produced more subtle tonality, it being most noticeable in darker neutral hues. Reproduction of detail was similar from both printers.

      The Gloss Optimiser reduced the slight gloss differential (surface irregularities) we observed on prints made on glossy paper and also subdued some of the bronzing that was evident on B&W prints. However, it didn't completely eliminate either problem.

      It took three minutes and 47 seconds to produce an A3 print using the second highest quality setting, four minutes and 15 seconds for an A3+ print. In each case, 20mm white margins were left around the image area. A4 prints with slightly smaller margins took two minutes and 20 seconds on average.

      Epson provided three paper types for us to use during our tests: Ultra Glossy Photo Paper, Premium Semigloss and Photo Quality Inkjet Paper. We added matte papers in the form of Epson Archival Matte and Longbottom Digital 170 gsm double-sided matte (a paper we favour for book and calendar printing).

      Prints made on the Ultra Glossy Photo Paper were very attractive with rich colours, abundant detail and a good dynamic range. The same was true for the prints we made on the Longbottom Digital 170 gsm double-sided matte paper. (This paper contains optical brighteners giving it a whiter base than any of the other media we tested.)

      Prints made on the Premium Semigloss and Archival Matte papers appeared slightly flatter and the slightly cool base of the Premium Semigloss slightly reduced the impact of many landscape photos. The warmish base tone of the Archival Matte paper was fine for portraits but didn't capitalise on the rich colours in our test images.

      The Photo Quality Inkjet Paper produced very disappointing results with desaturated colours and reduced contrast. It is also very light weight and has a strong tendency to curl. We would not recommend this paper for printing photographs.

      The Premium Semigloss roll paper also had a fairly strong curl due to the small core it is wound on. Although this created minor problems with small, standard-sized prints, long panorama prints were comparatively easy to handle and could be flattened for framing by leaving them on a flat surface for a day or two.

      It's worth noting the R2000 consumes cyan ink much faster than the other colours in the set. In the course of our testing we used up two complete cyan cartridges and one magenta cartridge, leaving between 20% and 30% of ink in the yellow and black cartridges, while less than half of the red and orange inks were depleted.

      Conclusions
      It's difficult to make 'buy/don't buy' recommendations for this printer because, although it does some things well and offers some facilities that photo enthusiasts may want or require, there are only two features that set it above the model it replaces: the larger ink cartridges and the WiFi interface. If you need WiFi, the R2000 is currently a good choice.

      However, many photographers can do without WiFi and even the small saving you make on ink costs must be amortised over a long period of time before you account for the R2000's price premium over a cheaper model. In addition, with the Australian dollar being at or above parity with the US dollar for more than six months, we feel this printer is over-priced in the local market. (It has an RRP of just under 510 Euros, 420 GP pounds or US$499.99.) Until that situation changes, we don't rate it highly for value for money.

      We believe most photo enthusiasts would be better served by the R1410, which is $400 cheaper. Although the R1410 is a six-ink printer that uses dye inks, the R2000 is also, effectively a six-ink model if you take away the gloss optimiser and consolidate the two blacks. And the differences in lightfastness between Epson's pigment and dye inks are not enough to be concerned about.

      If you need roll printing, the R1410 won't fit the bill and you'll have to decide whether the R2000 justifies its premium price or if you can get by with the R1900. The release of the R2000 has pushed the street price for this printer below $800 so it's certainly worth a look, if your normal printing volumes are relatively low.

       

      Specifications

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      Printing technology: Advanced Micro Piezo AMC print head with ink-repelling coating technology; 8-channel, drop-on-demand, ink jet print head
      Resolution: 5760 x 1440 optimised dpi; variable droplet size down to 1.5 pl
      Paper sizes: Cut sheet - 89mm (3.5") to 329mm (13"); roll paper widths - 210 mm to 329 mm on 2-inch core
      Max. paper weight:
      Ink cartridges: Epson UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 pigment ink: PK (T159120), MK (T159820), C (T159220), M (T159320), Y (T159420), R (T159720), O (T159920), Gloss Optimiser (T159020)
      Ink cartridge capacity: 17ml/cartridge
      Interfaces: USB, Ethernet 10BASE-T/100BASE-TX, Wi-Fi
      Power consumption: Operating: approx. 21W. Sleep: approx. 3.7 W. Power off: approx. 0.4 W
      Acoustic noise: 39 dB(A) plain paper A3 default
      Dimensions (wxhxd): Closed: 622 x 324 x 219 mm. Open: 622 x 797 x 418 mm
      Weight: Approx. 12.3 kg (without ink cartridges)

       

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      Rating

       

      RRP: $1099

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 9.0
      • Features: 8.5
      • Print quality: 8.5
      • Versatility: 9
      • OVERALL: 7.5

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