Is the darkroom dead? Like digital photography, digital printing has developed to the stage where locking yourself in a spare cupboard in the dark and playing with thermometers and jars full of toxic chemicals now seems pointless and antiquated.
The latest crop of A3 printers should put the final nail in the coffin of the old approach.
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Epson’s new A3 model is a case in point. Designed as an A3 version of the R800, it produces high quality colour output that’s better than most wet processes can manage. Using Epson’s archival papers, print longevity is supposedly around a century, which should be enough for most people. A built-in card reader means that you can print directly from a camera, and FireWire (traditional on Epsons, but becoming an odd choice now) means that print speeds are decently quick, even with the best colour quality.
Three drawbacks mar the package. The first is that using the supplied profiles, yellows are rather muted, which means that some photos lack a little zing unless you compensate in Photoshop. Similarly the lack of a grey ink means that black and white photos tend to look a little cool, lacking a level of fine shading. Finally, the supplied driver CD is packed full of shovelware items of dubious value.
The R1800 is a very good colour photo printer, but a little less convincing for black-and-white and fine art printing. It’s overkill for a home office, but if photography is a serious hobby, this is a serious printer that will fulfill most of your needs.
Epson Photo Stylus R1800 $1299
For: very good colour photo prints
Against: a little less convincing for black-and-white and fine art printing
Verdict: It’s overkill for a home office, but if photography is a serious hobby, this is a serious printer that will fulfill most of your needs.