Vincent Oliver 25th April 2002

The year 2002 is a really exciting year for new digital imaging products - new cameras from Nikon (D100), Canon (D60) and maybe even Contax, a new sensor chip (the Foveon X3), and a brand new version of Photoshop (7). Can it get better?

On the printing front there are superb new photo printers from Canon, the S900 & S9000, but has the ink king gone to sleep? No, Epson is firing back hard with their A4 printer the SP950 which incorporates some innovative and useful features, such as borderless printing, roll printing, separate ink tanks, and an ability to print directly onto blank CDs (a review will be posted as soon as a printer is available).

The exciting news from Epson is their announcement of the STYLUS PHOTO 2100 printer - an A3+ printer that will replace the much loved 2000P.

The SP2100 is a seven colour printer (with separate tanks) which uses a new reformulated quick dry pigment based ink called UltraChrome. The new ink combinations are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Light Black, and a choice of photo Black or matte Black. The†blacks can be interchanged at any stage and are used for printing on different media types. The Photo Black delivers high gloss levels whilst the matte Black is better suited to plain, matte and fine art media. The inks may not last as long as the 2000P pigment inks (200 years), but should last between 45 and 75 years (this figure may be higher depending on Epsonís final accelerated tests). Conventional SilverHalide photographs last between 15 and 60 years and Dye based prints will last up to 25 years.

The new UltraChrome ink boasts a wider gamut colour.

UltraChrome & MC Photo paper
UltraChrome & MC Matte paper

The red borders represent the printable colours on the SP2100. According to Epson, "Users can get much greater colour reproduction than with ordinary printing and in fact can even get colour reproduction superior to that of a conventional silver halide photograph."

Another new addition is the new Grey Balancer software which allows users to adjust visually the tonality of their Greyscale output (Black & White prints to photographers).

The GreyBalancer dialogue box


Print out a sheet
Reference Chart
Input 4 point number

A Reference Chart is included with the SP2100, all the user has to do is make a printout and then visually compare the result to the 4 point Grey chart and if there is a match, then enter the Input numbers.

Sepia Red
Sepia Yellow

A variety of Grey tones can be saved as pre-sets for repeated use at a later stage.

The 8 x 6 original at 2880 x 1440 dpi,
Epson Premium Semigloss Photo Paper
A detail magnification of the original.
Ultrachrome Greyscale print, at 2880x1440,
Epson Archival MattePaper
Detail, note the lack of visible print dot even at this high enlargement
Printied at 1440dpi hasn't degraded the image,
Epson Glossy Paper-Photo Weight
Detail at 1440
These 2100 prints show how Epson ink jet printers have raised desktop printing quality to new heights, the UltraChrome colours are nothing short of remarkable. (Please note these are scans of orginal prints, colours may not be as accurate as on the original prints)


©Vincent Oliver 2002