So, when I had the opportunity to evaluate the Epson Stylus Photo R2000 printer, I saw it not only as an opportunity to use one of Epson's latest generation of photo printers, but also to reconnect with the process of putting an image on paper.
Though the R2000 is offered at an entry-level price, it provides a wealth of serious features that photographers, both novice and advanced, will appreciate not least of which is the ability to produce 13x19-inch prints as well as panoramic prints up to 44-inches in length. It supports a wide variety of papers including fine-art and canvas papers up to 1.3-millimeters in thickness, which can be inserted through an auto-sheet, manual rear path or front media path feeder.
I spent much of my time printing from a street photography series that I'd been producing through the summer and these images contained a wide variety of color, tonality and detail by which to evaluate the Ultra Chrome Hi-Gloss 2 inks' ability to deliver the goods with respect to color saturation, detail and tonal gradation. Though the R2000 doesn't utilize the UltraChrome K3 inks of its more expensive siblings the Stylus Photo 2880, I was eager to see whether I'd actually be able to tell much of a difference.
The printer truly shines when using Epson's Premium Photo Paper Glossy paper. The inclusion of the gloss optimizer provides an even sheen to the entire print even in areas where little to no ink is applied. Skin tones were especially well rendered largely attributable to the inclusion of red and orange ink cartridges which help to provide accurate and natural skin tones.
Printing is as much about the papers as it is the inks, which is why many photographers find themselves using some of the higher-grades of paper from Epson and other manufacturers. However, it's worth noting that many photographers will be pleased by the quality produced by Epson's standard line of glossy, luster and matte papers. These papers provided great results with the fine-art papers being a consideration mostly when I desired a particularly look to the prints which favored the specific subject matter or style.
Admittedly, I have never been much of a fan of glossy papers, much preferring luster and matte papers for much of my traditional and digital output, but the prints delivered by the R2000 were quite impressive, providing a lovely "snap" to the full range of colors that existed in many of my photographs.
Delivering a resolution of 5760x1440 optimized dpi and ultra-fine 3-picoliter droplets, the printer produced gradations between light and dark and different color hues that appeared smooth and natural. The pigment-based inks which are delivered using Epson's latest generation of Micro-Piezo print head produced solid results, which compared favorably with output I had recently made with other higher-end printers.
For black and white enthusiasts, the R2000 includes both matte and glossy black inks, eliminating the need to switch out inks when using different types of paper, which not only saves time but also ink. The black and white prints that I produced from the printer using its own driver were impressive, especially considering that I was able to achieve a great result without producing a series of test prints.
And it was that ability to produce quality color and monochrome prints with little fuss, which made my reaction to the printer so favorable. Whether I allowed the Epson software or Photoshop to manage by the color workflow, I found that the resulting prints accurately reflected the contents of the original files. It was a pleasing thing for someone who remembers having to waste sheets of paper in the pursuit of getting accurate and satisfying results.
The printer also includes other important features including wireless capability (though you will need to connect it your computer for USB for initial set-up). It includes a roll sheet accessory for producing panoramic prints as well as a component for imprinting images, illustrations and text onto printable CDs.
But for me the biggest plusses of this latest design includes the larger capacity ink cartridges than have been found in comparable models in this class in the past. This has long been a complaint for those who have made regular use of their printers and should result in less time switching out depleted cartridges. It's also a quiet printer; so quiet that I actually had to glance at the unit just to make sure that it was working. Both features will definitely be appreciated by those making a good number of prints.
The ability to make quality 13x19-inch prints soon after having created photographs created a true sense of completion to what I was doing on the street. Though sharing the work online is gratifying, there was something very special about having the opportunity to hold a beautifully rendered print. And it's that experience that I think will make makes the R2000 a worthwhile investment for any passionate photographer, particularly those who are looking to invest a modest amount, without having to compromise quality and performance.
© Ibarionex Perello
About the Author
Ibarionex Perello is a photographer, writer and educator. He is the host of The Candid Frame (www.thecandidframe.com), an interview show which features conversation with the world's best established and emerging photographers. He is also the author of the best-selling book, Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography Using Available Light.