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16th June 2005
Epson UltraChrome K3 inks on test
by Ian Burley
1867: Epson UltraChrome K3 inks on test

Is Epson's much-heralded new UltraChrome K3 photo printer ink a significant step forward?

To help find out, we have examined the new 17 inch format Stylus Pro 4800. Our findings will also be of interest to anyone interested in Epson's other new UltraChrome K3 printers, including the Stylus Photo 2100/2200 replacement, the Stylus Photo R2400 as it uses the same ink formulation as the 4800.

According to Epson the excellence of its new generation of professional ink-jet printers is largely down to the new UltraChrome K3 inks. These reformulated archival pigment inks are claimed to offer a wider colour gamut, especially in darker areas of the print, more neutral grey tones and reduced bronzing on glossy and lustre finish papers.

StylusPro 4800

We've tested the new UltraChrome K3 inks from Epson's new Stylus Pro 4800 and compared them with other leading ink-jet photo printers.

Examining gamut space at difference brightness levels

In this article we focus entirely on colour gamut, the breadth of colour a printer is capable of reproducing. Using Gretag Macbeth ProfileMaker we custom profiled an Epson Stylus Pro 4800 for use with Epson Premium Semi Gloss photo paper and plotted the measured base colour gamut at L:50 (mid-density), L:25 (darker) and L:75 (lighter). The results are compared over the following pages with those from the Epson Stylus Photo R1800, which uses Epson's UltraChrome High Gloss inks introduced last year and the Epson Stylus Photo 2100 (2200 in some markets), which uses Epson's original three year old UltraChrome ink formulation. We've also compared the results with HP's new Photosmart 8750 A3 printer and Canon's i9950 A3 model.

It ought to be stressed that these are technical tests, not subjective. The comments are based purely on the analysis of machine-measured test results. We'll be exploring subjective evaluation of actual real-world prints in a future article. Nevertheless, the results do make some interesting revelations.

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