Photo print quality & speed
The dpnow ink-jet photo printer test procedure has been revised. We now use test chart to examine colour rendition and tonal quality, as well as the ability of the printer to deal with acute angle high contrast edge detail.
We also put a set of digital camera sourced and higher resolution studio images through the printer.
Times for each print are also listed. Photos are printed on A4 paper, unless otherwise stated. 4:3 camera images are printed to 10x7.5 inches (25.4x19cm), which leaves a border on A4 media. We don't measure the preparation time before the printer starts a print job as this is directly related to the host PC. Each print is timed from the moment the page is moved from the input tray into position for printing and until the finished page is finally ejected. All photos are printed on Epson Durabrite glossy paper unless otherwise stated.
Here is a scan of a best photo quality setting C84 print of one of our high resolution scanned medium format film studio shots. The original 12MB JPEG file has a resolution of 4866x3885 (18.9 MP).
Here is a 2400ppi scan, sampled down to 600ppi, of the girl's right eye (left as viewed) covering about a 2.3cm width of the print. Compared with, say, HP's admittedly much more expensive HP Photosmart 7960
, which has the benefit of up to 8 inks, the deficiencies in the Epson C84 result are clear. The shadow areas are slightly luminous rather than solid dark and while dot grain is quite well subdued, there isn't much detail preserved and everything is a bit magenta. But viewed in isolation it's not a bad result for a printer with such a simple colour set.
Using the basic quality photo mode, there is more grain and some evidence of minute gaps in the printing that are faintly visible to the naked eye.
Zooming into the centre of the eye, this is four times the resolution, scanned at 2400ppi, from the best photo quality setting.
Here is the same area scanned at 2400ppi, but from the print produced using the basic photo quality setting. The grain is larger and less detail is preserved.
Once again, here is the full image, printed using best photo settings and the 7.5 inch high print took 346 seconds. Greys are slightly blue magenta and the print lacks the sparkle of a good dye-based glossy print.
In standard photo setting, the print took only 131 seconds to complete.
Here is the same scene, printed using best photo setting, but this time on plain copier paper. The reduced size for Web publication flatters the result, but the actual print, viewed naturally, is actually very good. Sharpness has held up well, as have colours, which are more neutral than the Durabrite glossy prints and there is only a slight degradation in contrast. A dye-based photo printer would be hard pressed to match this plain paper result.
This shows a monochrome version of the couple scene printed using best quality mode. There is a noticeable cast and this varied in tint according to the type of light illuminating it - a classic symptom of metamerism. The C84 is not a great mono printer. Bronzing, which reveals itself when viewing the surface of the print at an acute angle shows bronze-tinted highlights, is well controlled.
The flower and foliage print turned out well and in just 137 seconds using basic photo mode. The green of the foliage is slightly cold, but the yellow gradation in the centre of the flowers is smooth and uncompressed. The magenta tinted white areas of the petals is accurate too. At 10x7 inches, there is not much dot grain to be seen unless you squint closely.
The C84 does have a tendency towards overdoing the magenta and this 10x7.5 inch print shows this. Everything's just a little too pink.
Again, there is a pronounced blue-magenta cast, robbing greys and other mid-tones of their warmth or neutrality.
The colour traces at full density start of true, but the colour dithering gets confused along the way towards the white side. Magenta turns purplish, blue tursn reddish and magenta looks a little yellowish.
The C84 passed our acute angle sharp edge test, demonstrating minimal serration when printed using best quality mode...
...and it was much the same in basic photo quality mode too.