Epson Stylus Photo R1800 review
We raved about the Epson R800’s superb print quality in our last inkjet printers Labs, and it has held a place on our A List ever since. Boasting a slightly wider colour gamut and the same spectacular print quality, the R1800 is essentially the R800’s big brother, featuring the ability to print up to A3.
Getting the limitations out of the way is an easy task. Epson has built the R1800 for photo printing, and it was no surprise to see that mono text printing isn’t a strong point. A text document was easily identifiable as inkjet-printed, with feathery output.
But what matters is that the R1800 prints photos beautifully. On a high-resolution image, you’ll be hard-pushed to spot any grain, and colour reproduction was incredible, thanks to five colour cartridges, two black cartridges and a gloss optimiser cartridge to give photos a professional finish.
A full-page A3 photo emerged in four minutes, 29 seconds, which is more than respectable considering the magnificent quality. An A4 mono print took two minutes, 16 seconds, and scaling it to A3 lengthened print time to three-and-a-half minutes. Greyscale ramps printed with slight banding, but even at A3 you’ll have to get close to notice it.
Another plus point is the longevity of the prints produced: a claim of 80 years for glossy paper and 100 or more on matte archive paper is excellent. What’s more, this is backed up by Wilhelm Research (www.wilhelm-research.com). Its testing suggests a print on glossy paper will last for 104 years if displayed under glass.
The R1800 prints relatively cheaply at 6 x 4in – 34p per print – but this doesn’t make it an efficient runner. Installing a new ink cartridge causes the machine to flush a substantial quantity of ink from all of the installed cartridges, which can cause almost-empty cartridges to run out. It’s a vicious circle, as replacing the newly expired cartridge causes the same flushing process, which can kill off another cartridge and so forth. It’s a hideously inefficient process.
You’ll save some serious money at higher print sizes, though. A full-page A3 photo will cost £2.58 per print, while an A4 print will cost £1.29. Even factoring in the cost of Epson’s Premium Glossy Photo paper, these prices reflect gigantic savings on high-street prices for similarly sized prints. If you print mono text pages, 2p per page should please the bank manager too.
Epson’s driver software remains as user-friendly as ever: advanced users won’t have difficulty navigating through the software to access features such as gamma control and colour management, and obvious features such as ink levels and maintenance are even easier to understand. The supplied software will also appeal: Epson RAW Print allows you to read RAW formats from supported digital cameras, while Epson Darkroom Print is surprisingly effective at quickly correcting images.
The R1800 is ideal for small photo studios or for those who print posters regularly, such as community groups or schools. For the serious amateur, you’ll need a high-end camera to make proper use of the R1800’s large-format capabilities. It’s also about £150 more than the R800, so you’ll need to be serious about printing big to buy it. However, if you do, you’ll be able to say goodbye to expensive printing on the high street forever.