Epson Stylus Photo R1800 review

Price when reviewed

With essentially the same print engine inside it, it’s easy to think of the R1800 as the A3 version of the Stylus Photo R800. Both printers have won awards in PC Pro in the past, but against current competition they’re not quite as dominant.

Epson Stylus Photo R1800 review

As you’d expect from a printer that’s aimed at the semi-pro market, there are no card readers or TFT on the front – Epson knows that the target audience are much more likely to edit and print photos from Photoshop. There isn’t even a PictBridge port on the front. Buttons on the right-hand side let you cancel jobs, feed roll paper through and change ink tanks, but that’s it in terms of controls.

Thanks to the flip-down front panel, you can print directly onto CDs and DVDs – something the HP 8750 can’t do. At the rear are USB 2 and FireWire interfaces, and we like that the PSU is integrated, unlike the HP’s external unit, which seems slightly unnecessary given the unit’s gargantuan dimensions. The R1800 isn’t exactly compact, though; with the paper trays extended, it measures 613 x 780 x 459mm (WDH).

Using the included Easy-PhotoPrint application (which is considerably more convenient than printing from Photoshop), we saw the R1800 print a 6 x 4in photo in one minute, 25 seconds – not as quick as the iP9950, which was 48 seconds faster. It took just over two-and-a-half minutes to print our A4 photomontage and almost two minutes more for an A3 version.

In isolation, the R1800’s photomontage prints are great. However, place them side-by-side with the iP9950 and 8750’s and you’ll easily notice the differences. An excess of magenta and cyan meant that the baby’s skin tones were a touch anaemic, while the lips were decidedly purple instead of pink. The mono photo suffered from the extra blue, making it look cold and losing some detail in highlights.

On a technical level, the general sharpness and level of detail in photos was fine, but the blocks of colour were under-saturated, particularly yellow. Red was also too pink, and this led to the guard’s uniform not being red enough. All these problems can be alleviated by manually adjusting colour in the easy-to-use driver, but it’s worth noting that the HP 8750 produced accurate tones straight out of the box.

Text quality is fine, and in draft mode is churned out at 9.4ppm. Colour graphics on plain paper are as good as any, and our mono quality test on coated paper had good contrast.

One problem we experienced during testing was blocked nozzles. Both the R800 and R1800 required nozzle cleaning, as entire colours were missing from prints, even though we’d only printed several 6 x 4in photos since the last print-head clean. However, when the nozzles work, photos will last longer than you will. Wilhelm rates prints on Glossy Photo paper at over 100 years.

The software bundle includes a useful RAW Print utility, which can read RAW image formats from supported cameras, while the Darkroom Print allows you to quickly correct images.

Ultimately, we can’t recommend this Epson. With running costs higher than the HP and print quality not quite up to the 8750’s standard, the R1800 misses out on an award.

Running costs

Like the R800, the R1800 is a printer we loved at first sight – great photo quality makes it a printer for true photo-printing enthusiasts. But stick with either of Epson’s top-end printers more than a couple of months and you’ll spot their imperfections.

Unfortunately, the R1800 suffers from the twin curses of low efficiency and the high cost of consumables. Epson’s photo paper is very cheap at 10p per 6 x 4in sheet, but as with the R800 the cost for a completely new set of ink cartridges is £75.26.

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