"The Epson Stylus Photo 2000P, 
The Best Digital Darkroom Output Device Yet" 
By Larry Berman
This copyrighted article was prepared for 
e-Digital Photo magazine and may not reproduced

There have been many milestones in the digital evolution of photography. Affordable cameras with multi-million pixel resolution and storage devices with gigabytes of capacity have done their part in bringing us closer to using digital output as the norm. Until recently, the one thing that had been lacking for both digital and traditional photographers was a true photographic quality printer that was both affordable and offered stable, long lasting prints. Although inkjet manufacturers have produced many photo realistic printers, few could really match the quality, let alone the longevity, of a traditional silver halide photographic print.
In early 2000, Epson revolutionized the printing industry with the introduction of two new inkjet printers, the Epson Stylus Photo 870 and the 1270, both of which could produce print quality equal to, or exceeding, the quality of all but the best traditional prints. Perhaps more importantly, these two printers used new inks and papers that could produce prints with a life of 20+ years.
Now Epson has continued the revolution by giving us the Stylus Photo 2000P (and the larger format 7500 and 9500 printers). These printers are capable of producing prints of museum quality, which Epson states, have a lightfastness of over 200 years.

The Epson Stylus Photo 2000P
The Epson Stylus Photo 2000P

The cost of the 2000P and its consumables are higher than the 1270, but when compared to the cost of traditional custom printing, the new Epson printer is quite affordable for the serious photographer. The estimated consumable cost of ink and paper is approximately $4.00 for an 8x10 print, and the 2000P will print edge to edge up to 13 x 44 inches. It even comes with a roll paper holder.
Four new papers have been released to date, with others on the way. The current Epson papers for the 2000P include a Premium Semigloss Photo Paper and a Premium Luster Photo Paper (which gives photo-realistic prints), as well as an Archival Matte Paper and a Watercolor Paper for more artistic expressions.
The quality and longevity of these prints, which rivals or exceeds almost all traditional printing processes, was accomplished by Epson's research into ways to micro encapsulate pigment based inks (as opposed to traditional dye based inks) in a resin, so they could be deposited through Epson's MicroPiezo nozzles. The new pigment based inks, in conjunction with newly formulated papers from Epson, are much more stable over time, which accounts for their longevity.
With the computer, photo editing software, and these new Epson printers, photographers can now retain as much control or more than had been possible with traditional darkroom techniques. Although there is some trial-and-error involved in obtaining a print that is outstanding, with a consistent workflow there is more predictability over the final image than ever before.
Working with a Master
David W. Kelley is an award winning nature and wildlife photographer who has experimented with many kinds of output. He finds that the immediacy of a digital darkroom allows him to optimize his images in a way that traditional chemical processes would never allow. As an artist who sells his prints to clients around the word from his web site: www.DavidWKelley.com, both image quality and archival characteristics of his output devices are of utmost importance.
Before purchasing the 2000P, David had made hundreds of beautifully crafted prints with the Epson 1270. What follows is an overview of the way an experienced digital artist creates high quality photographic ink jet prints, with some observations on how the 2000p differs from earlier Epson printers.
David scans his 35mm slides with the Nikon LS 2000 scanner (which has a resolution of 2700 ppi.), to an output resolution of 300 ppi at a target print size of 8x10 inches. For example, if you are making an 8x10 print, you need a digital file of 2400 by 3000 pixels. Working in eight-bit RGB (red, green, blue) color space will give you a file size of approximately 20 megabytes. An 11x14 print would require double this number, or approximately 40-megabyte files. If David needs to make a larger print, he uses interpolation software to supply the missing pixels.
Photoshop, as well as other image editing software, allows a modest sized original file to be resized while maintaining the desired resolution. It offers several methods of re-sampling an image to a new larger size, however, the "bicubic" method will give the best results. David uses a Photoshop plug-in called Genuine Fractals by Altimara. He scans for 300 ppi and an 8x10 inch output size and then saves the file with GF's lossless compression. When he needs a print larger than the original 8x10, he'll reopen the GF file and the dialog box allows him to specify any resolution and any size output.
David finds that scanning film is a craft - not a science. Each image is unique and requires trial and error to obtain an ideal scan. He spends a fair amount of time with each image during the scanning process in order to obtain a scan as close as possible to what he has in mind for the image. The primary adjustments at this stage include cropping, setting the desired output size and resolution, adjusting levels and curves, contrast, brightness, and basic color correction. In addition, several scanners now offer software technology to remove dust and scratches during the scanning process (Nikon calls this Digital ICE), thus saving time in the image editing stage. Also, a color space must be selected as well as bit depth. Since David is primarily interested is fine art printing with Epson's printers, he is working in the RGB color space, which is what the printer requires.
Once the images have been scanned into Photoshop, David does his final adjustments to levels and curves. He will occasionally clone out distracting elements in a scene, such as a stray branch or a bright spot in the background, and then almost always adjusts Hue/Saturation by increasing saturation between 10 and 15. This is where he has found the biggest difference between the Epson 1270 and the newer 2000P. The pigment-based inks of the newer printer do not seem to be quite as saturated as the dye inks of the 1270. To compensate for this, he found that increasing the saturation even further for output to the 2000P is necessary. An example of this is his print of the "Great Egret Landing." This image was originally scanned and optimized for output with the1270. The first prints made with the 2000P (on Archival Mat Paper) from the original scan were disappointing. They lacked the deep and vivid color of the 1270 prints. He compensated by opening the original scan and increasing overall saturation by 10 and made additional small adjustments to green and blue. After these adjustments were made, the resulting print was stunning. An 11x14 of this image won "Best of Show" at the Indiana State Fair.

"Great Egret Landing"
Adjusting the original scan and increasing 
overall saturation resulted in this outstanding print 
which won best in show at the Indiana State Fair.

Most recently David has been using the Premium Semigloss Paper developed for use with the 2000P, whereas, with the 1270, he tended to prefer the look of prints on Epson's Heavy Weight Mat paper. He feels the combination of the 2000P and Epson's Semigloss paper produce prints that are very similar in look, feel, and texture to traditional silver-halide prints done on Fuji's Crystal Archive paper. The Epson prints will last twice as long however, with a stated colorfastness rating of 200 years.
To see more of David W. Kelley's photographic work visit his web site: http://DavidWKelley.com.
Epson has revolutionized photographic printing by providing photographers with a choice of low cost printers with output quality rivaling the best of the traditional printing methods. The complete digital darkroom, with its convenience, superior quality, control, and archival printing, is now a possibility for any serious photographer. The Epson 2000P is the best of the moderately priced photographic quality inkjet printer available today.

This copyrighted article was prepared for 
e-Digital Photo magazine and may not reproduced

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