Photo answers review
Photo answers rating
The Stylus Photo R2000 A3+ printer sits just below the R3000 and R2880 in Epson’s A3+ high quality photo printer range. It’s the successor to the older R1900, which bagged a Digital Photo Gold Award in Spring 2008. With many of the same features that made the R1900 such a good product, as well as a greater range of connectivity options, the new R2000 looks set to be another top choice.
Features & build
With a footprint of just 622x324mm, the R2000 weighs in at 12.3kg, that’s 2.7kg lighter than its bigger brother the R3000. This is quite compact for an A3+ printer, making it easier to find space for it on your desk. If space is a real issue for you, there’s a Wi-Fi connectivity option that has filtered down from the R3000. This is one of the main improvements over the R1900 and allows you to connect and print from your printer wirelessly, no matter where you position it.
Design wise, the printer is finished in black with silver detailing on the front end and the shape is fairly rectangular and simple, which adds to the clean and sleek overall feel.
The front panel continues this design aesthetic and is kept fairly minimalistic; superbly laid out with only six buttons, it still manages to avoid neglecting any of the functionality you would need from a printer. You’ll find an On/Off switch with error light, Wi-Fi and Ethernet buttons, paper feed and ink replacement buttons, and a roll paper switch. Remaining print utility functions, such as head cleaning/alignment and ink level monitoring, can be done through your computer. Pull down the front flap and you’ll also find a front-loading system for thicker media that won’t fit into the back-loading tray. This includes CDs and DVDs as well as thick fine art paper. The back-loading bay will accept paper up to A3+ in size, or alternatively there’s a bay for attaching roll paper.
Inside the top of the printer you’ll find eight different inks – the standard cyan, magenta, and yellow, but also two blacks (matt and gloss), orange, red and gloss optimiser. The two blacks help you produce the best tonality with matt or gloss papers and save you having to manually change the cartridges when you change paper. The inclusion of the red and orange is designed to give more realistic and natural skin tones while the UltraChrome High Gloss2 pigment ink helps to add a bit of extra punch and vibrancy to your prints. The inks come in 17ml cartridges priced at £17 each, meaning a full refill will cost around £136.
On top of the eight inks, you get 108 nozzles per ink outputting a droplet size as small as 1.5 Pl (picolitres). To make sense of that, one millilitre contains one billion picolitres. This helps to give the maximum print resolution of 5760x1440dpi (dots per inch) and helps to give smoother colour gradients and finer detail for sharper images. The R2000 also allows for borderless printing to a maximum dimension of 483x330mm.
Connect up your printer, plug in the ink cartridges, install the driver software and you’re ready to go (it took us no more than 15 mins). To test detail reproduction and to find the optimum print resolution for the R2000 we printed an image of varying sized chequerboard patterns at resolutions of 240ppi (pixels per inch), 300ppi and 360ppi. We found that we got optimum results from 300ppi with no distortion patterns appearing within the grid.
Choosing that as the benchmark resolution we fired through a range of images using Epson premium glossy paper and found on the ‘Best Photo’ setting an A3 print took 6mins 40secs to output. This decreased to 3mins 38secs when we ran the same print through with the ‘High-Speed’ option ticked. The high-speed function performed so well, we could see no real difference between the slow and high-speed images, even when assessed with an 8x loupe. For this reason, we’d recommend just leaving the ‘High-Speed’ setting on.
Prints were dry to the touch as soon as they landed on the print tray, but you’ll still need to wait 24 hours for them to dry fully, so don’t frame them immediately.
We also tested the Fine art Paper option with Epson cold press archival matt paper, which we found a tad finicky to load but once the printer accepted the paper, the results were superb. If you get stuck, Epson has a paper guide on the support section of its website giving instructions on settings and feed methods for its different paper types.
The prints themselves were fantastic quality; the R2000 coped admirably with everything from vivid scenes through to mono portraits. Lovely tones were displayed, with smooth gradations between colours. To assess results more thoroughly, we compared it to the R2880 in our office (the predecessor to the R3000). Outputting a mono image and a colour portrait on the best quality each printer could offer, we looked at the results side by side. In comparison, the R2000 produced slightly cool mono images with marginally less gradation of tones, but it made up for this with the skin tones in the portrait – results were bright and vibrant while still maintaining a more natural appearance than the R2880.
The R2000 is an outstanding printer. Its clean design and sleek looks are an attractive proposition but it’s all backed up with the ability to produce brilliant print quality, too.
At £420 it’s certainly not cheap, but is it better value than the R3000 which is £145 more? Well, the operation of the R2000 wasn’t quite as smooth and faultless as the R3000 (tested March 2011), and it took a bit of persuading to get it to accept some papers. The printing process didn’t feel quite as finely-tuned and polished, either. However the print quality was spot-on, offering really vibrant colours as well as producing much more realistic skin tones. And with many of the same features as the R3000, it’s a close call.
If you prefer printing mono images, the R3000 might be the better choice for you, but if colour is more your thing, then the R2000 is a sound option. It’s certainly well worth the money and it only misses out on a coveted DP Gold Award by a hair’s width for its occasional strop when attempting to print on slightly thicker paper types.
AT A GLANCE
Cost per cartridge £17
Total refill cost £136
Cartridges 8 (Black matt, black photo, cyan, yellow, vivid magenta, red, orange, gloss optimiser)
Print type Inkjet (piezo electric) Interface USB, Ethernet, Wi-fi
Max print size A3+ (329x483) Borderless printing Yes
A3 print time Standard 6mins 40secs – High-speed 3mins 38secs (supergloss A3)
Other features Prints on roll paper and CDs/DVDs
System req. WindowsXP/Vista/7 (32/64bit), Mac OSX 10.4.11 or later Dimensions 622x324x219mm Weight 12.3kg (without ink cartridges)
AS FEATURED IN JANUARY 2012 ISSUE OF DIGITAL PHOTO