Moose’s Print Lab
I LOVE to print! I’ve been printing since 1974 and have never stopped. Printing serves three roles in our office, first we sell gallery prints. Second, it’s a means of saying thank you and sharing my images. And lastly, it’s how I measure my image quality. All of those demand that the print coming out of the printer not only meets my standards but is consistent for our clients. Since I print so much and talk about it here on the website, it’s only natural folks email questions. I don’t have the ability to answer all printing questions and realize that when you get started, it can, be very frustrating. I hope this though provides some general answers that might help you with your printing and get you out sharing your images with others!
This is very important to remember in this conversation. This is not the only way, it’s not necessarily the right way, it’s just the way I’ve found I can print and print consistently the same quality over and over again. So it’s the Moose way and it really conforms to my standards and the KISS methodology. I’ve gotta keep it simple so I can learn it and repeat it.
The Epson 7900 is the most amazing printer to ever hit my office! This big, bad boy outputs (fancy word for printing) 24×30″ prints in record time. The 7900 sports ten inks with orange and green being the newest additions. This ten ink set is what makes the 7900 a HDR printer (high dynamic Range, exposure and not the photo technique). You have a couple of options when it comes to the ink cartridge sizes, I prefer the 700ml cartridge. One cartridge runs $279 so a whole set of 10 = $$$$. With that said, the set last what seems like a long, long time and I have found it to be worth the investment. More importantly then having ink on the shelf is a spare Maintenance Tank. If your tank gets filled and you don’t have a spare, you ain’t going to print no matter what you try.
The one thing books, articles, or websites can’t teach you about printing is the most important element, the paper! Paper is everything and if you want to see for yourself how important it is, just Soft Proof in Photoshop which will provide you a HUGE visual (while still not exact) how changing from just a glossy or matte finish paper (or visa verse) will change your print. With that said, the Epson 7900 is loaded with a roll of Ultra-Smooth Fine Art. Now to come clean, I love the 24×30 sheet Ultra-Smooth better and while the color prints the same on the roll, I really am not a huge fan of roll paper. It’s thinner and you need a Seal DeRoller. You have to put the print straight out of the printer into the DeRoller to remove the curl of the roll paper.
If there is one complaint I have about the 7900 is it always wants to clean the heads. Cleaning heads sucks up ink and as I mentioned, the ink ain’t cheap. I have the Auto Clean turned on on both my printers because where we live in the mountains, we normally have no humidity. That lack of moisture in the air I believe leads to print heads getting clogged. It’s the price of living in paradise. When the 7900 is delivered to you (it comes on its own custom wood pallet), it comes with a start up set of inks that permits you to get a test print and then you’re out of ink, you need to buy ink. So every time you see the 7900 cleaning heads, you wince. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s a money maker!
The Epson 4900 is one of the BEST tools and money makers to EVER enter our office! It not only outputs a ton of gallery prints, it also creates all the match prints that go to clients. Its maximum paper width is 17″ and it shoots it out at lightning speed! This is the workhorse printer doing the lion share of prints that go out to clients and as thank yous. The 4900 does accept roll paper but I don’t have it loaded in my 4900 (I just don’t link the thinner paper is all). I just use sheets. The 4900 has the same 10 ink HDR technology as the 7900. I really love that because I can print from either the 7900 or 4900 and not have to modify the file to match one printer or the other. The 4900 has just one size inks, 200ml and they last a pretty long time. It comes with a ink set that permits you to make a couple of prints and then it’s time to insert new cartridges. Like the 7900, you need to have a spare Maintenance Tank on hand (they fill from all the head cleaning). With either printer, after I purchased the first whole set of inks and they have been loaded into the printer after arriving in the office, I order replacement cartridges one at a time as the printer warns one is starting to go empty. While there is a self life of inks, I’ve never had an issue but I’ve always used this method. It keep from capital from being tied up in inks.
When it comes to paper for the 4900, I LOVE the Hot Press Bright, 17×22″. I buy it by the truck load! I so wish Epson made this in 24×30″ sheet for the 7900, but they don’t (they don’t make any sheet for the 7900 right now that I like). When it comes to profiles, I keep it real simple. I use Epson printers, Epson ink, Epson paper and Epson profiles. With the ease I experience in printing and the response we receive from those who get out prints, it just works.
As time permits and if I get enough of a response, I’ll post more about the actual printing process. Just keep in mind that the paper is everything and the monitor should match the print is a myth so if you’re trying to do that, you’re going to be frustrated with your results. Printing should be and is fun and I hope this helps you get to that points so you share your art with all you can!
4900 Printer Profile
One thing I heard a lot about from folks is they don’t have and can’t find the profiles for the Epson 4900 for the Signature Worthy Papers, the Hot & Cold. I went looking for a download and like folks had reported, I didn’t readily find them either. So here are the profiles I have. I’m a PC guy and honestly don’t know if they work on Mac.
Sharpening for Content is AN ESSENTIAL part of printing. It has nothing to do with Output Sharpening, to me it’s much more important. Please keep in mind still, this is how I do this which is not the only way or necessarily the right way. Since I’ve never (knocked on wood) had a complaint from anyone receiving my prints, I’m assuming no news is good news. Anyways, here a PDF I wrote that might help you create more powerful reactions from your prints simply sharpening for content. This worksheet does touch on output sharpening as well, touches on it.
Printing Worksheet is now posted. I simply was not prepared for the response I’ve had this week after “throwing” up Moose’s Print Lab. I’ve been teaching printing for years but that was in person with visual aids. That makes such a huge difference, just showing the difference paper makes often solves so many folks’ printing issues. What I’ve just uploaded for folks you could call the “class notes” for my printing presentation I made at DLWS. They are not perfect but from the questions I’ve been receiving this week, I know they will help some.