Epson 7600 Printer
I love printing! Until Epsons hit my office though, it had been decades since I had enjoyed this passion. As I mentioned in my Epson 2200 piece, it's a great printer and for a vast majority, it's the best printer to start the building of your digital darkroom. It's small footprint and price make it an obvious choice. The 2200 does have a limitation and that is it can take a maximum paper width of 13”. That's not a problem because Epson does make larger printers that produce killer quality for when you're ready to move up!
With the introduction of the Epson 4000, many have wondered why bother to buy the 7600 with the seemingly obvious advantages of the 4000. The number one factor for me in having the 7600 is the paper size it can accept. The standard paper I use is the Epson Somerset Velvet 24x30 (SP91200) at $14 a sheet (using the Bill Atkinson Textured Fine Art Paper profile) This paper, this profile an the 7600 printer produce magnificent prints!
The 7600 really is a darn easy printer to use, once some one walks you through it. We're planning on producing a Digital Darkroom eBook in the future, but here's some basics that might help you now. The first thing that is a must is a calibrated monitor. If this isn't in your budget, then you want to either invest in the GretagMacbeth Eye-One or the Monaco (I can honestly recommend them all to you, it just depends on your budget). Both of these systems do an excellent job and should be apart of every photographers digital darkroom!
Next, I highly recommend you have Photoshop CS and know how to use it to maximize an image for printing (attend a DLWS and you'll learn this) . Spectacular prints come only from images that where first, captured right, right from the start in camera. Then the image's story telling needs to be completed using such tools and nik Dfine, nik Color Efex Pro II and nik Sharperner Pro. Once you've completed all of this, you'll find that Photoshop CS does a killer job sizing up your images for printing with the 7600.
The last thing you need is the correct paper profile for the paper you're using. This is the confusing part; the paper I mention above is just such an example of this confusion. Using the Epson Somerset Velvet in the 7600, you use the Bill Atkinson 9600 Texture Fine Art profile. Now isn't that clear as mud. Stuff like this isn't in the instruction book for the 7600 or readily available on the web. And just because the Texture Fine Art profile works for the Epson Somerset, it doesn't work for Legion's Somerset (I won't mention the must of printing on the right side of the paper!). Needless to say, making your first print can be quite a trial of your patience if you're totally new to it all.
Another confusing thing I think is the fact you have to create within the print dialog a custom paper size for the Epson 24x30 paper. There is no default for this size, so you've got to create your own. You'd think since Epson makes the printer and makes the paper, they'd provide you with a default paper size. They don't, so be sure to create your own custom size!
The 7600 uses Epson's UltraChrome inks. These inks provide basically a 100 year print life (good for longer than we'll be around to enjoy them). The 7600 can print on either glossy photo paper or textured art paper (like the Epson Somerset). Depending on the paper in use determines which black ink you'll use. Since I print everything on the textured art paper I have the Matte Black in the 7600 (Photo Black is for the glossy paper). The 7600 comes with the 110ml ink cartridges but as you can see in the photo, it accepts the 220ml ink cartridges as well. You'll probably here that the 7600 uses a lot of ink. While this is true, it doesn't use much in relationship to the print sizes it's printing. If you constantly switch back and forth between Matte Black & Photo Black, you will see undo ink consumption.
We've found the 7600 to be a workhorse! It prints all of our submission 8x10 contact sheets. It rips them out very fast (faster than the 2200) but not as fast as the 4000. The 7600 is a single paper feed printer (the 4000 has a paper bin). Even so, I wouldn't trade my 7600 in! It produces gorgeous prints once everything is dialed in. In the future, we'll have more technical information available for folks so you don't have to reinvent the wheel when you have your own 7600.
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