Written on: 11/04/2006 by Keith the Astrophysicist (11 reviews written)
Reliable paper feed, excellent photographic print quality, fade resistant inks
Expensive to run; gobbles up gallons of expensive ink. Head cleaning wastes even more ink.
The Epson R800 and its A3 printing cousin the R1800 are designed to provide professional quality photographic printing. To achieve this there are eight different ink cartridges (magenta, cyan, yellow, matte black, photo black, red , blue and a gloss optimiser). The optimiser is to improve the appearance of the colours when printed on to glossy paper by preventing a 'bronzing' effect when viewed at an angle. Most importantly, the inks used in this printer are rated to be fade resistant for over 100 years (this is done by an accelerated testing regime, i.e. putting the prints under a hell of a lot of UV lighting).
My photographic friends all use Epsons and I was an HP user until buying this printer. The quality of the first batch of prints was, indeed, impressive and I looked forward to reliable top quality printing. However, a few months down the line I am unable to prevent horizontal banding appearing on the prints and have wasted quite a bit of ink running the head cleaning and nozzle unblocking programs, all to no avail. To give a rough idea, I ran these three times and estimate about 25% of each ink cartridge was used in total. As each cartridge costs around £12, and there are eight of them, that's £24 worth of ink wasted!
Even in normal use I was horrified by the rate at which the cyan ink kept going down and fully expected to find a pool of the stuff under the printer somewhere. I am now on my third cartridge after a few months of intermittent use.
Set against this, as a semi professional photographer, one has to hope that the fade resistance proves worthwhile. Well it should, provided you use Epson premium glossy paper, which adds to the expense. However, a landscape print left on to top of my in laws' TV has developed faded patches after just two months of exposure to feeble winter sun. Things are not looking good.
I can say, in defence of this printer, that it guides paper and card through accurately and the paper feed and out tray close up nicely to seal out the dust when the printer is not in use. Also, the computer screen display (there's no status panel on the printer itself), showing what the printer is doing and how much ink it has left (scary) is well set out. However, this is not a ringing endorsement for a printer which costs nearly £200.
I will sell this ink gobbling monster to another photographer and go back to HP where the ink cartridges seem to last much longer and which have diposable/replaceable ink delivery systems. I never had a persistent clogging or dirty head problem with my old HP printer.