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Epson 1520 and Epson 3000 color inkjet printer reviews Print E-mail

The Epson 1520 and Epson 3000 are very slow, the prints fade quickly, and four colors is not adequate when compared with six color printers now readily available. The majority of prints, still today, from most models of Epson printers start fading outdoors in the sun within a day or so, fade inside to a distressing discoloration within a few weeks if any sunlight enters the room. Even in our studio, with no windows to the outside, and with our lights UV shielded, Epson prints faded within several months.

Epson 1520 and Epson 3000 color inkjet printer reviewsThousands of people have been led to believe that they can produce fine art giclée prints with cheap desktop printers. Is this realistic? The clever ads and PR releases which masquerade as reviews in too many magazines promise you flawless beauty, virtually eternal archival quality, fast speed.

One person put their feelings rather pointedly: "Put bluntly, we felt cheated and mislead by the advertisements."

Although all of these Epson printers can be operated with their simple printer drivers, to get rid of the jaggies and other problems, you really need a RIP. The ads for the cheaper printers don't warn you of the cost of a RIP (which is usually more than the cost of the printer). The ads for the more expensive printers tend to offer an overpriced EFI Fiery hardware RIP when in fact a software RIP such as ColorGate, BEST, PosterJet or many others would cost less and be much more capable.

At last (after countless years) Epson is working hard to produce inks that are not "fast fade." However again, the buyer is not given full and forthright information. "Two-hundred years longevity" means under museum conditions and sealed in glass. To translate this it means in a semi-darkened room, not a flicker of sunlight, and mounted in expensive glass.

The web site that originally made the two-hundred year claim went off the air in January, partially as a result of the incessant criticism about the unrealistic nature of such claims, The web site is now back on the air with disclaimers, but no new claims have been issued by them. Epson itself added a disclaimer in small print that there was no guarantee about longevity whatsoever. Nonetheless, as of Feb. 2001, the Epson booth at PMA trade show was touting the 200 year claim (even though the lab that originally conjured up this claim admitted it was with a prototype ink and now admits that other factors may limit the longevity considerably).

What happens if you hang these prints somewhere in your home? Most homes I know tend to have something called a window. Window's tend to let something called sunlight enter the house. Same with offices and even many museums have windows.

We have our prints on exhibit in an art museum, directly under a giant skylight. Talk about sunlight, this is in the tropics (Guatemala, Central America). How long would an Epson print last in this "museum conditions?" Our prints are from an Encad, at 300 dpi, and sure look better than a print from an Epson printhead at 360 dpi (on a Mimaki, but it could equally well have been other printers that use a piezo head).

We showed our prints at 360 dpi from this Epson piezo head and it was so awful that the museum curator refused to accept it!

The other infamous problem with some Epson papers is that the paper itself does not always hold up, certain kinds of the paper turns an orange discoloration. That does not sound very archival to me. The latest reviews admit that you must keep the prints from the Epson 1270 sealed in glass! That means you have to take the prints and have them mounted, a waste of time and an additional cost. I just took two of my prints to have them mounted, and when I learned it would cost about $ 137 to use UV glass, I decided I would rather use a printer that produced output which was fine without mounting under glass. None of my Encad, ColorSpan, or Hewlett-Packard prints have to be under glass.

We have prints from an Encad, with indoor ink, on exhibit now for over 4 years. The paper is just fine; the inks are fading somewhat but the quality still looks fine enough for the museum (the prints under the skylight are Encad GO outdoor pigmented inks). Ilford Archival Extreme inks have a comparable excellent reputation. Yet both Encad and Ilford don't feel the need to exaggerate.

Please note that Epson does improve its models and its inks. There are now inks that don't fade as fast, but be sure the colors are what you need. Some longevity ink has weak colors, poor definition in highlights and dark areas, and may be unsatisfactory.

We have met capable artists who do indeed use the Epson 3000 to produce fine art prints for sale. Yet we probably get an equal number of e-mail from disgruntled users of Epson 3000 printers (the universal observation is that "the paper feeder mechanism is the first part to break down...").

In a single week we got an e-mail from one person who was content with his Epson 1520 and other user who felt it was cheap junk that he was glad to get rid of. Thus if you wish to buy one of these desktop printers, it may indeed be acceptable for you if you have eternal patience and don't have illusions of producing more than a few copies of each print. These printers are too slow and cranky to be taken seriously to do more than a few copies. If you need 100 or even 50 copies of a print, desktop inkjet is not usually a realistic way to do it. In conclusion on the desktop models: if you want color as good as an Epson but with potentially better drivers, check out the Canon 8500 desktop inkjet printer. No pigmented inks at all, but the dye inks sure are beautiful. If you want a printer purely for practice, if you know from advance you will eventually discard it (to buy a better printer), then buy a desktop unit, but we recommend using RIP software. If you attempt to use the raw printer drivers its frustrating. And get a real RIP; which means more than Birmy. Birmy is okay for a beginner but professional RIP´s offer countless advantages.

Most of the RIP´s for desktop printers are most politely described as low-end, such as Birmy, Iproof etc. (don't know the details on FastRIP). A RIP such as BESTColor is a full-featured professional color management PostScript RIP software solution

The Epson 7000 and Epson 9000 are definitely better than most of the tabletop units. We depend primarily on reader feedback and inspection of printers at major trade shows so we get a nicely balanced range of opinions.

The newer Epson 7500 and Epson 9500 are viable alternatives, albeit with a few quirks. Thus we recommend don't waste your time with a desktop printer. If you want to do serious printing, get a serious printer. The only desktop Epson that meets professional standards would potentially be the Epson 5500, a completely new printer which offers 2880 dpi with variable size droplet technology. If you wish specific information on how the new Epson Stylus Pro 5500 has improved over the obsolete Epson 1520 and Epson 3000, contact a nationwide dealer for the professional series of Epson printers, Parrot Digigraphic. E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The capable people here can also answer your questions on scanning, on digital photography, and digital imaging in general.

We are always looking for such professional quality printers. The Epson 7500 and 9500 took seven months between introduction (May 2000) until they finally reached maturity. Same with other printers. They mature as their production run hits its stride. A few months ago we tested the ColorSpan DisplayMaker XII and its associated hardware RIP. The results sure were impressive. In January we tested the Hewlett-Packard archival pigmented inks for the new HP 5000ps. Earlier HP archival inks for the earlier models HP DesignJet 2000 and 3000 are the choice of artists on Hahnemuehle water color paper. Most people who used the HP 2500 and 3500 will be upgrading to the newer HP 5000ps to take advantage of its 1200 dpi in six colors. In early 2001 two FLAAR editors inspected printers, inks, and media at two trade shows in Florida. Following that the senior FLAAR reviewer was evaluating large format inkjet systems at a sign trade show in Mumbai, India.

As you can see, Professor Hellmuth is always on the move to find out actual real-world results. Feedback from end-users is the foundation of our evaluations. If a printer makes potentially misleading claims in its advertisements, we find out from people who bought this printer and found out the truth (the hard way). To spare yourself such disappointment, you might wish to get a hold of the FREE FLAAR reports as easy PDF formatted. The university will send you these reports at no cost. It's part of their program of public information.

PlotterSupplies does sell reconditioned Epson printers. If you wish a refurbished Epson printer, contact Michael E. Falagrady National Sales Manager Plotter Supplies, Inc./Qmax Digital toll-free: 800.365.3305 303.450.2900 fax: 303.450.0926 e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Last cheched: Sept. 23, 2003.


Compare prices; is it best to buy by lowest price comparison?  Your best deal is to buy from a respectable printer dealer who can provide tips and assistance. LexJet is among several places we know that offer Epson Stylus Pro printers. They can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Buying from a box-pusher, gray market, and other dubious outlets is not always a clever idea. We have visited LexJet headquarters several times and have visited their booth at key trade shows. Their other advantage is that they offer all three major brands: Epson, Canon, and HP. So they do not need to push you into only one brand.  Plus LexJet knows eco-solvent and UV-cured as well (which FLAAR covers on

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