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Epson 7500, a 24" printer capable of producing fine art giclée prints? Print E-mail

Since thousands of early model Epson printers were manufactured and are readily available used via eBay, it is essential to maintain comments on every model even though they are no longer sold by Epson itself. For these reasons we cover the Epson 7500 here. The 9500 would be similar other than being wider. Most of the faulty features of both printers were overcome by the replacement models, Epson Stylus Pro 7600 and 9600. If you seek a more satisficatory printing experience, skip the inherent problems of the 7000, 7500 era design and consider the 7600, 9600, or newer models such as the 4000. Other than slowness, the new generation of Epson printer is improved in virtually all respects.

Epson 7500 large format prints
Nicholas Hellmuth (left), David Weber (middle) Michelle Price (right) holding a Mayan sculpture printed on the Epson 7500

Epson presented the Epson 7500 large format printer at the DRUPA printer trade show in Germany on May 20th (2000). The senior review editor of FLAAR attended the entire DRUPA printer trade show where the printer was first introduced. The inks shown at DRUPA trade show were most politely described as premature, or immature. The fault was also in lack of finished ICC color profiles, the software that tells the printer how to mix the colors in order to handle the specific surface characteristics of every individual (different) kind of fine art media.

Over the subsequent nine months the potential of the Epson 7500 improved. Actually the printer itself is unchanged, what is better is the selection of media, the ICC profiles, the RIP software, and the inks.

Very quickly the problem of metamerism arose, the printed images looking greenish under some lighting. There are workarounds, which again is why you need to get your Epson printer from a dealer who knows how to assist you to minimize metamerism on those piezo models that have a reputation for this situation. We also have thermal printers and not a single thermal printout has turned green in the four years we have had these printers. If you are curious about the differences between thermal printhead and piezo printhead systems, just order the FLAAR Report Series for Survival and get the, "Piezo Vs thermal, pros and cons, fact Vs fiction" report plus other informative titles.

On the outside the Epson 7500 and Epson 7000 look virtually identical. The Epson 7500 uses dedicated pigmented inks (no fast-fade dye-based ink s). At present the Epson 7500 works only with Epson pigmented inks of its own generation. You can use some of the aftermarket inks from Lyson or other companies; Staedtler inks reportedly work (find the report on "Frequently asked question on inkjet Inks" under FLAAR Report Series on Media and Ink). Actually you can't even use the colorful Epson dye-based inks in the new Epson 7500 pigment ink printer. So if you need to use dye transfer sublimation inks, quad-tone black-ink sets, or if you wish to experiment with different inks, then you need the Epson 7000 (24") or the Epson 9000 (44").

How long will the "long life" inks of the Epson 7500 last? The Epson 7500 is apparently not made for outdoor ink longevity: only indoor in a dimly illuminated room. The prints have to be sealed in glass to avoid ozone contamination which may cause the paper to discolor. So don't shine a spotlight on your Epson print or put it in a sunny room. Also, remember, this printer is best for personal use or for any situation where speed is not crucial. Piezo printhead systems produce attractive quality that people really like, but at 1440 dpi the systems are rather pokey. The "speed" in the ads is fiction.

Epson 7500, a 24" printer capable of producing fine art giclee prints
Epson 7500 in the Digital Imaging Center, Guatemala, printing a Mayan textile

The FLAAR editors have continued to inspect the Epson 7500 printer, since February 2001, then at CeBIT trade show in Germany (March 2001) and at DPI (April). The colors (the inks) are now much improved. The improvement is due in large part to better RIP software which has the ICC profiles to handle the new inks and the new papers that go with these inks. A few glitches are reported by end users. Yet the Epson 7500 still has some noteworthy advantages. Indeed we just installed an Epson 7500 in our studio at the university. The staff really like it. For the latest information we have a series of new reports, upgraded every month. (the Epson was unpacked and installed only a few weeks ago; it will be a while before we can update the report to include our in-house use of this printer. One final item to mention, earlier editions of our reports indicated that the claimed "abundance of media" was a fiction. Indeed two years ago some users complained about the lack of appropriate media, especially anything similar to photo glossy. At PMA trade show (mid-February 2001), however, a wider variety of new media were shown. Since June 2001 a few additional media is available. Just be realistic, namely that some of the nice media that you see elsewhere absolutely does not work on a piezo printer and especially not with the Epson 7500 or 9500. This is because the Epson 7500 and 9500 use proprietary encapsulated inks not used by any other printer (except perhaps a version in the Epson 10000 arc).Today (winter 2003-2004) lots more media is available for each model of Epson, especially the more recent models such as the 7600.

Just remember that some media can be used only with piezo printhead systems; other media only with thermal printhead systems; and most media is ink-dependent also: so Printer X with ink Y will only accept media XY. Thus be wary of ads which promise "prints on a wide range of media..." For some printers this is true; for other printers it may be misleading.

At last we have located a place where you can get help, tips, and introductory training to how to accomplish photo-realistic and fine art giclée printing with the Epson 4000, Epson 7600, 6000, 10600. Realize that these newer models, and their improved UltraChrome inks, do not suffer the deficiencies of earlier 5000, 5500, 7000, 7500, 9000, and 9500 models. The new models 7600, 9600, 10600, and 4000 have overcome most metamerism issues.

They are not as slow, albeit not as fast as the ads would have you believe either. But for use by individual artists or photographers, who don't need 100 prints in production mode, an Epson is fine for producing onesies, twosies.

The company which we recommend for the newer models (Parrot Digigraphics) takes responsibility for the entire system, input through output, color management, and training. Thus, to order your Epson (and enjoy the experience) we recommend that you check out the capable people at Parrot Digigraphic.

Every several years there is either a new Canon iPF printer or a new Epson or a new HP water-based printer that is made for giclee, decor, or fine art photography. It is hard to keep track of the advances in improved inks and color management features. FLAAR is keeping track by visiting giclee ateliers around the world that have these various brands. Each brand has its good points and a few issues and an occasional deficiency. 

Since FLAAR itself does not sell printers, for you to find out information on prices and availability of each model that can print fine art giclee well, we suggest you contact a company that offers all three brands: Canon, HP, and Epson. This way they are not going to push just one brand because they offer all three. Plus you need a company that has plenty of experience with fine art photographs, photo labs, and giclee atelier. 

The advantage of a place that offers both Epson, HP, and Epson is that they can provide some tips on the differences. If a store sells only one brand or the other, they will understandably push the brand they sell. One value-added retailer that we have visited several times is Parrot Digigraphic. They know each of the brands and models. Contact info is 978.670.7766.

 

Last updated: November 7, 2003.
Previous updates: Sept. 23, 2003, Jan. 15, 2003, Nov. 15, 2002, July 26, 2001.

 
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