Epson Stylus Pro 5500 tabloid sized 11 x 17 inch inkjet printer for portrait photography Print

An Epson Stylus Pro 5500 inkjet printer arrived at the FLAAR evaluation facilities. Prior to this our only knowledge of this printer was from people who already had one. It is a natural human tendency to send a "letter to the editor" primarily when a person runs into a weak point or flaw. Since we initially liked this printer's output at tradeshows we felt the model 5500 would get a fairer review if we had one in our own facility. Otherwise all we hear about are from the occasional user who writes us about their problems.

Epson 5500 printing an image from the FLAAR Photo Archive (www.maya-archaeology.org) in the faciliies of Parrot Digigraphic.
Epson 5500 printing an image from the FLAAR Photo Archive (www.maya-archaeology.org)

Often it is lack of training, the wrong media, or unrealistic expectations. That's why we prefer to have the printers in our own printing studio. This way we can find out what a printer does well, in addition to whatever inherent structural or technological glitches it may exhibit.

The FLAAR editor also got an opportunity to inspect the new Epson Stylus Pro 5500 desktop printer at PMA trade show in mid-February. 2880 dpi with variable droplet. This is the newest version of the Epson printers. The Epson 5500 is a desktop size, 11x17 (can handle paper up to 13 x 19 inches). Actually the Epson 5500 can handle paper up to 200 LB weight in bond stock. The targeted market is for portrait photography, where rather obviously the clients don't want fast fade ink.

One alternative for desktop printing is the nice Canon 8500 but it lacks pigmented inks (Canon can take only dye inks). However if you need really bright flashy colors for something that does not need to stay on the wall more than a few weeks, check out the Canon. For pigmented inks, HP does not make any desktop model at all with pigmented inks. Thus for photographers, not much choice other than the Epson 5500.

We are not enamored with any EFI Fiery RIP. They are overpriced for what little they offer. We recommend BESTColor RIP or any of the other good after-market RIP´s. Yes, it is true that you can operate any Epson printer without absolutely needing a RIP but in the long run most professional users will need to acquire a RIP sooner or later. Why? Check out the FLAAR Premium Report Series on RIP´s

Epson 5500 at BGSU
Jennifer Imes, FLAAR at Bowling Green State University, finishes unpacking the new Epson 5500 and the HP 20ps proofer. Both arrived recently for testing and evaluation. Each of these two printers is for a very different task

The newer model 2200 came out after the issue of metamerism became such an issue on the 7500 and 9500. Due to the publicity Epson is working at minimizing the problem. Everyone spells metemerism differently, but metamerism is the proper spelling. Epson is aware of this issue. So Epson hardware engineers, software engineers, and ink chemists have obviously been working hard to address metamerism. Of course no one can escape the laws of physics or the basic principles of color, but Epson itself now claims they have overcome the worst aspects of metamerism in the new printers such as the 2200.

Of course this is easy to test. If we find out first hand that the 5500 is improved over the 7500, and if we subsequently see with our own analysis that the Epson 10000 has also overcome this issue, we will be the first to report it. Indeed FLAAR is now preparing an entire special report on metamerism. In the meantime, we can already report that the Epson Stylus Pro 5500 already includes upgrades and improvements over the Epson 1520, the Epson 3000, and the Epson 5000. In turn, the 2200 and 7600 are superior in all respects.

Unfortunately the Epson 5500 is not accepted by European photographers. They report that the color gamut is not enough. We had it confirmed from elsewhere in Europe and also by two color management people in the USA, that the color gamut of both the 5500 and 2000p were weak. The 5500 has evidently long been discontinued in Germany and Belgium. The photographer who had one in Switzerland liked it at first, until he saw that it was incapable of reproducing the color range he needed. So he got rid of it.

It remains to be seen whether these images will hold up if not sealed in glass. Ozone (emitted by laser printers and prepress plate burners), cigarette smoke, and other contaminants in normal room air can cause the ink and/or paper to deteriorate in some instances. As we get more facts on all of this, we will update this page. In the meantime, be sure to seal your prints in UV glass. That gets a bit expensive, but now even the small-print in Epson ads recommend this.

It may be that the color gamut of the Epson 5500 is plenty for your needs. Frankly we liked the proofs we did with the Epson 5500 at the university. It depends on how much yellow your image has.

If you have a digital camera, and want to see proofs right away, this is what the Epson 5500 is good at. If you want a desktop sized printer that you can move around, again, a good reason to look at the Epson 5500 or whatever next improved model replaces it.

 

Last checked: Sept. 23, 2003.
Previous updates: Jan. 15, 2003, Oct. 21, 2002.

 

 

The complete FLAAR Reports are in full-color PDF format. Our institute has comprehensive FLAAR Reports on over 73 different wide format inkjet printers, RIP software, color management, scanners, digital cameras and on countless markets such as wide format inkjet printers for photography, giclee, proofing, CAD, GIS, graphic design, signs, and specialty applications too. All FLAAR Reports by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth and his team are available on wide-format-printers.net

 
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