Epson is well known for incorporating the latest print and ink technologies into its value and mainstream printer markets, but at the other end of the spectrum sits the Stylus Photo 2100, an A3, seven-colour printer aimed at the professional photographer, with a price tag to match.
As it’s an A3 printer, the 2,880 by 1,440 dpi Stylus Photo 2100 is no shrinking violet, measuring 631 x 864 x 409mm in printing configuration. So be prepared to lose some desktop space. Then again, as it’s an expensive printer, it’s not likely to be found living at home. It comes with three interfaces as standard; parallel, USB 2.0 and Firewire, but surprisingly not LAN.
At the heart of the Stylus Photo 2100 lies Epson’s seven-colour, UltraChrome pigment ink set; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Light Black and Black. You may be wondering about the Light Black but when it’s used together with the printer’s highest resolutions, the enhanced detail it offers creates such stunning images that it’s hard to see the dots in these prints at close range, much like a good ISO 100 speed film.
The Stylus Photo 2100 is particularly good at monochrome prints, aided by the Epson Grey Balancer software that is included. This software calibrates and customizes the greyscales used in black and white reproduction. For even higher contrast on non-glossy papers, Epson offers a hot-swappable matt black ink cartridge.
When it comes to paper handling the Stylus Photo 2100 offers three choices; standard top loading, roll paper (a holder is included) and, for thicker media (up to 1.3mm thick), a straight through manual feeder. Paper weights from 64 to 90gsm are supported, although this maximum rises to 251gsm if using Epson media. The unit can handle media from 90mm x 90mm up to 329mm x 483mm.
It’s not a fast printer, but then printers like this are about quality and not speed. Epson quotes speeds of 7.4ppm (pages per minute) for an A4 page of text (in Economy mode) and 3.1ppm for an A4 mixed page of text and graphics. An 8 x 10-inch image printed in Photo mode took around four minutes under test conditions.
As well as the aforementioned roll paper holder, Epson also bundles a roll paper output catch and automatic paper cutter with the Stylus Photo 2100. The driver CD contains Epson’s Photo Quicker 3.1 and Print-CD software as well as the usual OS drivers. Photo Quicker controls how you want to layout your prints, enhance them or add titles. Print CD is useful if you want to create and print CD/DVD labels.
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