Epson – Stylus Photo 950 review

stylish, dedicated photo printer
Photo of Epson – Stylus Photo 950
£320 + VAT

Predominantly black, with a translucent plastic cover, the Stylus Photo 950 is a dedicated photo printer that certainly looks as though it would be at home in a photography studio. In addition to the printer mechanism itself, there’s a paper cutter in the box that can be used to automatically trim photographs that have been printed from roll paper. This type of paper is mounted on the supplied platen wheels and can be used to print multiple standard-format photographs without wasting high quality photo paper. A clip-on fabric ‘catcher’ can be used to collect these photos as they’re printed and cut.

Dedicated photo printers are chiefly distinguished by their use of more than the usual four colours of ink. In the case of the Stylus Photo 950, there’s an additional light cyan and light magenta to allow the reproduction of finer detail in shaded areas than standard ink drop sizes would normally allow. The ink cartridges are individual and so can be replaced whenever an individual colour runs out, but the print heads – as with Epson’s other inkjet printers – are permanent fixtures of the printer itself.

Resolution isn’t quite as important as colour palette where photo printers are concerned. Even so, the Stylus Photo 950′s 2880 x 1440 dpi output, in both black and colour, is pretty good. This is reflected in the quality of the printed output; it’s almost impossible to discern individual ink dots using the naked eye and colours are consistent and sharp with no banding in the higher resolution modes. In terms of output, then, this is about as professional as a desktop photo printer can be.

There’s plenty of flexibility in the printer’s paper-handling capabilities, since the straight-through paper path means that it’s possible to print onto card of up to 2.5mm in thickness. It’s also possible to print directly onto CD-R and CD-RW discs, without the need for separate paper labels. This won’t work with all types of disc, only those that have a suitable surface for printing, but the results can be effective.

Another impressive aspect of this printer is the amount of noise generated during the printing operation; there’s hardly any. The paper feed mechanism is quiet and the head/ink module moves almost silently across the page. Speed can be an issue with photo printers, but Epson claims that an 8-inch by 10-inch photo can be generated in a whisker over two minutes, something that our tests confirm.

Company: Epson

Contact: 08702 416900


Verdict
Although not suitable for use as a general purpose colour printer, the Epson Stylus Photo 950 is aimed at a particular niche market. It seems to hit that target well, providing excellent quality output, a range of media options and fast, quiet operation. It's a product that budding digital photographers should carefully consider, even though the price is considerably higher than most general-purpose inkjet printers.