Epson Stylus Photo 2200

Up until about two months ago I was a die-hard Epson user. For the last four years there has always been a Stylus Photo printer (usually the latest model) sitting on my desk. After reviewing the Canon S9000 I was no longer satisfied with the printing speed of my Epsons or any other inkjet for that matter. The S9000 is still the fastest inkjet out there (the Canon S900 is just as fast except it's the narrow carriage model.)   The new Epson Stylus Photo 2200 isn't as speedy as the S9000 but it is the fastest Epson photo inkjet that I've ever used. Those of you that are stepping up from the Stylus Photo 2000P will think that you have died and gone to heaven as it's about three times faster than that printer. And of course the big attraction of the Stylus Photo 2200 is the new pigment-based UltraChrome inks with their true color rendition and archival properties. Setup and installation went without a hitch. Followed the large, printer setup instructions (yes, I do read those things!), installed the seven ink cartridges and waited about a minute and a half for the initial Epson "pump up" and charging cycle. Installed the Windows XP driver software, turned on the printer when prompted, it recognized the printer and the software initialized the USB port. Finished the installation by running a Head Alignment test just to make sure it was ready to make some photos - and it was. I really expected to be disappointed in the color and saturation. I'd read numerous forum messages where people thought the pigment-based printers just weren't up to challenge when compared to their dye-based cousins. Having never used a pigmented-ink printer myself I had no idea what was going to come out of it. I am happy to report that the very first print came out looking almost exactly the same as it did from my Canon S9000. The colors were vibrant and well saturated and it was dry to touch as it exited the printer. And the Stylus Photo 2200 has got to be the quietest Epson printer I've ever used. With the lid closed and other normal room noise you'll hardly notice that it's working except for the initial paper load and final paper eject noises. "Beginner's luck," I thought to myself as I set about to put the Stylus Photo 2200 through its paces. Print after print came out looking like they did on my monitor, a very accurately calibrated monitor I might add. Epson's PR company had sent me a good assortment of the "approved" media for the 2200 and it all produced incredible results. I hadn't done much B&W printing in a long time because none of my printers were very good at it. The 2200 with its Photo Black and Light Black inks produces marvelous B&W prints and they got even better on matte or fine art paper when using the optional Matte Black ink in place of the Photo Black. My own testing had the Stylus Photo 2200 connected via its USB 2.0 port to a 4-port USB 2.0 hub that was connected to a PC running an Intel Pentium 4/2GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, 80GB HD and Windows XP Professional. Photoshop 7.0 was used as my printing application and the timer was started after clicking on the PRINT button on the print preview window. Print times at 1440dpi, high speed on: Borderless 4x6" cut sheet - 2:55
Borderless 8.5x11" semi-gloss 6:00
Max/centered 8.5x11" enhanced matte - 4:40
Max/centered 8.5x11" luster - 4:54
Borderless 13x19" PGPP - 11:30
Max/centered 13x19" PGPP - 10:45 Print times at 2880 dpi: Max/centered 8.5x11" PGPP, high speed off - 17:20
Max/centered 8.5x11" PGPP, high speed on - 11:00
Borderless 8.5x11" PGPP, high speed on - 13:40
Max/centered 8.5x11" enhanced matte, high speed on - 10:20
Max/centered 8.5x11" enhanced matte, high speed off - 17:50
Borderless 8.5x11" semi-gloss, high speed on - 13:20
Borderless 8.5x11" semi-gloss, high speed off - 24:00
Borderless 13x19" PGPP, high speed on - 27:05

Printing letter size 8.5x11" media (or smaller) I found very little difference between 1440dpi and 2880dpi other than much longer print times. I can say pretty much the same thing for the 13x19" media but I imagine that most users will put up with longer print times to achieve the best possible output for display purposes on these very large prints. The Borderless option can only be used with Premium Glossy Photo Paper (PGPP), Premium Semigloss or Premium Luster Photo Paper. Sorry, no borderless matte or fine art media prints unless you want to cut them down to size from a larger piece. A disappointing note for Mac OS X users, the borderless option is not available in any media type with that operating system's driver at this time. I can't really pin down a per-print "ink cost" as we'll only be reviewing this printer for a couple of weeks and it takes a couple of months and many ink cartridges to calculate those kinds of costs. The first ink cartridge to run out was Light Magenta after I had printed 49-8.5x11", 18-4x6" and 3-13x19" prints. Given my experience with other printers it doesn't seem to be any more of an "ink guzzler" than any of the other large format inkjet printers. I'm sure that Epson is going to sell a LOT of Stylus Photo 2200 printers here in the U.S. and Stylus Photo 2100 printers in Europe and other areas. There are many professional digital photographers and graphic artists that have been waiting for an archival inkjet printer with this kind of excellent performance. Some are already using the Stylus Photo 2000P but complain of its slow print times and muted colors. The new Stylus Photo 2200 is much faster, the initial cost has been lowered by $200 and the ink set is noticeably improved. There's no problem with muted or "muddy looking" colors with the new UltraChrome inks, the results are very comparable to my Canon S9000 and dye-based Epsons. If your monitor is anywhere close to being properly calibrated, the resultant output from the Stylus Photo 2200 is going to please you. If you're in the market for this type of printer then I would highly recommend the purchase of a Pantone Spyder and color calibration software. There's been some rumblings from potential U.S. buyers that are "annoyed" with Epson America for not including the Gray Balancer software in the Stylus Photo 2200 bundle. Personally I was more disappointed that the 2200 did not have the same CD-R printing capabilities as the European 2100 model.  I had no problems outputting the best looking B&W prints I've ever made with an inkjet printer - period. The addition of the Light Black ink makes a very noticeable difference in the tonal range of B&W prints. The same can be said for using the Matte Black ink when printing on matte or fine art papers. Had I not just recently purchased a Canon S9000, I don't think I would hesitate a second in buying an Epson Stylus Photo 2200 -- it is that good. The overall color rendition is highly accurate -- if your image is "right on" then your prints will be too. With a properly color-corrected and sharpened image the output print is going to be absolutely gorgeous and sure to please even the most demanding client or artist. Mac OS X Users Note: The Epson 2200 when we reviewed it in 2002 was only minimally compatible with OS-X. Since that time they have released the Printer Driver v1.63 that is compatible with Mac OS 10.1.3 - 10.2.4. Posted on 04/18/03 This driver adds paper handling capabilities, unique to EPSON printers in Macintosh OS X including borderless, roll paper and minimum margin printing. Please view the "OS X booklet.pdf" for additional details.