Epson Stylus Photo 780

This is the first page of the new Windows printer driver (see first page of this review for driver update information) that has the "EPSON Natural Color" option, it also supports PRINT Image Matching (PIM) when used with the Epson Film Factory software. Here you select the media type you will use:

The printing mode can be Automatic where the printer will analyze the data being sent to it and pick the best mode and resolution based on how you have the Quality-Speed selection set.

Or you can select PhotoEnhance and then choose one of the options based on the content of your picture.

Clicking on the Custom button and then choosing Advanced brings you into the most powerful part of the printer driver. From here you can manually set every parameter from resolution to color management.

You can manually adjust the primary colors as well as saturation, brightness and contrast. The Mode drop down gives you the options of Automatic, Photo-realistic or Vivid.

The PhotoEnhance4 options let you get better results from your digital camera images and by setting one or more options you can also add photographic effects like Sepia or Monochrome.

You can even add effects like simulated Canvas or Parchment as well as Soft Focus for very distinctive looking portrait prints, the combinations are endless and sometimes mind-boggling.

Page two of the driver is all about paper size options, orientations and the all-important "no margins" check box to enable the borderless printing. The 780 only has one possible Paper Source and that is the sheet feeder.

Page three controls the Layout of your print jobs. You can reduce or enlarge by fitting to a gven paper size or scaling by percent. Multi-page jobs can be setup for odd/even or you can do posters that are composites of two or more printed pages.

You can also make use the Watermark option, the defaults are Confidential, Draft, Urgent and Priority but you can add or delete your own as well. Watermarks are mostly used on printed text pages but professional photographers can make up their own "Proof Only" watermark to go over the top of photos too.

Page four of the driver is the Utility menu and contains options to monitor the ink levels, check the nozzles, clean the heads, align the heads and more.

How many times have you output an image to the printer only to have it print in the wrong orientation or size?  If you check the "Print Preview" box on the first page of the driver that will never be a problem again. The screen shown above will be displayed BEFORE the job is sent to the printer and you can visually see the results of the output in relation to the selected media. If it isn't right just hit the Cancel button, correct the mistakes and then try it again -- no more wasted paper, especially the expensive glossy photo paper.

Note: This is the updated Epson FilmFactory with PRINT Image Matching (PIM) support. See page one of this review for information on how to get your FREE upgrade.

If digital photography has you overwhelmed and under organized, you need Epson Software Film Factory. This ingenious software makes your PC or Mac into a perfectly organized photo library and processing center. With Film Factory, you can collect, arrange, store, edit, and print thousands of photos from any source - digital camera, picture CDs, photo files, Web sites, or your favorite scanned images. Fall in love with photography all over again. Find your photos in seconds by quickly browsing through your rolls, or use Film Factory's search tools to look for them by date, comments, or filename.

* Windows version only

Epson Stylus Photo 780 Inkjet Printer

ArcSoft PhotoImpression™ is an easy-to-use photo editing and creative design program that gives you the best of several ArcSoft offerings. Edit and retouch your photos, then add special effects or place them in cards, calendars, frames and fantasy templates. PhotoImpression also includes a wide variety of printing options.

Steve's Conclusion

(8/14/01 update:  Be sure to grab the latest Stylus Photo 780 drivers from the Epson web site, they have added a "Natural Color" option on the main page of the driver that greatly improves the color balance of digicam images.)

Over the last couple of years we've seen the prices continually fall on the photo quality inkjet printers and this year Epson is definitely looking at increasing its market share. The Stylus Photo 780 is every bit as capable as the other Epson photo printers but is now priced at only $99!  

My current printer -was- the Stylus Photo 1270 and I've had nothing but Epson photo printers for the last four years. I'm not saying that the Canon and HP photo printers aren't worthy competitors, they are. I'm just personally satisfied with the Epson printers and have always thought that they were just a bit (OK, a lot) ahead of the "other guys" when it came to overall print quality. Epson printers have permanent print heads which are a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand they are inherently better than inexpensive thermal heads that are part of the ink cartridge that you throw away when they run out of ink. On the other hand they are prone to clogging if not used frequently but this has never been a problem for me as I use my Epson photo printer as my "do it all" printer so it gets a daily workout. This is the main reason for the pump-up cycle that all Epson printers go through when first turned on. This makes sure that there is ink in the feed lines and that the print nozzles are clear.

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the first print come out of the Photo 780, it was every bit as good as the same print from the Photo 1270. This was an apples vs apples comparison as I used the same 720dpi, high speed off and photo-realistic settings on both printers. I used the exact same digicam image from PhotoImpact and simply switched the output between the printers. Both printers produced a bordered 4x6" print in just about the same amount of time, the 780 was faster by about four seconds. I have always liked borderless prints and on the 1270 my options were to use the special Epson photo paper with the tear-off tabs or else get out my trusty roto-trimmer. With the 780 all I needed to do was load it up with regular 4x6" paper and select the "no margins" options and print away.

As I pointed out on page one of this review, the borderless (no margin or full bleed) option effectively doubles the time it takes to print so if you're in a rush to crank out a bunch of prints it isn't exactly the most optimal way to print. Most of us usually have plenty of time so I don't see this as a major drawback, in fact I see the borderless option as one of the more compelling reasons to buy this printer.

Epson is pushing the 2880dpi output resolution as the big selling point of all of its new 2001 photo printers. If you already have an Epson 870, 875DCS or 1270 printer should you run out and buy one of the new ones with the 2880dpi output?  In a word - NO, don't bother. Frankly I have been more impressed with photos printed at 1440dpi on Premium Glossy Photo Paper or Kodak's new Utlima Glossy and Satin paper. The 2880dpi prints take twice as long to print, use twice as much ink and when examined at hand's length I think the 1440dpi prints have better shadow detail.

If you're shopping for your first photo printer then by all means jump on the Stylus Photo 780, 890 or 1280 printers -- they're all winners and which one you get depends on your needs. With the current pricing, digicam users can be printing their photos with an investment of only $129. And don't forget that these printers don't just do photos -- they're perfect for text and mixed text and graphics too.   I don't own a second printer, my Epson Photo does it all, and does it all in style !

ICC Profiles for ColorLife Paper

Epson has introduced a new line of heavy weight, glossy photo paper called Epson ColorLife Photo. Download the ICC profiles for ColorLife Photo paper to make sure that you get the best possible color match between your screen (if properly calibrated) and the printer.