Test: Epson Stylus Pro 4000

A custom lab in a box

Test-Epson-Stylus-Pro-4000

Test-Epson-Stylus-Pro-4000

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If you're a dedicated photo-grapher, chances are you're shooting with a film or digital SLR instead of a point-and-shoot camera. But when it comes to printing those great images you've captured or scanned, are you still using a cheap desktop point-and-print system that moonlights as your home office printer? When you're ready to get as serious about your photo output as you are your photo input, take a look at the new Epson Stylus Pro 4000 ($1,799).

This eight-color printer is capable of producing up to 17x44-inch enlargements on a wide variety of paper surfaces and media using Epson UltraChrome pigmented inks. And it's fast too. But is it really worth the price, and does it take a Fine Art degree to master?

Yes and no. As the baby brother of the 24-inch-wide $2,900 Stylus Pro 7600-a printer that earned our high praise for its print quality and relative affordability (March 2003)-the SP 4000 is still quite an investment. But if you currently use a custom lab to produce 11x14 or 16x20 enlargements, or are tired of waiting for high-quality 13x19-inch prints to crawl out of your $500 printer, the SP 4000 could pay for itself in short order by turning your digital darkroom into a pro-level custom lab.

The SP 4000 isn't just a shorter, squatter version of the SP 7600, even though it uses the same long-lasting UltraChrome inks. In fact, it features higher image quality, faster print speeds, and more convenient handling than the SP 7600. The higher image quality stems from several advancements.

The SP 4000's new one-inch print head packs eight ink channels and 180 nozzles per channel. When combined with Epson's Variable Droplet Micro Piezo DX3 Technology, the print head produces variable-sized droplets as small as 3.5 picoliters, up to 2880x1440-dpi resolution, and shorter print times. Only seven ink channels are used at a time in the Photographic mode. When applicable, the printer automatically switches between Photo-Black ink and Matte-Black ink based on the paper settings. There's also a four-color Dual print mode that saves photo ink when printing CAD or graphic signs, and for further saving, you can use the larger ink cartridges from the Epson SP 9600. We also like the printer's time-saving auto-head alignment feature and the built-in paper cutter.

But the stunning print quality of the SP 4000 is most impressive of all. Using the supplied color profile for Premium Luster paper, we produced prints with the highest color accuracy of any printer to date-without tweaking or curve adjustments. Now that's a pro printer.

What's Hot:
Incredibly accurate color, wide gamut, and fast print speed. Long print life. Accepts up to 17x22 cut sheets and rolls.

What's Not:
Premium price. Large size requires dedicated space or optional stand. Postscript RIP software is optional.

Download our Epson Stylus Pro 4000 Certified Test Results
-requires Adobe Acrobat Reader

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