Image: Hugh Threlfall
January 01 2012
Computer, tablet and TV screens are so luminous and wonderful today that the idea of printing pictures is becoming a bit forgotten. If you last printed from digital photos a while ago, you were probably disappointed by photos that looked odd, electronic and just not nice. As an old-style darkroom-loving amateur snapper at heart, I shared your pain.
But even though photo printing is a neglected area in this screen-based age, great things have been happening. For starters, the basic quality of digital photos is far in excess now of what was available for professionals 10 years ago. But ink, paper and print-head technology also improve year after year. The overall result is that, with a good image file and a top-quality printer, today a colour print will dwarf in sheer beauty and technical perfection anything that the finest photo finisher could have produced in a darkroom just a few years ago.
This Epson printer, the R3000, is about the best it’s possible to get for home use, and the prints it produces will astonish you. I spent a good part of the summer and hundreds of sheets of extra-large A3+ size paper just printing and printing. I was so delighted by the results that, since I still fancy myself as a bit of a photo ace, I’m even thinking of buying my own R3000, heat-mounting the photos on modish aluminium and starting a little cottage business selling them online. Maybe.
The R3000 is not cheap. And a full set of the nine (yes, nine) inks that it feeds on costs the best part of £200, although they’re oversize cartridges and last much longer than you’d imagine. Many of the nine are barely used, so you only have to replace a few as you go along. How such a printer works, I cannot imagine; it seems a near miracle that such perfect prints can be conjured up from four shades of black, two magenta, two cyan and one yellow. Tips: don’t even think of using non-Epson ink – or paper, if you possibly can. For non-Epson high-quality art papers, just experiment; you may find a winning combo.