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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Treat 4800 mean, keep it clean

Things have been quiet on the 4800 blog this year - family illnesses certainly have a way of rejigging priorities, for the better imo.

But it has meant the 4800 has sad idle for long periods of time, relatively speaking of course e.g. 3 weeks of no use at all - and my new anti-regime for dealing with clogging etc is working a treat!

Presenting my 'Don't have a cow man' approach to using the 4800:

* Print less often, in bigger batches. Don't fret if it sits idle for however long.

* On startup before printing a batch:
- Decline its offer to do a Power Clean
- Do a manual nozzle check
- Follow by an auto nozzle check only if required

That's about it! Of course, YMMV.

One thing is for sure, my second 4800 is behaving much better generally than the first, touchwood.

posted by Pete Walsh @ 5:28 PM   8 comments

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New Strategy with 4800

Making every effort to keep the 4800 ticking over for the last couple of months - printing most days - hasn't really lead to the hassle-free outcome I was hoping for. Too many clogging probs for how active the printer was in my view which has been equally disappointing, frustrating and bemusing.

As I would be offline for a couple of weeks over Christmas I thought I'd try a new approach with the 4800 - forget about trying to nurse it every day and just treat it like every other piece of hardware I own - just print when it make sense for me to print and expect it to work.

The printer has been switched off for close to three weeks over Christmas during which we've had a record hot weather, as well as being away on holidays with the house closed up - the printer has had ample time to bake away quietly in my office.

I turned the 4800 on today and no surprises it requested a Power Clean. I declined and did a manual nozzle check and pleasantly enough every bar was intact. Good sign, but what about the Auto Nozzle Check? It printed clear too!

So there you go - print every day, and have what seems to be too many problems with clogging. Leave the printer sit for a few weeks and it fires up ready to go - touchwood. Maybe it just needed a good holiday, like me :)

posted by Pete Walsh @ 11:43 AM   5 comments

Belated Holiday Wishes

A little on the belated side - happy holidays and thanks to everyone who visited during 2005. Apologies for delays in replying to emails, I've been away.

posted by Pete Walsh @ 11:40 AM   0 comments

Saturday, December 10, 2005

4800 Firmware Update - caution?

What appears to be updated firmware for the 4800 has been posted to epson.com, dated 1st Dec. Firmware updates are installed via the LFP Remote Panel, but there is a catch - you can update firmware but you can't roll back to an older version, an Epson tech is required for that.

The updates mentioned in the related PDF are:

- Improved ink management
- Improved functionality when using thrid party RIPS.
- Allows users to feed and print Premium Glossy Photo Paper from the paper tray. The forbidden media error is no longer
displayed. The firmware has to be used in conjunction with the latest driver( 5.52 for Windows and 2.33 for Mac).

(Minor detail, but isn't the latest windows driver 5.53? and wasn't forbidden media error already addressed?)

Another interesting titbit I became aware of during the problems I experienced with the 4800 MKI is that firmware and drivers updates including version numbers are not necessarily in sync across Epson sales region. e.g. 5.52 in AU already included features made available in 5.53 elsewhere.

So I'm not sure I'll be installing the firmware update just yet - if it ain't broke... I'd like to know more about what 'improved ink management' actually means (and check how the firmware I have installed compares to the specs of 'update') and then decide if it's worth installing.

posted by Pete Walsh @ 10:56 AM   4 comments

Thursday, December 01, 2005

First bad 4800 print

An interesting afternoon - the first print I've seen in a few years that has come out of an Epson looking like crap... (without it being my doing)

The 4800 has been reasonably busy the last couple of weeks, even moreso over the last few days as I've been running through a series of prints of about 15"x22" on 17" 308 rag roll, as well as a bunch of A3+ sheets made up of a mix of pics. The prints have been coming out as they should, one after another, no problem.

Then, from one print to the next a 15"x22" comes out looking like crap - very thin, weak.. almost like I was printing on the wrong side of the paper (hard to do on a roll even for me!) or the printer was being strangled. Hmm...

I check my file.. no worries there, I check the print/driver settings, no errors there, I double check both. Now my next step should've been a manual nozzle check but given the discussions over the past few days I went straight for the auto nozzle check - would the problem be visible, if so, how? I've included it below, some wee problems:

The bad nozzle karma vibe and the sometimes seemingly strange behaviours during Auto Check has definitely made me curious. I've got a bunch of questions for Epson regarding the printer and the inks. Maybe it's largely environmental conditions, maybe these printers need to be keep super busy... maybe it's to do with the inks, the carts, the lines - maybe it's the luck of the draw. One thing is for sure, the 2100 for all its failings is looking fairly low maintanence atm.

Nnot wanting to waste paper I went back to darkroom mode and printed a test strip from the same file which looked MUCH better, then went ahead and printed the full image - back to all systems go. The Auto Nozzle check cleared the problem which is great, but I've got some things to investigate...

posted by Pete Walsh @ 10:37 PM   5 comments

Phatte Black / Longevity Ratings?

More on Colorbyte's Phatte Black solution... it's been, in the words of Morpheus, like a splinter in my mind. I'm wondering what implications the Phatte system has when it comes to image permanence claims. Epson made it fairly clear earlier in the year that you don't have a leg to stand on if your prints are made outside of their spec and something goes astray. A print made with the Phatte system isn't a K3 print, is it?

posted by Pete Walsh @ 4:49 PM   9 comments

Monday, November 28, 2005

4800 Clogging?

Reading around it seems I'm not alone in having experienced what seems to be clogging with the 4800 - or at least unusual behaviour during auto nozzle cleaning - a problem that appears to date back to the 4000.

Here's an example below (I'd saved it from a couple of months ago and have been meaning to post it) of the printer clearing out a clogging problem via Auto Nozzle Check after having sat for a few days. Cyan definitely looks to have a problem which in itself is a bummer - but Light Cyan and Light Black?:

I mentioned this to Epson during my 0088 troubles with my initial 4800 and the reply was that clogging was not an issue, or at least not more of an issue than it is with other Epson printers.

The 2100 I've had for over three years and has sat for extended periods without use (in appalling attic conditions, I'm no longer in the attic) has never once had a clogging problem so the bar has been set high for the 4800 regarding clogging. Users that have upgraded from the 4000/4800 to the 7800/9800 have said it's no longer a problem. Is there a design glitch in the 4 series that causes the problem? A few people have speculated about air leaks in the lines... or is it only environmental factors?

Clearly though - the most economical way to check the nozzles is to do a manual nozzle check accessed via the Utility tab in the driver where only a series of lines is printed out and you check it, vs the Auto Nozzle method which prints large swatches of each color and the printer keeps at it until everything is clear.

YMMV. My takeaway - don't let the printer sit idle for too many days. If I have a light print load I try and spread it out so the printer is active most days.

posted by Pete Walsh @ 10:58 AM   21 comments

K2 Phatte Black

From Colorbyte's web site regarding Phatte Black:

"With the Phatte Black option, light-light black isn't used, but it won't be missed--print's made with Phatte Black show virtually no difference when compared with prints made with the standard configuration."

'virtually no difference' - a fairly non-committal/un-inspiring statement no? virtually no difference sounds like there are (negative) differences, perhaps not significant though. It will be interesting to hear from people running Imageprint and comparing their results over a range of paper types using Phatte Black vs the full K3 inkset.

posted by Pete Walsh @ 10:11 AM   0 comments

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Phatte Black, Phatte Price

Luminous-Landscape have posted a brief preview of ColorByte's promised solution to running both matte and photo black in Epson's 800 series printers, coined Phatte Black.

On the face of it it sounds appealing - would any 4800 user say no to being able to swap between matte and photo black if and when they needed to without penalty? Epson should have delivered this 'feature' out of the box on the 4800 but didn't - can't say much positive about that.

For someone who hasn't already purchased Imageprint Phatte Black has a Phatte price which will sort out the men from the boys - or perhaps more to the point, the independently affluent from the working class photographers... or at least those that have a genuine frequent need to swap back and forth vs the rest. Imageprint is priced at $895-$1495 (US) which makes for an interesting comparison to the price of a new 4800 printer of around $1700. Photography always seem to suffer from the 'high prices because we can' vs 'because we should/need to' model.

But then, you could also say you only need to change blacks X times and you could have paid for Imageprint, or change blacks a few more times and have paid for a second 4800 and arguably reap the full benefits of running the full set of inks vs removing LLK ala Phatte.

Michael makes an interesting comment regarding Imageprint in a related thread:

"If you're just looking for great image quality then Imageprint may not be worth the money."

So questions remain for me:

- Epson's position regarding warranty when Phatte Black solution is used
- Possible negative consequences in print quality due to the removal of LLK on some papers, a step backwards or maybe it doesn't matter?
- Price and availability of modified of matte black carts

Would I like to be able to swap back and forth? Absolutely. Am I willing to pay $895-$1495US to do so? Not at this point in time. Print quality is great as is, my workflow is good enough, and I don't have a desparate need to swap blacks back and forth. Even if I did - if I'd waited this long for a solution to appear I'd be waiting a while longer to see how it all shakes down in practice.

For all you will have spent, do you end up with something significantly better than an Epson 4000/Imageprint combo and in no way inferior to the results of the 4800, both out of the box and using Imageprint (with the full K3 inkset)?

posted by Pete Walsh @ 11:37 AM   2 comments

Monday, November 14, 2005

5.53 Driver information

Thanks to Alex in Raleigh, NC for emailing info he received from Epson regarding the 5.53 driver update:

> "Thank you for taking the time to contact Epson. It is my pleasure to
> respond to your inquiry. We regret the inconvenience but Epson America
> does not always receive information on what was incorporated in a new
> driver release. Generally, if it is a major change we will make
> mention of it in the driver download window under the instructions for downloading.
> For this new driver v5.53 we did find out the only changes were the
> addition of an "Optimize Enlargement" mode in the layout tab and a new
> "Course Rendering" mode under Speed and Progress in the Utility Tab. Both
> these settings will allow you to go beyond the 90.6 inch maximum length
> depending on the actual application limits."

Also, apparently Epson recommend that you only install drivers and firmware that are
released in your specific sales region. I can't recall ever seeing that stated on an Epson site, and in today's small internet world it doesn't seem to make sense - when a new driver for the 4800 is released on an Epson site you'd assume it will work ok with your 4800 (language excepted).

posted by Pete Walsh @ 11:55 AM   0 comments

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