Making great prints with the Epson Stylus Photo 1270, 1200, EX and other Epson Printers if you don't have a custom printer profile

I've made over 200 test prints on the Epson Stylus Photo 1270, 1200, Photo EX and other Epson printers so far, testing different combinations of the default Epson settings in combination with different settings in Photoshop. I've also been testing Monaco EZ Color and other calibration software to make custom profiles for these printers.

The best settings I've found, without using a custom profile, are included on the JPEG download called: Epson1200BestNonProfileSets.jpg , for the 1200 and: EpsonExBestNonProfileSets.jpg ,for the EX. These settings, as adjusted for the 1270 print dialog also work well for the 1270. For more info on the 1270, download the "Digital Printers for Final Art and Commercial Output" PDF article above. In these settings, the main print dialog has media type set to Photo Paper, or the newer 1270 papers (this is the Epson Photo Paper which is great), Space set to RGB Color (or ColorMatch RGB) and Printer Color Management turned on. In the Advanced print dialog, Media Type is set to Photo Paper or the newer 1270 papers, Print Quality is set to SuperFine 1440, Error Diffusion is on and Color Management is set to Color Adjustment - Automatic. I find that you get a more vibrant range of colors and more pleasing contrast when the Photoshop RGB Setup option, File/Color Settings/RGB Setup, or Space in the Print dialog, is set to ColorMatch RGB. I have tried these same settings with the only difference being that RGB Setup is set to Adobe RGB and this tends to make the file less contrasty and the colors too flat.

With all my Epson prints, I set the dpi of my files to 360, using Image/ImageSize in Photoshop. This is an even multiple of the 720 and 1440 dpi settings you end up using in the printer dialogs. For the absolute best results from the Epson printers, like the EX and 1200, 1440 dpi in the printer dialogs, as I've set in the JPEG downloads, is great. You may find though, that for many images the 720 dpi setting works quite well and the 720 dpi setting uses less ink and prints a lot faster. When you have a lot of very fine detail, or subtle gradation changes, 1440 will give better results but it takes longer to print and uses more ink.

To download the above JPEG files describing the Epson print dialog settings, click on the names of the files you want to see.

The images I am printing are often in Lab color mode which makes the screen display the same regardless of my RGB Setup settings. The printout is the same with the above settings if I leave the image in Lab mode or if I do a profile to profile conversion from Lab to ColorMatch RGB or Lab to Adobe RGB before I print the file. The issue that seems to effect the printout quality with these settings most is what RGB Setup, or Space, is set to. Leaving RGB Setup set to ColorMatch RGB gives the best results.

The other thing I have discovered is that you get the same results if you have RGB Setup set to ColorMatch RGB or if you just change Space to ColorMatch RGB in the Print Dialog. For people who are working on images that are in the Adobe RGB color space, which is the space I use when I'm not using Lab, it will be easier for them to just set Space to ColorMatch RGB within the Epson print dialog and leave their RGB Setup set to Adobe RGB. That way they won't have to change their RGB Setup when they print something. That is now the way I work. I just set Space, in the Epson print dialog, to ColorMatch RGB.

In most cases for any particular setting, I found the image looked better, and closer to the image on my monitor, if my RGB Setup (or Space in the Epson dialog) were set to ColorMatch RGB. I have my Apple Colorsync monitor calibrated to 5000 and 1.8 (my recommended value for doing print work) using the hardware calibration built into the ColorSync monitor. I find this hardware calibration better than what I can get with Adobe Gamma. I thought that if I calibrated my monitor to 6500 and 2.2 (the same as Adobe RGB) this might change my results in some way. In theory it shouldn't because Photoshop is supposed to compensate for your monitor calibration based on the RGB Setup you choose. I tested that 6500 and 2.2 monitor calibration and still found I got the same best results during printing on the Epson 1200, and other Epson printers, when my RGB Setup (or Space) were set to ColorMatch.

I like the Epson 1270 the best so far of all the Epson printers I've tried. It is faster than the 1200 and EX and also does a nicer job on fine details and subtle gradations. I'd be glad to recommend it to anyone. I'll be doing more tests on exactly how to use it as a proofing device for the Light jet 5000 and other permanent pigment printers. Please let me know if any of you are using any of the more permanent inks, like Lysonic, and how you find the color gamut compared to the Epson inks and also if those 3rd party inks cause problems with the printer nozzles or other problems. Check out the August issue of Communication Arts for my extensive article on calibration and profile making. It will be posted here too later in the summer.

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