More on the Epson 780
information on the Epson 780 (now available for about $70) is from Jeremy Bruskotter.
After Jim's first e-mail on the 780 a few months back, I decided to
"bite the bullet" and get one. About the same time, I finally made it over to Galen Rowell's gallery in Emeryville, California (I'm living in Oakland only a few miles away). Rowell hung for comparison a
traditional Ilfochrome print and a Digital LightJet print. There was no question that the LightJet had more accurate color, better rendition of shadow details, and (and this
is the kicker) it was MUCH sharper.
I decided to stack my 780 up against the LightJet to see how things came out. I had an 8x10 image printed on a LightJet printer and had them save the scan to a CD. I then printed the same image on my 780.
The result- The
two prints are nearly identical! The color rendition seems slightly better in the LightJet, and the paper used was definitely of a higher caliber, but you could not tell the difference in sharpness
with the naked eye.
A few more observations:
One of the downsides to both the LightJet & Epson prints is that color saturation is not quite what it is in a really nice ilfochrome. I've been
to both Rowell's & Thomas Mangelsen's Galleries recently, and Mangelsen's Ilfochrome's have far better color saturation. The problem is that ilfochromes are expensive, far more contrasty, and it's almost impossible
to find a printer that will really do an exceptional job. Also, increased saturation is not always a good thing- especially with wildlife and portraiture. In addition, they now have a super-gloss paper available for
LightJet prints that should help to increase visible color saturation.
A minor annoyance with the 780 is that when your printing at the highest quality settings it can be incredibly slow! Unfortunately for
me, all of my USB ports on my computer are in use, so I've been forced to run the printer through the printer port (Parallel interface). Using this configuration, high res prints can take up to 25 minutes for a single
8x10! However, unless you are printing in large quantities, this should only be a minor annoyance.
All in all I would recommend the Epson 780 as a wonderful way to make high-quality, photographic prints and
save a bundle on printing!