Epson has officially announced a new 8-color pigment-based inkset called UltraChrome K3 and four new printers that use it. The printers are:
- The Stylus Photo R2400, a 13x19-inch (A3) printer that replaces the Stylus Photo 2200. It will ship this month with an estimated street price of US$849 in the U.S.
- The Stylus Pro 4800, a 17-inch wide-format printer that is to sell for an estimated street price of US$1,995 in the U.S. An Epson USA press release indicates it's shipping now, though the Epson USA web site lists it as coming available in "Early June 2005." The Stylus Pro 4800 Pro Edition, which includes a 10/100 BaseT network card and ColorBurst software RIP, is to ship in July 2005 at an estimated street price of US$2,495 in the U.S.
- The Stylus Pro 7800, a 24-inch wide-format printer that will ship in the fall of 2005 at an estimated street price of US$2,995 in the U.S.
- The Stylus Pro 9800, a 44-inch wide-format printer that will ship in the fall of 2005 at an estimated street price of US$4,995 in the U.S.
The new UltraChrome K3 inkset draws its name from its three black inks (known as black, light black, and light light black), and the inks themselves, both black and color, are completely new formulations.
The new black inks allow the UltraChrome K3 printers to print both color and true neutral black-and-white prints with one inkset. Epson is emphasizing several improvements in the K3 inkset compared to the previous UltraChrome inks, including an extremely wide color gamut, greatly reduced metamerism, much lower levels of bronzing and gloss differential, and significantly greater scratch resistance.
Epson Stylus Pro R2400 (Photo courtesy Epson USA)
In a closed-door presentation by Epson at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) 2005 trade show this past February, we saw a range of prints made with the new inkset, and they were extremely impressive. If real-world results look similar to the samples we saw, these printers represent a big step forward in fine-art archival inkjet printing. Mainly, we were struck by the more saturated colors, which looked like results from the best dye-based printers, and the smoothness and neutrality of the beautiful black-and-white examples.
Though no definitive tests have been completed yet, Epson's representative at PMA also indicated that the company expects prints made with the UltraChrome K3 inkset to have the same, or possibly better, archival longevity as prints made with the original UltraChrome inks.
The British website Photo-I has published Epson's press releases for the new printers, as well as several photographs of prints made with the new inkset. Luminous Landscape and Digital Outback Photo also have brief write-ups on the new printers.
Epson Stylus Pro 4800 (Photo courtesy Epson USA)
Epson Stylus Pro 7800 (Photo courtesy Epson USA)
Epson Stylus Pro 9800 (Photo courtesy Epson USA)