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EPSON Stylus Photo 950 Printer Review

The new Epson's line of photo printers which consists of Stylus Photo 950 and Stylus Photo 2100 printers was already reviewed by my colleagues. I'm not going to describe design of the printing head and other technical pecularities once again, I will just share my impressions of the EPSON Stylus Photo 950 printer after using it for a week. This printer, which is flagship among the A4 models, is unusually big - as big as almost A3 models, for example, EPSON Stylus Photo EX. It's because it uses 7 individual capacious cartridges for each color: 2 black, cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, light magenta. As this model allows for borderless printing it's necessary to shift the printing head out of the A4 sheet borders; that is why this printer is so wide. Besides, the printer has a separate paper roll holder and a sheet feeder, it can be connected with a paper cutter and catcher for automatic trimming of roll media and a tray for printing on CDs or cardboard. The printer I tested has 2 identical black cartridges, but the inks are consumed at a different rate. Probably, like in the 2100 model designed for printing on A3 sheets, it uses cartridges with different black inks, however neither the description nor the driver mention it. As the black inks are identical, it's difficult to say which cartridge is used for one or another print-out. Reportedly, the Stylus Photo 2100 uses also gray ink - a response of Epson to Lyson, but only in the A3 model.

All cartridges have chips controlling the ink consumption, that is why you can replace the cartridge coming to the end in time not to spoil an expensive large sheet of paper.

As I have said, the format can be really large, because only the is limited, and the length can be as great as you want. The Photo Quicker 3.1 program coming with this printer easily solves problems of how to place photos on a sheet of paper. Next to photos you can look through their shooting parameters. It's also possible to print shooting or other data into the shots. However, the buttons Apply to a certain shot and Appry To All have identical results in case of printing on roll paper and they apply a chosen option for all shots of the series.

In my opinion, the most interesting modes are fixed width ones: horizontal and vertical. In this case an image gets scaled for the whole width, while the length is a result of it. The program is able to evade limitations connected with length of panoramas. For example, the panorama 222 cm long was divided by the program into 5 pages and printed out on the A4 roll paper without borders at 37 minutes. That was my own record in panorama printing on A4 models and I could have held a new one if the light magenta ink hadn't finished.

Note that the inks are monitored not only before the printing starts but also during it. The indicator warned me the ink was finishing during printing the panorama. The roll printing is very convenient, it allows us to get classic photo formats saving on paper, as well as to organize flow production. It's especially important for 10x15 photos on 10cm wide roll paper. The menu contains a wide choice of various roll paper, but I have seen just few on the shelves (10 cm wide, A4 and A3).

The printer is equipped with a cutter and a finished prints collector. The cutting precision is very high. You can calibrate and adjust it.

However, EPSON has some problems to solve. Although roll paper is supplied independently from sheet one, and it's unnecessary to replace one feeder with the other, like it was in the previous models (870), the printer doesn't inform a computer which feeder contains paper at the moment, and you can accidentally start printing on the wrong paper. Taking into account a bi-directional interface with a computer, I hope it will soon be corrected.

CD printing

There is a special tray for printing on 5" and 3" CDs. Images for CDs are made with the Print CD program.

Its capabilities will satisfy even a very demanding user. However, do not rely on it if you want just a fragment of a photo to be printed out on a CD. The problem is that any photo loaded into the program will be adjusted to the disc size. If you choose just a part of it, whatever resolution of the original photo is, only the recalculated and reduced to the disc size copy will be enlarged. It may result in squares on an image. That is why you should cut out the fragment you need in another editor and only after that process it in this program.

Original image Image printed out on a CD, after being scaled

Printing quality

The new printing head allows for the maximum of 2880 x 1440 dpi. The minimal drop volume is 2 pl. The photos show shots of a gray field made with a microscope at 10% absorption, printed in 2880 and 1440 dpi. To estimate the scale we also shot a stage micrometer at the same resolution. The step between the long lines with figures is equal to 0.1 mm. This is the limit a human eye is able to discern from the distance of 25 cm. Although there is difference between the resolutions of 2880 and 1440 in both cases the resolution is much higher than can be discerned with the naked eye.

For subjective estimation of the printing quality we carried out the following experiment. We printed out photos of 10x15 cm of the same object made with a 6Mpixel camera, a 3Mpixel one and a 3Mpixel one recording half of a frame. And then we offered that strangers estimate the quality. The most of them didn't choose the photos made from the largest frame, though if you look through the magnifier you will be able to see which photo was made of the best-quality original shot.

One more criterion for quality estimation is a scanning resolution at which it's possible to get a high-quality photo without using special methods of raster deletion. In our case it was 600 dpi. I.e. twice greater than necessary to discern all details of a print-out.

Scanned at 600 dpi.

Scanned at 300 dpi.


According to the size and price, the printer is meant for small photo studios. It allows printing high-quality photos at one stroke, a series of photos quite quickly and decorating a CD with source frames. It will also be interesting for studios dealing with photo digital processing. Taking into account that A3 print-outs are expensive, it's better to have two printers instead of using a wide model for printing small photos.

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