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Accessories Reviews

Epson stylus pro 4900 review

Ernesto Santos (esantos)

Keywords: epson, stylus, 4900, printer, paper, non_nikon

Page 2/5 show all pages

The 4900 arrived by carrier to my home as scheduled. Having previous received my 4000 by truck I knew what to expect. The driver unloaded the carton containing the printer which was shrink wrapped and strapped down to a wooden shipping palette. After signing the bill of lading and taking a deep breath I began to unpack the 4900. Epson designed the packaging to make this task as easy as possible. First you should crack open the small compartment on the top of the carton which is clearly marked. In this space you’ll find the manual and power cord. It is a good idea to put these in a safe place before you begin opening the rest of the carton. Unpacking was easy since Epson has designed the carton to open easily using some pop out plastic keepers on either side of the box. Once the top is slid off the printer is exposed cradled in Styrofoam and plastic sheeting. At this point you definitely will need an extra pair of hands to get the printer out of the box and onto the table. In my case I had to haul the printer up a flight of stairs to my digital darkroom on the second floor of my home.


Installing the Ink Cartridge

Setting up the Stylus Pro 4900 for the first time is a breeze. Simply connect the power cord to the printer, plug it into the wall socket (using a good quality surge protector of course), and turn it on using the power switch on the front panel control. After a short initialization you will get a read out on the LCD panel saying there are no inks installed. Take the included starter ink cartridges (80 ml capacity) and install them one at a time in their respective slots giving them a mild shake to mix the ink solution before they go into the printer. Once all the inks are installed it is a good idea to print a nozzle test before proceeding to the head alignment. This can all be done via the front panel control and with the new 2.5-inch color LCD screen all you have to do is follow the prompts. Once you get a nozzle check with all inks registering you can go ahead and do a print head alignment. This is a two step process where you first run the UNI-D (uni-directional) alignment process. When complete run the BI-D ALL alignment. With the alignment finished you are ready to install the software and connect the printer to your PC.

Any time I am going to install a new piece of hardware to my computer system I make it standard practice to check for the latest hardware drivers on the manufacturer’s website. You never know how old the drivers on the install CD are. Sure enough the Epson site had a new driver available for download as well as a firmware update. While I was there I also downloaded the latest version of a nice utility provided for their Pro line of printers the Epson Remote Panel.

Updating the firmware was a simple process using the Remote Panel utility and then I was ready to install the driver package. Again, not much to report here since all went smoothly. Start the installation, follow the prompts, and connect the printer via USB when instructed to do so. Within a matter of minutes the 4900 was operating and I was ready to test.




One of the major improvements of the 4900 over the 4880 and previous models is the new color LCD screen on the printer control panel. Not only is it bright and vivid, it actually is very helpful and sends coherent information to the operator. I think you’ll find that this is a welcome change and makes operating the 4900 a breeze. You may even prefer, after familiarizing yourself with the menu, to operate the printer primarily from this control panel - at least this was the case with me.


4900 Printer Control Panel and LCD Screen

Along with this new LCD screen you’ll find controls for setting the paper cutter on or off, switching between sheet and roll feed, initiating the self-feeding of roll paper, feeding or discharging the paper electronically, and switching between photo and matte black inks. Gone are the days of having to manually feed paper and set the paper alignment. With the 4900 you simply insert the paper (whether roll or heavy cut sheet stock in the rear feed slot) and press a button. The printer does the rest. No longer do you have to release a paper lever that was on the top right of the old models. When using the paper cassette all you have to do is make sure you load the paper with the print side face down and adjust the two edge guides inside the cassette.


LCD Screen

The home screen of the LCD gives you all the critical information regarding printer condition in a graphical manner. Take a quick glance and you immediately know the configuration of the printer for paper and cutting, the remaining levels of ink, and the remaining capacity of the two ink maintenance tanks. The 4900 has two maintenance tanks – one is to store ink from the overspray when printing borderless prints. If you never print borderless prints you can expect to never have to replace this tank. The second one is for storing the usual waste ink used to clear clogged print nozzles. As you can see from the image above the printer is telling the user that it is set for sheet paper (when a roll is installed you’ll see a roll icon), the matte black ink is primed and ready, and all ink levels and tank capacities are at operational levels. There is also an icon indicator (scissors) when you turn on the built-in paper cutter.


Menu Syste

Here is an example of the Paper Setup portion of the menu system accessed at the printer control panel. I think it is a good idea to always select the paper type (if listed) in the menu after it is loaded. Although you can also select this as the Media Type in the printer driver software I have had instances where the printer asks to confirm the paper selected in this menu before it begins to print. To avert this I always go through this short exercise after I load paper.

The Epson LFP Remote Panel 2 is a useful program that is available for download at the Epson website. Aside from being a one-stop-shop to help you manage your printer it offers what I think is a valuable Custom Paper Setup feature that works well with the printer’s control panel.


Epson LFP Remote Panel – Custom Paper Setup Screen

Here I set up the specific paper settings recommended by a third party paper manufacturer. It allows you to set the Media Type, Paper Thickness, Platen Gap Setting, and other adjustments. The beauty of this is that you can save these settings with a custom name and recall them whenever needed. All you have to do is select the correct Custom Name in the drop down list and click on Activate. The printer control panel then indicates on the LCD that this Custom Paper configuration is currently active. One word of caution – you must return to this screen when done printing on the media specific to this setup and re-activate the “Standard” or default settings to get the printer back to the previous settings. I really find all these improvements to be a welcomed change over the old 4XXX models and how they handled media settings and printer configuration.

(4 Votes )
Page 2/5 show all pages

Originally written on May 4, 2011

Last updated on June 3, 2014


Stephen W Burnes (in4apenny) on June 16, 2013

Thanks Ernesto. I am in the research stage, wanting to upgrade from my R1900. I am leaning towards the 4900. I wonder whether the designer edition for me is worth considering.. I just want my prints to look as close to what I see on my monitor as possible

Frederick W. Ming (optimist13) on February 9, 2013

Ernesto I am jumping into the fray as a novice nikonian and a green photographer (using nikon 7000 w. for 2 years and printing for just over a year on a starter epson artisan 837). I've been able to coax some pretty fine 4x6 prints from the artisan but now that I'm ready to go to larger prints, I'm looking at my options. Other than the purchase price, what other factors would you take into account if trying to decide between the 3880 and the 4900. I live in Bermuda, which also comes with high shipping costs and distance from repair shops. Thanks Fred

User on December 30, 2012

I'd have to agree with you Ernesto in your evaluation. I've had my 4900 for almost a year now and everything you say about it (and the Signature Worthy Papers) is true. I use the Premium Lustre paper for my traditional prints delivered to customers, for things such as portraits and have fallen in love with Cold Press Natural for much of my fine art work, as well as a nice 'upgrade' for portraits. The 4900 is a true workhorse and a pleasure to use.

User on November 15, 2011

Ernesto, Thank you very much. Excellent on-hands review... Looks like my old faithful 4000 is soon to be replaced. Thanks for the bonus insights on the new papers as well.

Alan Thomas (mobius32) on June 26, 2011

Very practical and helpful review. I am thinking about the 3880 but, if I'm correct, it seems that the 4900 has, in some instances at least, better image quality (and from what I've read the 3880 has very good image quality)?

Ernesto Santos (esantos) on May 7, 2011

Nikonians Resources Writer. Recognized for his outstanding reviews on printers and printing articles. Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas, including Landscape Photography Awarded for his extraordinary accomplishments in Landscape Photography. His work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian. Winner of the Best of Nikonians Images 2018 Annual Photo Contest

Hi Jan, I have not tested the R3000 but you should expect similar print performance as the 4900 since it uses the same inkset - Ultrachrome HDR. You can expect a printer build somewhere between the R2880 and the 3880 since this new printer uses 29.5 ml ink cartridges as opposed to ~12 for the R2880 and 80 ml for the 3880.

Jan Gemeinhardt (fotobuff) on May 6, 2011

Ernesto, thank you for Epson review on the 4900. I am keeping my eye out for a new Epson printer as I have the old 2200. Do you know much about the new 3000? I was recently in Orlando at the PSW and speaking to an Epson rep he said the new 3000 is awesome.

Rob Puller (Robp) on May 5, 2011

Your review is informative and appealingly presented, Enesto. It displays writing skill and relevant material selection. Unfortunately, it makes me contemplate replacing my beloved 3880, which I could never justify on a cost basis, but might have to consider on a "image" basis.

Mick Klass (mklass) on May 5, 2011

As a semi-professional involved in all manner of photographic genres including portraiture, sports, commercial, and events coverage, Mick is always ready to help Nikonians by sharing his deep knowledge of photography and printing. Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Ribbon awarded for his most generous donation in 2017 Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the 2017-2018 fundraising campaign

Nice review, Ernesto. This printer sounds truly exceptional. I also got a lot out of the comments on the Signature Worthy papers. I just receive the Sample Pack, and have been using VFA, so it will be great to compare, although I am printing on a lowly R1900.