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Accessories Reviews

Color Management and the Epson Stylus Pro 7900 Printer

Hal Becker (HBB)


Keywords: epson, stylus, 7900, printer, paper, non_nikon

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The Epson Pro 7900 and Pro 9900 printers are identical in almost every respect, except their width, weight and a few other minor details. The same instruction manual comes with both models.

I ordered the Pro 7900 from an out of state dealer for four reasons:

  1. Very competitive price.
  2. No sales tax.
  3. No shipping charge.
  4. Four hundred dollars worth of roll paper of my choice included in the quoted price.

Epson was also offering a rebate at the time. I suggest shopping around for the best price, and waiting for rebates if possible: It pays dividends.

The Pro 7900 weighs 222 pounds (100.9 kg) including the printer, stand and paper basket, but not the ink cartridges. It comes in one very large box that requires delivery by a truck with a lift gate. I paid a $75.00 US charge for the lift gate delivery truck.

When mounted on the stand, the Pro 7900 is 48 inches tall (1,218 mm), 53.4 inches wide (1,356 mm) and 26.26 inches deep (667 mm). It is considerably larger in all dimensions, and heavier, than the Pro 7800 that preceded it. Two or more (Epson recommends four) capable people are required to lift the printer out of the shipping carton and place it on the assembled stand. The Pro 7900 stand has been improved over previous large format printers, as there is much less side to side vibration when it is printing.

If the printer is to be used some distance from the unloading area (down a long hallway, or on another floor) I suggest carrying the printer and the stand to this area for assembly and mounting. For long distances, a wheeled dolly for the printer would be very useful. The size of the shipping carton precludes moving it indoors for unpacking and assembly, unless a freight door, or double doors without a middle jamb are available.

Once on the stand, the unit was easily rolled into the house and on to the designated room. Epson suggests at least twelve inches clear space on all sides. This is a sizeable printer and space should be carefully considered before ordering.


 

The stand consists of two sides and a lateral strut, which are easily assembled using the included hex wrench. An instruction manual holder is clipped onto one of the sides, a couple of cable clips are inserted, and assembly is complete.

Once in final position, the cloth paper basket is assembled and attached to the printer. This basket folds up and out of the way under the printer when not in use. The casters should also be locked at this time to keep the printer from moving while operating.

All moveable components are held in place for shipping by several strips of blue tape which should be removed, including a small tab that holds the print head in place.

Startup

I always power my printers through an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for several reasons:

  1. To protect the printer from power line surges, which are very common in this area.
  2. To protect the printer from power outages (also very common here) while printing, which wastes paper and ink.
  3. To assure that the printer will not be shut down prematurely. Epson recommends always shutting the unit down by using the power on/off button on the console, assuring an orderly shutdown procedure. Power strips and externally switched circuits should not be used.

Once the power cord is connected, the printer is turned on at the console, the “Install Ink Cartridge” message appears in the LCD display, and the ink cartridge doors (one left and one right) are automatically opened. It is not possible to open the ink doors manually as in previous Epson printer models. The Pro 7900 (and Pro 9900) ink cartridges are pressurized and must be depressurized prior to removing them. Hence, the change in door opening procedure. When replacing exhausted ink cartridges, a button on the console is used to access an on-screen utility and select left, right, or both doors for opening.

The Pro 7900 uses eleven ink colors. An initial set of eleven 110 ml cartridges are included and installed at this time. The ink colors and their abbreviations include:

Left Side Right Side
1) Cyan (C) 7) Vivid Magenta (VM)
2) Orange (O) 8) Light Black (LB)
3) Yellow (Y)  9) Green (G)
4) Light Cyan (LC)  10) Light Light black (LLK)
5) Matte Black (MK)  11) Vivid Light Magenta (VLM)
6) Photo Black (PB)  

Like all color printers, the eleven 110 ml cartridges will not be used at the same rate, depending on individual users images and printing practices. Replacement cartridges are available in 150, 350, and 700 ml sizes. As the 110 ml cartridges are depleted, selection of replacement cartridges can be determined: smaller cartridges for the less frequently used colors, and larger capacity cartridges for the more frequently used colors. I am not a production printer, and have settled on the 150 ml cartridges for the less frequently used colors, and the 350 ml cartridges for the more frequently used colors.

Prior to insertion into the designated slot, each ink cartridge should be rocked gently form end to end to distribute the ink pigments in the liquid vehicle. Cartridges should not be vigorously shaken, as this may introduce air bubbles in the pigment/vehicle mixture that might cause problems later as the bubbles make their way through the lines to the print head.

Epson ink cartridges have a shelf life of two years, and a use-within period of six months for installed units. It is possible to remove cartridges, gently agitate them, and replace them should the six month period expire before they are depleted.

Once all ink cartridges have been installed and the doors closed, the ink charging procedure begins. This procedure will take several minutes

At this time, the printer can be connected to either a USB interface (1.1 and 2.0 compatible) or an Ethernet 10/100 Base T cable. The Pro 7900 manual suggests a maximum cable length of “10 feet (6 m?)”. I have been using a USB 2.0 cable approximately 16 feet long (5 m) with no problems of any kind.

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Originally written on May 7, 2010

Last updated on June 6, 2014

Hal Becker Hal Becker (HBB)

Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

Phoenix, USA
Basic, 8923 posts

11 comments

Robert DeBellis (tsafplnikon071012) on September 11, 2012

I have owned this printer for 1.9 yrs. I went on vacation for 2 wks and when I got back I had permanent clog on the Cyan nozzle. No matter how cleanings, normal or power, it will not clear. The printer has had light use since I've owned it. I've run through about 400 mls of C/VM ink to try to solve this. The cost to have it repaired to repair is astronomical, exceeding $2200 ( $1800 parts at $175 labor). To add insult to injury, Epson won't allow users to purchase parts or the software required to do the repairs myself. I can not in good conscience recommend this printer to anyone unless they are rich. A boat or a drug more economical. Bob DeBellis

Hal Becker (HBB) on December 20, 2010

Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

Martin: Sorry for the delay in responding to your question. There is so little action here, I forget to check. The 7900 comes in a very large box strapped to a wooden shipping pallet. The printer is 54 inches wide, by 48 inches tall by 28 inches deep, and the box is correspondingly larger. The printer weighs over 200 pounds and you will need help in assembling it on the stand and moving it into its designated space. Let me know by private email if you have any additional questions. I check that daily. Regards, HBB in Phoenix, Arizona

Martin Best (wildpix) on November 15, 2010

Hi, many thanks to all for some great info. Have decided on the 7900 as a result. Onkly one issue, Im in kenya, and can get various delivery options(greatly varying costs as well), but i need to know box dimensions to best ship. can anyone help? cheers martin

Hal Becker (HBB) on September 13, 2010

Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

Gilbert: Sorry, I haven't tried to create custom settings for metallic media, but am aware that there are several traps to avoid when setting anything up on the P7900, including: 1) Paper type in both the driver and on the printer must match. 2) Ink type on printer must be appropriately set: Matte Black or Photo Black. 3) Roll vs Sheet feed must match on printer and in driver. 4) Have you downloaded the most recent P7900 driver and LFP firmware? 5) ... I stick pretty closely to the Epson papers for most of my printing. Suggest you post your question on the Printer Forum and see if Ernesto or others can help. More members visit the Printer Forum than come here, as this is so hard to find. Regards, Hal

User on September 12, 2010

Hi Hal, great detailed review. I am a 7900 owener myself and am loving it. Up to now I have been using only Epson media but have recently purchased some new metallic media to replicate the old cibachrome prints in the wet world. I have been supplied with a .icc profile for this new media but have not been successful for creating a custom media setting that details this paper. Just like I would select Epson Premium glossy 250 paper and all it's associated settings. When I use the Epson LFP remote panel 2 application to create a customer paper setup, i get an error message that say the printer is not ready. Not sure if it's a communication error with the printer or if I am missing a step in the procedure. Have you tried this with any success? thx Gilbert.

Hal Becker (HBB) on June 21, 2010

Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

Mark: Thank you for your kind words. They are appreciated. The reason I dry my prints for as long as possible, is to avoid the "outgassing" problem I mentioned briefly toward the end of the 7900 review. In the early days of my large format printing, I dried them for a couple days or so and took them to the framer for matting and framing. After a year or so, a couple of framed prints came back to the framer with a ghost image on the inside of the glass. It was hard to see at first, but it was there. We looked at a number of framed prints still on the gallery wall, and there it was also. Areas where the ink was densest/darkest in color were the most visible, while lighter colored areas were not so visible. The framer opened up the frame, washed the glass and put it back together again. Once I started using the longer drying time, the problem disappeared. Outgassing is a function of several variaables; ink/paper combination, and most significantly, the humidity in the room where the print hangs. Very dry climates, e.g., Phoenix, where the humidity today is 11.0 percent, accelerate the evaporation of the vehicles (liquids) used to convey the ink to the paper. Higher humidity climates will slow the process down accordingly. In my observation, matte papers seem to dry quicker than coated papers, which take longer. Coated papers have a series of resin costings which absorb the ink and retard the drying time. Matte papers are also coated, but it is much different than the resins used on coated stock. If you are selling your framed prints, you may want to consider a test to see if the outgassing occurs, and how long it takes. I trust you always place a matte between the print and the glass such that the print never contacts the glass, or plastic in your case. Somewhere on the Epson web site is a two page discussion of the outgassing issue. I haven't looked for it in a while, but if you can locate it, it is worth reading. Thanks again for your comments. Regerds, HBB in Phoenix

mark richman (mdjak) on June 21, 2010

That was an excellent and compelling writeup. First, thank you very much for taking the time to do so. I started with a 13x19 Canon printer some years back, graduating to the Epson 4000 followed a year or so later by the 4800. They were and are workhorses, but I always wanted larger. Size does matter. So, once I heard of the rebates, I too shopped online and found the printer for an excellent price, no tax, free shipping, and a very handsome rebate which Epson promptly made good on. The 7900 was delivered and it indeed took four people to carry inside and place on the stand. As you state, setup is straight forward and well documented. I absolutely love mine. I did not update the firmware but probably should, I don't use mine that often as I'm strictly amateur. When I have family and friends over, I take portraits, group and single, with my 5DII, and then come inside and print them. I haven't found it necessary to allow drying time at all, though I am in no way challenging your knowledge on same. I buy large poster frames at AI Friedman which have plastic instead of glass, so perhaps that explains the lack of problems. My wife bought me the 30" Rotatrim cutter at B&H for Father's Day, but gave it to me weeks ago. It is a must. Thanks again, Hal, for a great review. Mark

Hal Becker (HBB) on June 21, 2010

Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

Jim: Agreed ... rolling the protective coating on canvas is a bother at best, but worth the effort. Should I find myself printing a lot of canvas, I will investigate a LPHV spray rig. Meanshile, I found that using the smaller, six inch wide foam rollers eliminates the lint problem entirely. I dilute and thoroughly mix the material as recommended and apply three thin coats, letting them dry between coats. When first rolled on, you will see streaks and small bubbles, which do flatten out as it dries. It took a bit of experimenting to discover proper technique with these rollers, but it all worked out nicely in the end. Yes, I always let prints, including canvas, dry between acid free blotter paper sheets for at least a week or more, if possible, before using coatings of any kind. So far, I have not experienced the ink transfer process you describe. While I have tried the canned, spray-on coating on Velvet Fine Art prints, I do not use it for two reasons: 1) It lightens the deep, dark, rich black backgrounds sightly that the P7900 can produce on matte paper with matte black ink. 2) All of my paper prints are matted and framed under glass, so a protective coating is not necessary. I understand the clogging issue. I had a P4000 for a couple years that would clog just by looking at it. I saw large air bubbles in the lines that I suspect were part of the problem. No ink in the lines will show up just like a clog ... missing colors ... right? I'm just guessing at this. Long story short, Epson, to their great credit, swapped the 4000 out for me three or four times at no charge, no questions asked, sending me a 4800 the last time. I had already decided to move to the 7800 by that time, so I sold the 4800 to a friend. A year or so on the 7800, skipping the 7880, and on to the 7900 which has been the best one yet. Thanks for your kind comments. Let me know if you have any additional questions. Regards, HBB in Phoenix, Arizona

Jim Stamates (Jimi) on June 21, 2010

Hal, Lots of great information. Thanks for taking the time to write and post this. I'm still with one of the first 7600s to reach our shores and I've printed so many 100 foot rolls I could start a tube company. Clogging is a problem on these earlier models. I do shake the heck out of the ink if it has been sitting a while. (2 month trips out of country) then I let them sit overnight before printing. (works if you have back up ink around too long, too) Also, I've printed on canvas and from my experience I hate rolling on coatings. No matter how careful I am I always get specks of fuzz? and have to pick them off. But the big problem I had was the roller would pick up the blue ink and lay it back down, noticeable on white. Now the question, I use paper between the prints and dry them for a day or two, longer if I have the time. Are you saying you have to dry them between paper for a week or two? That long? Thanks again,

Hal Becker (HBB) on June 21, 2010

Hal is an expert in several areas, including CLS Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources. Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015

Kristofor: Ideally, you want to view the dried print (at least 24 hours) under the same illumination that will exist at the final site on a wall where it will hang. A color temperature meter is very useful for determining this. Here I have a set of tungsten track lights at about 3200 Kelvin, and another room with overhead fluorescents at about 6000 Kelvin. The appearance of a print when viewed under these two sources is dramatically different. This has proven to be a very useful exercise to demonstrate the point about the color temperature of a light source and its effect on a print. Natural daylight around 5500 Kelvin is probably a good starting point. One can adjust from there depending on the final site for the print. I have tested a few of the relatively new compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL), rated at 5000 Kelvin, and found that they start much higher (one sample at 6000 Kelvin plus), and drift down slowly over a few hundred hours to their rated color temperature. Color management and color temperature workflow are like photography itself: A journey with no conceivable destination. Thanks for your comments. HBB in Phoenix, Arizona

Kristofor Jensen (kkjensen) on June 21, 2010

Great write-up! Is there a particular kind of home (or studio) type of lighting that you prefer for consistency? With the recent flux of compact fluorescent lights on the market I've been appalled at the variance in their color temperatures and am not sure what direction to go. Halogen?

G