Epson have two lovely A3+, 19″ x 13″ inkjet printers, the R2400 and the R1800. How do you make a choice between these two printers, given that both have pros and cons.
The photographer, designer and artist certainly can’t say that Epson is ignoring them. Apart from the huge range of A4/Letter printers, the lovely A2+ 4800 and the large format printers, Epson now offers the choice of two A3+ printers with very similar specifications, on the surface. The A3+ size of printer is ideal from many perspectives. It is small enough not to dominate a small office or studio space, yet large enough to proof printer for bigger sizes, large enough to meet the complete printing needs of many photographers and a good size for doing conceptual and layout prints for most graphic designers. In a sense the current situation of two printers in this size from Epson is just a continuation of what was the case with the 1270 and the 2000, etc. However, what is unique is just how close these two printers are in so many respects.
Both the R1800 and R2400 offer print resolutions of up to 5760 x 1440, use more than six inks, have 1440 print head nozzles, do border free printing and have multiple paper paths that can cope with both sheet and roll media. Both also have FireWire (IEEE1394) and USB 2.0 connectivity and both are nicely faster than previous Epson printers, though the R1800 is the faster of the two.
The differences are the key to working out who should buy which printer.
The R1800 uses the Ultrachrome Hi-Gloss ink set, that comprises photo black, matt black, cyan, magenta, yellow, red and blue, with a gloss optimizer, for a total of eight ink cartridges. Note that both the gloss and matt inks are loaded at all times with separate print heads so there is no need to swap these and thus waste ink in cleaning cycles. This ink set is optimized for gloss photo printing and the red and blue inks nicely expand the color gamut for eye-popping color and a good fit to transparency film color space. The R1800 also has the smallest dot size of just 1.5pl, avoiding the need for light cyan and light magenta inks. The R1800 can print on printable CD/DVDs using a carrier and a front feed slot.
The R2400 uses the Ultrachrome K3 ink set that is also used in Epson’s large format printers. This comprises swappable gloss and matt photo blacks (with the attendant ink waste when swapping), light black and light light black, for three grades of black/grey, cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan and light magenta, which are needed because the ink dot size is 3pl. So with the R2400 you get a small color gamut, though one identical to Epson’s big printers, but you get great monochrome printing. The R2400 can also accept sheets of thick material up to 1.2mm thick.
Both work beautifully. Setup is fast and easy. Both come with extensive software suites. Both print very fast for Epsons, though the R1800 is the faster. Print quality of both is stunning. Really, it is amazing how far inkjet printing has come in such a short time. The R1800 offers eye popping color and great results. It is easy to switch between matt and glossy papers because you do not have to swap inks. CD/DVD printing works fine and is very convenient. The R2400 also has amazing print quality, especially on matt papers. In advanced BW printing mode using the three black inks, the results are lovely.
So the photographer with more interest in color than BW will likely be very happy with the R1800. It is cheaper, has great color, prints CD/DVDs and offers excellent print longevity of 110 years on Epson Enhanced Matte Paper and 104 years on Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper. Likewise the graphic designer for most purposes and the digital artist who works color should be happy with the R1800. The R2400 is ideal for the monochrome photographer. It is also perfect for anyone who needs to locally proof images that they will eventually print on the bigger Epson printers. Also the digital artist who wants to use thicker materials should look at the R2400.
So neither of these two printers does it all in one package. For most people their needs will point them towards one printer or the other. A few people with very diverse interests will be torn between the two. A thing to remember with the R2400 is that it can be expensive in black ink if you swap between matt and gloss papers frequently because the printer will go into a clean cycle every time you switch cartridges.
It is great that Epson offer users this choice of two excellent printers. The great plus of the R2400 is that it brings the same ink set as the large format printers down to the A3+ level. The R1800 is a photo printer of great quality. For some, it will be a tough choice. Given the price difference, it is an important choice to get right.