200 Words on the P20000: Our Take on Epson's Newest Large Format Printer (So Far)

When the 64" Epson 20000 was announced in late 2015 we knew that we wanted one—based both on its specs and on our experience working with prints made with one of its related pre-beta printers. After several delays they finally started shipping late last summer. Ours arrived in August of last year and has been in continuous service since. We plan on supplementing it with a 10000—the same printer with a 44" capacity. 

These printers are fast (Epson claims they are up to 2.8x faster and that seems about right) and deliver noticeably sharper results. Now configured as a 10-channel printer (9 in use at any given time) the extra gray channel makes a difference.

The new nozzle cleaning design has thus far worked exceptionally well. This was often a trouble spot with our previous pair of Epson 11880s. Time will tell....

The paper loading and take-up designs are both big improvements, making Paula's life easier, especially when she is handling 60" rolls.

The device itself is much larger than the 11880 that it replaced and is clearly built to commercial rather than prosumer standards.

Given the market life of the 11880 and the lower sales volume that these larger printers are likely to see we expect that the 20000 will be the market standard for at least the next few years. 

Here's ours on our loading dock, with Leslie for a scale reference:

 
 

Curiosity piqued? Order a print on the new 20000 online now. You may also want to check out our digital printing checklist--a guide for those unfamiliar with our printing workflow. 

 

Digital Printing Checklist: Top 10 Details to Sort Out

Interested in making beautiful, archival photographs but not sure where to begin?
 

We've outlined the 10 most important details you will need to sort out when you begin any digital printing project. 

Digital Printing Checklist

✓ Identify the source of your print.

Prints can be made from a digital file, film negative or slide, piece of original artwork, or existing photograph.

To ensure optimal image quality, digital files should be uncompressed, ideally in TIFF format though PSDs are also acceptable. If no edits have been made to the digital file you may also provide the raw/DNG file. Because jpegs are compressed they rarely do well in sizes over 11x14, roughly speaking, but a print under that size can usually be made from a JPG without issue. If you have a file in another format, please call or email us directly to discuss what may be possible in terms of printing.

In order to make a print from a negative, slide, flat art, existing photograph, or other document it must first be scanned. The size and associated cost of the scan is determined by your print size.

✓ Decide on a final print size.

The size of your print is one of two factors determining your print cost. If you are printing from a digital file the file size and resolution may limit how large you can take it. We will usually ask to see the file in advance to confirm that your print size is appropriate.

You may also want to consider whether you plan to have the print matted and/or framed. Customers are often surprised to see how much larger their work appears when several inches of matting is added. You may find it helpful to begin with the final dimensions of what you would like to hang on the wall, and work backwards from there.

✓ Consider your aspect ratio.

This is closely related to the bullet above but worth highlighting. We frequently receive requests for prints made in an aspect ratio that differs from the aspect ratio of the source file. For example, making an 8x10 print of a family portrait taken on a digital camera will likely need significant cropping as the digital image has a different aspect ratio.

Oftentimes cropping can be done with little issue but it depends on the content of the image. We can advise you on what is and is not possible for a specific image but it is worth considering your aspect ratio if you have already purchased a frame for the print, or you cannot tweak your print size for another reason.

✓ Choose a paper type and finish.

Your paper selection is the other factor affecting your final print cost. Our standard tier of papers are Epson Premium Photo papers. These papers are acid-free, archival, and come in three finish options--glossy, luster, and matte. If you prefer to make your print(s) on a fine art or watercolor paper, you can choose from our wide selection of fine art papers, which come in a variety finishes, tones, and textures.

Not sure which paper is right for you? Not to worry! Our experienced team can work with you one-on-one, in person or by phone, to better understand the look you envision and make suitable recommendations for your project.

Have you made prints in the past and prefer a specific type paper that we don’t carry? We will do our best to source any paper you need. Note, however, that manufacturers are always evolving their selections and some papers previously available may now be discontinued. Print pricing may vary for specially sourced materials.

✓ Decide whether or not your print should have a border.

This question is often answered by considering what your final intentions are for the print. If you plan on matting and/or framing the finished print, it is best to leave a quarter-inch border on all sides. Prints destined for face mounting are typically trimmed to edge but that is not required. Some clients also elect to leave a wide border around an image as an alternative to matting for a clean and simple finish.   

Borders up to 1” incur no added cost. Borders that exceed 1” will be added into the overall dimensions and relevant print cost. (A 20x24 print with 2” borders will be treated as a 24x28 print on your paper of choice.)

✓  Identify any retouching or restoration you would like made to the image prior to printing.

We will make your print to match the original image you provide unless you indicate otherwise. Our skilled digital team can make any modifications to your image, from minor retouching to significant restoration and editing, if you desire. Please be sure to describe any alterations you would like made to the image using as much detail as possible. If your project requires extensive editing, we may recommend exhibition-grade printing, which includes two proofs.

✓ Include a match print if you have one.

If we are making a print for you for the first time it can be helpful to provide us with a tangible example of what you are hoping to achieve. For digital reproductions of existing artwork or photographs, the originals will serve this function. If you have done your own editing in Photoshop or Lightroom, however, you may find that what you see on your computer screen or tablet does not render identically on our monitors. A letter-sized match print provides our printer with essential guidance in creating a final print that meets your expectations.

✓ Consider making a proof print first.

There are several instances where making a proof print is advisable. We may recommend a proof if:

  • Your digital file resolution is iffy and we are unsure whether it can go to your desired size. 
  • You don’t have a match print and we would prefer to do a test before making the final print.

  • You are undecided about paper selection and would like to see your actual image on different papers.

  • Your print is exceptionally large and you have not made one at this size in the past.

✓ Determine, at least generally, what you plan to do with the print once it’s made.

While it seems obvious, an idea of your end goal for a print will help you in deciding on all the details in this list. If you are unsure about any aspect from sizing to papers we are always available to listen and advise.

✓ Consider our minimum digital printing charge.

Our printing setup and workflow requires that we apply a minimum charge of $50 for all digital printing orders. We encourage our customers to assemble their print orders to optimize their value. For instance, if you request an 8x10 print, we will remind you that you can actually make three 8x10s for the same price. 

Get started by placing an order online anytime!

The times they are a changin'

 
 

As the nature and mix of our work changes, so must we.

Effective Monday, February 13 our customer service hours are changing. Our production schedules will remain the same--we'll just be unlocking the door an hour later and locking it back up an hour earlier.

Monday: 10am - 5pm
Tuesday: 10am - 7pm
Wednesday-Friday: 10am - 5pm

On Tuesdays we will stay open until 7PM and as always we are available outside of our normal hours by appointment. Email info@colorservicesllc.com to arrange an appointment outside of the schedule above.

There are some exciting new services that we are planning to offer as well--a resumption of our B&W gelatin silver for one, so stay tuned as new things develop!

The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography

 
 

If you have been around photography long enough, and especially around the Boston area, you will be familiar with Elsa Dorfman's 20x24 Polaroid portraits.  Since the early 1980's they have been a kind of institution onto themselves with connections going back to the origins of portrait photography.

Late last year Elsa announced that she would be hanging up her apron. Film availability and reliability as well as the physical process of making these pictures at 79 pointed to retirement.  The news first reached me in a prominent New York Times piece (front page, below the fold, if memory serves). I buy one copy a week on my NY runs—I prefer the Metro edition version—and as coincidence would have it that was the day it ran.  It turned out to also be a wake up call to the filmmaker Errol Morris, a longtime friend of Elsa's. He'd had the idea to make a film about her earlier but her imminent retirement forced the issue. 

 
 

Filming began in the spring—on location in her home, her framing studio, and ultimately her shooting studio space on Mass Ave. Errol and his crew also spent a day filming here in the lab, which was an interesting experience. Having been an admirer and follower of his films over the span of his career it was also an honor to collaborate with him. In the day of shooting here the film went from a short to a full-length documentary.

 
 

I was surprised to learn that it would be ready in time to premiere at the Telluride Film Festival earlier this month. It then went on to the Toronto Film Festival and next up is the New York Film Festival in October. 

As part of the Telluride premiere we prepared an exhibition of a selected group of 16 20x24 Polaroids, one from the 40x80 camera when it resided at the MFA/Boston as well as a group of 14 B&W images from Elsa's archives. It all came together beautifully for the premiere. Elsa and her posse were on hand as was her 20x24 Polaroid camera and she made 47 portraits right there.  So much for retirement.

We are now working on documenting and conserving her 40x80's—most notably the portraits that she made of Allen Ginsburg with it.  Wow, right?  Keep an eye out for the film at a theater near you.