Epson R1800 Ink Republic Gen1 & Gen2 inks

AN ANALYSIS OF THE “TEST PRINT IMAGES” HAS REVEALED A PROBLEM IN THE SOFTWARE USED TO CREATE THEM.  AS A RESULT, THE IMAGES WERE REMOVED AND ANY CONCLUSIONS DERIVED THEREIN ARE ALSO INVALID.   THE SPECTROPHOTOGRAPHIC MEASUREMENTS AND OTHER DATA ARE ACCURATE AS PRESENTED.  WE APOLOGIZE IF THIS HAS CREATED ANY CONFUSION OR MISINTERPRETATION OF THE RESULTS.  NO FURTHER UPDATES WILL BE PROVIDED FOR THE R1800 . 

 

Ink Republic’s Ink Sets; a Battle of Generations

 

Ink Republic recently released an updated ink set for the Epson R1800.  The Gen2 inks as they are called are purported to offer higher gloss and better emulation of OEM gamut than the prior ink set (now referred to as Gen1).  The Gen1 inks are formulated by Image Specialists whereas the Gen2 inks are produced for Ink Republic and are imported.  In this first look, the ink sets are compared both qualitatively and quantitatively, using subjective visual comparisons and objective experimental measurements.  So, how do the inks stack up?

 

The Gen2 inks arrived packed impeccably as items usually do from Ink Republic.  Apart from some slight leakage which was easily contained within the heat sealed plastic bags, the bottles appeared undamaged.  The flip-top caps have been replaced with smarter screw caps and every Gen2 bottle has a label corresponding to the ones affixed on the dampers.  Looking at the bottles, it was immediately apparent that there were some distinctions between the Gen1 and Gen2 inks.  The Gen2 GLOP was more transparent and the slight yellow cast of the Gen1 version was absent.  Also the Gen2 yellow, blue, and red inks were noted to be brighter and more vibrant.

 

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE

 jh3z6471jh3z6470

   

Swapping out the old damper system and installation of the new ink set was straightforward and the process has been described elsewhere.  Of note, the new tubing seemed somewhat more flexible and significantly shorter than the tubing which accompanied the previous generation inks.  Prior to the installation of the Gen2 inks, the printer head was flushed with cleaner to mitigate the interaction between any residual inks and to minimize the potential development of clogs.  The new system was allowed to stand overnight to allow for equilibration of pressures within the dampers.

 

After determining that a nozzle check was adequate, and having performed a purge “test pattern” to ensure that no residual ink from the prior generation remained, the Gen2 inks were profiled using a spectrophotometer and commercially available software.   The Gen1 inks had been previously profiled in an identical fashion.  Test images were printed on a commonly available glossy paper and the inks were compared.

 

 

It was clear that on the semi-gloss paper, the Gen2 inks demonstrated a higher degree of gloss than the Gen1 inks.  While not quite as glossy as the OEM inks, the Gen2 GLOP was a significant improvement over its predecessor.  Bronzing was slightly more prominent in the Gen2 image, though it wasn’t disturbing and was certainly comparable to OEM.  The Gen2 inks struggled with some of the subtle blues/purples as evidenced by a greater difficulty in rendering skies accurately and by the presence of a greater degree of posterization in the test image. 

 

 

Applying the respective profiles to an HSL (Hue, Saturation, Lightness) chart exposed the troubling posterization in the Gen2 inks.  Note, the .jpg pictured below minimizes the actual banding which is more prominent in the original image.

 

gen1-gen2-hsl-copy

 

A further exploration revealed a marked similarity between the Gen2 magenta and red inks to the naked eye.  Spectrophotometric analysis confirmed this observation, and in fact the Gen2 magenta and red were nearly identical and tended towards the red hue.  In contrast, the Gen1 magenta was a better approximation of the true color.  As magenta is one of the primary additive colors in inkjet printing, its accuracy is essential for proper rendering.  While some inconsistencies can be compensated for in the profiling process, a lack of color fidelity can not be overcome.  In all probability, the similarities between the magenta and red Gen2 inks account for the problems witnessed in the gamut and posterization seen in the test image.

 

gen1-gen2-red-magenta-copy

 

Depending on the illumination source, the ink sets demonstrated variable degrees of metamerism.  Under natural light, the Gen2 inks demonstrated a more neutral gray though the deep reds as manifested in the test print in the strawberries tended towards magenta.    Under incandescent light, the Gen1 inks’ grey appeared more neutral though the Gen2 inks’ reds improved with less magenta shift.  Viewing the test prints under a color balanced fluorescent light yielded nearly neutral grays and similar color rendering with only a marginal magenta shift in the Gen2 deep reds.  Spectrophotometric analysis suggested that the Gen2 inks evidence less metamerism in the grays, slightly more in the reds/greens, and nearly a similar amount in the blue hues. 

 

gen1-metamerism-copy

gen2-metamerism-copy

 

Shadow rendering was nearly identical, though the Gen2 inks have an almost imperceptible edge.  The L* values for photo black were measured at 14 for the Gen1 ink and 12.6 for the Gen2 – suggesting rather comparable densities.  In comparison, OEM Pk ink achieves an L* of 3.4 on this particular paper.

 

The three-dimensional gamut plots were revealing.  OEM inks continue to offer the largest gamut map with 723,968 cubic color units versus 645,935 units for the Gen1 inks, and 556,844 for the Gen2 inks.  Compared to the Gen2 inks, the Gen1 inks offered a larger overall gamut with the distinctions primarily appearing in the reds/purples.  Overall, the Gen1 inks more closely mimicked OEM inks’ gamut.

 

gen2-gen1-inks-gamut-copy

gen1-oem-inks-gamut-copy

gen2-oem-inks-gamut-copy 

Unfortunately, longevity studies are currently lacking so no recommendations can be offered favoring one ink set over the other.  Determining print longevity is a complex task involving many variables including environmental factors, UV exposure, and paper-ink interactions.  Mark McCormick-Goodhart of Aardenburg Imaging  has developed a rigorous and reproducible method to assess projected longevity based on experimental, accelerated light exposure.  Preliminary results suggest that the Gen1 inks perform nearly as well as OEM on Epson Presentation Matte, while they fare significantly worse on Epson Premium Glossy.  No data exists for the Gen2 inks.

 

Epson pigment printers, in particular the R800, R1800, R2400 series have a tendency to develop intermittent nozzle clogging.  With the implementation of a CIS system, these printers are also susceptible to flow issues which are manifested by inadequate nozzle checks.  When clogs or flow problems develop, they often result in great angst as well as expense as measured by ink wastage.  Our experience to date suggests that the Gen1 inks have a greater propensity to develop either flow or clogging issues as compared to the newer Gen2 formulation.  In our test environment with ambient air temperatures between 66-70 deg. F and 40-55% humidity, clogs/flow issues occur less than once every month or two with the Gen2 inks compared to the nearly bi-weekly problems encountered with the Gen1 inks.  Usually, these issues are easily rectified and are of little consequence.

 

Ink Republic now offers the choice of two pigment ink sets for the R1800 continuous ink systems, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.  The Gen1 inks offer a high degree of color fidelity but lack the glossiness and photo black density compared to OEM inks.  Gen2 inks offer improved glossiness, less gray metamerism, and equivalent photo black density to the Gen1 inks, but they are hampered by gamut limitations which adversely affect color rendering and result in posterization.  Perhaps further refinement and reformulation of the Gen2 magenta will eliminate these difficulties and produce an ink set which will truly rival OEM in every respect. 

 

So, in the interim which ink set does one choose?  If the user desires optimum color reproduction and their paper preferences tend towards matte or lustre the, Gen1 inks might be more suitable.  In contrast, if the user prints more frequently on gloss or semi-gloss and is trying to replicate the OEM glossy look, Gen2 inks might warrant consideration.  However, given the gamut limitations and problems with the color formulation of the magenta we are unable to recommend the Gen2 inks in their current form.

 

 

© 2009  Reproduction, republication, or redistribution of this content including images and text is prohibited.  Linking is encouraged.

 

Inkquisitor, Maryland

 

 

Addendum:

 

Prior to publication, we provided notification of our findings to Ink Republic along with a request for an explanation of the problematic magenta formulation.  In all fairness, we gave Ink Republic detailed measurements and afforded them sufficient opportunity to respond.  Ink Republic kindly provided a second sample of magenta for analysis.  It was determined to be nearly identical in hue to the first sample.  As such, we stand by the results of the primary analysis.

 

For reference: L*a*b measurements of the Gen2 inks:

 

Gen2 Magenta (sample 2)  45.3, 72.8, 29.6

 

Gen2 Magenta (sample 1)  44.8, 68.8, 30.6

 

Gen2 Red                              39.6, 70.8, 33.1

2 responses

28 02 2009
Bob Schoner

Hi Adam,
We had exchanged e-mails about the IR new inks a while ago. I had similar problems with the Gen2 inks. I brushed a sample of the Gen 1 and 2 inks on photo paper and measured them with both Eye One and Spyder Print Pro. My Gen2 numbers for Magenta were about 40, 72, 30 and Red about 38, 65, 30. “About” because I’m eyeball averaging multiple measurements. Eventually, Amanda sent a hand-picked Magenta replacement that measured 49, 74, -2. However, the gamut volume was unchanged; 523,200 for both Magentas vs 628,290 for the Gen 1 inks—very similar to your results.
I did a brush test with Epson OEM inks and got Magenta 42, 70, 36 and Red 40, 68, 38 which makes me think that they were trying to duplicate the Epson inks rather than developing their own.
I thought I’d pass theses results along; it’s nice to see results duplicated by two different people and two different test techniques.
Bob Schoner

7 01 2013
#10 Colour means something different by setting? | SDC – Graham Clayton's Blog

[…] Inkquisitor has a good article on metamerism in printing ink use from which the following image is sourced. The same inks look […]

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