Tuesday, September 18, 2018

REVIEW: Epson PictureMate PM-400 - A Great Whole Family Photo Printer


Epson PictureMate 400

Despite my history of printing my own images and even writing a book on the subject as part of my Printing Series, my beautiful wife has no desire to geek out on printing like me. As a result, she's been frustrated with the bottleneck (me) in getting prints made from her iPhone pics or from the photos I share with her from my DSLR and mirrorless cameras. To address this frustration, I decided to test the wildly popular Epson PictureMate PM-400 wireless compact color photo printer to see if it would meet her needs.

Setup

The nice thing about this printer is you don't need a computer, so you just turn it on - plug in the 4 color ink cartridge and you are in business. You can then quickly print to Epson 4x6 or 5x7 photo paper directly from your cell phone or SD card.

The wireless networking setup was easy and my Windows 10 PC had no problems discovering the printer. I also connected it via USB and saw no noticeable performance difference so I decided to take advantage of wireless printing so I could put the printer anywhere in the house where we were sitting when we wanted to crank out some pics while talking or watching TV.

AirPrint vs Windows

AirPrint is known for being easy and reliable, but it's also known for being very simplistic. With this in mind, I decided to print some photos off of my iPhone X and everything went pretty smooth. For large photos not taken on the phone it did seem to take nearly an extra 30 seconds to print a photo via AirPrint vs Windows, but if you aren't hovering over it like someone trying to watch water boil, the difference was tolerable.

Test Images & Performance

For comparison, I also pitted the inexpensive PM-400 against the excellent Epson SureColor P800 which costs nearly $1000 more just to see how wide the quality and performance gap was between the two - and the results surprised me!

Into the Light by Ron Martinsen on 500px.com

For my first image, I thought I'd start with an excellent photo with a wide range of tones to see what was the best this printer could do. The PM-400, which had been turned off for a couple weeks took  2 minutes 17 seconds for first print with 46.5 seconds for head prep before paper feed from cold start. This means roughly a minute and 30 seconds for this image to print for a roughly 36mb print job which was NOT specially prepared for this printer - I just threw an original JPEG at it.


PM-400 From Photoshop with Printer Manages Colors & Default Settings

The quality was average viewer good, but obviously with 4 colors you aren't going to get a match to the original. It actually looks quite a bit better in real life than the scan of the print here, so don't let the quality here scare you - in real life it seems "good enough" for most users and I think better than what you get from discount photo printing labs like Costco, Walgreens, Target, etc...

For my photography geek friends, here's the Photoshop and printer driver settings I used:

Epson PM-400 Photoshop Print Settings

Epson PM-400 Windows Print Driver Settings

Surprisingly the P800 took 2 minutes and 3 seconds with 11 seconds before the paper feed on a cold start. This means it took one minute and 52 seconds, but the tonal range was significantly better in the highlight areas on the cheeks.


Epson SureColor P800 from Photoshop with Printer Manages Color using the sRGB preset

Despite being printed on the same Epson 4 Stars Premium Glossy paper and not using any ICC profiles or complex print features, the P800 was pretty darn close the original photo. Had I used an ICC profile I could have got an identical match.

Again, for my printing geek friends here's the settings I used to get this print:

image

Epson Windows P800 V3 Driver Settings

Black & White Test

To the novice who has never done fine art printing, one would think that Black & White printing would be very easy and there's no difference between the two. However, the reality is that B&W printing is actually rather complicated and hard to get right simply because printers aren't using just black ink to print out a "black and white" image (which is really a grayscale image).

Here's the source image I used:

Sigma85ArtModel-531-Edit

When the PM-400 was warm it only took 10 seconds before the paper had been pulled into position and it started printing resulting in a total print time of 1 minute 37 seconds for a 57.4 mb job over a wireless network connection.  The P800 ABW did it in 2 minutes 2 seconds with 11 seconds which was the real kicker that I'd see consistently in my testing - the PM-400 was actually faster at cranking out a 4x6 photo!


Epson PM-400 Grayscale

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you - the black and white images often taken on a blue/purple tone depending on the ambient light that you view them under. It doesn't look quite as extreme as what you get from a scan in real life, but it's off - way off - from reality. Again, my wife thought it was fine but this one that was tough for me to accept.

I used the same Photoshop settings as above but here's the settings I used for the driver:

Epson PM-400 Windows Print Driver Settings

This time there was no contest in terms of tonal fidelity - the extra $1000 made a huge difference as you'd expect from a high end photo printer:


Epson P800 using Epson's Advanced Black & White (ABW) Mode

Epson P800 Windows V3 Driver using Advanced B&W Photo mode
Epson P800 Windows V3 Driver using Advanced B&W Photo mode

For more information about Epson Advanced B&W Photo mode see my ABW article.

Casual Print Test

Here's a 100% unedited photo I took with my iPhone X:

IMG_3543

I printed directly from from my phone using AirPrint to the PM-400 and in 1 minute 30 seconds I had a nice borderless print.

Using my P800 via AirPrint on my phone was 1 minute 56 seconds which was surprising.

Windows Print Pictures Wizard

On Windows with Photoshop even when I told the driver to do borderless with max expansion, the aspect ratio of the photo caused me to get white bars on both the left and right side. To fix this problem I simply tried right-clicking on the photo in Explorer and choosing Print to use the Windows Print Pictures Wizard which resulted me in getting the same borderless results as AirPrint.  This is primarily due to the aspect ratio of iPhone prints vs digital camera prints which means that a true borderless print is going to crop more off the top and bottom of the print than one with white bars on the side. Keep this in mind when choosing borderless!

Quality-wise I saw the same differences in skin tones especially in the hot spots of the photos and in the cheeks as I saw with the model shot above, but it was less noticeable in a natural light photo.

Conclusion

In the end my wife loved the PM-400 so it was EXACTLY what she wanted and it works for her. I appreciated it for its ease of use and speed when the kids need a quick print of a photo that's on my iPhone for a school project where quality doesn't matter. It was also great for sending pics to the grandparents who don't really give a hoot about the quality as long as the pics are of their precious grandchildren!

For me, I obviously won't be giving up my P800 for the photos I care about. With that said, you don't need to spend a fortune as my P600 is almost as good for substantially less than the P800.

For the price, I loved the speed and ease of use I got out of the PM-400 so I can easily give it a strong recommendation for everyday non-color critical use. It's fast and certainly worth the great reviews it gets on Amazon for printer that cost less than a set of ink for my P800!

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy a Epson PictureMate PM-400 today.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy my printing series. Also be sure to check out my Reviews tab as well as Ron's Recommendations.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

First Thoughts: Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera


Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera

A lot of people have been reaching out to me for my thoughts on the all new Canon R – Canon’s answer to the recently introduced Nikon Z series - given my history a “Canon shooter”. Long-time readers have noticed that I’ve been very vocal about how much I loved the Sony a7R III (my 2017 Camera of the Year) and Sony a9, so would my history with Canon change my opinion?

I’ve been off doing other things besides blogging lately, so I have actually been out of the loop on the rumors of the “R” until friends started reaching out to me about it this past weekend. While I’m not surprised about the announcement, I had no inside info prior to the release so it’s been a learning experience for me too.

My first thoughts are:

  • Why only 30mp?
  • Where’s the advanced eye auto focus?
  • Nice job with the screen on the top like my DSLR’s, but where’s the rest of the buttons?
  • No joystick?!!!! No thank you!!!

On paper, it feels like it’s button layout is more like a 6D Mark II / 80D but its sensor seems targeted for a 5D Mark IV user. This places it in line to compete with the Sony a7 III not the Sony a7R III which is a bit of a surprise for me – especially given the fact that this camera is priced like the more capable Sony a7R III.

While I should reserve judgement until actually using one, on paper I still think that Nikon and Canon have both missed the mark in competing with Sony’s more compelling offerings. I think Nikon did a better job with the Z7, but if I were spending my money on a mirrorless right now I’d still go with Sony.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Chuck Westfall Technical Education Award

4th ANNUAL LUCIE TECHNICAL AWARDS HONOR THE YEAR’S PHOTO-RELATED INNOVATIONS AND INTRODUCE CHUCK WESTFALL TECHNICAL EDUCATION AWARD

Chuck Westfall-Copyright Harris Fogel

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2018
PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo, Jacob Javits Convention Center, NYC

image002

August 16, 2018 – (Los Angeles, CA) - The fourth annual Lucie Technical Awards, an initiative of the Lucie Foundation and sister-program of The Lucie Awards, will take place in New York City on Thursday, October 25, 2018, during PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo, at The Jacob Javits Convention Center, in New York City, 5:30pm reception, 6:30pm awards presentation. Held just prior to Lucie Awards weekend, the acclaimed Lucie Technical Awards embraces a large and critical segment of the photographic community. The Lucie Technical Awards aim to honor the large and small companies, as well as the individuals who have advanced the photographic industry in a particular year. All-inclusive, these awards intend to encompass such items from cameras, lenses, lighting, and accessories, to printers, software and more.

This year for the first time, the Lucie Technical Awards will be presenting the Chuck Westfall Technical Education Award, named in honor of the legendary Canon spokesperson who became “teacher of technology” to journalists and the photo industry in general, for more than 35 years. Despite losing his long battle with cancer earlier this year, Chuck Westfall remained a transcendent, authentic spirit who loved photography and the photo industry, and it loved him right back. This distinguished honor is awarded to an influential voice in the photographic industry who displays an extraordinary commitment to, and love for the art and technology of photography. The recipient will have demonstrated a tireless effort to share their extensive knowledge with others, either through interactions with the media, written or published documents, and public appearances and presentations.

Hossein Farmani, the founder of The Lucie Technical Awards, commented, “For the 4th year in a row, we spotlight an ever-growing segment of our beloved photographic community by embracing those whose penchant for the technological lifts up the talented image-makers, many of whom we honor just a few days later at The Lucie Awards. It is with great pleasure that we add the Chuck Westfall Technical Education Award, to the festivities.” The 16th Annual Lucie Awards will follow, on Sunday, October 28, at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall.

Experts in the field of photography as well as members of the public can contribute to the nomination process with the goal to recognize and reward deserving companies and individuals whose efforts have advanced the careers of so many image-makers. They all share a passion for creating extraordinary imagery through innovative technology.

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, the categories include:

Camera:

Best Camera Drone
Best Instant Camera
Best Action Camera
Best Small Format System Camera
Best Full Frame System Camera
Best Medium Format System Camera
Best Fixed-Lens Compact Camera

Camera Accessory:

Best Camera
Bag Best Tripod
Best Speedlight
Best Industrial Design

Lens:

Best Wide Angle Prime Lens
Best Wide Angle Zoom Lens
Best Standard Prime Lens
Best Medium Range Zoom Lens
Best Telephoto Prime Lens
Best Telephoto Zoom Lens
Best Special Purpose Lens

Lighting & Studio:

Best Light Modifier
Best Continuous Light Source
Best Portable Battery Powered Studio Light
Best Studio Strobe

Printing:
Best Inkjet Printer

Software:

Best Photo Editing Software
Best Software Plugin

Storage:

Best Memory Card
Best Backup Solution


With the invaluable advice and guidance of the esteemed Lucie Technical Awards Advisory Board, these awards will honor the people and companies who have assisted and inspired so many on their photographic journeys. These awards, plus The Lucie Awards bestowed later in the same week, together create an even more inclusive photographic community.

Ticket availability for The Lucie Technical Awards will be announced shortly. For the complete list of awards and to nominate, please see http://tech.lucies.org/nominate/ for additional information.

About Lucie Technical Awards – The Lucie Technical Awards aim to honor the large and small companies, as well as the individuals who have advanced the photography industry in a given year. All-inclusive, these awards encompass cameras, lenses, lighting, accessories, printers, software and more.

About Lucie Foundation - Lucie Foundation’s mission is to honor master photographers, discover and cultivate emerging talent, and promote the appreciation of photography worldwide. In addition to Month of Photography Los Angeles (MOPLA), the foundation presents year-round programming to support high school students through SNAPSHOP!, emerging and professional photographers through the Lucie Scholarship Program and master photographers through The Lucie Awards. Lucie Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable foundation. www.luciefoundation.org

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Saturday, August 25, 2018

REVIEW: Delkin CFast 2.0 Reader & Card


Delkin Devices USB 3.1 Gen 1 Multi-Slot Memory Card Reader

When I got my Canon 1D X Mark II I ordered the kit bundled with a Sandisk CFast 2.0 card and reader which turned out to be a wise move as the cards were very scare and the reader is still near impossible to find in-stock. Since that time people have asked me countless times if there's any other brand of CFast 2.0 card and/or readers that I recommend, but I didn't have anything to suggest.

As luck would have it, my friends at B&H reached out to ask me if I would be interested in reviewing Delkin's new CFast 2.0 card and reader and I was happy to oblige.

Now if you are like me there's pretty much only two questions you have about memory card readers and that is "how fast is it" and "will it last"?

Well I'll start with the second question first and say that I've only had this product for a couple weeks so obviously I can't speak to long term durability, but I've seen nothing to suggest that either one is externally much different than their Sandisk counterparts in my camera bag.

Performance


Delkin Devices 128GB Cinema CFast 2.0 Memory Card

To test performance, I transferred 58.6 GB (62,934,351,872 bytes on disk) from my combo of JPEG+CR2 RAW files taken on a recent shoot in South Korea from my Sandisk CFast 2.0 card to the Delkin card.

Test 1 - Sandisk Card Reader

Using my Sandisk Card CFast 2.0 Reader connected to a USB 3.1 slot on my WIndows 10 machine, I observed that the Delkin card took 3 minutes and 17.24 seconds to transfer the data to my new and and near empty Samsung 1TB 960 PRO M.2 Internal SSD at a transfer rate that averaged 297 MB/sec.

The SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO CFast 2.0 Memory Card was faster at 3:07.27 and 313 MB/sec.

Test 2 - Delkin Card Reader

I repeated the same test using the Delkin card reader and with the Delkin card the transfer time was a little slower at 3:24.21. Once again the Sandisk card was faster at 3:16.68, but it was slower than with the Sandisk reader.

Conclusion

I repeated both tests 3 times and got near identical results, so I feel confident in saying that the Delkin card and reader were both a little slower, but both performed equally well in my Canon 1D X Mark II which seems to not take advantage of the improved performance of the Sandisk card.

Both cards were excellent 4K movies at the fastest FPS and bit rates possible.

In the end I did switch from using the Sandisk reader to the Delkin reader because its front USB 3.1 slot means that I don't lose a slot when I have my reader plugged in. Previously I always had to connect and disconnect my reader which was annoying.

I also preferred the Delkin reader because it took the microSD's for my DJI Phantom IV drone and the SD card I use for a variety of purposes and devices in my household. Now my desk loses two readers and doesn't lose any USB slots.

I also found that the Delkin didn't get hot and cook my cards like the Sandisk did, so if this was a problem you experienced too then the tradeoff of slightly slower performance might be worth the longer life you are likely to get out of your cards by not cooking them.

I'm happy to have had a chance to try these out and I'll definitely keep the Delkin card in my bag. What's more, with the Delkin cards offering 2x the space as the Sandisk, I'm likely to pick up a few more of them too!

Enjoy these and more on the Reviews tab as well as Ron's Recommendations.

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more about the card reader and CLICK HERE to learn more about Delkin CFast Memory Cards.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this. I was given a card and reader to keep as part of testing these devices for this review.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Monday, July 2, 2018

Red River Paper Summer Sale 2018

Inkjet Paper by Inkjet Experts

My friends at Red River Paper are having a sale on some of their more popular papers:

  • 68lb. UltraProSatin® 4.0 - The Top Selling Red River Paper
  • 68lb. UltraPro Gloss 2.0®
  • 60lb. Polar Matte®
  • 60lb. Pecos River Gloss™
  • 26lb. ColorJet

Click here to learn more.

See more Red River Paper reviews here:

Interested in printing? Check out my printing series page for more articles and reviews!

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity