ColorVantage Inks

ColorVantage Inks

ColorVantage pigment inks produce prints as vibrant as those made with Epson pigment inks - but force you to do a lot of futzing with software.

 

The Pantone color system is used in the printing industry to ensure that the colors used in the design process are the same colors used during production. Pantone's ColorVantage pigment inks for Epson's Stylus Photo 1270, 1280, 2200, and R2400 printers offer nice results at a lower cost than the stock inks, but you'll have to do some work to get the best results.

 

ColorVantage inks are about 20 percent cheaper than Epson's inks. The 1280 uses dye-based inks, which tend to fade faster than pigment inks but often produce a more vivid print. Pantone tells us that printer manufacturers can't void your printer warranty for using third-party inks.

 

With the ColorVantage inks installed, you can't use Epson's printer driver, which only produces accurate colors with Epson ink. Pantone supplies color profiles for Adobe Photoshop (or other color-aware software, such as InDesign or Illustrator) to give the printer its marching orders. First we printed on Epson's Premium Glossy Photo Paper, using the appropriate ColorVantage profile. Our initial print resulted in a sickly green image. Suspecting a corrupt profile, we reinstalled it and got good prints thereafter.

 

We also used papers from Red River Paper (www.redriverpaper.com), which are about 40 percent cheaper than comparable Epson papers. However, Pantone's profiles for the Red River papers produced bizarre colors. We couldn't get replacement profiles from Pantone, so we turned to Chromix (www.chromix.com). They gave us a target to print and return, and they gave us a set of profiles that worked.

 

We printed more than 150 test photos and compared the ColorVantage pigment-ink prints to Epson dye-ink prints. The Pantone photos lacked the brilliance that photographers expect from dye-ink-based printers. In a more apples-to-apples test, the ColorVantage prints came out as good as those printed on Epson's Stylus Photo 2200 pigment-ink printer. Pantone claims that its inks have a wider color gamut, but it wasn't evident to the naked eye. ColorVantage inks did show less bronzing, the bas-relief effect you might see when pigment-ink colors appear to look layered on glossy papers.

 

The bottom line. Pantone's ColorVantage inks and Red River's papers can save you a lot of money, but they require
a hefty investment of your time.

 

COMPANY: Pantone
CONTACT: www.pantone.com
PRICE: $7.95 to $14.95 per cartridge, $24.95 to $69.95 for starter kits
REQUIREMENTS: Epson Stylus Photo 1270, 1280, 2200, or R2400 printer
Cheaper than Epson ink. Good color quality. Pigment inks give long photo life. Free custom profiles.
Requires a color-aware imaging app such as Photoshop. Custom profiles may be inaccurate. Cartridge instructions need updating.

 

 

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