As expected, using higher resolution and better paper makes better images. There are some things to consider, though. 360DPI mode looks best on plain paper, or Epson's 360DPI rated paper. It bleeds just right, so that the image isn't banded. The 720DPI rated paper bleeds a lot less, which is necessary for the 720DPI mode. I tried a sheet of HP's glossy paper at 720DPI mode, and it was more contrasty than the 720DPI paper, but seemed to "lose some pixels" in the translation somewhere, so it's not quite as good with photorealistic images. I would say the paper either has to be smoother (it's a little rough) or you keep the glossy stuff for presentation graphics with large bold areas and text. Epson also makes a glossy paper, but I haven't tried it yet. The moral of the story is to use the paper intended for the mode you're printing in. In none of the following tests have I used the printer's econonmy mode. That's next... ;>
The printed images where scanned in from same-sized samples at a resolution of 300DPI. The resulting images where over 8MB each. I scaled them down as much as I could for the web, but without sacrificing the clarity to distinguish between samples. They're in JPEG format saved with minimal compression, so they're 24-bit. So basically what you're seeing below is as close to the real printed output as we can get.
All the printing was done under the Linux operating system with native drivers. The images were printed using ghostscript and gv, which effectively makes the Stylus a PostScript Level 2 printer with however much RAM you've got in your computer. Another thing to note is that the print driver controlled all the "weaving" in software with the "-dSoftweave" option, saving the printer from extra processing. You wouldn't believe how fast these images printed, considering they were full 24-bit PostScript images -- I mean, we're talking as fast as the printer can print here! Incidentally, these images were done on the original Stlyus Color (one of the best models to own).
In the following images, take care to notice the color matching! The printed images color matched the original almost perfectly. I did no color correction in any of the images on this page. Also, notice the deep blacks, especially with the better paper.
The Windoze driver, in comparison, printed the worst quality. It may require more tweaking on my part, but it seems that the Windoze driver does not take into effect that the original Stlyus has two seperate cartridges with the black ink mixable and compatible with the CMY cartridge. It prints blacks by combining the CMY inks, making an overall lackluster image with very poor definition and contrast.
This test does it the "official" way. That is, the 360DPI print was printed on plain paper, and the 720DPI print was printed on the special Epson 720DPI rated paper. The image up top is the original screengrab, shrunk down to the same size as the printed samples for comparison.
Folks, I kid you not -- the third image below is an actual printed image! Amazing, for such an inexpensive inkjet don't you think? You should see it do photographs instead of computer images, it looks even better!
|360DPI, Plain Paper||720DPI, 720DPI Paper|
After printing out so many samples, I noticed some patterns develop, and I began to wonder what actually makes the noticeable differences the various methods? Is it the paper that affects it the most? Or is it resolution? Below are four sample prints printed on the same 720DPI rated paper from Epson. The left side is 360DPI and the right is 720DPI quality. Judge for yourself - especially when comparing the overall prints on their respective papers above!
This leads me to believe that the paper has the most noticeable impact on overall quality. The better paper bleeds the ink less, making sharper images. The paper is also much whiter, making snappier and more contrasty colors. The downside when using 720DPI paper with 360DPI print mode is that banding is quite visible in spots (mostly large solid areas), but goes away on plain paper, which bleeds the ink more and blends together the pixels. I haven't tried Epson's 360DPI rated paper yet, which I assume will provide the rich saturation of the 720DPI paper, but provide more bleed to compensate for the lack of resolution.
|360DPI Mode||720DPI Mode|