Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Photo: Epson Picturemate Review

I've been shooting with digital cameras for many, many years and have had dozens of photo printers of various makes and models. But, none have impressed me in terms of convenience and usefulness as much as the Epson Picturemate Deluxe Viewer Edition.

While I feel that HP printers are good general purpose printers and have had virtually every HP Photo Printer from the original PhotoSmart that used dyes to the HP 7550 series, I have come to appreciate the color qualities of the Epson line of printers for photos. I have come to depend on Epson printers for my more serious photo work.

So, it was natural for me to be interested in the PictureMate. But, I wasn't prepared for just how much I was going to like it or how versatile I've found it to be.

The quality of the printed photos are excellent. But, what really makes this my favorite printer is the fact that it's portable enough to take on trips and to family events. It can even be battery powered!

We have two grandchildren and enjoy taking them on outings fairly freguently. This past summer we visited Sesame Place for a few days. We've found it wise to take breaks in the middle of the day on excursions like this. So, at each break we would print out the pictures taken while we were in the park. The children could relive their experiences immediately. This was not only extremely fun for them; but, it helped to crystalize their thoughts concerning their activities of the day and plans for repeating favorite rides and activities.

Another application that I've come to appreciate is to use the PictureMate to proof photos as they are being taken. This is particularly great for shooting on location. It's very difficult to see the true quality of an image in the camera's small LCD screen. Before leaving a location I print out photos to ensure that we got what we think we got. This is true whether I hire a professional photographer or do the shoot myself.

Before buying my daughter a PictureMate, she was good about shooting digital photos but not so good at printing them. Now, she is good at both. The fact that the ink and paper come in the same package makes it easy to keep both on hand. There is no fussing with slecting paper sizes in a software application so every print is the correct size and orientation.

She especially appreciates the ability to easily crop photos right in the printer. The cropping guide in the Deluxe Viewer Edition's screen leaves out all the guesswork and the results are excellent.

We generally print directly from the memory cards; but, the printer does have the ability to print from a camera via PictBridge or from the computer via USB.

My one complaint is that while you can print the data and time on your photos, you can not print the name of the image file. While it's not a 'show stopper' it is a serious oversight in an otherwise wonderful product. Digital photo names are so cryptic that it would be helpful to be able to instantly see the file name of a favorite shot for printing larger or sending via the internet to friends. Hopefully this will be corrected in future models.


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