The Ultimate Digital Photography Review

Francis Vale

EPSON PictureMate Photo Printer, Page 2.

There are 18 cropping templates available on the PictureMate, but you will need to print out a reusable cropping template.  A much better plan if you are going the camera-to-printer direct route (no computer and editing software involved) is to use the EX-P600 camera's quick and easy cropping features to select and trim your pictures first. Cropping an image creates a new EX-P600 file that contains the cropped image. The file with the original image remains in the EX-P600's memory.

The PictureMate also has a zoom mode that magnifies the center area of the picture by 1.2x or 1.5x, and you can also add a date and time to your prints for the divorce lawyer's convenience. All of the printer functions are readily accessible and viewable via really simple to operate controls, which include a rubberized 4-way toggle button, with user option menus displayed on a 1.25" x 2" monochrome LCD located on top of the PictureMate.

PictureMate setup could not be easier. Slide in the inkjet cartridge that looks like a smallish videocassette, wait several minutes for it to get initialized (too long, really) and away you go. However, you will also have to wait approximately two and a half minutes for the PictureMate's 540 print nozzles to churn out a 5760 x 1440 optimized dpi photo from its 20-sheet paper tray.

But the resulting PictureMate prints are so spectacular they will make you forget about the long wait. Colors are intensely rich and deep and the luminous images pop off the paper in sharp detail. Shadows are also richly dark and highlights are completely natural looking. However, if you want instantly yellowed photos, there is a sepia-tone option, or you can convert color to black and white for something more retro.  Black and white prints feature bite your teeth into rich blacks and have pure as driven snow whites. The B&W photos also have very good dynamic range. Even a Floridian Hanging Chad Inspector couldn't find jaggies on these excellent prints, even with a photo held right up to their squinting nose.

It's worth mentioning that while the The HP Photosmart P100 looks similar in form and function to the PictureMate, HP chose simply to adapt its current A4 printer technology to their product, while the Epson PictureMate is a new from the ground up design, including new inks and a new ink delivery system.

Epson PictureMate Print Packs, which include 100 sheets of paper and a replacement ink cartridge, can be found for as little $25, or 25 cents a print, lower than a storefront print shop, but still more costly than send away services. But why wait for the Postman to Ring Twice when you can have instant gratification, plus prints that will likely last considerably longer.

Getting your pictures loaded up into the PictureMate couldn't be easier. The printer can be run either standalone or in conjunction with a computer via the PictureMate's USB port. The Casio EX-P600 also offers several ways of getting things ready for printing. This camera, like most other DP shooters, can be connected via its USB port to another USB-supported printer that supports PictBridge or USB DIRECT-PRINT (Direct Print Order Formata^??hDPOF), both of which formats the PictureMate supports. You can perform image selection and printing using the camera's large and bright monitor screen and controls. DPOF support lets you specify which images you want to print and how many copies of each should be printed. Just hit the big green Print button on top of the PictureMate and you are all done. (PictBridge is a standard established by the Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA), while USB DIRECT-PRINT is a standard proposed by Seiko Epson.)

Alternatively, you can use the PictureMate's Wizard mode or its menu controls to select and order your photos by pulling out the memory card from the EX-P600 and sticking it into the appropriate slot in the PictureMate. You set things up via the printer's LCD menus, decide if you want an initial thumbnail proof sheet to select from, and also if you want the PictureMate to use its photo Auto Correct features. Hit Print, go out for a skinny latte, and come back in about 45 minutes to collect twenty great looking 4" x 6" pictures—Simple enough, but that's still a pretty long time, so make it a triple latte.

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