Epson adds a new capability
to their newest ink jet printer model. Now for the first time the individual
user can create professional labels printing directly on a CD-R or DVD-R
disc to obtain a professional appearance and avoid the problems and
hassles of stick-on labels. Epson's new Stylus Photo 900 with
CD/DVD disc label printing is also a much-improved upgrade of the popular
890 model at an attractive price of under $200.
A CD label design and printing utility is included in the
Epson software package for the Stylus Photo 900 printer.
Users can either create graphic CD labels with or without
using the provided clip-art backgrounds, or import their
own designs created in applications like Photoshop. The
software utility also supports adjusting the size and position
of the label.
Photos © 2003, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved
New Performance Features
Epson retains the well proven six-color ink cartridge system that is common
to the 1270/1280 and 890 model Stylus Photo printers. This well proven
feature is combined with a maximum printing resolution of 5760x720dpi
and 4-picoliter ink droplet size to achieve the finest photo-realistic
print performance. In addition to photographic reproduction the new 900
is capable of providing all types of print capability to reproduce a variety
of documents and office-type functions yielding sharp, high quality results
at a high-speed output rate. And to make the 900 capable of printing recordable
discs, a straight-through manual feed slot at the back of the printer
also allows printing on much thicker paper stocks, including card stock
and illustration board. The firmware and software supporting the Stylus
Photo 900 provides the latest advances including borderless printing,
P.I.M. color matching as well as Exif 2.2 compatibility.
CD/DVD Disc Printing
Ink jet printable CD/DVD-Rs have been available for some time from volume
commercial outlets. But now, with most computers being sold having a CD
drive that will burn CD-Rs, and some even DVD-Rs, disc labeling is a problem
in need of a solution for everyone.
The Stylus Photo 900 facilitates disc printing with a plastic disc support
tray that has an indented circular area to secure the disc. In addition,
a software utility for designing and creating CD/DVD labels, as well as
printing them, is part of the Epson driver software package for all popular
operating systems. This disc label printing utility includes the ability
to apply simple color backgrounds, or select from a supplied library of
clip-art background designs. There's also a text input function
to add titles and other copy information to the label design. A label
design can also be created in Photoshop incorporating photographic image(s),
and then imported into the Epson CD label utility. Once the label is finished
it is really no different or more difficult printing a CD/DVD disc label
than printing any other file on any other media.
Whether for creative fun or to provide personalized identification,
a photographer can easily incorporate personal images into
label designs to be printed with the Epson Stylus Photo
Printing With The Epson
Stylus Photo 900
The announcement of the Epson Stylus Photo 900 could not have been more
serendipitous as I had just begun a modest publishing effort distributed
on CD-R discs. So, of course when the 900 printer arrived, I installed
it immediately and tested it printing CD labels. Anticipating the arrival
of this new Epson printer for some days, I had time to design a number
of labels, one for my new publication and also several more designs for
the different categories of CD discs I burn to store image files in my
growing digital image library. Others will be attracted to the desirability
of creating and imprinting labels for discs sent to friends and relatives,
as well as discs with portfolios of images to be sent to potential clients.
Because my label designs all incorporate my own images, and being most
comfortable working in Photoshop, I created the label background, as well
as my logo and title in a .TIF file. The Epson CD label utility supports
importing an image file as part, or all, of the label you may want to
Once you have a label design made and open it in the Epson CD label utility,
you can add text on top of the design to apply a series number, for instance,
if you want a different number ID for each disc you print. The Epson CD
label utility provides adjustment capabilities to shift the label position
so you can center the label impression perfectly on the CDs. The Print
command brings up the print driver window just like when printing any
other media. Just be sure to select CD/DVD as the print media before you
click on Print.
the deep canyons of the upper reaches of Lake Powell in
America's Southwest, color and texture are so strikingly
etched to create an abstract art out of nature. The Epson
Stylus Photo 900 captured both the drama and richness of
the scene quite vividly on Epson ColorLife paper.
From my experience with a number of brands of CD blank discs, I found
each accepts ink differently. This affects the density and saturation
of the printed label. With some versions of the Epson print driver (Windows
and Mac OS 9) the driver provides an ink intensity slider adjustment.
With the Mac OS 10 (Discus) CD label utility, you are limited to using
the Epson driver Color Control options to alter the lightness/darkness
and saturation of the label imprint. This accommodation to different brands
of discs is easily learned from a little experience, and once you have
it set for a particular brand of disc you'll get consistently good
results. However, please note that I found photographic image label designs
reproduce best on white CD/DVD discs, and not as effectively on ink jet
printable discs that have a silver background.
backlit scene of the mission church at the Taos Pueblo reproduced
excellent detail in both highlights and shadows while preserving
the rich earth colors uniquely characteristic of the area.
I checked out the paper printing capability of the Epson Stylus Photo
900 after I had satisfied my curiosity about CD/DVD disc label printing.
I made numerous prints with just about every Epson paper choice available,
as well as with my favorite third-party paper and a couple of other popular
brands. Compared to this printer's predecessors among Epson six-color
photo dye-ink printers there is general improvement in both print quality
and printer speed performance. At optimum settings the Stylus Photo 900
reproduces photographic image files that are precisely color corrected
with a very smooth range of realistically intense colors and crisp definition
of detail sharpness.
However, I found that even though, and maybe in part because, this printer
has a potential to produce a greater range of color values, the driver
option settings for the 900 produced some unexpected results compared
to what I have experienced with the printer's predecessors. First
of all, there are both differences and similarities in the driver options
offered by the 900 compared to older Epson Photo printers. Most notably,
the discrete numerical printer resolution settings have been replaced
with "quality" settings like Photo and Best Photo. But you
can still select to adjust print output by means of ColorSync/ICM, or
opt to print Profile To Profile with "no color adjustment,"
which obtains the fullest range of values in a print. However, my experience
in selecting from the Automated and Photo Enhance4 options produced prints
that yielded less intensity of values compared to what I had learned to
expect from previous Epson Photo models. In other words, I found I had
to re-learn what settings to use to achieve desired results. That process
is explained and detailed in a recent (April 2003) Shutterbug article,
"Toward The Perfect Print."
Kodachrome scanned from my first assignment photographing
flowers reproduced with all of the rich colors of the original
when it was made printed with the new Epson Stylus Photo
Evaluation And Recommendation
I believe anyone who has a substantial need to print labels on CD/DVD
recordable discs will find the reproduction quality and efficiency of
the Epson Stylus Photo 900 more than justifies its very reasonable under
$200 purchase price. That it does all kinds of printing from simple document
printing in black and white with high quality quite rapidly, as well as
reproducing photographs on glossy or matte papers better than its predecessors,
makes it a double value. Add to this the fact you can also print on quite
thick, inflexible card and
board stocks, and the value is even greater. The Epson Stylus Photo 900
is now a must-have printer for my
digital darkroom even though I have several printers already installed.
Make Your Own Disc
If you have any kind of flat-bed scanner it is easy to create a template
for designing CD labels. Just put a blank CD/DVD disc label side down
on your scan surface and scan it 1:1, size it at 300dpi, and place a piece
of black paper on top of the disc. The resulting image will be a light
doughnut on a dark background.
Use Levels to make the light portion pure white and the dark portion pure
black. You may need to do some clean up in the black of those parts of
the disc that are clear plastic and contain circles, as well as brand
names and serial numbers. Then, using the Magic Wand, select the white
label portion of the image. Next invert the selection and Edit/Clear it
to a white background color. This leaves a white page with a selection
of the label area of a CD/DVD disc. Save it as a >PSD Photoshop template
file on your hard drive, and open it to begin each new label design. Then
Copy/Paste "into" to create your label within the selection
Printing Technology: Advanced Micro Piezo, optimized
for photo printing
Ink Palette: Six colors (CcMmYK)
Ink Cartridge Configuration: One black cartridge and
one color (CcMmY) cartridge
Maximum Resolution (dots per inch): 5760x720 optimized
Print Speed: Black text--Up to 9 PPM; 4x6"
Maximum Paper Width: Single sheet--8.5"; Roll
Maximum Printable Area: 8.3x44"; on letter-size:
full bleed possible on 8.5x11"
Printer Dimensions And Weight: Storage: 19.4x12.0x7.2";
Printing: 19.4x21.5x11.9"; Weight: 15.18 lbs
Interface And Connectivity: USB/Parallel (IEEE 1284)
Operating Systems: Windows USB/Parallel--Windows
98, 2000, Me, and XP; Macintosh USB--Macintosh OS 8.6-9.x, OS X 10.1.x
Software Included: Epson Software Film Factory, CD printing
software, and PRINT Image Matching Plug-In for Adobe Photoshop 6.0, 7.0,
and Elements 1.0 and 2.0
More information is available by calling (800) 463-7766 or visiting their
website at www.epson.com.