EFI Fiery rip solution for printing digital photography.

Informative review of the capabilities of the Electronics for Imaging, EFI Fiery hardware PostScript RIP. This RIP can produce beautiful large format color posters, signs, and other exhibit-quality color photographs with an Encad wide format printer.

The original idea was that an EFI hardware RIP was supposed to be far superior to any software RIP. This was what all the PR releases claimed in these early years (1997-2001).

This system is F A S T. The RIP takes over the entire job after receiving the job from the computer. This means you can continue working with your Mac (or PC) while the RIP is handling the printing. A Raster Image Processor really speeds up printing. It does all the work instead of using the Mac.

EFI Fiery rip solution for printing digital photographyEFI (Electronics for Imaging) was a market leader in hardware RIPs. EFI features the Fiery system, which offers a number of professional options for the pre-press professional. This is the older model for an ENCAD NovaJet Pro, the EFI Fiery XJ-W. But gradually people learned that a software RIP was less cost, more agile, and could be updated. No way to realistically update a hardware RIP.

You will never notice the RIP is there (except for Mac users). If you use a Macintosh then the RIP will give you back full control of your computer after about 2 minutes. Once the RIP server has received the print job, the RIP takes care of printing it to the wide format printer. You can then use your Mac for any other job that you want. Since the Mac OS cannot yet handle multitasking, the RIP takes over and thus permits you multitasking in printing.

The monitor on the Fiery XJ-W, giving you a few of the many options available from EFI. Here it is in printing mode.

The Fiery monitor gives a variety of status reports. Just imagine how many millions of pixels have to be handled, especially from such a sophisticated digital camera as a Better Light adaptation of a Dicomed. Here it is performing the Raster Imaging Processing (RIP) required to turn an image into PostScript language to send to the printer.

Fiery monitor reviews and evaluations RIP softwareSet up is easy, connect the Macintosh to a mini-hub, run a cable from the mini-hub to the RIP, and then just load the software drivers. We used 10BaseT-Ethernet. Nowadays most people would opt for 100BaseT Fast Ethernet. If you are a large commercial sign shop or advertising agency you may prefer Gigabite Ethernet.

Basically the screen on the RIP (the green LCD mini-monitor seen here) is the same as you have on any modern laser printer. Overall I found the entire setup (RIP and wide format printer) to be just as easy to use as the networked Lexmark 1275n color laser printer or the QMS 2060 monochrome laser printer we tested.

The main difference is that I felt more secure having a technician do the initial set-up with the RIP and wide fomat printer. But once he had installed everything, he was able to show me how to run things in 5 minutes instruction.

If you are buying this class of equipment then setup should be included in the price. Be sure that basic instruction and some follow-up help is available if you need someone to hold your hand as you enter the digital era.

Color Management Free Reports Glossary of termns on Color Management Books and publications on Color ManagementColor Management & ICC Color profiles Color Management & ICC Color Profiles

Interested in learning how to use this class of equipment? Professor Hellmuth has been asked to teach courses on wide format printing in St Louis and in Guatemala City and recently gave lectures on this subject at other universities including in Germany. FLAAR also offers a variety of training programs at Maya ruins and museums in Central America.

For several years during this early epoch of digital printing, EFI Fiery RIP solutions had been selected by virtually all professionally printing companies for their most sophisticated digital systems. Xerox, Savin, Minolta and others for their copiers and/or laser printers; Epson for its $10,000 color matching system. EFI is the company name; Fiery is their name for their class of color controller that does the Raster Image Processing of the image.

Professor Hellmuth is an archaeologist, and thus a typical end user in the digital revolution. Today you need to be able to handle all kinds of hardware and software on your own. This is why we test in a real-life graphics design office, since we realize that more than half of the people coming to this web site will be about to install their first wide RIP solution for printing digital photographyformat printer and their first RIP. Thus we can say that the poster you see here was done entirely without the help of any trained specialist, from the initial large format digital photographs, imaging them in Adobe Photoshop, arranging them in PageMaker, and printing them.

This means you can do the same, in your own office.

It does help, however, to have capable tech support to get you up and running. Del Fox accomplished this for the EFI and Encad.

Today (2008) ENCAD is long dead and Epson and some other companies have switched to other RIP brands. The more popular RIPs today are Onyx PosterShop, Wasatch, Caldera, ErgoSoft and Shiraz. We cover some of these on www.wide-format-printers.org.

Updated April 2008.
Posted early 1998, updated Dec 3, 1999.

 

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