The Epson 9900 equipped with the optional Spectroproofer hardware is very powerful in combination with an adequate proofing rip. The big advantage of the Spectroproofer over the iSis (or Eye One Pro + iO table) is that there's no handling involved when it comes to measuring, and you could do all the steps from linearisation to profiling automatically without using a pair of scissors.
If your printing house is very serious about proofing, the embedded spectro plays an extra vital role. You could have your proofing rip print a Fogra or Idealliance control strip after each job, have the Spectroproofer measure it, and print a verification report besides the strip. That way you'll see if your printer is still printing according to proofing standards or not. Remember that until a few years ago, this was only available on more expensive Dupont digital Cromalins.
If you don't go for the Spectroproofer option, you'll have to verify your proofs with something like an Eye One Pro.
The disadvantage of the Spectroproofer is that it's tied to one printer. If you buy one, specify the normal or UV cut version. For proofing verification you need the normal one (so UV is included in the measurement).
Some considerations regarding the iSis:
- nice to have two sets of measurement files from one pass: UV included/excluded (Profilemaker). Good for photo papers with optical brighteners.
- iSis XL: take note that not all proofing rips use the extra width! EFI XF doesn't.
- Fine art media can sometimes be too thick to be measured; then an Eye One Pro mounted on an iO table is more convenient
I'm not familiar with the Colorburst rip, but I can give you some advice on the EFI solutions.
If you want to drive the Epson 9900 with a proofing rip, don't go for the cheaper EFI eXpress rip. This one is limited to one hotfolder with one set of preferences (color, nesting, ...), it's not able to communicate with the SpectroProofer, can't linearise/make profiles etc.
Go for EFI Colorproof XF, and you'll need the XXL output license as a minimum. In XF you can create multiple workflows with separate preferences how to handle input profiles, layout etc. It's much more flexible, better for automation. Examples: in a proofing workflow (queue) you could choose not to use embedded profiles, simulate a given reference CMYK standard, and print a control strip. A photo queue could use embedded profiles, and render with perceptual/relative colorimetric+black point compensation, add cut marks etc.
You can consider these XF options:
- spot color license (to simulate accurate Pantones and other spot colors)
- color verifier option (to measure the control strip, verify the proof, generate the report, and send it back to the rip)
- color manager option (to make ICC profiles from within EFI Colorproof XF).
You could opt for Profilemaker or the upcoming i1Profiler Publish to make printer profiles, but the advantage of the integrated color manager option is that it's way easier to operate, especially in combination with the Spectroproofer. With a third party profiler, you'll need to be more familiar with how to print your profiling target using only the linearisation file (.epl), and then hooking them up in the Profile Connector, part of the Linearisation Manager. As with all things, once you know how to do it, it's not that difficult.
For photo purposes, Profilemaker gives you the possibility to generate multiple profiles from one set of measurements, with a different gamut mapping for the perceptual intent. This may seem trivial, until you see the differences. I hope i1Profiler will be this flexible too. We'll know by the end of the month.
One VERY powerful feature of EFI Colorproof XF is that you can do iterations on output profiles, with no extra cost. This is a method to improve the accuracy of your output profiles by generating an intermediate LAB correction profile, or by patching the output profile. Indispensable if you want to make proofs that fall within ISO 12647-7 tolerances.
I hope you can do something with this info.