Newbie question about printers (and inks) that will get low usage.
Up to this point I've been sending my photos out to be printed. I'd really like to have the ability to print excellent quality photos at home, but I don't print a lot of photos and was wondering if it's even practical to own a nice printer. But... It sure would like to have the convenience of doing them in house when I want to (plus the ability to calibrate), but I don't know anything about the current crop of printers and how maintenance free they are...
So how much maintenance is involved with the latest printers? Another major concern is ink longevity. I know some of these printers hold like 8 cartridges (at $70 a pop), and I need to know if they have a shelflife. Do they, and if so, how long after they're opened do they go bad? I ask because I can go months without printing, mostly during the summer and then get back into it during the winter.
FWIW, I've heard good things about the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 and 4800. I might even consider a used printer of the same model, if ink longevity is not a concern. Thoughts?
#1. "RE: Newbie question about printers (and inks) that will get low usage." | In response to Reply # 0KazooTom Registered since 15th Dec 2007Wed 06-Feb-08 03:48 PM | edited Wed 06-Feb-08 03:49 PM by KazooTom
I think that if you acquire a quality printer you will find yourself doing more printing than you think you will now. The epson printers are all very good. I owned an older Stylus Pro and got great results from it. I currently own a Canon S9000 and am very pleased with it.
I got the Canon because it was a close out when Canon discontinued the model with an upgrade. The printer is not at the top of the quality list, but produces very acceptable prints for my purposes.
You will get many good responses, but a lot depends on what you want the prints for. I am a hobbyist, not a professional trying to sell my prints. Therefore my requirements may not be as high as a professional making a living off his work.
As a hobbyist, I don't have to spend the super high dollars to get acceptable print quality, suitable for framing. If the inks eventually fade, I can always print another. I have found that using quality papers (not cheap either) make a significant difference in the quality of the prints. Each manufacturer wants you to use their brand ink and paper. If you do, it makes acceptable results easy to obtain.
And yes, the cost of supplies (ink and paper) can add up. You will find that it is normally more expensive to feed the machines than it is to purchase the hardware.
#2. "RE: Newbie question about printers (and inks) that will get low usage." | In response to Reply # 0esantos Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002Wed 06-Feb-08 04:17 PM
Once opened the ink in the cartridges generally are good for about six months, at least that is the claim Epson makes. Unopened carts by Epson are subject to an expiration date printed on the box. I have used inks that have expired without any noticeable effect.
Based on your comments I would not recommend a 3800 or 4800. These are more expensive printers with a lot of capacity and large ink carts. You may be happier with a smaller printer such as the 1400, 1800, or 2400. In fact these are usually available as refurbished units direct from Epson. It is an economical way to get your feet wet and determine whether you really want to get into inkjet printing or not.
esartprints.com Ernesto Santos Photography
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#3. "RE: Newbie question about printers (and inks) that will get low usage." | In response to Reply # 2Czornyj Registered since 28th Nov 2005Wed 06-Feb-08 09:34 PM | edited Wed 06-Feb-08 09:34 PM by Czornyj
As a matter of fact, the R2400 uses the same UltraChrome K3 pigment inks as R3800 - but in much smaller carts, so the quality of prints will be practically the same.
#4. "RE: Newbie question about printers (and inks) that will get low usage." | In response to Reply # 0
I've set myself a weekly reminder in Outlook to do a nozzle check print on my Epson R800 and P-4000 printers. My hope was that a nozzle check print would be enough weekly activity during periods where I'm not printing regularly to avoid ink waste due to cleaning cycles. This interval is too long - I often have to run a standard cleaning cycle or more to get the heads working. I live in a dry climate and that isn't helpful for ink clogging issues.
My P-4000 is essentially the same mechanically as the 4800. I use mine for photo printing and for proof printing in my graphic design business. Still, the printer will often sit for a couple of weeks. Clogging nozzles is the biggest annoyance. It's time consuming to deal with and if you don't check the heads regularly you'll waste ink and money on spoiled prints.
I don't have a problem with old carts going "stale". I do pull out carts every few months and give them a shake since the pigment particles can settle out over time.
Canon and HP have wide format printers with auto head clog detection and self-cleaning standby modes that are really appealing. I've seen too many tales of woe about poor Canon support, poorly engineered and broken parts, and ink carts that have chips that don't work and which Canon won't warranty. HP looks better for support and reliability, but I'm waiting on a 17" carriage model with their pro printer features.
#5. "RE: Newbie question about printers (and inks) that will get low usage." | In response to Reply # 4esantos Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002Thu 07-Feb-08 02:12 AM
The HP self cleaning and monitoring system works, I can vouch for that. I have been running a B9180 for about three months and have never had a clog nor have I bothered to check if it has had any. It always justs prints beautifully.
Of course, unlike the Epsons you have to keep this printer powered on all the time. It does a self check cycle about every 12 hours. I have heard it gurgle and grind away a couple of times. I assume this is the printer doing a cleaning, so the belief that other printers besides Epsons don't clog is a fallacy.
What is a step up from Epson is that if the B9180 encounters a clog that it cannot clear after one cleaning it flags that nozzle as clogged and keeps on printing with the other nozzles to compensate. If on the next two self checks it cannot clear the nozzle it will deem it "dead" and continue working with the remaining nozzles. According to HP if the other nozzles get clogged and unsuccessfully cleared this would eventually lead to an error message that the head would have to be replaced but that is highly unlikely. The beauty of the HP system is that the user can easily replace the print heads for about $50 per head. With Epson you are looking at either chunking it or pay out the nose for about a $500 repair at there authorized service center.
esartprints.com Ernesto Santos Photography
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#6. "RE: Newbie question about printers (and inks) that will get low usage." | In response to Reply # 5Wet1 Registered since 04th Dec 2007Thu 07-Feb-08 02:19 PM
Thanks for all the great info guys. It sounds like I should put this on the back burner for a little while as I'm certain any printer I bought today would have too much down time.
Thanks again for the info!!!
#7. "RE: Newbie question about printers (and inks) that will get low usage." | In response to Reply # 0
>Another major concern is ink longevity. ...
For this, the best authority is:
They do excellent, unbiased testing.
You'll find that inkset and paper are what matter. Each of the various printers that used the same inks will give very similar results.
You should note, though, that HP uses the "Vivera" name on several different inksets making it a nearly useless branding. Pay attention to the actual ink cartridge numbers. Any two printers using the same cartridge number will give virtually identical results. A comparison of Wilhelm's results from the HP B9180 (an excellent choice) and the new forthcomming B8850, which uses the same #38 ink carts, will show virtually identical results.
nikonian in paradise
use: cp8400, cp990, cp950
retired: F,ELW, 21mm, 45 f/2.8 GN
used to own: S2, SP, F2, F3, 20mm f/3.5, 35mm f/1.4, 35mm f/2.8, 43-86 f/3.5, 50mm f/2, 50 f/1.4 (for S2/SP), 55mm f/3.5 Micro, 105mm f/2.5, 105mm f/4 Micro, 300mm f/4.5, 180mm f/4.5 (for 4x5)