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numediaman
Jan 30, 2006, 04:00 PM
Although printers are normally discussed in another area, it seems to me that photo printers are almost as important to quality digital photography as the camera.

I am curious about what printer you use for your professional, or quality amateur work.

I have been using an Epson 960 for a couple of years and have been very happy with it. My complaints with it have to do with the fact that there are parts of it that do not seem well designed and built, the fact that the printer takes an unique ink cartridge that must be ordered online or from a large retailer, and that because of the ink one can not use certain papers such as most HP stocks. I have always like the quality of the prints -- and I like that it prints on CD/DVDs.

But today I received a new Epson R1800. So far, I do not see a dramatic jump in quality (though I'm very satisfied), but I've tested an HP paper stock that I like for brochures and the printer produced a great print without any bubbling or smearing of the ink. So far so good. (I like using Ilford paper for medium quality photo work and Epson Luster for higher quality prints.)

Reviews stated that the printer was "built like a tank" -- but if the U.S. army builds tanks like this our military is in serious trouble. I'm not saying that it seems cheap -- but compared to a ten year old Epson printer I have, this one seems filmsy. The biggest upgrade seems to be the way the printer feeds the CD/DVD holder -- it is a 100% improvement over the way CDs are feed into the 960.



-hh
Jan 30, 2006, 04:32 PM
Although printers are normally discussed in another area, it seems to me that photo printers are almost as important to quality digital photography as the camera.

I am curious about what printer you use for your professional, or quality amateur work.

I've had an Epson 1270 (tablet) for a couple of (5?) years. It initially gave me some nice prints, but as of lately, its had some clogged nozzles and some other TBD performance question marks, so I've not put any glossy paper through it for awhile. I did get the nozzles unclogged this past weekend, so I should give it a test to see how its doing. The 1270 has been superceded, but I believe that some variant of it is still available (EDIT: just checked: its the 1280).


Based on the Canon rebate, I got their 6600D for "free". I ran some 4x6 prints off of it to stick in Christmas Cards last month with fairly good results - - the oddity was that a few have had the appearance of being over-saturated and/or over-sharpened on this (http://www.huntzinger.com/photo/2005/paris/paris_parents.jpg)image of my parents. Considering that it was an 11th hour "get er done" rush job, I didn't have the wherewithal to write down exactly what was different from print job to print job - I was more concerned about not putting in the paper wrong-side up, etc. I've made a couple of prints since, and using iPhoto, its a relatively painless ... although relatively "no controls" ... process that has delivered acceptable results. What I need to really do is to run the same print through both to see how the side-by-side results look. I'll try to make that a "this week" project.


-hh

Chip NoVaMac
Jan 30, 2006, 05:59 PM
The question I have is what sized prints are you doing?

Some people will not see the difference. Just like some will not see the difference between 2mp and 5mp 8x10 prints.

The joy of the R800 and R1800 printers are in the gloss optimizer "ink". This gives prints that avoid the issue of black ink sitting on top of papers, and white areas having no ink. When viewed at angles this can give the appearance of of empty areas or bronzing of the black ink areas.

As to the build quality, printers have become "cheaper" in their construction. The R800/1800 series are built like tanks compared to the R200

Based on -hh's comments, color management is needed for the best results. This means calibrating the monitor, and for best results IMO using a program to create printer profiles.

numediaman
Jan 30, 2006, 08:50 PM
Clearly, I have plans to do at least some prints larger than 8 x 10. Having said that, I also do a few low-grade prints of odd sizes for brochures or insert cards inside CDs or DVDs. It has always been inconvenient that my 960 wouldn't accept larger formats (no problem for the R1800).

Now that I've worked with the printer for an afternoon I have found addition things I like about the R1800 over the 960:

1) easier and better borderless printing. I really like the print menus within Photoshop versus the 960. (Probably just upgraded software, really.)

2) Truer color. I always struggled with the 960 getting the colors just right. For instance, it tended to accentuate green (like the green found in shots taken under fluorescent lighting). The R1800 produced good looking colors right out of the box.

I have an Apple display -- it has been difficult reproducing what is on the screen with the final print. So far I like what the R1800 is giving me.

Chip NoVaMac
Jan 30, 2006, 09:21 PM
I have an Apple display -- it has been difficult reproducing what is on the screen with the final print. So far I like what the R1800 is giving me.

Hardware calibration of the monitor may make you love it even more!

G4scott
Jan 31, 2006, 08:18 AM
For serious photo printing, there's no other way to go (right now) other than Epson. With their archival inks, excellent color management, and large selection of papers, nobody else even comes close to matching what Epson has today. If you go to a photography trade show, the vast majority of printers will be Epson printers.

The R1800 is a very good printer, and if you're looking for a larger format, the R2400 is even better. My father recently purchased one because he sells his prints, and it works very well.

The thing about Canon, is that they only support "archival" prints on their papers, which have an extreme lack of variety, unless you're looking for ultra super shiny glossy paper.

If you're looking for a good photo printer, go with Epson. If you're doing a lot of black and white prints, make sure you get a model with their new K3 inks. I'd shy away from Canon and HP, but a Canon rep I talked to hinted at new products coming soon. If they come out with true archival inks, and more/better papers, it might be worth going with them, but for now, I'd say Epson.

rjphoto
Jan 31, 2006, 10:16 AM
I've been using Epsons exclusively since the 740 came out (NOT PHOTO QUALITY.)

I've recently retired an 825 Photothat paid for its self the night I took it out of the box. I purchased an R300a year and a half ago to print CDs and DVDs. I like it so much I let the 825 sit up so long I can't get the heads to unclog.


I was recently given a 2200 by a friend wtih too much money (his last name is M.D.) and no patients to get it to work. He was talked into buying it by the super sales guy at our local Apple dealer. All he wanted was something to do quick 4x6 prints. The 2200 was OVERKILL big time.

I haven't had time to buy any big photo paper and run the "proper" test but so far it has done a fine job on 8x10's.

Hey HH, nice shot of the folks.

JDar
Jan 31, 2006, 12:03 PM
You've got a fine printer. Be sure and try Epson's Enhanced Matte paper and see how you like the results. I've tried a lot of paper and I think on my R800 the Enhanced Matt or glossy photo papers work the best. The R series seems to center images better than any other Epsons I've ever had, too.

I stick strictly with Epson inks as well, after trying cheaper suppliers and being unhappy with the results.

Heb1228
Jan 31, 2006, 12:12 PM
I was recently given a 2200 by a friend wtih too much money (his last name is M.D.) and no patients to get it to work.
Did you mean patience or did he actually try and get his patients to work on his printer? ;)

rjphoto
Jan 31, 2006, 01:55 PM
Did you mean patience or did he actually try and get his patients to work on his printer? ;)

patience, sorry.

I type patients so much in my job that it slipped by the internal spell check...

You've got a fine printer. Be sure and try Epson's Enhanced Matte paper and see how you like the results. I've tried a lot of paper and I think on my R800 the Enhanced Matt or glossy photo papers work the best. The R series seems to center images better than any other Epsons I've ever had, too.

I stick strictly with Epson inks as well, after trying cheaper suppliers and being unhappy with the results.


I've been using the Epson "Borderless 8x10 Matte Paper-Heavyweight".

Is this Enhanced Matt something different? I haven't seen it where I buy my papers.

I beginning to wonder if it is the off brand ink that clogged the 825. I'm using only Epson inks on the R300 & 2200.

numediaman
Jan 31, 2006, 07:21 PM
I checked out the paper samples that came with the printer and it included the "Enhanced Matt". I believe it is a heavier stock than their double sided matt -- which I use a lot of brochures and cd/dvd inserts.

Ink is going to continue to be a problem, though. I was on Amazon and they had cartridges at a decent price, but I left them in my "cart" because my printer had not yet arrived. Today I went back online and the prices had gone up by 50%. 50%!

I ended up buying some ink from a company I have ordered from in the past, though I am a little leery -- Guido's Inks and Whoopie Parlor . We'll see if the ink arrives OK.

I've tried "compatible" inks in the past but I wasn't satisfied. Any recommendations concerning ordering ink online? And any thoughts on "compatible" inks?

PBGPowerbook
Jan 31, 2006, 08:00 PM
I work at a Frontier (Fuji) lab, and I honestly believe home photo printing is NOWHERE near the value of going into a well run digital minilab and getting prints. Yes, Costco has a Frontier, but find a good local lab. We charge .29 for 4x6, like 4 bucks for 8x12. It's an actual chemical photo on crystal archive paper...no cartridges, paper to buy. I dont mean to troll or derail discussion, but I'm an 'advanced amateur' photographer and I really think it's worth the time and gas to find a good midlevel frontier/noritsu (much less lightjet) lab that will match your files well.

G4scott
Feb 1, 2006, 09:24 AM
I work at a Frontier (Fuji) lab, and I honestly believe home photo printing is NOWHERE near the value of going into a well run digital minilab and getting prints. Yes, Costco has a Frontier, but find a good local lab. We charge .29 for 4x6, like 4 bucks for 8x12. It's an actual chemical photo on crystal archive paper...no cartridges, paper to buy. I dont mean to troll or derail discussion, but I'm an 'advanced amateur' photographer and I really think it's worth the time and gas to find a good midlevel frontier/noritsu (much less lightjet) lab that will match your files well.

The prints that professional Epson printers put out, especially the R2400 and R4800, are archival quality. While not everyone is using inkjet printers, more and more pros are taking this route. It gives you more control over your whole process, which is especially useful if your work is your business. I know a true chemical photo on crystal archive paper process is probably still better than the majority of inkjet prints, but they're catching up fast.

For someone whose photography isn't a major source of income, or they just want a way to get very good prints from their shots, then going to a photo lab would probably be more economical than buying an $800 printer, and the prints would almost certainly be better than almost anything a sub $200 printer can put out, as far as quality, color, and archival life.

G4scott
Feb 1, 2006, 09:27 AM
I checked out the paper samples that came with the printer and it included the "Enhanced Matt". I believe it is a heavier stock than their double sided matt -- which I use a lot of brochures and cd/dvd inserts.

Ink is going to continue to be a problem, though. I was on Amazon and they had cartridges at a decent price, but I left them in my "cart" because my printer had not yet arrived. Today I went back online and the prices had gone up by 50%. 50%!

I ended up buying some ink from a company I have ordered from in the past, though I am a little leery -- Guido's Inks and Whoopie Parlor . We'll see if the ink arrives OK.

I've tried "compatible" inks in the past but I wasn't satisfied. Any recommendations concerning ordering ink online? And any thoughts on "compatible" inks?

If you're using an Epson, use Epson inks. They're specially made for archival quality, to last for over 100 years. Other "compatible" inks may not have the same quality, and may have an effect on print quality. It may save you some green up front, but your photos will suffer over time. If you're ordering ink online, just make sure it has some sort of seal of authenticity (I think Epson has it, and possibly Canon). You just have to be a bit more careful, but it's probably worth the savings if you can find ink online for less than in stores.

-hh
Feb 1, 2006, 09:29 AM
Based on -hh's comments, color management is needed for the best results. This means calibrating the monitor, and for best results IMO using a program to create printer profiles.

Well, I did get the chance this morning to take an image I already had in iPhoto and send it to both printers (8.5"x11" glossy photo paper).

In going down through printer configuration settings, I found that my Epson 1270 *didn't* have Colorsync enabled, which could easily explain some prior wierdness. Got that print started, then want to repeat the process (same paper) on the Canon ip6600D.

Not surprisingly, the Canon was a *lot* faster in finishing the print vs the ~5 year old Epson.

Laying the two printed versions of the same image side-by-side, I immediately noticed that the blue skies in each were clearly different shades of blue. Since iPhoto should theoretically be sending out the same info, I think its reasonable to assume that the color profiles for the printers must be what's driving them to different results.

Next step for me will be to put the two prints next to my monitor and take a photo of all 3 of them for people to look at, and to illustrate which one is a more faithful rendition of the monitor's view...at least at the standard Mac gamma setting. Looks like a "color space management for dummies" textbook is in my future, along with one of those $100 monitor calibration hockypucks.


-hh