Recommendations for inkjet printer and small business owner

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by 100Teraflops, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. 100Teraflops, Apr 14, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012

    100Teraflops macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Location:
    Elyria, Ohio
    #1
    Well, long story short, I will start a business this year. I need a printer which is versatile as new business owner. The printers main usage will be for photo prints and other graphics on paper. Currently, I own a Epson Workforce 630, which is not up to snuff printing quality photos to sell. It's more of a document work horse.

    I can't afford the plush pro graphic printer with several encyclopedia style manuals or worse: no manual! Furthermore, I'm thinking maybe a Canon Pixma pro 9000 II/9500 II or an Epson Stlyus pro 3880. I know the Epson costs more, maybe it's an unfair comparison? Any other printers that I'm overlooking?

    I want stellar function-ability, a long lasting product, ease of use or well documented interface, quality components, and the no brainer: beautiful prints! My price range is south of $1500. "Bang for the buck" is cool, but not always the wise solution. Imagine trying to gut a fish with a butter knife! Although a cheaper solution is appreciated! I read a few reviews on Red River Paper and DP review about the mentioned Canons and I have found a few about the Epson. However, without operating a printer beforehand, how does one select the proper horse to pull the carriage?

    A few odd questions, I read that some printers are very thirsty for ink, which is expected, but is this the rule or internet scuttlebutt? I'm looking at paper, but since I'm new, I'm not sure about the uses for all the different types of paper, such as using satin for landscapes and glossy for portraits? Is there an article or a paper review site on the web? I can't find anything for "professionals"? Can somebody recommend a book about the art of printing and the selection process for paper etc? Are t-shirt graphics printed on paper, then applied to the material?

    I realize the learning curve is pretty steep, like certain software, but I have to start printing sooner than later if I will be competitive as photographer/graphic designer. Thanks in advance and the help is always appreciated!
     
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #2
    If you're looking at low end (consumer) printers, you want to look at Epson Artisan.

    At the higher end, the Epson Pro Photo printers are good as well, but as you noticed, they do cost more money.

    When printing photos, you will notice that some colors run out much faster than others. This is to be expected.

    As for paper, what you need to do is get and try different types of paper for different subjects. Also, depending on what you do with the pictures once printed will affect which paper to use.

    If your business revolves around the printer working, you might want to consider getting 2 printers.

    And yes you do want to keep a document workhorse for printing documents and invoices and such.
     
  3. 100Teraflops thread starter macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Location:
    Elyria, Ohio
    #3

    Bear, thanks for the advice! I wasn't sure whether the Artisan would cut it! I figure I have a document printer covered, hence the Workforce. I should have been more specific in my description! Looks like I will need at least two printers...:eek:

    So, I will have to experiment with paper to achieve desired results?
     
  4. Bear macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #4
    The Artisan might cut it depending on what your actual business is. It's more in how much you will be printing in a day.

    And yes you'll need to experiment. Part of the paper selection involves what effects you're looking for. Without knowing the actual use of the prints, it's tough to say what paper will serve you best. And remember that the same type of paper (semi-gloss for example) are not identical from different paper manufacturers.

    If you have a photography trade show like Photo Plus Expo in NYC that you can get to, they usually have several of the paper manufacturers at the shows and you can talk to them and see sample prints.
     
  5. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #5
    I have the Epson 3800, and aside from it being a bit picky about loading single sheets in the rear slot, have found it produces wonderful results and has been very solid for me. The rear slot demands that sheets be perfectly square. It will tell you immediately that your sheet is skewed and to please try again... so it doesn't cost money or time. It's a well known 'thing' and I don't want to make it sound serious... but you will hear about this in some reviews.

    The ink costs up front are staggering, because you are buying ink in tanks that are larger than you are used to. However, the tanks last much much longer than the smaller Epson printers. When I last did my calculations, which was a few years ago and in Canadian $$ it cost me just under $1 per ml of ink.

    Comparing $/ml is a good start to compare operating costs, but you also need to know how much ink is going onto the paper. Yes, some printers drink more ink. But the good reviews will help sort that out. Keep in mind that two different reviewers will get two different usage rates on the same printer if their test prints are different. So make sure you compare Apples to Apples. In my case it cost me (several years ago) $1.61 per 8.5 x11 sheet - for the ink. Your numbers will be different of course, but it's a starting point. The printer will come with a starter pack of inks, so the cost of buying more ink can be deferred until you've sold a few prints. :)

    Do some googling around. There are some really good sites that do reviews on printers, and will also list things like the ink used per sheet, etc etc. Try Luminous Landscape, for example.

    The 3880 may not be the best printer (or it may be, I don't know) but I don't think you will be disappointed either. It's a good solid printer.

    Also, printers can be sheet feeders only (like the 3880) or can also accept rolls of paper - like the Epson 4900. Paper can be much cheaper by the roll, but of course the printer is also much more expensive. If you are going into print production (as in putting out many many prints) then perhaps a roll printer is for you. But they are also huge!

    Check around too, you may find the Epson 3880 is on sale some place.

    No printer of this calibre is going to be "dead easy" to use. Some are just more difficult than others. But this is a good forum for posting questions.

    Yes, you are going to have to learn about papers too, and profiles. A good pro photo store will have samples you can look at, expert help, and sample packs of paper so you can try different surfaces.

    I'd also buy your printer from a pro photo store if you can. Even if you can save a few bucks by ordering on-line a good store will give you great advice, and will help you to protect your investment by answering questions etc.

    Good Luck.
     
  6. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #6
    Yeah you should factor in the total number of prints you intend to make, and what output sizes. Get the best printer for that specification. Buying a cheap printer for high-volume work is just asking for disaster.

    Doubly so when your business depends on the printer. If your printer is not up to snuff, your products will be sub-par and not sell, or if your printer breaks down and you are making no prints, you are not selling anything and thus making no money either.

    It is not a "cost", it's investing in your livelihood. I'm not saying you need an Epson 9900 or anything but buying one of the more expensive pro-grade printers may be the more effective investment especially when it comes to output volume, maintenance costs, and reliability.

    Paper selection can vary from print to print. Ideally you would stock several different kinds of paper that you could then use to match to each print, for maximum effect. Like some papers are a little warmer and work better for some images, while others are a little cooler. Surface texture, brightness, dmax, all vary between fine art papers, and there is no one paper that works "best" for all prints.
     
  7. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    #7
    If your business is selling your own work, you don't need two printers. If you're printing for others, you might eventually need two printers, but there's no point in buying two printers now.
     
  8. someoldguy macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Location:
    usa
    #8
    I've got a Pixma Pro 9000 II . Great printer as far as quality ,prints up to 13x19 , but it goes through ink pretty fast . There's 8 tiny cartridges and it seems one's always about to run out . I don't use mine commercially so the small cartridges are an annoyance , but nothing more . Don't think I'd recommend one for more than occasional business use . There's gotta be something with ink tanks out there that gives good results and is within your price range , just don't know what it is .
     
  9. 100Teraflops, Apr 14, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012

    100Teraflops thread starter macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Location:
    Elyria, Ohio
    #9
    Well my business will be your run of the mill photography studio specializing in everything! I'm not exactly sure how I will market and advertise, but it will be aggressive that's for sure. Hey, thanks for the info regarding all paper isn't created equal, hence thickness, density etc.. I should of known this after wading through 18,000 types of paper online. Also, there is a convention next month and I think I will attend. It's a three day event and it's close to my Alma Mater! Should be a good time regardless!

    Thanks again Bear for sharing your knowledge! The paper info is very helpful!


    SNB, I knew you would post! :) Regarding the skewed paper, that's saying I buy rolls and cut it myself? Thanks for the info about that series of printer. It is a front runner currently! Well, I read that it is around $1 per ml, so I'm reading accurate information. Also, I planned to buy more ink with a printer, but you are right: I better wait until I sell prints! Thanks! I'm sure the included ink will print plenty of photos right off the bat. Although, I have to practice printing like mad and figure out my print profile(s)!

    I'll check out Luminous Landscape, thanks a million! Your last few paragraphs are what I needed to hear, thanks again! Creating profiles, figuring out whether to buy a sheet feeder or a roll feeder is something I have to address! Also, I thought about saving a few bucks and buying online, but i think I will but locally that way I have someone to "lean on" saying I don't have internet service that day? ;)


    Firstly, thanks a ton! The livelihood advice is as true as night and day! Yes, your info regarding volume is something I thought about, once I get going. I don't want to buy a "pro printer" twice unless I out grow the first one! All of us know that's a great situation to be in, but I'm not there yet! Thanks for the advice regarding possessing many types and brands of paper. I will buy multiple brands and conduct test print showdowns to determine which I like better for what and why! Invaluable advice regarding there isn't one paper for multiple print jobs! I kinda figured since photography is expensive as a hobby, let alone a business. Nonetheless, thanks for the sound and logical advice!

    No, there isn't! That's why I have to do my homework/research! Thanks for the advice!

    Exactly what I want to hear regarding business use! Small "cartridges" suck with my current printer, let alone a business/commercial model! You helped more than you know kind Sir! Thank you!

    I greatly appreciate sharing of knowledge, providing sound, and logical regarding all aspects of photography! Also, advice on this forum is free and there are ample members who share their experiences free of charge and to those members: I Salute You All!
     
  10. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #10
    Congratulations! Re: marketing. There is an old saying that you have to spend money to make money. However, the reverse is not true.. just because you spend money does not mean you will make money! And by "spending money", in this day and age, we also mean "time" since social media is "free" - only if you don't count your time as time you can be earning money. If that's not too convoluted, eh? :)

    In my experience, and others may have different experiences, the best advertizing comes from word-of-mouth. But ... you gotta have clients in the 1st place in order to have people talking about you.... and that is for another post.
    You gotta go and feel the samples and get some sample packs. Online won't help you here.
    And good networking! Bring biz cards! Keep your receipts.
    Am I that predictable, eh? :)
    The skewed paper is coming from factory cut sheets. It just means the leading edge was not inserted perfectly square. I'm going to try cutting my own sheets from a roll....but I'm going to need a very very accurate cutter.
    You'll get lots of warning about when it is time to buy more ink. I do buy my ink on-line, and my paper from the pro photo store. I like to look at the samples.
    Yep. My suggestion is to pick no more than 3 papers, and learn to get the best from each. Then try small samples of other papers to see if you can do better - for your needs - with these others. If you try to do it all at once you'll go batty.

    Also.... not everyone needs a super deluxe archival print. I picked up some old, low to mid-range paper on a terrific sale. Sometimes you just need to a "good enough" print. Perhaps it's just going into someone's photo album. Good paper can get expensive.
    If you intend to sell multiple prints of the same image, i.e. you think you are going to be selling photographs as much (or more) than selling photo services then I would seriously look at a roll fed printer. The pay-back time will not be short - but it will pay for itself. Where you save is paper costs, perhaps ink, and most importantly your time. If you think you are going to be selling photo services more than photographs (i.e. mostly delivering electronic versions) then a sheet fed printer is fine.

    If you get good at printing, and if you are not in a community with a good printing lab, one way to make some money is to print for other photographers. At that point you want a roll fed printer.
    We is nice people, eh?

    ps all of the above is, obviously, imho only....
     
  11. 100Teraflops thread starter macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Location:
    Elyria, Ohio
    #11
    SNB, thanks again for the help! I'm definately thinking roll feeder, but the 3880 isn't ruled out yet. I found some reviews which are helpful. I'm pretty sure I'm buying an Epson printer. I have to talk with my account and lawyer before I apply for a loan. I have a target number in mind to borrow, but I'm not sure of the costs associated with incorporating. I just want to line up all my ducks, then start quacking!

    Oh yeah, Luminous Landscape is a great site! Kinda exotic too! The African Safari tours look like a blast! I spent most of my time in the product review section. Talk about printer reviews galore! Thanks again....:)
     
  12. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #12
    Any time. Your questions are always well thought out, though they are not necessarily easy to answer ... :)
    Wow. You are serious! I'm incorporated. We did it to protect our personal assets (home) in a worst-case scenario. But we ended up being able to do some really interesting things because of the corporation. You have to get your mind around the fact that the corporation is a separate entity, in law. It's just that you happen to control it. So, you control both yourself and the company. So, for instance, we borrowed money from the bank personally. We then lent the money to the company. Banks will give people much better rates than they will give companies (at least companies of our size .... ). Canadian law is such that the interest we personally paid the bank for our loan was a personal tax deduction because the interest was an expense incurred in an investment. We personally invested in our corporation by personally lending the corporation money. Of course, now the corporation has some cash. It decided to pay us back at zero interest. There was no net income for a bit, so the corporation didn't need the expense/tax deduction. It did have enough cash flow however to pay us back some of the principle on the loan. The corporation paid us (personally) the same amount we personally were paying the bank monthly for our personal loan. So - personally - our bank account stayed the same as if we had never taken the loan. But we had an extra tax personal tax deduction that made our personal tax liability less - so more money in the bank for us, personally. (Since it was the principle on the loan being paid by the corporation, it's not considered income). And the corporation got the cash it needed to get started at an interest rate it could afford.

    Your situation will be different, of course... but this is an example of the kind of ways you can use a corporation to your advantage, and it makes the extra costs worthwhile, in our opinion.

    You want a really good accountant, who knows these things. And keeps things legal. The lawyer is not so important. They will likely be the "legal" address and hold the papers. We used a lawyer we knew (another photographer) to file the initial papers, but he retired and we've not actually met our current corporate lawyers. We get papers once a year to be signed, and an invoice for the year. That's it for our relationship. But if something goes tilt, we'll need to meet them I guess. The accountant is much more important, to my mind. There will lots of questions about "Can I do this?" that almost always revolve around the bookkeeping and accounting.
    Get insurance. Ask some pro photographers who they use. There are policies specifically for shooters that many insurance brokers don't know about. If you are shooting at events, the most important insurance you can get is the policy that pays for all the things you back into. Apparently it's the most used clause in an event (like weddings) photographers policy.

    Also, get sickness and disability insurance (when you can afford it). Joining professional organizations will likely make you eligible for their group insurance. Not so critical here in Canada, but if you are not in a socialized medical care nation it can be very critical. Even joining a Chamber of Commerce may make you eligible.

    Start planning your retirement savings now. Being self-employed means no company plan. It's unlikely that you will ever be able to sell your company (though if you get to be so successful, good on ya!)

    Be generous sharing your art prints with other photographers. You may get some prints back that end up paying for part of your retirement. I know an about-to-retire photographer who has a collection of prints that would make a regional sized photo museum drool. They were given to him by the photographers, and he was generous back.

    Do I know how to write short posts? I don't think so! Eh! I'm really happy for you. It's a big step. I should probably look at your gallery, I suppose... :)
     
  13. 100Teraflops thread starter macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Location:
    Elyria, Ohio
    #13
    I didn't think about accidental insurance, thanks again! More helpful information. Sounds like your company strategy is sound and profitable! You gave me a lot to think about and I can't wait to get more accomplished!
    As far as you writing a short post: NEVER! :p
     
  14. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #14
    Profitable? You do remember we are talking about photography, eh?! :D

    To be honest, I don't know if I would want to start into the business again, in today's world. I'm not saying you shouldn't... but just about everything I thought I knew about being a professional photographer has changed in the last few years.

    Except for one thing. Make the best photographs you can. Treat your customers right. Deliver more than they pay for - even if that "more" is just that they enjoy themselves.

    I think that now the money is in the experience. Don't just take people's pictures, make it an experience.
     
  15. AgRacer macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2011
    #15
    If you end up with a smaller style of printer that just has cartridges, try out this for CISS.

    www.hotzone360.com

    I have his CISS on my Artisan 730 and it works just fine and is 1/10th the cost of buying new cartridges.
     
  16. 100Teraflops thread starter macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Location:
    Elyria, Ohio
    #16
    Thank you for the link! It can be very useful for another member too!
     

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