Printer recommendation?
Old 01-08-2014   #1
tempest68
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Printer recommendation?

I think my next gear purchase should probably be a decent printer. But I'm not sure what brand/model will be the best bang-for-the-buck.

I bought an Epson Artisan 725 a year or so ago, and it doesn't seem to print on photo paper properly. I get "lines" that are evenly spaced when I try to use any type of photo paper. I've tried the "thick paper" setting, I've done the print head adjustment routine multiple times, nothing I've tried really fixes this printer to my satisfaction. As it does normal paper printouts fine and is a good enough scanner when I need it, I'll be keeping it for those functions.

So I'm looking for a dedicated photo printer that can easily handle good quality, thinker photo papers and produce decent prints. I shoot color more than B&W. I'm looking for suggestions on what brands/models to consider within the $1000.00 USD or less price range. Obviously the less money I spend, the happier my wallet will be. But I don't want to spend too little and then not be satisfied with the printers capabilities or have maintenance problems.

So give me some ideas of what to consider based on your experience with whatever printer you use.
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Old 01-08-2014   #2
KEH
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All I know is the Epson line - which has the best support from third party software and alternative inks. After wasting over $1k and being extremely frustrated with clogged heads, ink splotches, etc. with several Epson printers, I bit the bullet and bought the Epson 3880. You can often get it discounted around $1k.

It just works. Even with sporadic use, it just works. I've had maybe two clogs in over two years, and they were both easy to fix.

The print quality is great. Best to stick with Epson papers, unless you want to spend another pile of money on ImagePrint software. But there are some excellent Epson papers.

Other people may have had other experiences, of course.

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Old 01-08-2014   #3
ColinMichael
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The Epson 3880 is a top choice and with the current $200 rebate is about $950 at B&H until the end of the month. I'm buying one next week. Epson has some nice tutorials on their website about getting the most out of your printer too.
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Old 01-08-2014   #4
venchka
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Make it unanimous. Epson 3880. Quadtone RIP for $50 adds complete control for any paper AND it allows the 3880 to print in full 16 bit mode.
I had lunch last weekend with a friend who has had a 3880 for quite awhile. He turns it off for months. Fires it up. Prints. No worries.

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Old 01-08-2014   #5
Frank Petronio
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I've had inkjet printers since my Iris 18 years ago but I finally put my last (g-d) Epson on the curb three months ago and haven't looked back. I can have a quality portfolio prints made at Booksmart Studios for $20 when I need a decent print for that or a give-away.

Seriously, count how many prints you really expect to print and factor in ink and paper, it's pretty expensive and while the 3880 is more ink-efficient than the consumer printers, you still have to feed it a fair amount for it to make sense. And then what happens to the prints you make? In my case I've tossed hundreds, if not thousands of them out and I still have 50 cubic feet of filled-up print boxes.

Of course I also had the revelation that anybody and everybody sees my work online and the only thing to make prints for is the occasional print sale or personal display. Those are expensive enough that I can afford to work with Booksmart and also experiment with sizes and stocks that my personal printer couldn't do.

It used to be that I had to make a print to "see" the image but with the larger, higher density screens my online images are larger than an 8x10 @300ppi print output... plenty of rez to know if it's good or not as well as a much greater tonal range than any print media. Screens are actually the superior end result for photos ;-p
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Old 01-08-2014   #6
2WK
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I use the Epson 9600 pro, also with Quadtone RIP with no complaints. 44' wide by however tall you want!
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Old 01-09-2014   #7
froyd
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Originally Posted by 2WK View Post
I use the Epson 9600 pro, also with Quadtone RIP with no complaints. 44' wide by however tall you want!
< $1000? No way.
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Old 01-10-2014   #8
1joel1
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I have the Epson 3800, but if I were to replace it, the 3880 is the best choice imho.

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Old 01-10-2014   #9
swoop
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Every Epson printer I've owned had clogged up bad. On the other hand every Canon printer I've owned had gone months without printing and worked fine without issue.
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Old 01-10-2014   #10
Jan Pedersen
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Epson 3880. I have had mine about 15 months. It was untouched for 5 month running out of ink, i finally got more ink. It fired right up, not even one cleaning cycle needed.
I am very impressed with the prints from this printer.
Quad tone Rip and you are in business for nice B&W prints.
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Old 01-11-2014   #11
venchka
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Frank answers the question that you didn't ask. You really do need to make a LOT of prints before you begin to recover the $1,000 initial outlay for the printer. Add the expense of consumables and home printing gets very expensive.
On the other hand, what is the convenience factor of making prints on demand anytime the mood strikes you?

Wayne
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Old 01-11-2014   #12
lynnb
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Jim, you haven't mentioned:
- why you are considering buying a printer rather than finding a good print service
- whether this is a financial or emotional decision
- if financial, what size and how many prints you expect to mostly make

Frank has a very good point. It is almost certainly cheaper to use a print service provided the quality is good and cost reasonable (it seems to be much cheaper in the US than here in Australia). A printer ties up a lot of money and space. Depends on the printer of course - the 3880 is quite a large printer but relatively small for A2-capable. Also consider the cost and storage space of media.

I print because I enjoy the process. I like experimenting with different papers. I can easily make prints to the exact aspect ratios and dimensions I want for matting and framing. I guess a good print bureau can do this too. I'd had bad experiences with printers in the past (HP B9180, and consumer Epson) so 2yrs ago I bought a 3880. The reasons were print quality, excellent dealer and service support, and lower running costs due to the larger capacity ink carts. The support and ink cost swayed me over the Canon equivalent. I calculated the total cost of ownership for my printing requirements was cheaper with the 3880 than with an A4 printer, despite the higher upfront cost (which included a FULL set of ink carts - not partially full "starter" carts).

I have been very happy with the 3880. I usually print in batches, sometimes with breaks of up to 1-2 months and have never had a head clog. Although replacement carts are around $70 here in Australia, they last a very long time, so the cost per print is lower than consumer models. Quality is very good with both Epson and third party (Canson and Hahnemuehle) papers.

However, the logical decision would have been to use a print service. Buying a printer was an emotional decision to have control over the whole process, for printing A4 to A2 size prints. I don't regret that. For postcard prints I get the prints done commercially for a fraction of the cost I can print myself.
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Old 01-11-2014   #13
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I have had an Epson 3800 since 2007. It has been absolutely reliable, and the print quality is superb.
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Old 01-11-2014   #14
tempest68
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Thanks to all that have taken a moment to reply. I was a little surprised at how unanimous the responses for the Epson 3880 were. I expected maybe one or two other brands to maybe be mentioned, but it seems like the RFF community has a clear preference.

I don't print at home now simply because I have a consumer printer that does a really poor job. It is purely a convenience factor to be able to print anytime I want that has me going down this path. I don't send out to a lab for just a single print or two partly due to logistics of it and partly because if I can do it myself I might decide after initial print I want to make some adjustment and print again. That last part would be too costly and time consuming if farming out the prints. I also tend to find out last minute that I need a print for one of my kids school projects last second and there is no time to have a lab do it. A very old HP that was dedicated to 4x6" prints finally died. So as I'm trying to be more creative with my photography, I really do want to be able to print an 8x10" or 11x13" on the fly.

I will have the money available to make a purchase very soon, so unless I suddenly see a new round of replies highly recommending something else I will most likely get the 3880.
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Old 01-11-2014   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swoop View Post
Every Epson printer I've owned had clogged up bad. On the other hand every Canon printer I've owned had gone months without printing and worked fine without issue.
Me, also. I switched to Canon years ago. Currently, I have a Pixma Pro-100--prints 13x19, three color greyscale, too, and was on sale recently for an effective price of $89, counting rebates. Lovely printer, and reliable, like the four Canons that preceeded it, unlike the five or six nightmare Epsons before that. I totally fail to see how Epson can stay in the printer business wth their miserable reliability.
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Old 01-11-2014   #16
lynnb
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for $98 after rebates (link to bhphotovideo, but the deal is probably available elsewhere) that Canon is a bargain! You could buy an awful lot of ink and media for the price difference between that and a 3880. Heck, you could buy a backup printer and still be miles ahead!

When I was shopping around for a printer I could see no discernible difference between Canon and Epson prints on large glossy and photo rag media. Both printers were priced very close to each other. I only chose the Epson because of support/service and lower ink costs over time. This $98 deal on the Canon changes that equation and seems a no-brainer, given your intended usage.

I notice the Pixma Pro-1 12-ink 13x19" printer is also $700 after rebate (and you get $30 off LR5). But the Pro-100 is such a good deal if it were me in your position I'd buy it. I have had a Canon consumer dye-ink A4 printer for years that never misses a beat even after not using for 12mths. The only reason I bought Epson I mentioned above - support and ink cost (and able to make big prints).

For $98 you could try the Canon and if you don't like it, you could throw it away! Or sell it...
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Old 01-11-2014   #17
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I agree that the canon is a steal with the rebate so much so that I got one. I thought the rebate was only valid or purchases through the end of 2013 but maybe there's another deal. Regardless, there are differences in ink and type of paper best suited to the pro-100 vs the epson and the higher end canons that should be considered.
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Old 01-11-2014   #18
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I am another one that gave up on Epson printers because of head problems. I went with HP and had great luck, however they stopped making the paper for my printer last year and just three months ago stopped making the Photo Gray ink. I just ran out of my last Photo Gray ink cart in Nov. but I have to say I had that HP for eight years without a problem. In that same time my wife went thru 3 epson's all died with problems. And I have just received a Canon Pro 100, can't beat the rebate deal.
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Old 01-11-2014   #19
Bill Clark
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I have a S520 Canon printer that is quite old. I believe I bought it in 2002. Now I use it to print accounting and spreadsheet stuff on my Dell computer from 2002.

Hows about that for a long life!

When I buy a new printer it will be Canon.

Here is a page on the old Canon:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...es-hp,521.html

Since I have Apple stuff, a new printer would need air print.

Info:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/can...eup-2014-01-06
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Old 01-11-2014   #20
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Epson 3880 is a godsend. I have made thousands of 17x22 prints and it works as good as new. My prints from this machine are in museums & galleries in the US and Europe... What a great machine. Needs very little attention, just keeps cranking out the prints.

My old Canon would clog all the time.
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Old 01-11-2014   #21
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Just note that the Canon Pixma is a dye, not pigment printer.

Between the loyalists and the lemons, it's pretty hard to judge which printer? My experience is that all the brands produce some lemons and some people are a lot luckier. But we don't know any real statistics.
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Old 01-11-2014   #22
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I have been using a Canon Pro 9500 for a few years now, and it works very well. I did some traveling, and didn't use the printer in over a year, I switched it on, and made a few prints with no problems. I like the 9500 because it does black-and-white very well. It has never suffered any clogs or other problems, and it has never given me cause to complain.
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Old 01-11-2014   #23
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My older Canon was a dye printer and the images faded noticeably, without being in direct sunlight, in a matter of months. But this was a while ago and I assume even the dye inks have improved.
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Old 01-11-2014   #24
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Yes, that is what I was referring to. Though my understanding is that only the Pixma Pro-100 is dye while the Pro-10 and Pro-1 are pigment-based printers.

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Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
Just note that the Canon Pixma is a dye, not pigment printer.

Between the loyalists and the lemons, it's pretty hard to judge which printer? My experience is that all the brands produce some lemons and some people are a lot luckier. But we don't know any real statistics.
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Old 01-11-2014   #25
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Canon's ChromaLife100+ dyes are much improved over the original dyes. The new dyes are rated for 100 years when used in combination with the appropriate papers. Pigment inks are still better in terms of longevity and, as far as I understand it, the longevity is not as much a function of the type of paper as is the case with the dyes.

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My older Canon was a dye printer and the images faded noticeably, without being in direct sunlight, in a matter of months. But this was a while ago and I assume even the dye inks have improved.
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