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09/13/2006 11:08:54 AM · #1
Just a note that this is not "gospel truth" and it is not being presented as such. These are just my ideas based on what I think I have learned about printers... I am trying to spread a bit of info that will help those looking for printers to understand the pitch they get when they get a sell from a salesperson. I was disturbed by the vast perponderance of misinformation flying about when I started doing research.

If you are interested in reading further, check this thread.

If you want to correct me with some facts, go ahead.

If you want to add some of your own thoughts on any of the discussed printers (including the specific models they replace), feel free.

As mentioned in the other thread, I would ask for people to please refrain from commenting things like "Yeah, I used the ##### and it rocked. Totally kicks the @@@@'s butt" or "Epson/Canon rocks" or perhaps "just buy a Canon/Epson". Remember that both companies are putting out products with a VERY high standard of quality which is beyond ANYTHING that anyone had in their homes just a few years ago.

This discussion is heavily slanted towards the consumer level of printer, in the 100-200 dollar range.

On the Epson side
Epson has released some new printer technology.

They have decreased droplet size to 1.5 picoliters.

They have moved their consumer line to 6 color inks with the R260. Notable is that they have NOT added any more blacks, so their black ink still appears to be a multi-purpose black which does not appear to be used as much as it could be. Still, having droplets half the size will probably help to decrease the muddyness in dark areas of low contrast which is about the only real quality issue with Epson's lower end printers... The reasoning behind this is that the black will be able to be used in smaller quantity, so it will be used in more areas of the print, smoothing the gradients in areas of deep shadow detail. The use of smaller droplets will almost definitely help with using the black in more areas in the areas of light and white as well though, which should similarly improve the slight color dithering which has been visible in areas of fine shadow in the single black Epson printers.

Please note that the extra colors in their new CLARIA system 6 color ink printers are only Light Cyan and Light Magenta which only really affects smoothness in light areas of the print where there is little ink on the page. Having these two extra colors DOES NOT affect BRIGHTNESS or VIBRANCE of colors as is often stated by salespersons. See the other thread for more details.

The printer still has the same nominal gradient resolution of 5760x1440 which suggests that this increase will have minimal effect on increasing actual print quality.

I would personally guess that the decreased size of droplets will probably help cleaning up the edges of sharply defined areas of contrast (which epson prints typically seem a bit softer than their Canon competition) and decreasing even further any possible issues with non-smooth gradients. Epson prints are already exceptional and set the benchmark for smoothness and lack of bitty pixelation, so this is unlikely to change. It IS possible that the smaller droplets will actually decrease the smoothness. It is difficult to say. The Epson line has apparently NOT compensated for their smaller droplet size by increasing the horizontal pitch sensitivity. It is possible that this probably makes no difference. As was mentioned in the other thread, DPI resolution is NOT a definition of print resolution but is related much more closely to the color dithering.

The new system is capable of putting out droplets that are LARGER than 1.5 picoliters, so it is equally possible that the 1.5 picoliter droplets will only be used in areas of fine detail and THIS is where it gets really interesting. The possibility of combining the 3 picoliter droplet size which provides the smoothness in some areas and the 1.5 picoliter droplet size which provides the sharpness in the fine detail is indeed a major step and a mouth-watering one at that...

It is highly likely that this will further their stranglehold on the ink sales with their new Claria line, as the variable droplet size will probably cause lots of issues with previously available 3rd party inks which were working with larger droplet sizes.

It is unknown if the smaller droplet sizes will decrease the amount of ink used in self-cleaning (which the Epsons are famous for because it often uses more ink than making the prints and if it's not done, the printhead may clog, which will leave you with a repair roughly the same price as the printer was originally), but it is possible.

Nonetheless, combine these new features with the already excellent level of quality in Epson printers and you can see that they have really made a good step forwards in addressing the few issues that actually exist with the Epson side.

If you really care about print quality, it is recommended to check out the R800 by Epson. It will give pretty much the highest print quality in all respects and is indeed a clear step ahead of the Canon equivalents. It just costs 3 times as much as the entry level consumer printers.

On the Canon side:
Canon has a very minor edge in the 100 dollar US market (now that advantage extends to price as well).

Canon has combined the iP4200 and the iP5200 to come up with the iP4300.

The only real difference between them was the number of nozzles in the 5200. This helped it to be a faster printer, but didn't have any real impact on print quality.

It is still superior because of its ability to do double-sided prints, as well as the use of pigment inks in a large reservoir for non-photo applications and it does still have the potential for very marginally sharper fine detail, but there are many issues to consider here.

Personally, I will PROBABLY still go for a Canon iP4300 because of my requirements for school, but the Epson R260 is certainly an affordable printer with some serious moves forward which may suit other users better.

As a quick summary for those who didn't read the other thread, I found earlier that Epson printers are generally better for photos, especially once you get to the level of printers with three blacks, called Ultra K3 or something (which start around the 350 dollar USD level), but Canon printers could deliver such exceptional quality at the 100 USD level as well with a serious view toward practicality with a replaceable printhead and dual-sided printing that under my limited circumstances, the Canon appeared to be a better choice for me.

Message edited by author 2006-09-13 11:22:29.
09/13/2006 11:51:55 AM · #2
maybe this goes under your category of "I used xxx and it rocked", but I have and observation that might form the basis of a worthwhile question here. I was a solid user of epson printers but had two in a row that seemed to get clogged print heads on a fairly regular basis. I eventually switched to a canon and did not encounter the same problem. So while all the specs are great, I'm also curious about the experiences from other users.... do new epsons require frequent head cleaning like the older models?

At this point I'm stuck between the epson R1800, epson R2400, canon Pro9000 (new), canon Pro9500 (future). Probably out of the range of this thread, but a simple issue like having to clean heads so often can kind of put me off of a brand.
09/13/2006 12:12:22 PM · #3
I have just moved from an Epson 925 Photo to an Epson R1800.

I have to say that the 925 was a nice printer that gave nice, sharp, contrasty and colourful prints. I did have to occasionally run the nozzle cleaner, but usually only after I had changed the cart.

The R1800 is just the business, the prints are mindblowing and as of yet I have not had to run the nozzle cleaner once.

I read review after review after review of A3 printers and of the printers in my price bracket its seemed the Epson came out on top so thats what I went for.

If I were after another A4 printer then I think after having read a lot of reviews I would probably plump for a Canon as the reviews suggest superior print quality, and thats what counts IMO.
09/13/2006 12:25:12 PM · #4
I don't really know what your needs are or your level of taste, but the iP4300 is probably at least worth a look. There's a link in the other thread which is referenced which actually compared the results from the iP4000 to the i9900 and the i9100.

The iP4000 produced results which were actually very close to the i9900 which is a significantly more expensive printer.

If clogged print heads are an issue, check Canon as you can buy a new printhead for fairly reasonable cash and cleaning apparently is less important.

If you check out the other thread, you will see how most of the issues in comparing epson/canon are fairly user-specific with no real 'winner' in terms of which is better UNTIL you get to the R800 level, where the Epson takes a clear step forward. The R800 only does to A4 standard though. You seem to want 13x19.

If it was me, I'd probably go with the R1800 if I were primarily interested in color photo printing. Probably even over the R2400. Those extra real colors are pretty nice! The R2400 is still dealing with the basic CMYK color set, but the R1800 is dealing with the CMYRBK. The only real drawback here is that it doesn't have the K3 tech, so it's going to be slightly inferior to the R2400 in B&W and selective color prints.

The R2400 seems to be a bit older technology. It does have the nice inclusion of a separate matte black cartridge which would be especially useful if you were doing a lot of document printing as well. More of a convenience issue than anything though.

If you were doing B&W or low color pics, the R2400 is probably a better choice.

On the other hand, the best bet is probably going to be just waiting until the end of Photokina and hope that Epson updates their higher end line with the new technology in the bigger print sizes.

If you did want to go Canon, I'd probably say go with the 9500 pro if it's around the same price as the 9000 Pro.

The 9500 has 10 colors including grey, but is also using pigment inks which could help with longevity.

The few complaints that I have seen voiced against Canon's product here is regarding the fade issue and possibly the magenta balance. I am hoping that the magenta balance issue will be fixed in the upcoming versions (although I could not detect it with close scrutiny of the samples I reviewed - and I've checked a LOT of pics that were not stored very well... I did notice a bit of an oddity once on a Canon sample print, but...). Fade issues appear to be linked more to the type of paper than ink though.

Your point of view is appreciated, especially with a view to the practicality of switchable printheads...

Lovespuds - From what I have read so far, the R800 tops the list for A4, but is 3 times more money than the iP4300 which is VERY close in print quality and superior in some respects. The R800 uses virtually identical technology to the R1800 (same pitch sensitivity, same color spectrum and same droplet size).

Epson printers at the A3 level appear to have the advantage, particularly with a view to fading, but I would not be surprised to see the 9500 Pro put out some results that could give even the Epson R1800 or R2400 a run for the money.

Remember that as a print uses more ink, the likelihood is that it will have a smoother print and probably will resist fading better.

Message edited by author 2006-09-13 12:30:15.
09/13/2006 02:22:14 PM · #5
Good information here, I've been looking to replace the HP photo printer that I have at home. Been looking at the IP6000D canon printer. I went and looked at the I4300 you talked about. Went and found at amazon.com they currently have it for 79.99 and if you apply and are accepted for an amazon.com credit card you get $30 off. SO I applied and bought an I4300 for 49.99 plus 20 shipping. NOt a bad deal at all.

MattO
09/13/2006 09:46:55 PM · #6
Wow matt, that's fantastic!

I don't have any of those luxuries out this way, so I will probably end up paying close to full price, but I will pick it up and save the shipping...

Would love to get a rebate.

The recommended paper for that one from what I have read is the Ilford Gallerie Classic Pearl... I think... Epson paper was pretty highly rated as well I believe. It's almost hit and miss with the paper/ink issue though.

Google "Canon iP4200 fade ink" and you will see some discussions on paper and fading.

I personally chose to ignore the information on 'Canon's printers/ink sucks and always causes fading' because it does seem that it's the combination of ink and paper. I found some disturbing information about rapid fading of Canon prints, but I have not found the information to be substantiated and the threads I read on this did not appear to have a serious treatment of the actual issues.

I would love to see some more serious information about the use of third party inks and refilling. If you wanted to do some informal tests, that would be cool.

Specifically of the format:

A1: print with Canon inks on Canon paper
A2: print with third party inks on Canon paper

B1: print with Canon inks on non Canon paper of high quality
B2: Print with third party inks on non Canon paper of high quality

The Ilford papers were listed as being of high quality and fairly affordable.

Message edited by author 2006-09-13 21:58:19.
09/13/2006 10:31:38 PM · #7
I print 8x10 all day on my Canon IP4200 and love the results. I do use Epson Pro line papers and Ilford and hanamule papers also good paper equals good prints.
09/13/2006 10:36:13 PM · #8
good read, sure will come in handy on my next printer purchase!
Thanks all, and especially to Keiran for the "review".
If there's anyone on the site that could be considered a hardware guru - I think you're it!
09/14/2006 03:43:34 AM · #9
Coronamv - I am glad to hear this. I would love to hear some of your personal experiences with a view to technical details such as which specific papers you use and which inks you use to refill as well as actual print figures per day... (approximate)

Fading is the biggest issue that I read about on the net, but like so much else about printers, I believe that it is a poorly understood issue that gets wildly confused and misrepresented by a vocal few.

Crayon - thanks for the thumbs up. I must say though that I'm less of a hardware guru and more of a vocal gearhead.

I make loads of mistakes and much of my learning has come from being corrected by the real gurus around here... who are quite plentiful around here, but don't always jump out with new information and musings.

I don't get everything right, but I would be surprised if many of the assumptions I made about the above printers actually don't turn out to be fairly accurate in practice.
09/14/2006 05:49:27 AM · #10
I agree with this up to a point.

I moved from an Epson 900 (I think it was) to the R800, which is the A4 only version of the R1800 I believe. My only regret is that I bought too soon, as soon as the R800 came out, and an A3 version was not yet released.

However, even if I was buying another A4 printer I would still go for the R800. I can't fault the prints, especially with the gloss optimiser (maybe Canon have that too now, I don't know).

Originally posted by LoveSpuds:

I have just moved from an Epson 925 Photo to an Epson R1800.

I have to say that the 925 was a nice printer that gave nice, sharp, contrasty and colourful prints. I did have to occasionally run the nozzle cleaner, but usually only after I had changed the cart.

The R1800 is just the business, the prints are mindblowing and as of yet I have not had to run the nozzle cleaner once.

I read review after review after review of A3 printers and of the printers in my price bracket its seemed the Epson came out on top so thats what I went for.

If I were after another A4 printer then I think after having read a lot of reviews I would probably plump for a Canon as the reviews suggest superior print quality, and thats what counts IMO.

09/14/2006 05:59:56 AM · #11
The Epson R1800 has seperate matte and gloss black inks too, and the gloss optimizer is really nice.

For me, it was the price difference between the Epson R1800 and R2400 that made me opt for the R1800. I think if money was not a problem I would have gone for the R2400, only because I too had read it is slightly better for B&W, and I love B&W images.

09/14/2006 06:02:07 AM · #12
I've tried Canon inks on both Canon and third party papers - Ilford, Olmec, Hahnemuhle, and some others. On Matt papers I can't find much difference, provided of course using ink-jet coated paper. Gloss is a different story - only the Canon papers work properly, otherwise you get pooling of the ink in areas of smooth colour like skies.

Having used many Epson printers, I had my eureka moment when I first used the Canon iP8500 - for speed, accuracy, rendition of black and white it completely wipes the floor with the Epson, and required so little seting-up it's ridiculous. Subjective experience only, of course, but there's no way I would go back at all. Especially for black and white work.

Ed
09/14/2006 06:33:20 AM · #13
I have the R800 and it's great. Good quality results and pretty fast.

One issue that I have is that borderless prints (at least at 6x4 & 7x5) do not exactly reproduce the print preview from, e.g. PSP 10. Instead, there is normally some degree of cropping at the top edge of the photo, which is somewhat annoying. I should probably try photo printing from Elements to see if it's a software issue.

My other gripe is the level of ink usage, particularly in regard to having to change cartridges - the cartridge replacement procedure seems to use ink from all the cartridges even if you're only replacing one, so you lose some of the value associated with having multiple different cartridges. Of course, a solution would be not to replace single carts, but you have to, otherwise you can't use the printer.
09/14/2006 07:09:11 AM · #14
I'm surprised no one has brought up running costs. Ink costs quickly exceed the cost of the printer with most inkjets, and then add in the photo paper too...

I'm not up to date with all the ins and outs. Chips in cartidges to stop you reinking them were around last time I looked into it. I found that it was cheaper to get someone else to do the prints in a proper photo lab - and you get great prints with the best fade resistance. Bonus - you don't have to fork out $$$ for the printer or maintain it.

OK it does mean you don't have the prints quite as quickly but then again a big batch of photos would still be quicker this way.

I did buy a laser printer for text output... much cheaper to run and much more reliable too.
09/14/2006 07:21:06 AM · #15
Originally posted by Leok:

I'm surprised no one has brought up running costs. Ink costs quickly exceed the cost of the printer with most inkjets, and then add in the photo paper too...


That's really what I was getting at with my gripe about R800 ink usage - it quickly adds up.

I'd agree that you can get good deals at the photo stores. This is especially true if you have a large number of photos to print at once, and want a standard size of print eg 6x4. For one-offs I think that the costs are comparable with home printing, especially if you factor in travel to a shop and time taken to the end result.
09/15/2006 06:57:52 AM · #16
In this country, most people who use Epson buy a continuous feed system for inks. Most small businesses use these. They cost around 65 bucks but in the long run, pay for themselves very quickly.

Canon does not have a similar system and has virtually disappeared from the marketplace.

I wrote them an email detailing my experience in visiting well over 100 stores in two of the largest areas of Taiwan.

However, a major issue there is that for those with 'caviar tastes', it is unknown if the third party inks can keep up with the quality.

Last I checked, the Canon iP4000 was able to deal with refilling the cartridges.

The iP4200 and 5200 introduced chips, but you could still refill the cartridges. You just had to deal with annoying popups and monitor the levels yourself. Otherwise, you would risk burning out the print head.

The good news is that the print head is replaceable in Canon's so if you did screw it up, you would be OK.

There was an odd problem with some Canon printers that were 'freaking out' after a few months of using refills without changing the cartridges. They worked fine with the original cartridges afterwards. I read that you could reset the device by using your original cartridges.

My local stores all said to keep the original cartridges and if there was any warranty issue, you could just switch the cartridges back and take it in... Not sure how ethical that is, but tit for tat I guess.

I'm quite sure that charging the prices they do for inks is well outside the realm of ethical. In fact, my personal business sense tells me that it's rather short-sighted too, particularly in light of the information above.

Where Canon used to control a significant portion of the market, easily the equal of Epson, and indeed if output quality was the primary consideration, still would, the simple lack of a continuous feed ink system even one made by a third party company has led to Canon being now in the neighborhood of 1-3% of sales and printers owned/used. In fact, while Epson printers are present in most offices and small businesses, along with a handful of HP printers, I haven't seen a Canon printer in anyone's home or business yet. This is saying something considering the amount of time I spend walking around and that many offices are very open to the view of the sidewalk, inviting a look in to see what kind of business they operate rather than a big sign.

What I am really wondering about is how the new iP4300 does with third party refills.

Epson ink cartridges can be refilled and you can use a chip resetter which is available on the net for around 10 bucks.
09/15/2006 03:24:18 PM · #17
Wanted to update, I placed my order with Amazon earlier this week. I recieved my Pixma IP4300 printer and just set it all up and printed a couple of test prints. I am certainly impressed with the quality but I know I need to get some different paper to get full use of the printer quality thats available. Thanks

MattO
09/15/2006 03:53:21 PM · #18
Originally posted by LoveSpuds:

I have just moved from an Epson 925 Photo to an Epson R1800.

I have to say that the 925 was a nice printer that gave nice, sharp, contrasty and colourful prints. I did have to occasionally run the nozzle cleaner, but usually only after I had changed the cart.

The R1800 is just the business, the prints are mindblowing and as of yet I have not had to run the nozzle cleaner once.

I read review after review after review of A3 printers and of the printers in my price bracket its seemed the Epson came out on top so thats what I went for.

If I were after another A4 printer then I think after having read a lot of reviews I would probably plump for a Canon as the reviews suggest superior print quality, and thats what counts IMO.


yeah have to say i love my 925!
09/15/2006 04:10:20 PM · #19
I use the R1800 and I am very pleased with the quality. The only issue is that the best quality comes from using only Epson photo paper. All my old Kodak paper is now sitting in the closet.
09/15/2006 04:42:51 PM · #20
Those that use the printers mentioned in this thread do you use them to provide prints for customers or just for yourselves?
09/15/2006 04:46:50 PM · #21
Originally posted by yanko:

Those that use the printers mentioned in this thread do you use them to provide prints for customers or just for yourselves?


Yes :-)

Most of my prints are for personal use, or for popping a few to the coaches of the teams. You do that a few times and the parents start wanting larger prints of the photos, you can then explain to them that you have to charge for. Those I will usually send to the lab for longevity reasons so they dont fade as will happen sometimes with inkjet printing. I can usually get my prints in an hour from the local lab and they last and look nice.

MattO
09/15/2006 05:55:45 PM · #22
Originally posted by MattO:

Originally posted by yanko:

Those that use the printers mentioned in this thread do you use them to provide prints for customers or just for yourselves?


Yes :-)

Most of my prints are for personal use, or for popping a few to the coaches of the teams. You do that a few times and the parents start wanting larger prints of the photos, you can then explain to them that you have to charge for. Those I will usually send to the lab for longevity reasons so they dont fade as will happen sometimes with inkjet printing. I can usually get my prints in an hour from the local lab and they last and look nice.

MattO


the IP4300 isn't "archival"? the Epson R1800 inks are rated at 100-200yrs.
09/15/2006 05:57:53 PM · #23
Originally posted by yanko:

Those that use the printers mentioned in this thread do you use them to provide prints for customers or just for yourselves?
the photos are for personal/family use and i also use the printer to print proofs of work i'm doing for a client - could be a website or a brochure..
09/15/2006 06:39:15 PM · #24
Originally posted by jemison:

Originally posted by MattO:

Originally posted by yanko:

Those that use the printers mentioned in this thread do you use them to provide prints for customers or just for yourselves?


Yes :-)

Most of my prints are for personal use, or for popping a few to the coaches of the teams. You do that a few times and the parents start wanting larger prints of the photos, you can then explain to them that you have to charge for. Those I will usually send to the lab for longevity reasons so they dont fade as will happen sometimes with inkjet printing. I can usually get my prints in an hour from the local lab and they last and look nice.

MattO


the IP4300 isn't "archival"? the Epson R1800 inks are rated at 100-200yrs.


From the canon site.

ChromaLife100 System
These newest PIXMA models use the Canon ChromaLife100 system, including the FINE print head technology for great photo printing. When using select genuine Canon photo papers and inks, prints can resist fading for up to 100 years when stored in an archival quality photo album2. The up to 100-year-lifespan rivals that of many traditional film based photos, long considered by consumers to be the benchmark for image permanence. Prints produced on Canon Photo Paper Pro with ChromaLife100-compatible inks have an up to ten-year gas fastness when exposed to open air2. Prints created with the ChromaLife100 system, comprised of genuine Canon ink and photo paper like Photo Paper Pro or Photo Paper Plus Glossy, have up to 30-year lightfastness when displayed under glass2.

So yes and no? That kind of stuff is just beyond what I understand and there seems to be alot of "depends" on wether it is or not. But I'm sure happy with what I have seen so far but I've only had it 6 hours and done some test prints on paper thats not really optimal for it.

MattO
09/16/2006 01:10:46 AM · #25
I read a review by a guy who did some testing and he counted those figures as generally overstated by 3-4x.

Canon inks have been rated for 100 years for a while now, but fading still rears its ugly head now and then.

The biggest issues are storing away from air flows (increases exposure - basic chemistry there), preferably behind glass. Epson is generally considered to have the upper hand there, but their prints are STILL susceptible to fade. If you do it wrong, Epson inks will fade even after a few months. But Canons usually fade more.

From what I read, after filtering the emotional responses on the internet was that actual longevity is most closely related to the combination of ink and paper, then storage methods.

This is also part of the reason that I am not interested in going much larger than A4. I will probably do something similar to MattO, taking my really serious stuff to a proper lab.

8x10's off an inkjet are around 1/3 the price of the lab here though and give me more control as well. I was not impressed by the quality of the lab I got some 8x10's printed at back in Taipei, so I guess that for real quality, I would end up going to a pro shop, which would probably cost yet more.

Again, I will highlight that the biggest difference here is that I could get "100 year" prints (probably 30-40 years in practice) off of a printer that I pay around $100 US for or "100-200 year" prints (probably 50-60 years in practice) off of an A4 printer that costs more than triple that, or an A3 printer that costs around 5 times more...

Or I could just get my serious prints done at the pro lab.

Ansel Adams once said that if you can get 1-2 REALLY GOOD shots a year, you are doing well. So it's probably going to turn out that I will end up with significantly less need than that for serious printing.

Hey matt, hang on to those test prints. Expose one to air, but normal light, and put another one in a place where it can face bright light...

If you have an extra one, put one in a dark place that gets a lot of air, maybe next to a fan or something.

That will show you the difference between light-fastness and gas-fastness in practical terms.

I would still love to hear about people's experiences with third party inks and Epson/Canon printers.

Message edited by author 2006-09-16 01:12:45.
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