ink details software says ink low

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by bruce_erickson|1, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. I have a Canon photo printer. I am not a heavy user of the printer. However, I get messages indicating that various inks are low and lights on the low cartridges flash. So, I replace the cartridge. But, the "empty" cartridge still looks like it has at least half the ink left. Is this an illusion, or do the printer makers deliberately underestimate the amount of ink left? (These inks seem to cost more than rocket fuel.)
  2. On my Epson 3880 I still have several prints worth of ink left after the low ink light starts to flash. I do not know about your Canon, but I suspect there is no harm in leaving the low cartridge in place as a trial to see how it continues to work in your case. The Epson will stop printing when the ink cartridge is no longer usable by the printer and give a message. That has happened in the middle of a print on more than one occasion. Even if I replace the out-of-ink cartridge in the middle of a print, I do not detect any flaws in the final print--the printer just starts again where it stopped.
  3. I can't speak about Canon, but I have an HP photo printer, and can report something similar. Its first warning is that I'm running low, which is nice in that it's a warning that I'm not out yet but should probably buy more ink soon. The second warning is that I'm almost out. But even at that point, it seems there's still quite a bit of ink left; if I just let it keep going, it usually takes a while longer before it actually runs out. (Unlike the first responder's Epson, my HP will happily keep on "printing" regardless of whether it's actually managing to put ink on the page. If the Epson is accurately detecting when it's truly running out of ink, then kudos to them for an implementation that's so good that you can actually swap cartridges mid-print!)
    Three of the four cartridge types for my printer have multiple inks in each one (the only exception is the black cartridge that's intended for non-photo use), so of course it's likely that the cartridge will run out of one ink before the others. As these cartridges are opaque, I don't know how much is actually left in the others, nor can I take a peek to see how much is left when it warns me.
    As for why your printer warns you you're low on ink when it seems you're not there yet, I can think of a number of possibilities, but have no idea which of these (or others I didn't think of) may or may not be right:
    • They want you to buy more of their expensive ink than you actually need
    • They're building in an allowance for ink drying up in the cartridge or something like that
    • The factory is a bit sloppy so they're not sure exactly how much ink they're actually putting into each cartridge, and they're assuming the worst-case scenario to make sure the cartridge doesn't run out until after you've been warned
    • The engineering specs for the ink drop size have a margin of error and they're assuming the worst-case scenario
    • If you can deal with the possibility of running out of ink in the middle of a print once in a while and having to print it again after swapping ink, it might be worth trying what I do: buying a replacement when the printer warns you you're near the end, but not actually swapping it in until you really do run out of ink.
  4. I have two Canon printers, a Pro 9000 for photos and an MX 892 for everything else. The 9000 gives a low ink warning, but I can make several more prints before it runs out, depending upon how much of the low ink is used for each print. But the neat feature is that the printer analyzes the print just before printing, and will not start the print if it thinks there isn't enough ink to finish the print, which is nice because it saves photo paper. But the MX 892 will continue to print even when one color has run out. Since most of our printing on that printer is black, that's not much of a problem.
    My only gripe with the 9000 is that the ink tanks are so small, I'm constantly having to drive 6 miles to a store to buy another ink cartridge. B&H has the entire set of 8 tanks, which is somewhat cheaper than individual tanks, but it's a more significant cash outlay at one time.
  5. grh


    I print until the printer refuses to dispense ink. Then I change the cartridge in my Epson.
  6. I too have the 9000 pro. I had no idea the software would analyze the print in advance to determine if there is enough ink. That is good news.
  7. Scroll down to my input and photo I took of how much yellow ink was really left when my Epson NX330 "All In One" alerted me...
    The real issue is when your printer decides it needs to do a head cleaning even with this low ink alert. That's when you really lose more than you should, so once you get that alert might be a good time to finish out some printing before the next cleaning cycle which I never know when my printer decides to do it.
    The sound of whirring and a click as the little squeegee wipes the heads is the only sign for me.
  8. The level is estimated based on usage cycles, not an actual measurement. The indication is usually pretty good, but occasionally wildly inaccurate. I've run dry with cartridges showing 30% or more remaining ink (or toner), and shut down as empty when barely used. If you think the cartridge is defective, the manufacturer's will usually replace the cartridge promptly, without charge if you send the cartridge back by return mail.
  9. I have an HP OfficeJet Pro 8500A Plus AIO. Even though I have only used b/w since the last time I replaced the 3 color cartridges and the b/w cartridge, all 4 cartridges are showing the same estimated amount of ink being used. The b/w cartridge is a larger cartridge, but it bugs me if I am using that much color ink when only printing b/w documents. Do the inks dry up or does it just use a lot of ink when going through a cleaning cycle? Somewhere I heard to leave the printer on all the time, because when I do turn it on it goes through a long cleaning cycle, so I have been leaving it on. When I get the low ink warnings I keep running it until it will not print.
  10. Do the inks dry up or does it just use a lot of ink when going through a cleaning cycle?​
    If going by the variations in testimonies offered up in this thread is any indication, I'ld say it's anyone's guess which I'm sure the printer manufacturers are quite gleeful about.
    From all the amounts of non-ink chemicals used in DIY YouTube videos on tips for unclogging printer heads I'm going to go with the manufacturer's use of expensive ink to clean printer heads is the best answer to your question and throw in the possibility of very inaccurate cartridge sensor chips and vague methods employed interpreting such data by printer software for good measure.
  11. Tim, now that I leave the printer on all the time it never does a cleaning cycle, unless I print something. When I do print something it will sometimes make a lot of noise first, which I am guessing is a cleaning cycle. The printer model that I mentioned above was a replacement for another HP that died while under warranty. It took a few ''heated'' calls to customer service and a supervisor to get the dead printer replaced. The old model had been discontinued, so they upgraded me to the OfficeJet Pro 8500A Plus AIO. It has been very good at printing, copying and scanning, but of course there is the vanishing ink issue. So your saying HP is feeling quite gleeful about the deal:)

    Off topic- I saw someone ask about scanning negatives with a printer somewhere but lost the link. Just curious if it is possible to scan negatives with the copier of a printer like mine and use PS to convert the negatives to make them somewhat viewable? I'm not talking about high quality images. Just good enough quality to be able to see the image. The end result would not have to be in color, b/w would be fine. I have some old family negs that I would like to try and scan if it is possible, without having to buy a dedicated negative scanner.

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