Factors to Consider when Choosing a Small Photo-Quality Inkjet Printer

Part I: Small Printers | Part II: Large Printers

Throughout the history of photography, countless advancements have made it easier for people to create photographic images. One of the most important advancements has been the advent of affordable, photo-quality inkjet printers. They have brought the color and black and white darkroom “out of the dark” and into just about any room in an office, home or school. I’ve been using and recommending printers to amateur and professional photographers for more than 15 years, and I’ve owned or used at least 50 inkjet printers, ranging from printers that max out at 4 inches in width, to 50-inch-wide models.

For this two-part article, I’ve put together a list of topics I often cover with my students and clients when they ask me advice on which printer to buy. Part I focuses on printers that can accept paper and other media up to 13 inches in width, and Part II will cover printers that can accept media over 13 inches wide and up to 44 inches in width. Note: when the term “letter-size” is used throughout the article, it means that the maximum width of paper that can be fed is 8.5 inches in width. However, unlike most laser printers, you can print much longer lengths—in some cases 40 inches or more.

Many inkjet printers allow you to print on a range of printing substrates, including canvas, watercolor and ultra-heavyweight glossy papers, and that’s unmatched in the world of digital lab photo printing. Also, digital photo processes cannot match the longevity and color gamut of many inkjet paper and ink combinations. Other advantages to owning a printer are the ability to test different papers and the ability to get instant feedback, whether you make your own final portfolio or exhibition prints, or whether you send your final prints out to another company.

I’d be remiss not to state that there are thousands of photo labs across the globe that can produce continuous-tone prints on photo paper, sometimes at a price less than the combined cost of high quality inkjet ink and paper. Many companies now offer high-quality inkjet printing similar to traditional labs. With that in mind, you should ask yourself if it makes sense to buy an inkjet printer. If not, it’s probably best to leave the work to others and instead spend the free time taking pictures.

To help illustrate my points throughout this article, I will mention specific printers that can print on paper, and in many cases other materials, up to 13 inches in width. Due to the sheer number of printers on the market, I can only mention a few, so this should not be seen as a roundup of all photo-quality printers on the market. Reading reviews and doing your own testing are the best ways to find the right printer. So with that, let’s begin!

1. Costs

Costs to own and run a printer can add up, and with just about any printer, there are three important considerations:

  1. cost of the printer
  2. cost of the ink
  3. cost of the paper or other materials that you plan to put through the printer

Also consider the inventory costs of any materials (ink, paper, etc) that you would like to keep on a shelf. Costs can range from free with the purchase of a computer (printers are a popular “bundled” item), to about $850 for a higher-end pigment ink printer like the 13-inch-wide epson_r3000. I will go into more detail about ink costs in Number 6 below because it is a very important part of the overall costs of running any printer.

2. Warranties and Customer Service

Every company has different warranties and different ways of supporting their printers. I would look for printers with a one year parts and labor warranty (including free door-to-door shipping and return of the broken printer), which is common. If you think you’ll need phone or e-mail support, you can post questions on forums like Photo.net prior to your purchase to get people’s opinions of how their customer support issues were handled by specific companies. Depending on the cost of the printer and how much you plan to use the printer, you might consider an extended manufacturer warranty or third-party warranty offered by the retailer or another company. Some photo-quality printers (especially 8.5×11-inch models) cost about the same as a full set of inks. If that’s the case, it probably would not make sense to pay for a warranty.

3. Print Quality and Print Speed

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Finding the right balance between print quality and speed is important when selecting a printer. If a photo-quality 8×10-inch print takes 10-15 minutes to print, that will put a big damper on productivity. Fortunately, there has been a lot of competition between manufacturers, resulting in significantly faster print speeds than in the past, while still retaining outstanding print quality. My recommendation is to ignore the “10 pages per minute” ad copy and instead focus on the print speeds that produce photo-quality output.

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Though you may be tempted to judge printers against each other by looking at their print speeds at their best print quality settings, it makes sense to judge them based on the highest speeds possible that produce the quality you need. For example, the 13-inch-wide canon_pro9500_mk2 and the 13-inch-wide epson_r2880 (both pigment ink printers) make outstanding photo-quality prints at quality settings lower than their highest settings. That can really make a difference, sometimes shaving the printing time in half or a quarter while preserving image quality.

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The highest quality setting is sometimes necessary to eliminate visible dots (especially when printing on glossy or semi-gloss papers). An example of this is the epson_r1900. I recommend using the highest quality setting with this printer. Even so, a 13×19 print at the highest quality setting will only take about five minutes to print.

Some printers also have a “High Speed” checkbox (faster print speeds) or a “More Passes” check box (slower print speeds). Experiment by printing a test image to see how much these options add to the overall quality vs. how they impact overall speed.

Many print drivers have a “high speed” checkbox, as shown in this screen shot of the Epson 1400 Mac OSX driver.

A few helpful links:

  • Download a zip file containing an excellent group of test images that fits on a letter-size sheet: drycreekphoto.com/tools/test_images/DCP-TestImage-Small.zip
  • Visit a page with a smaller file (about 4 inches by 4 inches) containing a group of test images that will allow you to print at least four-up on a letter-size sheet: andrewdarlow.com/calib/ctest_adobergb.jpg. (To download it, just drag it to your desktop or right click and save it to your computer. If the print quality meets your needs at a faster setting, choose the faster option.)

The time savings can really add up when you are printing multiple 13×19-inch prints. If a pigment-based inkset is not critical, the 13-inch wide canon_pro9000_mk2, is a speed demon. Expect vibrant, photo-quality 13×19 prints to be ready in under three minutes at Standard Quality and in about five minutes at High Quality (its highest setting).

4. Pigment vs. Dye ink (and Print Permanence in general)

The question of whether one should buy a pigment- or dye-based inkjet printer is one of the most important decisions to make in one’s quest for an ideal printer. In the past, inkjet printers that used dye-based inks had a clear advantage in overall color gamut (number of colors that can be printed on a specific paper or other material) and in “smoothness” with regard to the way the ink sat on the paper surface (especially with glossy or semi-gloss papers). However, things have changed, and many of today’s high-end pigment-ink-based inkjet printers produce smooth prints rivaling any dye-based printer. Many pigment-based printers also have a very large color gamut, with excellent waterfastness and very good longevity when paired with a wide range of glossy and matte papers. The primary negative features of most dye-based printers were, and still are in many cases, the following: a faster overall rate of print fading compared with pigment inks, a color shift on some papers after a few hours or days (especially when compared with pigment inks), or a color and/or density shift when prints are exposed to ozone or pollutants in the air. Dye-based prints also tend to run or smudge more than pigment-based inks when they come in contact with moisture, but new ink and paper formulations are proving to be resistant to water.

Improvements in ink technology as well as clear “gloss optimizers” or “gloss equalizers” on printers like the 13-inch-wide epson_r1900 and the Kodak ESP line of single- and multi-function printers have reduced the gloss differential and bronzing issues that were common with many pigment-based printers. Gloss differential is an uneven look across the surface of a print (especially around areas such as people’s heads), and is most often seen in dark and light areas of pigment-based prints on glossy papers. Bronzing is an effect that makes medium to dark tones look bronze in color when viewed at certain angles, and it’s most often seen on glossy or semi-gloss papers. One advantage I still see with some dye-based printers is that their print heads tend to clog less, reducing the frequency of print head cleanings. In general, I prefer pigment-based ink printers for my own work because of the strengths listed above, but it’s important to find the product that’s right for you based on your needs.

It’s also important to note that the combination of a printer’s inks and paper (or other material) are what determine the overall look and feel, as well as the waterfastness and potential longevity of a specific print. There are some great (and free) sources for getting a sense of how different papers fare when matched with specific printers. At the top of my list are the following two websites: wilhelm-research.com and Aardenburg-Imaging.com. Both offer a wealth of data, and Wilhelm-research.com also includes the following data points for its paper and ink tests: “Resistance to High Humidity” and “Resistance to Water.” Different companies will state that their printer and ink combinations will last a certain number of years before fading, but every company tends to use a different set of criteria when presenting those numbers. Referring to the information in the websites above helps to cut through the haze by allowing you to compare between printer and ink combinations that have been tested under the same conditions.

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Canon, Epson and Kodak are three manufacturers currently producing most of the photo-quality pigment-based 8.5- and 13-inch-wide printers on the market. HP produces a large number of high quality dye-based printers, as well as some that combine pigment and dye-based inks, including the 13-inch-wide hp_b8550. Epson’s Claria inkset is one example of a dye-based product that in many ways performs more like a pigment ink than a traditional dye-based ink. Similarly, Brother’s Innobella dye-based inks have tested very well by Wilhelm-research.com, with estimated longevity on specific papers exceeding 100 years when displayed under glass or UV acrylic. Another important item to note is in almost all cases, dye-based inks will print better on uncoated papers not specially coated for inkjet printing. That makes them ideal for notecards, bookmarks and similar products, which can be a profitable niche for photographers. There are many scored blank greeting cards available on the market for prices considerably less than inkjet-compatible cards. That being said, it will be much easier to match the color and contrast you see on your screen if you use inkjet-compatible cards and paper. A few of the sources I’ve used and recommend for inkjet-compatible notecards are Moab Paper, Museo Fine Art and Red River Paper.

On the topic of Claria dye-based inks, Epson printers that use Claria inks have received excellent water-resistance and estimated permanence ratings by wilhelm-research.com (80-100+ years before noticeable fading or color shift) when paired with various paper types and when protected by glass or UV acrylic. Here’s a tip for getting even more from the published results on both Wilhem-research.com and Aardenburg-imaging.com: even if your exact printer model is not listed, if you can find a printer that uses the same inkset, you can expect similar results. For example, you can see estimated permanence data for most Claria ink printers by searching for the Epson Stylus Photo 1400 Claria ink printer on Wilhelm-research.com, or visit this link to display the results: wilhelm-research.com/epson/SP1400.html. The Kodak ESP line of pigment ink printers is another good example. Kodak frequently updates that line of printers, but the inks have stayed consistent for most, if not all of the ESP printers. A few Kodak ESP printers are also rated on Wilhelm-research.com.

5. Multi- vs. Single-Function (and Build Quality)

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In the past few years, multi-function photo quality inkjet printers (sometimes called all-in-ones) have become very popular. In general, a multi-function printer is a good choice if you want to use your printer for more than just printing photos, and if you don’t plan to use heavier papers (over 200-250gsm). Faxing and scanning are the two most popular additional features offered by most companies in this segment. Two of the most impressive printers that I’ve seen in person in this segment are the epson_835 and epson_725. Both use 6-color Epson Claria inks, both have built-in WiFi, and both have two separate trays inside their paper cassettes, which allow you to print documents or high quality photos on letter-size photo or bond (typing) paper. At the same time a separate tray can be loaded with 4×6- or 5×7-inch paper. They also have an easy-to-use CD/DVD slot for printing on CDs or DVDs, which is a great improvement over most other tray-based options. Both also do a very good job as color copiers, with a wide range of correction tools, including the ability to print coloring book pages and personalized note paper. Many of the multi-function printers from Canon and HP (and there are many!) also perform very well as standalone printers or color copiers.

There are many “single-function” photo-quality inkjet printers on the market, and they tend to be the ones that advanced amateurs and pros purchase. They often have multiple feed paths for a range of papers or other substrates, and in some cases, they include a straight paper path for thick, rigid or fragile materials. If you are looking for a bare-bones single-function letter-size printer that can produce very high quality long-lasting prints on glossy or matte papers, a good choice is the epson_50. It uses the Epson Claria inkset, and even though it has just one feed path from the top (and a straight-through path just for printing on CDs/DVDs), it does the job well and can even accept heavy fine-art papers (about 300gsm max). It’s especially useful if you plan to transport it around a home or office (or take it on a trip). Its big brother, the epson_1400 also uses Epson Claria ink, and can accept paper up to 13 inches in width. In addition, like many “single-function” printers, both the Epson Artisan 50 and Stylus Photo 1400 come with software and CD/DVD feed trays that allow you to print one CD or DVD at a time.

An advantage of some Canon single-function printers is their capacity and feed options. For example, the canon_ip4820 has multiple paper paths-a front cassette, plus a rear tray-and both can hold 8.5×11-inch paper. The rear tray can be dedicated to photo paper, and the cassette could be dedicated to lightweight bond paper. You can then choose which of the paper paths to load from, which makes the experience a lot like having a laser and an inkjet printer.

I always consider the build quality of any printer I buy. If the output tray breaks after you extend it one time, that’s not a good sign. Visiting a retailer allows you to “kick the tires,” and some have demo prints available, but don’t assume that the quality you are seeing from their demos is the best quality that can be printed. Demo models are sometimes set more for acceptable quality and high speed to approximate an office setting. A few of the most robust 13-inch-wide pigment-ink printers on the market are the canon_pro9500_mk2, epson_r2880, and epson_r3000.

6. Ink Cartridges and Black-and-White Capabilities

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Every printer has a different ink delivery system. Most inkjet printers have either a separate black ink cartridge plus a combined color ink cartridge (Kodak’s ESP printers are a good example of that system), or they have separate black and separate color ink cartridges. Most Canon, Epson and HP photo-quality printers use individual ink cartridges. In theory, less ink should be wasted with individual inks since a combined ink cartridge may still contain a lot of ink if one of the color inks is depleted. I would especially agree with that reasoning if most of your prints contain a range of similar colors, such as blue skies, green grass or underwater scenes.

Image Above Right: A selection of individual and multi-color ink cartridges from Canon, Epson and HP. With the exception of the two large Canon cartridges to the left, all are made for printers 13-inches wide or less.

Prior to purchasing any printer, it’s a good idea to find out the approximate number of prints you can expect out of a set of inks as well as the cost to buy individual or bundled sets of ink. That’s easier said than done, but many people will post their results online. Buying a printer with more ink cartridges (for example, 6 colors vs. 10 colors) will mean that you’ll need to keep more inks in stock if you want to avoid the chances of being without a printer.

Also, many printers have a driver setting that allows you to print with just the black ink instead of a combination of all the inks. This can be very helpful for printing documents such as letters, or for creating quick templates to see where images will fall exactly on a page prior to making a final print. In some cases, you can also print very high quality photos using just the black ink. However, you will almost always have to use the highest quality setting to get acceptable results with just the black ink.

Some printers contain multiple gray inks, which help photographers to produce better quality and more long-lasting neutral and toned black-and-white photographs. If high quality black and white printing is important to you, I highly recommend considering one of the printers that offers multiple gray inks. A few of the current printer models that use multiple gray inks include the canon_pro9500_mk2, epson_r2880, and epson_r3000 (all 13 inches wide). These 3 can produce outstanding black and white prints on glossy and matte papers. These printers also contain built-in software to optimize the black and white output quality, including the ability to add toning to the print, such as a warm or cool tone. Epson’s version of the built-in software is called “Advanced Black and White Mode (ABW),” and it works extremely well. Unfortunately, no letter-size printer is available for purchase from the manufacturer with multiple gray inks. There are, however, many options for using printers as dedicated black and white printers, and one of the best newsgroups for that topic, as well as for learning more about optimizing black and white output with the standard ink sets that I just mentioned is the Digital BW, the Print Yahoo Group. As with any group or forum, I recommend checking the archives before posting a question.

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While I’m on the topic, the issue of ink swapping should always be considered before buying a printer. Many pigment ink printers need to use different black inks to optimize print quality on matter papers vs. photo papers, and in some cases, this needs to be done manually. The winner in this area is the canon_pro9500_mk2 because it has both a matte black and photo black ink installed at all times, and no ink is wasted when one changes from printing on matte papers to glossy or semi-gloss papers. The epson_r2880 requires manual intervention by manually removing and replacing the Matte or Photo Black, which is not much fun to do (at least for me). It takes a few minutes to complete and there is also some ink loss when making the switch. The epson_r3000 takes a much more elegant approach by making the switch behind the scenes in 2-2.5 minutes(no manual intervention), with an ink loss of just 1 ml to 3 ml depending upon which black ink you are swapping.

7. Connectivity

As new printers are introduced and as phone technology advances, the two appear to be converging in many ways. If you would like to print from your pocket (or wirelessly from a laptop), it’s a good idea to look into the built-in and optional connectivity choices for any printer you are considering.

Some of the connectivity options available on printers up to 13×19 inches include: Wi-Fi, USB, FireWire, Bluetooth, PictBridge or computer-free operation with on-board media card slots and a color LCD monitor. Canon, Epson and HP all have smartphone apps available that require just a network-capable printer. Just check the specs to see if the printer has an Ethernet port or built-in wireless. The epson_r3000 is the first 13-inch-wide printer with built-in 802.11n wireless connectivity and 100 Mbit Ethernet support.

8. Borderless Printing Capability

Another common feature that should be considered is borderless printing. Unlike photo labs, many inkjet printers have problems getting borderless printing consistently right. Sometimes the printer has problems with the way the ink is applied at the beginning and end of the print, and in other cases, ink can spray on the surface on which the print travels, leading to marks on the bottom of subsequent prints. That said, if borderless printing is an important feature to you, it’s important to research how well the printer handles it. In some cases, the printer and/or print driver will allow only two sides of a sheet to be borderless, and the other two sides will then need to be trimmed by hand. If I need borderless prints, I generally prefer to print on a larger sheet of paper with crop marks and then carefully cut the print using a rotary cutter.

9. Noise, Weight and Space Requirements

Because so many pro and amateur photographers work in home offices and relatively quiet studios, it makes a lot of sense to consider the sounds that any printer makes. Reading reviews is one of the best ways to find out about potential issues, since just looking at the decibel levels won’t accurately describe annoying high pitched whirring sounds during paper feeding or thumping noises during cleaning cycles.

Also consider the space where you plan to keep the printer. Some printers require a considerable amount of space in front and behind them for feeding heavy paper, and others can feed heavy sheets from the top. Some allow you to put multiple sheets in a feed tray, and others need to have sheets over a certain weight fed one at a time.

10. Portability

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With regards to ultra-portability, there is a wonderful class of printers rarely considered by serious amateurs and pro photographers. They are known as compact printers, and the largest size print they make is usually 5×7 or 4×12 inches in size. These printers can serve as “on-the-go instant photo booth printers.” They are great to have at parties or when traveling, and I believe they provide a way to create the perfect thank you gift for your photo subjects (either paid models or others whom you might photograph). Most of the printers weigh just a few pounds, and many have optional battery packs. Examples include the epson_picturemate-show and epson_picturemate-charm. Both can produce outstanding quality prints in under a minute on 4-inch-wide matte, glossy or semi-gloss papers up to 4×12 inches using Epson Claria inks. The PictureMate Show has a high resolution 7-inch screen and remote control that makes browsing through images much easier than with many other on-board LCDs. Both PictureMate printers also have card slots that can read camera JPGs, as well as a USB slot for thumbdrives. A laptop or other computer can also connect directly via USB, and optional Bluetooth is available for both.

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Epson is not the only company with ultra-portable printers. HP makes the hp_a646. Weighing in at just over two pounds, it has a 3.5-inch-wide screen and can print 4×6, 4×8, 5×7 and 4×12 panorama photos. That wasn’t a misprint; the 5×7-inch size sets it apart from others. It also has media card slots and built-in Bluetooth connectivity. However, it is missing the option of a portable battery, which is a negative. Canon and HP also have some letter-size portable printers worth a look.

For a 13-inch-wide printer, the epson_1400 could be considered portable. At 25 pounds, it’s easy for most adults to carry from room to room or from home to a seat of a car for travel to events, or even for printing out of a car or other vehicle. At just 17 pounds, the hp_b8550 is the lightest 13-inch-wide printer I’ve ever come across.

11. Color Management-Friendly Features

A properly calibrated monitor and printer are essential for consistent results when editing and printing. Some of the color-management-friendly features that I look for are the following: a printer driver for Mac and Windows that allows users to turn off the color controls inside the driver. That makes it possible to have the color-management aware application, such as Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Apple Aperture or Adobe Lightroom manage the colors by sending the photo directly to the printer using the paper profile (a.k.a. output profile). If you want the best print quality, and at the same time wish to save money by optimizing ink usage, you should be using either custom profiles made specifically for your printer and paper by you or a consultant (made with a product like the xrite_colormunki or Datacolor Spyder3 Print SR), or you should use high quality profiles supplied by the printer or paper manufacturer for the specific paper you are using. Most photo-quality printers allow you to turn off color controls, but it is important to check before making a purchase, and you should always download the newest driver and any updates for your specific operating system instead of downloading the driver from the disk that ships with your printer.

Some companies supply 10-20 or more profiles for the papers that have their brand names on them, and in many cases, the profiles will be installed automatically in your computer’s Colorsync folder when you download the printer driver. If you like the papers branded by a specific printer company, that may tip the scales toward purchasing that company’s printer. Also, if you see a paper that you love, made by a company who specializes in making inkjet papers (there are many), that company will often have profiles available for specific printers. You can check which printers are supported on their website; having all of those profiles available for free is another selling point. That said, a “canned” profile, or company-provided profile, will generally not be as accurate as one you create yourself (or have made by someone) for your specific paper and printer.

To learn more about the wonderful world of color management (and all its dramatic twists and turns), I highly recommend reading Jay Kinghorn’s Color Management Overview series.

If you’d like to download a worksheet to go along with these tips, I created a free PDF that’s available on this page called the InkjetSelector. www.inkjettips.com/2008/05/09/the-inkjetselector-pdf-available-for-free-download/

It’s a form with 70 parameters to help you choose your ideal printer. I recommend printing the form and bringing it to a store that sells inkjet printers, or e-mail/fax it to a reseller or consultant who knows a lot about inkjet printers and who can give you advice.

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Andrew Darlow is a photographer, author and digital imaging consultant based in the New York City area. For more than 15 years he has conducted seminars and workshops at photo-related conferences and for photography organizations, including the American Photographic Artists (APA), Arles Photo Festival (Arles, France) and the International Center of Photography (ICP). His editorial and fine-art work have been featured in numerous exhibitions and magazines, including Photo District News, Popular Photography, Professional Photographer and Rangefinder magazine. Darlow is editor of The Imaging Buffet, an online resource with news, reviews, and interviews covering the subjects of photography, printing, and new media. His book, 301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques: An Essential Printing Resource for Photographers (Course Technology, PTR) was chosen as the winner in the “Photography: Instructional/How-To” category of The National Best Books 2008 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. His newest book is Pet Photography 101: Tips for Taking Better Photos of Your Dog or Cat (Focal Press).

Original text and images ©2011 Andrew Darlow. Portions of this article excerpted from Andrew Darlow’s book: 301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques: An Essential Printing Resource for Photographers (Course Technology, PTR). Companion Website: http://www.inkjettips.com

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    • I enjoyed the article but I think you short changed the HP printer. I have used the 9180B ever since it came out and love it. Is it because you haven't used it? 

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    • Thank you for your comments. I've tested and written about the HP Pro B9180 in the past when it was available for sale, but that printer, as well as the similar HP Pro B8850 have both been discontinued.

      All the best,

      Andrew
      -----------------------------------

      Andrew Darlow
      freelance writer for Photo.net

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    • Hi,

           great article.

      One area I am confused about is the problem of intermittent use. I have a cheap laser that I use for document printing, and so might only use a photo inkjet once a week. I understand that some printers don't like intermittent use and waste a lot of ink cleaning. Is this just a myth, or are newer printers better at coping with this level of use.

      I'm looking at a A3 High quality printer, and so was considering the Epson 1410-2880 range

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    • Thanks for your nice words Brian. This is definitely a factor to consider. It's better to use the printer every week or so, but if you keep the printer protected from dust by putting a loosely-fitting cover on it, and if you keep in in a temperature-controlled area (between about 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit and 40-80% relative humidity), most of today's printers up to 13 inches wide should do their job well for 3-5 years. Some printers being sold today up to 13 inches in width have an internal timer that will run cleaning cycles, but they can only do that if the printer is on and if you send a job to be printed; they generally won't do that in standby or even "on" mode (if the printer has separate on and standby modes).

      Also the smaller cartridge size in most printers that print up to 13 inches wide works in your favor if you are only doing a few prints every month. Even if you make just a few prints each month, you'll probably go through a set of cartridges within about year, which is better than having cartridges sitting in a printer for years.

      If an affordable parts and labor (or replacement) extended warranty is available for your printer, that can be valuable, due to the fact that inkjet printers can be prone to experiencing various problems over time. Some warranties are "no questions asked," which is obviously an advantage over one that won't cover common problems (or parts only).

      The most important decision is to determine whether you actually need a printer. If you have just a few prints to make each month, sending it out to an outside company might make more sense.

      Hope that helps.

      Andrew

      ---------------------------

      Andrew Darlow

      freelance writer, Photo.net

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    • Thanks Andrew, great content, great read.

       

      Best, Doug

       

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    • Recommended article.

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    • I paid $30 for a new HP4480 and it performs very well. I use it to scan all my old photos and negs.

      I have  an Epson 700 which is superior but it seems more complicated and not as user friendly.

      Joe Faust

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    • Hi Joe:

      Print drivers and color management can be complicated. 

      Ian Lyons has some good step-by-step workflow guides on this site:

      http://www.computer-darkroom.com/home.htm

      See the dropdown on the right side (Feature Articles and Essays)

      Hope that helps,

      Andrew Darlow

      Freelance writer, Photo.net

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    • Thanks for a really useful article. It has convinced me that owning a printer is probably not for right now! Saved me loads!

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    • I'd like to hear your thoughts about printer-mounted ink nozzles vs. cartridge-mounted nozzles.  I've had serious problems with 2 Epson printers (SPR 900 and SPR 1900) clogging with as few as 9 days in between prints.  Do you see an advantage with e.g., Canon printers for this reason?  Is the print quality comparable between the two brands?

       

      Thanks,

      Richard

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    • Hi Richard:

      It's difficult to say which option is better, and I think you mean a "fixed" vs. replaceable head. Regarding print quality, I think that most Canon and Epson printers are similar in terms of print quality, though the number of inks used in the printer, number of grey inks, paper choice and settings you use in the driver (economy vs. good, vs. best, and "high speed" turned on or off), all have a big effect on the overall print quality.

      Humidity and temperature have a lot to do with clogging issues, and I've found that the majority of higher-end Canon and Epson printers introduced since about 2008 perform extremely well, with minimal clogging. Though not a perfect measure, I generally define "higher quality" as printers that cost more than about $150.

      It's best to keep temperatures between about 60-80 degrees Farenheit, and relative humidity between about 40-80%. I would also look into an extended warranty, especially if you plan to use the printer a lot. It can give you piece of mind if problems arise. Of course, read the fine print, especially if it is offered by a company that is not the manufacturer.

      Hope that helps,

      Andrew

      ----------------------------------

      Andrew Darlow
      freelance writer for Photo.net

       

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