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Thread: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

  1. #1

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    Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    The more I try to get prints done from digital files the more I realize that what comes out of a machine isn't going to get it. I've calibrated my screen, and shot with pre-set white balance in order to make what comes out of the camera is good as possible prior to sending it to the printer. The other option, of course, would be to take it to a professional who would spend a lot time making an individual print without averaging everything. But that's expensive.

    So I've decided to try to make my on prints. There are some good printers out there that are not very expensive but it's the inks that cost. I'm interested in hearing from people who've been printing their own.

    Thanks in advance.

    Doug

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    Re WB: try using a neutral gray card, like a whiBal, and shoot raw, if you aren't.

    Re printing: I think the first step is deciding whether you want dye or pigment. Pigment inks last longer but clog more, particularly if you only use the printer. once in a while Dyes can have a bigger gamut and are less likely to clog, but they don't last as long. (They can still last a long time). I opted for dye because I print erratically, and my printers can sit unused literally for months. I have been printing with Canon dye printers for about 4 or 5 years and have not had a single clog.

    I recently started using the Pro 9000 II, which can often be had new for about $250, with rebates or because people sell NIB ones that they got in bundles. I have not had it long, but so far, I have been very pleased. I have printed on 6 or 8 Moab and Red River papers, and the results have been consistently good. (I print from Lightroom, using the vendor's ICC profiles for the paper.) I have printed a lot of 8 x 10 prints with an inexpensive 6-ink multifunction, the MP970, and those results have also been good, although it is very hard to find profiles for it. If you are serious about printing, I would opt for a dedicated, 8-ink photo printer.

    If you don't want to bother, I have had very good results with Bay Photo, using their economy service because I do WB and color balance myself.

  3. #3

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    Thanks, DanK, this is very helpful.

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    The first question, Doug, is what size of prints?

    A4 (European size) printers are available in many forms and can be quite cheap; yet still produce reasonable prints at 12 x 8 ins.

    With A3 printers, which are approx 16 x 8 ins, there is less choice but still several models. And, of course, an increased cost.

    I suppose the most common makes are Canon, Epson and HP. Probably not a lot of difference between them in reality. I've used a number of printers from both Canon and Epson.

    My current printer is the Epson R1900 which prints at A3 without any problems, apart from the occasional ink clog; but that is fairly simple to auto clean. I've just done some prints at Super A3 16 x 12 ins, for 20 x 16 ins frames.

    Dan has given the basic information to help you decide.

    Whether it is worth getting a professional quality printer is a difficult decision; but for relatively light home use, there are several good quality alternatives.

    My only other advice would be to get a printer which uses individual colour ink cartridges, which is normal for the slightly more expensive machines. The original purchase of perhaps 8 separate cartridges may seem a bit expensive but will work out cheaper in the long run compared with throwing away a multi colour cartridge which has, for example, run out of cyan ink while the magenta is still half full.

    Check the prices then ask again when you have narrowed down your options.

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    Doug,

    You seem to be going down the same path that I went down recently.

    Question: do you want your prints to last for about 100 years or more? If so, then you need a printer that uses pigment inks. However, if you don't use said printer fairly frequently, it will block up and cease to function, eventually. You can spend a LOT of money on ink and various "magic" chemicals in trying to unblock the printhead. Unsuccessfully. Believe me, I know.

    Printers that use dye based inks are completely different. Prints should last for 20 to 30 years, possibly much more, and the printer will not be rendered useless by blocked jets. I have bought an Epson PX730WD, (UK product name, it may be different in Mass. USA). The maximum print size on this model is A4, about 10"x8", but there are other models, using the same inks, up to larger sizes. I printed several "difficult" prints with the supplied Epson Claria inks, and they were really were very, very good.

    One of the reasons I chose this particular Epson printer was that I could fit a Continuous Ink Supply System (CISS). I bought a CISS from City Ink Express (in the UK, of course), and reprinted the same test prints. Try as I might, I am unable to detect any difference between genuine Epson ink, (expensive), and the CISS ink, (very cheap).

    In conclusion, my experience is: a printer that uses dye based inks can give fantastic print quality at very low cost, and not clog up. I can particularly recommend Epson Claria ink, the print quality is wonderful. Just make sure that you use decent paper though!

    ps. I have no connection with any company that I have named here!

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    I do most of my own printing and have a low end pro printer (Epson 3880) that does up to 19" x 22" prints. I've had it for a couple of years now and have been extremely pleased with its performance. I'm not a heavy printer and the ink seems to last about a year. Frankly it would be less expensive to have them done through a camera shop, but I come from the old darkroom days in colour and black & white, so I still prefer the do it yourself approach.

    There are a few things to remember about printing; whether they are your own or you have someone else do them:

    1. Your prints will never look the same as they do on your screen. Your screen uses transmitted light but your prints are viewed with reflected light. This means that they will never have the same "punch".

    2. Your printer does not use white ink, so the lightest white that you will get is the colour of your paper. This will affect the overall look of your image. Some papers have an "optical bleach" added. Nicely said, this is a fluorescing agent that appears to be whiter under daylight or fluorescent light; i.e. light sources that have a UV component. This won't show up under tungsten lighting.

    3. Because the prints are viewed using reflected light, your light source will affect what the print looks like. If you know that you will be displaying them using a specific light source, you may choose to print them to look right under that lighting, rather than under standard "daylight" conditions. If the room you are evaluating the colours in has some specific lighting you will end up with a cast that looks "wrong" under "standard lighting conditions.

    There are paper / printer / ink profiles (icc profiles) that will (at least in theory) provide proper colour balance, assuming that you are using a calibrated monitor in the first place. These offer a pretty good starting point.

    4. Recent versions of Photoshop allow you to emulate what the print will look like.

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    Hi doug, I recently purchased a canon 9000 II as well. I like it alot so far. The most expensive part is the ink.

    I found a place that sold quality ink in bulk, at a great price..........http://www.rjettek.com/

    You will need a chip resetter---ink---syringes---hammer---nail set---rubber plugs---needle nose pliers.


    After the ink cartrage goes empty, reset the chip. You simply touch the cartrage to the resetter tool untill the red light lights up and it will reset the chip to read full.

    Next locate the round hole on the back of the cartrage. It will have a plastic ball pushed into the hole to seal it. (you will have to cut a little of the tape off the top of the cartrage to expose it.) With the hammer and nail set, punch the ball into the cartrage. (won't hurt a thing, because the cartrage has a filter pad inside)

    Next place the cartrage ontop of some paper towels and hold it down firmly as you fill the cartrage with the syringe. (the ink will flow out of the cartrage if you don't hold it down firmly, at least untill you get the plug in it) Like a dummy , i threw away the plastic caps that came with the cartrages. You might want to save them, so you can cap them while your are refilling............I'll save the next set when i need new cartrages.

    Next after filling it, push the rubber plug into the filling hole.

    Lightly wipe the cartrage off with a paper towl to absorb any extra ink on it, and replace it into the printer.

    Very simple procedure and when you can buy a 4 oz bottle of ink (enough for 10 refills) for $5, you will save a ton of money.


    For about $85, i got all the ink/plugs/resetter. Enough for 10 refills for the price of 1 set of cartrages.


    Now the paper is the most expensive.

  8. #8
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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    I can't help directly as I rarely print photos myself, but I have read that some printers can be used with a continuous ink system which reduces the cost of the ink.

    Dave

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    You can change the page size options on printer as you want. You should carefully check all the functions of printer.
    _____________________________
    Short run printing Toronto

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    I purchased a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 II printer a few months ago and I find it very easy to use (very important to me) and capable of very good looking prints. It can use a variety of papers, both Canon and Third Party and it can print up to 13" wide prints. You can feed heavyweight paper from the rear of the printer which lessens the chance (IMO) of jamming.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...0_Mark_II.html

    I paid $200 bottom line with free shipping after a rebate. There are several rebates in effect right now but, I have not researched them.

    I have not made any comparisons but the Canon Pixma 9000 II is touted as being quite economical with ink. My old HP printer sucked the ink cartridges dry.

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    I have been printing with an Epson Claria 1400 using MIS inks for the past two years. For a non-professional, non-commercial user, I think this combination is hard to beat. The 1400 will print up to 13" wide prints and I do 11"x17" prints regularly. It has been trouble free. I load my on cartridges and MIS inks are about 1/10 the cost of Epson inks. The MIS inks will fade faster than genuine Claria inks, but when you are learning and no one is giving you money for your prints, it's hard to argue with the cost savings.

    This combination also works well for black and white. You can use a number of different carbon inks. Check out Paul Roark if you want to get into quality black and white. The 1400 is his go-to printer for this work.

    The current model of the 1400 is the 1430 and it can be picked up for about $250, sometimes less if you can find a refurb from Epson. For more information on the inks and how to load them, check my blog in the 'how to' section.

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    Reading this thread has confused me a little. There is mention of dye printers but the ones mentioned seem to be inkjets. I thought that the only dye types were the sublimation ones which tend to be rather expensive. Are there 2 styles of inkjet now?

    Also has anyone any experience of using a colour laser for photo printing? I switched to a colour laser a long time ago as we don't print very often and I became fed up of the blocked jet problem/hoping it would clean itself out after a long period of no use. Long term the lasers work out cheaper to run as well.

    John

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    Quote Originally Posted by lightdrunk View Post
    The more I try to get prints done from digital files the more I realize that what comes out of a machine isn't going to get it. ....... The other option, of course, would be to take it to a professional who would spend a lot time making an individual print without averaging everything. But that's expensive.

    Doug
    Since you are asking questions makes me think you don't know so it is going to cost you and cost big as you learn even the basics. I started a few years back with an HP A3 printer and made normally 15x12 prints or so and what with ink, board to mount the prints on it was expensive. In the long run I would expect the custom printer to be economical, DIY will not be, certainly for somebody as particular as you appear to be. Both you and the printer you have used will be using a machine.

    Thankfully for my wallet projected images are becoming more common.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    Quote Originally Posted by ajohnw View Post
    Reading this thread has confused me a little. There is mention of dye printers but the ones mentioned seem to be inkjets. I thought that the only dye types were the sublimation ones which tend to be rather expensive. Are there 2 styles of inkjet now?

    Also has anyone any experience of using a colour laser for photo printing? I switched to a colour laser a long time ago as we don't print very often and I became fed up of the blocked jet problem/hoping it would clean itself out after a long period of no use. Long term the lasers work out cheaper to run as well.

    John
    There are a number of different print processes out there, and without a doubt, ink jet printers so give you the most flexibiliity an best quality. Colour lasers are not particularly subtle or accurate for photo work. The colours are okay for business graphics, but not for quality photos.

    Dye subs are not too bad, but you need special paper and they are fairly costly to run. Their blacks are so-so.

    When it comes to ink jet printers, there are photo quality ones and regular ones. Regular ink jets give you fairly flat results when printing photos; they tend to only have four colours and in my view are not really suitable for serious photo printing. True photo printers have more ink cartridges so that they can get you a much more subtle tonal range. Mine is an 9 cartridge design, but only 8 are used for printing at any one time. I have two black cartridges; one is used on photo paper and the other on regular paper. It also has two shades of grey (that Epson calls these "Light Black" and "Light Light Black"), a yellow, light magenta, magenta, light cyan and cyan.

    There are two different types of inks used in ink jets. The less expensive inks are dye based, while the more expensive ones are pigment based, The main difference is longevity; dye based inks can start fading within a few months, while the pigment based ones are theoretically good for a couple of hundred years. Traditionally dye based inks have more vibrance, but the latest generation of pigments are really quite good.

    I hope that this clarifies things a bit for you.

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    Thanks Manfred. I thought all of the printers were actually inkjet.

    Out of interest and some years ago a professional photographer friend of mine did a certain amount of work for a printing company. They had a bright idea when the prices of colour lasers dropped. You might say they worked a number of them to death all at the same time and made a lot of money. They soon learnt how long they were likely to last so sold them on ebay near end of life. Out of curiosity I bought some laser colour paper and just tried mine. It should be able to take 220gm paper but these jammed. Maybe because it was double sided. 170grm single sided goes though ok. If I look at the shot on the screen and then at the print to avoid colour temperature problems rather than placing them side by side the results are consistent. The interesting thing is that the print has come out larger than the screen view so there must be some interpolation and scaling going on. Before dismissing it I think I am going to try shots set up for 600dpi printing. My son has a decent HP printer and that with the paper he uses produces glossier prints. The laser print is less glossy but noticeably more so than some professional photo's that were recently taken at his university graduation ceremony. Those hardly have any gloss at all. Dye sub?

    John

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    There are a number of different print processes out there, and without a doubt, ink jet printers so give you the most flexibiliity an best quality. Colour lasers are not particularly subtle or accurate for photo work. The colours are okay for business graphics, but not for quality photos.
    I am going to have to disagree with you there, Manfred. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an older model Minolta/QMS Magicolor 330 EX color laser that was a factory refurbished model, for $1,000 (they normally sold for a lot more - a LOT more) that makes spectacular prints. I had to hover over their online store for about 8 months until one showed up, and then jump on it, but it was worth it!

    That printer was designed for prepress work, prints with an Adobe RGB gamut, and has very intense colors and very detailed print (you will never find an inkjet droplet as small as a particle of laser toner). The prints are permanent (solid pigment melted into the paper) and water proof.

    I've also worked with a very large Xerox 700i Digital Color Press that outputs beautiful images; but those are insanely expensive and large, appropriate for businesses only.

    From what I read at the time when I picked up my color laser printer, the big advantage these much more expensive units have (or at least had at the time) over inkjets was in the included software, notably the Rasterized Image Processor (RIP). Apparently, part of the reasonable cost of inkjets can be attributed to their lack of really good RIP software (but this may have changed).

    Anyway, it turns out that color laser printers are set to print business graphics by default, but also (for the most part, as far as I know) have the ability to output decent photo quality prints if one resets the print parameters appropriately. Apparently, it is not uncommon for people who produce their own greeting and post cards to use color laser printers to do this, and to get very good results doing so.

    The biggest consideration is the thickness of the media the printer can handle, since it has to heat the paper to the point where the toner will fuse into it; and that for larger prints, you need a straight/flat print input option.

  17. #17
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    Quote Originally Posted by John Morton View Post
    I am going to have to disagree with you there, Manfred. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an older model Minolta/QMS Magicolor 330 EX color laser that was a factory refurbished model, for $1,000 (they normally sold for a lot more - a LOT more) that makes spectacular prints. I had to hover over their online store for about 8 months until one showed up, and then jump on it, but it was worth it!

    That printer was designed for prepress work, prints with an Adobe RGB gamut, and has very intense colors and very detailed print (you will never find an inkjet droplet as small as a particle of laser toner). The prints are permanent (solid pigment melted into the paper) and water proof.

    I've also worked with a very large Xerox 700i Digital Color Press that outputs beautiful images; but those are insanely expensive and large, appropriate for businesses only.

    From what I read at the time when I picked up my color laser printer, the big advantage these much more expensive units have (or at least had at the time) over inkjets was in the included software, notably the Rasterized Image Processor (RIP). Apparently, part of the reasonable cost of inkjets can be attributed to their lack of really good RIP software (but this may have changed).

    Anyway, it turns out that color laser printers are set to print business graphics by default, but also (for the most part, as far as I know) have the ability to output decent photo quality prints if one resets the print parameters appropriately. Apparently, it is not uncommon for people who produce their own greeting and post cards to use color laser printers to do this, and to get very good results doing so.

    The biggest consideration is the thickness of the media the printer can handle, since it has to heat the paper to the point where the toner will fuse into it; and that for larger prints, you need a straight/flat print input option.
    John: I agree are all kinds of technologies out there, but they are usually out of reach of the average photographer, unless they are using a print service; your local Costco store, Blurb, etc. The names like Agfa, Durst, Fuji that I knew well in the traditional darkroom are producing this type of equipment. The colour laser you are going to find in the average home or office environment does not produce photo quality images, and the reflectance of the fused toner don't match the paper and looks a bit odd in the white areas.

    There are all kinds of commercial production equipment and technologies out there that can be used to print colour, but they are outside of what the average photographer is going to pick up for home use, and that was the light I responded in. One you get into these speciality machines; just about anything goes ink jet, dye sub, traditional photo papers using non-traditional print heads right up to traditional screen presses.

    Just as an aside; I do use my local Costco store if I am printing a lot, and you can get the icc colour profiles, by location here: http://www.drycreekphoto.com/icc/

  18. #18
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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    There is nothing terribly exotic about this one by Samsung, The only real concern is that the print is coined across at regular intervals with very vague wide lines that are only apparent due to the gloss. I suspect this is due the anti curl facility being active. The paper was Zerox Colotech Supergloss and I set the weight incorrectly which wont have helped it's 135gsm not 175. I'm not concerned about icc files as intend to produce my own anyway what ever printer I use. The printer has a scanner built in so that should be easy.

    The photo I used as a test was this one as there is lots of tone variation. I wouldn't like to say that the output from the printer is significantly different to the screen other than maybe colour temperature. It also has a match screen setting which I didn't use. If anything I would say there is a little more "glow" to the screen image but it depends how I look at the print,

    Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing:  Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    This one doesn't reduce well, too much detail is lost, so it will be interesting to see what a 600dpi print looks like.

    John

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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    John, banding across a print usually indicates some form of nozzle clog. Try a nozzle check and see if that helps.

    With that spider photo, I would expect a decent result from an image at 240 ppi and the printer resolution set to 1760 dpi (high quality setting).

  20. #20
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    Re: Thinking of Doing My Own Digital Printing: Advice Needed on Best Home Printer

    Manfred, the glossy reflective surface of a laser print produced by melting the toner into the paper is definitely very noticeable. Also, although a laser printer can use any kind of paper (a big bonus), there can be problems with higher gloss and higher brilliance papers, to which the melted toner sometimes will not stick.

    The technology, however, is about as "tried and true" as any: the original laser printer, developed in 1969 at Xerox, was modeled upon a disassembled xerographic printer - technology that was invented back in 1938!

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