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aparmley
07-28-2005, 01:42 PM
Beachluvr said in 8150 review critique thread:


I'm on my way over for the ice cold beer and it better not be cheap beer

Actually, I have been reading Jeff's reviews daily (yes daily) pretty much since he started the website. I never felt I needed to join a forum because he does a great job and he compliments the two other digital camera sites well. I did, and do, feel I have something to contribute about printers that I hope can be helpful to other forum members as well as Jeff, as this is a relatively new area for him.

Jeff requested constructive comments and I took that as he didn't want me to just give him compliments and kudos, so I put a lot of thought and time into sharing some alternative views at looking at choosing a inkjet photo printer and I apologize if I started on the wrong foot. I honestly believe choosing a printer primarily on # of dots and cost-per-page is the same as choosing a car on horsepower alone or a digital camera on megapixels alone. There is so much more that never gets talked about in "reviews" at some of the non-photography sites. I still encourage Jeff to take a different approach and evaluate inkjet photo printers from the perspective of a photographer's tool and not support the fantasy that a $200 printer will ever be cheap to operate or give truly professional results.

And by the way, I'm still saving up for a professional printer like the 932C for my best-quality work, until then my 550C will have to suffice (j/k massively) In reality I think most inkjet photo printers are good, not great, but getting better.

Cheers


I see your point. Your low post number and guns a blazing approach threw me. I admit. It would be interesting to develope a "Consumer Photo Printer FAQ" page. Not your average consumer photo printer FAQ page but something that sheds a little more light on the topic of specs, what to really look for what not to.
I will admit when shopping around for my photo printer I focused on seperate ink cartridges, number of nozzles, and picoliter size of the ink droplets. I was looking for a high number of nozzles - thinking that would lead to increase coverage of ink thus turning out a print faster. It made sense to me at the time double the nozzles should equate to a photo in your hand nearly twice as fast - compared to a printer with same size droplets... because clearly if you have double the nozzles but your drops are half the size of the other, it would seem to me there would not be a significant jump in print speed. I focused on droplet size because I assumed that the smaller the droplets the finer the detail the printer could render - Smooth color transistions and and overall higher quality print. Those were my criteria when purchasing my last photo printer, the Canon i960, sure there were better, but not for 90 dollars.

My criteria have changed slightly since then. I have now realized just how much it costs me to print photos on the i960 and before I didn't care about cost per print, I wanted quality. But, I realize now that if I am going to print at the same volume I need to look for an alternative. I am thinking if and when my photography skill developes my print requirements will increase as well. So that need for the in house, high quality, lower operating cost printer exists.

I'm curious to hear what you have to say about # of nozzles and the picoliter size of the drops... Is this another "Spec" for marketing or do these really translate into increased quality to a certain extent? I have to say the i960 does turn out a very nice picture at a premium cost - which leads me on my search for a more efficient ink managing photo printer if it costs me 800 bucks so be it.

beachluvr
07-28-2005, 04:39 PM
I have to admit not being very experienced on forum posting, I did that once for a car model I bought but usually I don't have the time it takes to follow threads properly. So the comment about my low posting numbers actually kinda confused me and maybe a little offended me, because honestly I don't know how forum members judge each other when it comes to posting numbers. Anyway, let's get to the heart of this discussion.

The answer to your question is an absolute yes, the number of nozzles and the drop size is just more manufacture's hype when it comes to consumer inkjet photo printers. Notice I keep stressing consumer because if you look at the specs for the $10,000 inkjet printers from HP, Canon, Epson and others guess what? They only quote resolution of usually 600 x 600 dpi and sometimes double that. And the number of "nozzles" is a fraction of what the consumer models claim. What gives? How can a printer be worth $10,000 if the specs aren't even in the same ballpark as something that sells for $100? It all has to do with two things ... smoke and mirrors and outright spec manipulation. Here's an example. This may or not be true today so don't sue me, but it's something that really happened. One (unnamed huge printer manufacturer) wanted to claim more and smaller drops than their competition. So they put tiny crosshair wires in the line of the droplets firing from the print head. Voila, all of a sudden they had 4x the number of drops and they were 400% smaller than the competion. Trouble is (you can try this at home) liquid sprayed through crosshair wires doesn't stay separated into precise tiny little droplets, it just blobs all back together. Nice trick but stupid dog.

Resolution is an even bigger joke. Native resolution for inkjet printers is about 600 x 600 with some room for variance. You can double that by moving the printhead back over the same spot twice and slightly offsetting it. Of course you use twice as much ink! You can play that game until the cows come home and yes the picture will look smoother but you tradeoff things like print speed and ink economy.

Realizing that, HP came up with something called color layering. Another cool trick and until recently HP was honest enough to quote the "real" resolution of 600 x 600 dpi but claimed they were able to get 4800 x 4800 "enhanced" by their smoke and mirrors. HP's scheme actually did save print time and ink usage by not having to run the print head over the same spot several times and they also gained a benefit by not soaking the paper so much that the ink bled through to the other side.

I won't even comment on print "speed" because it is more of a fantasy than Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and has literally no basis in anything real in life.

I don't know if you live near a big town, but in most major cities the HP, Canon, Lexmark and Epson "reps" duke it out in the aisles every weekend. I put "reps" in quotes because, fasten your seat belts for another lie, they don't even work for the companies who's name badges they wear but rather for temp agencies. That's right, those self-proclaimed "experts" are moms and students and bus drivers during the week and printer experts on weekends. If you have such stores near you, spend an afternoon and you will get royally entertained. Dot size, number of drops, size of drops, shape of dots, "we don't use dots", will fly from mouth to mouth. They will gleefully grab a pack of ink from the shelf and say "Our ink is cheaper, so you will save a lot of money on ink".

You'll need to go back and read my other posts for more about the subject of ink economy, but the point I'm making is the manufacturers will look you right in the eye and say separate tanks save money when they know that, like your Canon, you will have your own checkout lane at the local store because you will be buying ink so often.

Why doesn't somebody do something about it? They are. People are suing the printer makers right and left and the Eurpean Union actually banned one manufacturer for their practices (I admit I'm not a legal expert, do a Google search if you want to know the details, I'm just making a point for emphasis).

For today, my bottom line is that sure, nozzle size, number of nozzles, drop size and quantity and all the other specs DO contribute to making a cheap printer do a decent job. You have to be aware that there are tradeoffs for all that. I am urging Jeff to take the high road and not just parrot "specs" and I am urging forum members not to be suckered by manufacturers hype. The very first spec you should look at when considering a consumer inkjet photo printer is "do I like the photos?" Then look at the user-features and see if they fit your needs. Buy with the knowledge that you will be paying about the same cost-per-print from all of the major brands, which is to say you will be paying a fortune. And don't refill ink unless you're using the printer only for documents ... why in the world would you want to save a couple of pennies per photo and take the risk that they won't look their best?

aparmley
07-28-2005, 08:42 PM
So the comment about my low posting numbers actually kinda confused me and maybe a little offended me, because honestly I don't know how forum members judge each other when it comes to posting numbers.

Its just that occasionally we'll get a hater pop in create a name make a few hasty posts and bounce... I saw that you had only 4 and assumed... But made an ass out of me. Thats the only judgement I have seen on posting numbers.

I find it odd though that a lot of the performance specs are considered smoke and mirrors... I wonder then how are we to make and educated decision... the search goes on...

beachluvr
07-28-2005, 09:56 PM
Just a point of clarification. Specs do mean something and most of them have value, but remember inkjet printers (ok the INK) is a multi-billion dollar industry and the companies behind them tend to be very loose with their hype. Smoke and mirrors doesn't necessarily mean that the specs shouldn't be considered. I'm just saying that buying a printer solely because it has more nozzles or more tanks or more speed or more of most things is not as important as does it print a photograph that is pleasing to the eye, faithful to what the camera photographed, not going to fade in reasonable time, and has the look and feel of a "real" photograph.

I'll keep checking in to contribute what I can. Feel free to ask questions.

cdifoto
07-28-2005, 10:18 PM
Just a point of clarification. Specs do mean something and most of them have value, but remember inkjet printers (ok the INK) is a multi-billion dollar industry and the companies behind them tend to be very loose with their hype. Smoke and mirrors doesn't necessarily mean that the specs shouldn't be considered. I'm just saying that buying a printer solely because it has more nozzles or more tanks or more speed or more of most things is not as important as does it print a photograph that is pleasing to the eye, faithful to what the camera photographed, not going to fade in reasonable time, and has the look and feel of a "real" photograph.

I'll keep checking in to contribute what I can. Feel free to ask questions.

With that said, how would you rate the Epson Stylus Photo R300?

beachluvr
07-28-2005, 11:42 PM
With that said, how would you rate the Epson Stylus Photo R300?

I am happy to provide my technical insight on a generic basis and point out some specifics about the brands but I will graciously decline to rate or recommend any specific model. That is up to the professional reviews like Jeff Keller, who have the time, tools and talent to run an undertaking like Digital Camera Resource Page and are in the business of product evaluation.

Go for it Jeff!

cdifoto
07-29-2005, 10:12 AM
I am happy to provide my technical insight on a generic basis and point out some specifics about the brands but I will graciously decline to rate or recommend any specific model. That is up to the professional reviews like Jeff Keller, who have the time, tools and talent to run an undertaking like Digital Camera Resource Page and are in the business of product evaluation.

Go for it Jeff!

Sounds to me like you really don't know anything. You say specs don't mean much and you say you can't provide opinions on specific models.

So then...what exactly are you telling us? We have to buy every model and try it, keep the prints as long as we hope they'll last, then hope to return it 35 years later because specs don't mean squat?

erichlund
07-29-2005, 11:48 AM
Sounds to me like you really don't know anything. You say specs don't mean much and you say you can't provide opinions on specific models.

So then...what exactly are you telling us? We have to buy every model and try it, keep the prints as long as we hope they'll last, then hope to return it 35 years later because specs don't mean squat?

Well, I would only feel right commenting on the quality of a printer that I actually used on a regular basis. So, in going to a forum, you get opinions of actual users. You filter through the "I bought it, so I have to say it's the best" users and look for people that make honest evaluations. For instance, I had an Epson R800. Here's my evaluation:

Not the fastest printer on the market, but not the slowest. Batch print and you will save startup ink. Good, honest color. Things look like they actually were rather than the pop that some printers give on their default values. Roll paper is a joke, unless you are doing framed panoramas where the curl won't be a problem. You apparently can put it on a network, but not with the print server I have, and Epson will not help / support. I have not had any problems with clogged nozzles. Ink is expensive, as with all inkjets, but for high volume users, there are after market bulk ink add-ons that reduce the cost. Excellent paper handling and excellent variety of papers. Pigment inks are much more water tolerant than dye inks. Gloss optimizer works, gloss prints are great. Matte performance still good, but not as good as gloss. Since this is a consumer printer and not an "art" printer, I guess that's OK. If you want the "art" printer, the new Epson R2400 ($830) should be checked out. Would I buy it again? No -> but only because I'm upgrading to the R1800. :D

Now, as for the R300. Sorry, no idea. Never used. Do a search and you should get some hits.

Cheers,
Eric

beachluvr
07-29-2005, 02:15 PM
Sounds to me like you really don't know anything. You say specs don't mean much and you say you can't provide opinions on specific models.

So then...what exactly are you telling us? We have to buy every model and try it, keep the prints as long as we hope they'll last, then hope to return it 35 years later because specs don't mean squat?

What I am saying, quite clearly, is I am not a camera or printer reviewer and it is not my job to compete with their business, so I will not make specific recommendations for anyone. I also think I made it quite clear that specs are NOT meaningless (see me say that right above), they are just one factor to consider in choosing an inkjet photo printer. For an excellent source of digital cameras (and now printers) reviews please see www.dcresource.com

cdifoto
07-29-2005, 02:53 PM
What I am saying, quite clearly, is I am not a camera or printer reviewer and it is not my job to compete with their business, so I will not make specific recommendations for anyone. I also think I made it quite clear that specs are NOT meaningless (see me say that right above), they are just one factor to consider in choosing an inkjet photo printer. For an excellent source of digital cameras (and now printers) reviews please see www.dcresource.com

I didn't say that you said specs are meaningless. Read what I actually posted, not what you think I meant.

beachluvr
07-29-2005, 04:34 PM
I didn't say that you said specs are meaningless. Read what I actually posted, not what you think I meant.

I didn't say you said that I said that specs are meaningless. I said "I also think I made it quite clear that specs are NOT meaningless" nothing about what you said that I said.

Please keep the topic to Printer Discussions and intra-personal quarrels to your local tavern, they have no place being in here. Thank you.

fnoel
08-01-2005, 11:13 AM
With that said, how would you rate the Epson Stylus Photo R300?
Try a pricegrabber.com search of your printer and check for expert reviews and also user reviews. And I agree with beachluvr about keeping it to the subject at hand meaning printers. Good luck.