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Jeff Keller
07-23-2005, 11:43 AM
Here is where comments regarding this printer review will go. Please, be constructive!

Charlie Young
07-25-2005, 08:42 PM
Jeff,
I really enjoyed reading about this printer....warts and all:)
I'm really looking forward to future printer reviews.
Regards,
Charlie young

AndreaGeorgia
07-25-2005, 10:58 PM
Thanks so much for this helpful printer review, Jeff. Looking forward to more. I'm especially interested in high end printers that can produce larger prints.

Andrea

55neal
07-25-2005, 11:50 PM
Hi Jeff;

Nice job on the printer review. I think the idea of a printer review site is great, and I look forward to reading many more of your insightful thoughts and observations on printers.

One small request... would it be possible to add a field to the quick specs box at the top of the review? I would like to see the range of sizes that a given printer will print. I am especially eager to read a review on a larger format printer, like a 13X19 inch unit.

Keep up the great work!

Neal.

beachluvr
07-25-2005, 11:56 PM
Jeff, I don't want to be a meanie but why in the world would you start your new printer review venture by reviewing an obsolete product? I got as far as the headline and immediately knew whoever was reviewing it didn't know what they were talking about. The reason is HP has switched to separate ink tanks (like Canon and Epson) for their new photo printers that are already on the shelves. It is a completely new technology that doesn't have anything to do with the old way HP printers worked. Doing a review like this does a huge disservice to HP and every one of your readers, you should really be honest and pull the review before it ruins your reputation. The 8150 printer was a mid-line, decent printer. The new technology looks like it will be awesome, I don't know yet. Stick to cameras for a while, at least publically, until you get the hang of the printer business. Thanks.

micke
07-26-2005, 02:05 AM
Hello Jeff,

One more practical thing to consider checking when testing hardware (at least for us people into compact living):

- How are the I/O-ports located, can one push the unit straight up to a wall with all cables connected?

A nice initiative btw!

Cheers
/micke

David Morley
07-26-2005, 04:47 AM
Hi Jeff

Like others before me, I really like the fact that your are branching into printer reveiws, even though as you say they will not be as detailed as your camera reviews. I personally think that with the advent of so many printers capable of producing excellent results on ones desk top, it is a logical step for dcresource to take.

Getting down to specifics I found that I was initially confused as to the number of cartridges that this particular printer used. In the side bar it listed six different cartridges yet in the text it said six colour but later on said two cartridges. I eventually grasped what the situation was but perhaps it could have been clarified.

Other than this one point, I found the revue to be helpful.

Regards

David

pyrocutee
07-26-2005, 08:27 AM
I think it's awesome that you have started to do printer reviews. Not many sites are doing a very good review anymore of them. I think your choice of printer for your first review was a good one considering the volume of machines sold...it probably was the #1 or #2 printer sold in the last 6 months for Photos. I hope to see a review of the new 8250, as well as an Epson R320 and/or Canon IP5000 for comparison.

A couple of things that would make your review site stand out compared to others is to actually test for cost per page. As you stated, it's hard to do it, but a 5% coverage shouldn't be too difficult to do. When testing for cost per page, you should print 2 pages, turn the printer off, turn it back on and then print another 2 pages. This is the way the average consumer prints, and this is why "leading consumer magazines" get $.03 per page on a Canon because they don't do this. HP has not came out with an individual cartridge system until now (except in the volume machines like the 1200D) because they say for average home use, the machines will will waste 1/3 of their ink priming print heads every time you turn the machine on and off, or it sits there for an hour. This takes quite some time to test this, and I know you have many cameras to review. I find it interesting that HP finally gave into public demands and released an individual cartridge system after bashing Canon and Epson for the last year.

My opinion of this review is that it was slightly above average in detail compared to C-net and other review sites by giving the color charts, but it really wasn't great. What has made you stand out in the Camera world is your attention to detail and giving tons of examples. If you want to do printer reviews, please do the same thing, otherwise you are no better than anybody else...and nobody else really answers any questions that aren't answered by the box of the printer. Nobody else is showing difference between having the photo grey cartridge in or not. Nobody else is showing the difference between the 96 black and the 99 photo for photos. You SAID it looked better to have the grey in, but SHOW me. Same thing with the text bleeding. You give us a ton of examples in your digital camera reviews of flaws, so why not here? Basically, hire some help to do it right if you want to venture into this market because it doesn't sound like you have the time to devote to it.

sheyingshi
07-26-2005, 10:14 AM
Thanks Jeff. Reviews like this one will be helpful when I decide to upgrade. I would like to second the request of a previous poster by asking for a spec. field of paper sizes supported. I also like the use of a control image against the reviewed printer's image to cancel out monitor varience but it would be interesting to me to know how this control image was created.

beachluvr
07-26-2005, 11:17 AM
Jeff

To be fair I did go back and completely read your review of the HP 8150. I still believe it is very unfair to compare a printer that is being closed out, and which uses 21 year old technology, with anything else on the market. But even if it's a discontinued product, the review should be accurate. Here are some of the glaring errors:

When evaluating a printer it is meaningless to show a control picture and the output of the printer. That would be like reviewing a high-end digital camera in the snapshot mode and claiming the pictures represent the best that camera can do. Most modern printers, the 8150 included, have a wide range of controls to adjust the output, just like a decent digital camera gives the photographer control of a variety of settings. Your review showed a highly subjective output, apparently printed in the default mode. That may be realistic on a $50 printer intended for beginners, but the 8150 is the printer equivalent of a Nikon D70s and is intended for middle-to-advanced amateurs. You failed to mention that there are at least three easily accessible and highly important adjustments in the printer tools menu to optimize print quality. One of the most important is "Color Space", which gives you the choice of sRGB/sYCC, Adobe RGB and ICM Color Management. Prints made in the default sRGB/sYCC mode are vastly different than prints made in the Adobe RBG mode, with Adobe RBG being far more accurate and true. Kudos to HP for allowing the user to set any of these options as a new default with one click of the mouse.

In additon, Color Attributes are easily set using sliders for Saturation, Brightness and Color Tone and on top of that HP includes an excellent color toolbox called "Digital Photography Options" that let the user set 6 variables for an incredible range of photo output. No one who owns a printer of this quality should ever leave the settings on default any more than an owner of a D70s would leave the settings on the snapshot mode.

A couple of other points...it is not true that the 8150 prints a test sheet every time you swap ink cartridges (thereby wasting ink). It does it the FIRST time you swap cartridges to set the alignment, after that the printer remembers the cartridge until you finally replace it with a new one, and then it has to do the re-alignment again. Swapping the cartridge takes about 5 seconds, nowhere near the chore you make it out to be.

Also on the subject of cartridges, I have never heard of a "sepia" cartridge from HP. Are you sure about this? The only time most digital photo users would need to swap cartridges is when going from the color to the B&W mode and every review on this series of printers says it is well worth it, the B&W prints are salon quality.

These are very important "details" and I agree with another forum member that if you are to review printers you MUST go into the exacting details you do when reviewing digital cameras ... or not do it at all.

gstafleu
07-26-2005, 01:12 PM
I liked that you included various paper types in the review, and would encourage you to expand on it.

I'm less familiar with HP's paper line up, but I know that Canon has Photo Paper Matte ($0.25/sheet) in adddition to Photo Paper Pro ($1.00/sheet). At 25% of the price, the matte paper still gives such excellent results--although not quite as good as the pro paper--that I do almost all my printing on matte, reserving the pro for special occasions.

I'm sure HP and others have a similar range of papers, and I would encourage you to include a bit more of that range in future reviews.

Something else you might want to think about is commenting on the refillability of the cartridges. The manufacturers of course tell you that the world will come to an abrupt end if you refill a cartridge, but in my experience the result from refilled cartridges cannot be distinguished from the originals, provided you get good ink (as oposed to generic one-ink-fits-all products). Given that refilling cuts down your ink costs by something like 90%, I could see how information on it would be of value to prospective printer buyers.

raven15
07-26-2005, 02:45 PM
As you may or may not be aware, Tom's Hardware Guide occasionally does excellent reviews of printers, though not from a photographer's point of view. Here is a link to their excellent "roundup" of multifunction devices (I just entered the market for a new printer, so I was looking around):

http://www.tomshardware.com/consumer/200504082/index.html

They figured out a way to do price comparisons and explained their methods, though I don't know if that is how you would want to do it.


Here are links to a few other recent printer reviews at THG:

http://www.tomshardware.com/consumer/20041025/index.html
http://www.tomshardware.com/consumer/20041229/index.html
http://www.tomshardware.com/consumer/20050527/index.html

D70FAN
07-26-2005, 03:20 PM
I liked that you included various paper types in the review, and would encourage you to expand on it.

I'm less familiar with HP's paper line up, but I know that Canon has Photo Paper Matte ($0.25/sheet) in adddition to Photo Paper Pro ($1.00/sheet). At 25% of the price, the matte paper still gives such excellent results--although not quite as good as the pro paper--that I do almost all my printing on matte, reserving the pro for special occasions.

I'm sure HP and others have a similar range of papers, and I would encourage you to include a bit more of that range in future reviews.

Something else you might want to think about is commenting on the refillability of the cartridges. The manufacturers of course tell you that the world will come to an abrupt end if you refill a cartridge, but in my experience the result from refilled cartridges cannot be distinguished from the originals, provided you get good ink (as oposed to generic one-ink-fits-all products). Given that refilling cuts down your ink costs by something like 90%, I could see how information on it would be of value to prospective printer buyers.

I don't think that jeff wants the liability of recommending use of 3rd party refills and replacement cartridges.

I occasionally sell prints and use an older Epson 2000P. It is very slow, but gets the job done.

I might trust some of the high end, 3rd party, pigment based inks, but they are actually more expensive than Epsons inks, so I'm not sure which inks you are talking about for 90% less. Also keeping in mind that refilling can be a pain depending on your cartridge/tank type.

It would definately be helpful if you could give us a pointer to your sources for high quality, low cost inks.

Also, I suggest that people ask for the Willhelm Institute longevity testing reports before buying/trying 3rd party refill inks, as all inks are not the same.

jturnerdublin
07-26-2005, 04:52 PM
Jeff:

Great idea to review printers. This is a logical expansion of your review services.

I had no problem with your reviewing what some feel is an obsolite printer (and it is); however, the point is that you had to start somewhere with printer reviews.

My recommendations for future reviews, please provide:
1. Basic specifications:
a. Number of printer cartrigdes by colors,
b. Print speeds by size print,
c. Physical size and weight of printer,
d. Cost of printer and each cartrigdes
e. Special operating capabilities, e.g. printing CD or DVD disk
2. Operating performance compared to printer specs.
3. Examples of prints such as you do with your camera photo tests.
4. Your "Conclusions" and recommendation about the printer
a. List of "Pros" and "Cons"
b. Your overall rating, e.g. "Highly Recommended", "Recommended", "Average" or whatever rating system you chose.
5. Reviews evaluating the new printer technologies from all the major manufactures including evaluating their ink systems, print life, papers, etc.

I would like to see reviews of many current and new printers plus the new printer technology from Canon (e.g. i9900, iP4000), Epson (e.g. 2400, R1800, R800), HP (e.g. 8250, Pro K550) and others.

Thank you for expanding your service to printers. I have always enjoyed the high quality printer reviews from "photo-i.co.uk"; however, they review only a few printers a year. You have an opportunity to privide reviews on (1) a greater number of printers and (2) the greatly improving printer, inks and paper technology. A Great Idea!

jackht

PeteP
07-27-2005, 02:43 AM
Well done! I thoroughly enjoyed the HP printer review.
It was informative and very helpful.

Let's have more of them in the future.

texinus
07-27-2005, 08:39 AM
One of the most important aspects of a printer for me is the total printing cost per page. I see you did not focus on that on the review

Jeff Keller
07-27-2005, 10:26 AM
One of the most important aspects of a printer for me is the total printing cost per page. I see you did not focus on that on the review

I don't know if you saw this, but we mentioned that this information is practically impossible to find.

HP told us that we should test the printer over EIGHT WEEKS to find how how much ink is used. Obviously this is something we cannot do, so we have to use information that's already out there. The review did say that a 4 x 6 inch print costs 24 cents, though that's information from HP.

Dave601
07-27-2005, 01:55 PM
Very good review...I am glad to see that you are branching out into the printing world. Only thing I can say is that I hope you don't just focus it to photo printers. Maybe do some photo printing with all-in-ones.

I look forward to seeing more printer reviews! :)

Jeff Keller
07-27-2005, 01:57 PM
Somebody complained about our choice of the 8150 for our first review. It was not our choice -- rather, it was what HP's marketing department sent us. They have also sent us a new model, the Photosmart 385, and the 8250 will be here soon. So it's HP who is responsible for sending us this soon-to-be-outdated model.

beachluvr
07-27-2005, 02:30 PM
Jeff -

I should have suspected you would not randomly go out and buy an 8150 printer out of everything available. HP shot themselves in the foot by sending you one to evaluate when they knew they were introducing a whole new technology. Following are some observations that may be useful to your readers to help them keep an open mind about printers, and also may give you some guidance as you get bombarded with advice from every direction. Keep up the good work!

Evaluating color inkjet printers:

As a professional photographer of many years and a very early adopter of inkjet printing technology for photos I would like to contribute a few general and random thoughts about the subject.

1. Commercially available (consumer) inkjet printers are a great tool. They are not capable by any stretch of the imagination of printing photographs of the same quality as chemical printing. Commercially available (consumer) digital cameras are a great tool. They are not capable by any stretch of the imagination of taking photographs of the same quality as professional film cameras. That doesn’t mean a photograph made by either can’t be compelling and beautiful, it is purely a technical assessment.

2. Commercially available (consumer) printers tend to be one of the most misleading products on the planet when it comes to specs. The assumption that “more dots” means a better picture is ridiculous, but it is generally one of only two factors most purchasers consider. When you look at professional-grade inkjet printers, whether from Canon, Epson, HP or others the number of dots is usually a fraction of what’s touted in the stores by over-zealous marketing people for the low cost (ie. under $5000) inkjet printers which use a variety of interpolation algorithms to multi-layer the dots or create the illusion of tighter dot spacing.

3. Counting dots is the entirely wrong way to look at the output of an inkjet printer anyway. A photograph should be evaluated by many criteria, such as composition, lighting, use of color, choice of subject, etc. Before inkjet printers it would be unheard of to hold the photograph 2” from one’s eyes and try to look for dots. A small photograph is usually held at arms-length and a large photograph is generally mounted or framed and enjoyed from a reasonable distance. Counting dots is the photographic equivalent of viewing the Mona Lisa from 2” away and complaining you can see brush strokes.

4. Ink cost as a deciding factor is the other criterion most people get hung up about. Firstly, it doesn’t make any difference. So what if an 8 x 10 costs a dollar’s worth of ink? How much do you pay for an 8 x 10 enlargement at the local drugstore? Something like $8? How many of them could you possibly print to have it make a significant difference? So what if Costco charges 22 cents for a 4x6 and Epson is 24 cents and HP is 29 cents (or whatever the prices are this week). How many could you possible print to make a difference? And if you ARE printing thousands of pictures commercially, get yourself out of the inkjet aisle at the local retail store and buy yourself a true commercial printer.

5. The other reason ink cost is a non-issue is that there is absolutely no way to compare it between manufacturers in an equitable way. You can’t compare shelf price because you don’t know how much ink is actually in the tank and how it will be used. You can’t compare manufacture’s specs because they typically represent document printing, in a certain mode, using the manufacturer’s own criteria. Knowing how much a photograph will cost is impossible because each photograph uses a different amount of ink for each color and if you are printing properly you will make adjustments for each print that will affect the amount of ink in terms of saturation, density, and other factors. The only way to even get an idea of average cost-per-print is to print hundreds of DIFFERENT pictures using several sets of ink, then tally up your total cost of ink and paper and divide it by the number of pictures. Then there is the subject of ink waste for priming and print head cleaning, factoring in the replacement cost of print heads if they are removable, how much ink remaining in the tank that never gets ejected onto the paper, and the list seems endless. Bottom line? Enjoy your pictures and pay what it costs to make them. It is what it is. The ultimate cost of printing pictures at home on an inkjet really does not differ significantly from brand to brand or even if you use aftermarket refill ink.

6. Print speed. The faster a printer prints the less subject it may be to precision, especially the older it gets. How many pictures can you possibly print where the speed variance can make a difference? And if you are printing thousands of pictures commercially, get yourself out of the inkjet aisle at the local retail store and buy yourself a true commercial printer.

Final thought. I have printed the SAME picture from the SAME source on all major brands of consumer inkjet printer and found with a few adjustments I could make the picture look so identical that people who tried to tell the difference were reduced to guessing. The choice of paper actually makes a significantly bigger difference than the of brand of printer. There is no such thing as a professional inkjet printer at the prices you see at your local computer electronics store anymore than a sub-$1000 DSLR is a professional camera. If I were going to try to make money reviewing inkjet printers I would seriously consider another line of work for a few reasons: it comes down to brand preference, aesthetics, highly-subjective personal opinion on output, inherent variability and inconsistency of mass production, no finite measurable standards, and the simple fact that as soon as the reviewer’s report is published the model is replaced by something “better”.

Sorry to burst some bubbles, but HP, Canon, Epson, Lexmark and the other companies are all big companies that make quality products. Despite some opinions none of them are in the business of making junk and none of them make a consumer-grade printer that is significantly worse that the others.

Clyde
07-27-2005, 02:50 PM
I don't know if you saw this, but we mentioned that this information is practically impossible to find.

HP told us that we should test the printer over EIGHT WEEKS to find how how much ink is used. Obviously this is something we cannot do, so we have to use information that's already out there. The review did say that a 4 x 6 inch print costs 24 cents, though that's information from HP.

I can see how difficult it might be to generate a number. Still, an objective number is one of the most valuable things you can give us. Use a YMMV-type disclaimer, but give us some idea. In camera reviews you give us numbers for battery life and cost, as well as memory use and cost. Cost per print seems like the printer equivalent.

Maybe you could use some standard test, like printing everything from your standard gallery for the D70 or canon 20D. Run through until you have to replace all the cartridges, and tally up the cost of buying paper and cartridges at a standard place (like Office Depot, or whatever.) You could also evaluate the quality of the later prints. I don't know how long this test might take, but you could automate it in between replacing ink cartridges. Using a variety of photos insures that no particular color gets used much more quickly than the others, and over time you would develop a set of expectations. You might be able to get insights that would elude quick reviews: "after 100 photos, the yellows started to streak, and cleaning the print head didn't help..."

Personally this is one of the most important things I want to know. I expect my buying decision will incorporate some sort of unconscious ratio of Price, Print Quality, and Print Cost.

I look forward to learning more from you...

Clyde

aparmley
07-27-2005, 03:08 PM
I had no problem with your reviewing what some feel is an obsolite printer (and it is); however, the point is that you had to start somewhere with printer reviews.

Jeff - It was my interpretation that he didn't have a problem with it, he understood it was simply a starting place. Just as you said, a proof of concept! But its good to know the HP sent the printer to you... I was curious about that myself. Many things on your end needed to be given a dry run, webpage layout, content, external linking, etc etc. I think you did a very good job on the presentation and layout of the review!

Content wise - (My opinion may not mean much here, please take lightly) I know you said that figuring cost per print is very difficult. I mean, how would you figure it, people print 8x10s, 5x7s, 4x6s, and not all evenly distributed colors either. Some may print more black and white which would cause serious replacement more frequently of the black cartridge, some may print more water/landscape pictures, there goes your cyan cartridge... etc etc the variables are far to, ... variable??

Realistically, I have concluded that I probably spend on average $1.00 of ink per photo. Thats not counting paper. if I were to count paper then realistically I would probably spend on aveage $1.20 per 4x6 photo if I were to print it. That is more realistic than $0.24 a print. Manufacturers always qoute the time and cost for the lowest quality unless noted otherwise.

But what if you were to control certain varibables. Always use the highest quality setting to counter the industry standard of always using the lowest quality setting when figureing cost and speed! Those jerks! - Also, come up with a photograph of evenly distributed main colors and then print 4x6s until the ink runs out...it wouldn't take that long. I know I could probably cycle through my canon ink cartridges in an afternoon of printing... Call the photograph your "Controled Ink cost Photo" and use it to calculate ink cartridge usage. When the first cartridge needs to be replaced, make note of the color and how many prints into the test your are and so on and so forth until all the ink cartridges have been replaced... Then you have the count of when each cartidge needed to be replaced thus allowing you to figure the remaining ink levels. if the Cyan ink cartridge needed to be replaced at 30 prints and the final cartridge to be replaced was the magenta one at 50 prints - you then know that your Cyan tank has about 33% of its ink remainging. So if each ink tank cost 11.00. for one full swap of ink cartridges it would have cost you appox. 18.37 in Cyan ink to print the 50 pictures, or roughly 36cents a photograph just for cyan ink costs.. you'd have to average the rest of the colors the same way and then figure in paper costs...

But this may all be unrealistic too, maybe slightly more realistic but. At least you could then compare printer costs and it would be a good tool to point out those printers that do consistantly cost more than others... Chances are that if it costs more on average in any test you can come up with, the end user will have the same ratio of cost per page differetial comparitively speaking. I don't just a thought, I figured I would throw it out there...

How about comaring prints to professional online digital photo labs? If you cut to the chase thats really the photo printers main competition. I only use my Canon i960 for those immediate, gotta have prints, for everything else I use my favorite online printing lab - because its cheaper!

I don't know... those are my thoughts... They might not be helpful.

I like the start anyway. Its a very related industry to photography... ohhh... How about those professional level photo printers... I'm talking about the $500 - $5000 level printers.. not your average deskjet/inkjet/bubblejet. But those that accept paper rolls, can print on canvas, wide format pro photo printers.. I would like to see those reviewed as well!

Good luck, keep up the great work!

aparmley
07-27-2005, 03:10 PM
I can see how difficult it might be to generate a number. Still, an objective number is one of the most valuable things you can give us. Use a YMMV-type disclaimer, but give us some idea. In camera reviews you give us numbers for battery life and cost, as well as memory use and cost. Cost per print seems like the printer equivalent.

Maybe you could use some standard test, like printing everything from your standard gallery for the D70 or canon 20D. Run through until you have to replace all the cartridges, and tally up the cost of buying paper and cartridges at a standard place (like Office Depot, or whatever.) You could also evaluate the quality of the later prints. I don't know how long this test might take, but you could automate it in between replacing ink cartridges. Using a variety of photos insures that no particular color gets used much more quickly than the others, and over time you would develop a set of expectations. You might be able to get insights that would elude quick reviews: "after 100 photos, the yellows started to streak, and cleaning the print head didn't help..."

Personally this is one of the most important things I want to know. I expect my buying decision will incorporate some sort of unconscious ratio of Price, Print Quality, and Print Cost.

I look forward to learning more from you...

Clyde


We are pretty much on the same page there Clyde - Good stuff! its neat to see others thinking along similar lines as you!

DarienP
07-27-2005, 03:35 PM
I read your printer review today and congratulate you on a job well! I hope you continue to review printers because I love 2 things re both your camera and printer reviews:

1. You keep your info. to one concise page.
2. I love the "What I liked" and "What I didn't like" ending summaries.

Sign me...fan of your camera review site for many years!
Darien Nordling

beachluvr
07-27-2005, 03:54 PM
I'm smiling. I'm trying to be nice. I really am trying to see why cost-per-print is THE most important thing when buying an inkjet photo printer. It's not working :)

Just a few years ago we took our rolls of film to the drugstore and paid about $15 to have them develop the roll and print crappy (can I say that?) snapshots whether or not the picture was worth printing. We paid through the nose for "enlargements" and had to wait several days to get our pictures back.

Then 1-Hour Photo places came along and we were happy to pay $25 for a roll of film to get it back in an hour and they STILL looked cheesy.

So the printer manufacturers came along and gave us inkjet printers that cost under $500 with the prices now falling to almost free. We could print exactly which pictures we wanted, whenever we wanted them (2 minutes vs 1 hour and no money for gas to get to the 1-Hour place). And we could make them look better than even the best drugstore on earth ever gave us. All for about a quarter for a small size and a dollar for a large size.

I'm sorry fellow forum members, I'm not rich but a few pennies difference between brands A, B or C shouldn't even be part of the discussion. Jeff shouldn't be wasting 8 weeks to find out how much it costs per print because there is no right answer no matter how he does it.

I made a point in another post that I want to emphasize ... if you are printing in sufficient volume that cost-per-print is even remotely a concern then every single inkjet printer at your local store is NOT for you, they are all consumer models. For a price you can get a professional printer that uses huge tanks of ink, not those tiny tanks consumer printers use. If you don't have that large of a volume what are we talking about spread over a year? Probably not much.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts, Jeff. You can tell me to shut up now.

aparmley
07-27-2005, 08:21 PM
I made a point in another post that I want to emphasize ... if you are printing in sufficient volume that cost-per-print is even remotely a concern then every single inkjet printer at your local store is NOT for you, they are all consumer models. For a price you can get a professional printer that uses huge tanks of ink, not those tiny tanks consumer printers use. If you don't have that large of a volume what are we talking about spread over a year? Probably not much.

Very good point. Very interesting way to look at it. I have had my Canon i960 since march and I have bought replacement cartridges 3 times already and I have been spreading my printing out between my printer and shutterfly.com. So thats a little over 212 dollars in ink, in what 4 months - average for a year around 600 dollars! Pretty signifcant chunk of change for me! ----

OHHHH BOY... you know what beachluvr I had this huge post all typed out and then I just deleted it all. Whats the point... I agree it may be a waste of Jeffs time. but I just want to add this:
The overal cost of a consumer level photo printer is this:
[cost of initial purchase] + Operating costs ([the cost of all paper] + [the cost of all ink]) = total cost

Where the cost of initial purchase is a small fraction of the paper and ink costs! So why not focus on the biggest costs? But... its a consumer printer so it doesn't matter right? now, if the cost of the printer is not a important aspect then by no means is cost per sheet important, but I am willing to wager that cost per sheet is important to the consumer as is overall cost.

To me quality and longevity of prints are first - but Jeff doesn't have 105 years to stick around and report back to us if those epson photos faded or not. I could care less how many memory stick readers a photo printer has, I don't care if it has a screen. I don't care if it prints text at 20 pages a minute or 30ppm, I don't care if it will scan fax or iron my work shirts. What I do care about is how much do the ink replacement cartridges cost and how often will I need them. if its an arm and a leg I don't care how good the quality is, I'll send my prints to an online lab and wait. Sorry, if total OPERATING COST is not an important issue for people then I don't why everyone is complaining about gas prices... its just an operating cost... go ahead pick up that 12mpg dodge ram pickup, its got a hemi! ;) I'll stick to my fuel effiecent, 4 cylinder imports...

aparmley
07-27-2005, 08:42 PM
Jeff, I don't want to be a meanie but why in the world would you start your new printer review venture by reviewing an obsolete product? I got as far as the headline and immediately knew whoever was reviewing it didn't know what they were talking about. The reason is HP has switched to separate ink tanks (like Canon and Epson) for their new photo printers that are already on the shelves. It is a completely new technology that doesn't have anything to do with the old way HP printers worked. Doing a review like this does a huge disservice to HP and every one of your readers, you should really be honest and pull the review before it ruins your reputation. The 8150 printer was a mid-line, decent printer. The new technology looks like it will be awesome, I don't know yet. Stick to cameras for a while, at least publically, until you get the hang of the printer business. Thanks.

Then I went back to the first page... LOL Wow did I waste my time with you beachluvr or what...

I want to apologize to you Jeff for taking up valuable space in trying to explain to this arogant, drop by, [insert text] where I and a lot of other consumers stand on what we find important in our printers. But its clear why he popped in... Sucks those kind of people are out there.

beachluvr
07-27-2005, 09:44 PM
To me quality and longevity of prints are first -


awwww aparmley and I was just about to compliment you for playing nice and seeing my point that quality should be what we're after, and then you go and post a nastygram about me :(

Read on to page 2 when I give my apologies to Jeff for the comment on page one. How were we to know that HP sent him last year's model and it wasn't his choice?

Then please read the rest of my comments on page two. I am extremely experienced as a professional photography and have an extensive professional technical background in print technology. The bottom line is that there is no real way to find the exact operating cost of a printer, and when all the sneaky stuff the manufacturers do that wastes ink and the hidden costs of replacing print heads the real cost-per-page is always going to be higher than calculating how much you paid for ink and paper to get a certain number of pictures.

Maybe I hid the real message too deeply ... consumer inkjet printers are a cash cow for manufacturers. The ink cartidges are tiny and in a few months you spend more for ink than the printer cost. Comparing one against the other won't get you very far because there's so much hype (like the old wives tale that HP's ink cost more and wastes more because of 3 colors in one tank - but yet the labs have proven that over the course of a year or two the HP's have the lowest operating cost and the Canon's have the highest. How is that possible if separate tanks waste less ink?)

My message is clear, if printing is a hobby buy a printer at Costco or Best Buy or Circuit City. If a person is printing the large volume you obviously are, pay a few bucks more and get a commercial printer and you will save a fortune on ink.

Sorry you took offense .... :rolleyes: shake :rolleyes: ??

D70FAN
07-27-2005, 10:42 PM
Jeff -

I should have suspected you would not randomly go out and buy an 8150 printer out of everything available. HP shot themselves in the foot by sending you one to evaluate when they knew they were introducing a whole new technology. Following are some observations that may be useful to your readers to help them keep an open mind about printers, and also may give you some guidance as you get bombarded with advice from every direction. Keep up the good work!

Evaluating color inkjet printers:

As a professional photographer of many years and a very early adopter of inkjet printing technology for photos I would like to contribute a few general and random thoughts about the subject.

1. Commercially available (consumer) inkjet printers are a great tool. They are not capable by any stretch of the imagination of printing photographs of the same quality as chemical printing. Commercially available (consumer) digital cameras are a great tool. They are not capable by any stretch of the imagination of taking photographs of the same quality as professional film cameras. That doesn’t mean a photograph made by either can’t be compelling and beautiful, it is purely a technical assessment.

2. Commercially available (consumer) printers tend to be one of the most misleading products on the planet when it comes to specs. The assumption that “more dots” means a better picture is ridiculous, but it is generally one of only two factors most purchasers consider. When you look at professional-grade inkjet printers, whether from Canon, Epson, HP or others the number of dots is usually a fraction of what’s touted in the stores by over-zealous marketing people for the low cost (ie. under $5000) inkjet printers which use a variety of interpolation algorithms to multi-layer the dots or create the illusion of tighter dot spacing.

3. Counting dots is the entirely wrong way to look at the output of an inkjet printer anyway. A photograph should be evaluated by many criteria, such as composition, lighting, use of color, choice of subject, etc. Before inkjet printers it would be unheard of to hold the photograph 2” from one’s eyes and try to look for dots. A small photograph is usually held at arms-length and a large photograph is generally mounted or framed and enjoyed from a reasonable distance. Counting dots is the photographic equivalent of viewing the Mona Lisa from 2” away and complaining you can see brush strokes.

4. Ink cost as a deciding factor is the other criterion most people get hung up about. Firstly, it doesn’t make any difference. So what if an 8 x 10 costs a dollar’s worth of ink? How much do you pay for an 8 x 10 enlargement at the local drugstore? Something like $8? How many of them could you possibly print to have it make a significant difference? So what if Costco charges 22 cents for a 4x6 and Epson is 24 cents and HP is 29 cents (or whatever the prices are this week). How many could you possible print to make a difference? And if you ARE printing thousands of pictures commercially, get yourself out of the inkjet aisle at the local retail store and buy yourself a true commercial printer.

5. The other reason ink cost is a non-issue is that there is absolutely no way to compare it between manufacturers in an equitable way. You can’t compare shelf price because you don’t know how much ink is actually in the tank and how it will be used. You can’t compare manufacture’s specs because they typically represent document printing, in a certain mode, using the manufacturer’s own criteria. Knowing how much a photograph will cost is impossible because each photograph uses a different amount of ink for each color and if you are printing properly you will make adjustments for each print that will affect the amount of ink in terms of saturation, density, and other factors. The only way to even get an idea of average cost-per-print is to print hundreds of DIFFERENT pictures using several sets of ink, then tally up your total cost of ink and paper and divide it by the number of pictures. Then there is the subject of ink waste for priming and print head cleaning, factoring in the replacement cost of print heads if they are removable, how much ink remaining in the tank that never gets ejected onto the paper, and the list seems endless. Bottom line? Enjoy your pictures and pay what it costs to make them. It is what it is. The ultimate cost of printing pictures at home on an inkjet really does not differ significantly from brand to brand or even if you use aftermarket refill ink.

6. Print speed. The faster a printer prints the less subject it may be to precision, especially the older it gets. How many pictures can you possibly print where the speed variance can make a difference? And if you are printing thousands of pictures commercially, get yourself out of the inkjet aisle at the local retail store and buy yourself a true commercial printer.

Final thought. I have printed the SAME picture from the SAME source on all major brands of consumer inkjet printer and found with a few adjustments I could make the picture look so identical that people who tried to tell the difference were reduced to guessing. The choice of paper actually makes a significantly bigger difference than the of brand of printer. There is no such thing as a professional inkjet printer at the prices you see at your local computer electronics store anymore than a sub-$1000 DSLR is a professional camera. If I were going to try to make money reviewing inkjet printers I would seriously consider another line of work for a few reasons: it comes down to brand preference, aesthetics, highly-subjective personal opinion on output, inherent variability and inconsistency of mass production, no finite measurable standards, and the simple fact that as soon as the reviewer’s report is published the model is replaced by something “better”.

Sorry to burst some bubbles, but HP, Canon, Epson, Lexmark and the other companies are all big companies that make quality products. Despite some opinions none of them are in the business of making junk and none of them make a consumer-grade printer that is significantly worse that the others.

I think that pretty well nails it. ;)

aparmley
07-28-2005, 01:30 AM
Alright you got me... My humble explanation if its worth it:

I have only read up until you menionted you posted an apology to Jeff and I immediately thought...when was this?? I never saw that... You said on page two??? But the last thing I read was Jeff saying it was HP that sent the printer to him .... Here is how it started.

I was reading the post and I came to the last entry by Jeff. He said something about how the printer was sent to him by HP. So I was composing my post and it did take a while... I was distracted and came back to it. I finished my post. saw that Clyde had snuck in a post before mine... read his post... commented right after my post said that I found it interesting we were both thinking the same thing... I came back saw your post that started out... you're smiling you want to be nice but you don't see how COST is THE most important thing.... I posted my reply to that only to wonder to myself how we all got to this point... went back to read page one again, saw your first post. I read how out of left field you were with those remarks, saw you had a total of 4 posts... Well and the rest is history. I don't know what you end up doing... You may continue in your latest post digging into my character or you may have just let it roll off your back - which ever the case is its a freebie! I earned what ever you may have said...

I'm not sure of the path you chose but I do owe you an apology as you must have posted your apology to Jeff after I was composing my first post. Clyde came in just after you with his post that was similar to mine and I saw his at the start of page three, but I never read your post after Jeffs, the last post on page two until now. My apologies for my harsh post, it was uncalled for, and an immature thing to do. That sound you heard was my rather large foot being removed from my mouth... Excuse me, I have to go see my dentist now... :D

aparmley
07-28-2005, 01:53 AM
you're a better man than I charlie brown!

;) Shake ;)

:cool:

Ice cold beer on me - ;)

I just finished reading that lenghty report on consumer printers that you wrote beachluvr.


So, you use an hp deskject 932C for all your pro print work ?

Joking... LOL - I feel like the internist who told henry ford that hes an idiot for considering the assembly line...

Nastygram - thats pretty good... :D

beachluvr
07-28-2005, 10:27 AM
Ice cold beer on me - ;)

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

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 :eek: (j/k massively) In reality I think most inkjet photo printers are good, not great, but getting better.

Cheers

aparmley
07-28-2005, 02:43 PM
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

LMAO

I am starting a new thread in General digital Photography chat so that we don't hog Jeff's thread. You can go to it by clicking here. (http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?p=61935#post61935)

pyrocutee
07-31-2005, 09:22 PM
Somebody asks the question of why is the cost per page so important. I hear their points, and they make sense to a rational person...most of them. But as a sales associate at Staples, the #1 question I hear is "why is ink so expensive?" It doesn't make sense to a consumer to pay $30 for a little bottle, and it usually doesn't have any gold or diamonds in the box. For businesses that are printing brochures with photos in them, photographers that are trying to keep their costs down, and anybody who lives in the real world where money is a deciding factor in just about every decision we make, cost is an issue. 22 Cents at Cosco is great, and it brings people in. 24 cents at home is great too. But just like EPA is trying to lower emissions out of cars, why can't consumers demand lowering costs out of printers? In the long-run, if a $500 canon costs a small business photographer doing his own prints in-house $3300 a year to operate vs. a $500 HP at $5800, I think the photographer would like to save $2500. At this volume, a commercial chemical printer is way out of the budget.

My question to Jeff is how much freedom do the manufacturers give you? I'm sure there are a ton of clauses in your contracts with them that if you didn't take 8 weeks to test the cost per page that they would terminate their dealings and so-forth. You didn't put many samples on your review of the 8150, and neither does tomshardware.com of the photo or photo grey cartridges. Is this due to contract? If so then I will go back to my original statement...if you can't be the best (or choose not to), don't do it at all. You are the best at digital cameras, so don't ruin a reputation that you have worked so hard for to do something just for the sake of doing it.

Jeff Keller
07-31-2005, 10:34 PM
My question to Jeff is how much freedom do the manufacturers give you? I'm sure there are a ton of clauses in your contracts with them that if you didn't take 8 weeks to test the cost per page that they would terminate their dealings and so-forth. You didn't put many samples on your review of the 8150, and neither does tomshardware.com of the photo or photo grey cartridges. Is this due to contract? If so then I will go back to my original statement...if you can't be the best (or choose not to), don't do it at all. You are the best at digital cameras, so don't ruin a reputation that you have worked so hard for to do something just for the sake of doing it.

Actually we don't have any contracts with HP. Usually there are loan agreements involved and the only rules are 1) give it back in 3-4 weeks and 2) you break it, you buy it.

We wanted the printer reviews to be more concise and user friendly. As this was a proof of concept, it's not representative of the final product (which is still months away). We wanted suggestions so we could have a high quality review ready for when the printer site is finally ready. We have two more printer reviews in the next month and we'll be working on improving those as well.

beachluvr
08-02-2005, 05:17 PM
Somebody asks the question of why is the cost per page so important. I hear their points, and they make sense to a rational person...most of them. But as a sales associate at Staples, the #1 question I hear is "why is ink so expensive?"

I agree, retail customers DO ask questions like "why is ink so expensive?" They also ask the digital camera saleperson "where is your highest megapixel camera". It takes the store salesperson to show them the light and explain why the highest megapixel camera may not necessarily be the best one for them, and why the price of a tank of ink means nothing.

A customer who is doing general text and photo printing is getting a bargain in a low cost printer when it only costs about 10 cents a page for text and 25 cents for a typical picture. Fortunately at Staples you can sell them a color laser printer if they are a business user and need lower cost per page.

So, it remains, I cannot be convinced that anything matters when it comes to the price of ink except how much each page "really" costs.

RobertM
08-05-2005, 11:49 PM
Maybe I hid the real message too deeply ... consumer inkjet printers are a cash cow for manufacturers. The ink cartidges are tiny and in a few months you spend more for ink than the printer cost. Comparing one against the other won't get you very far because there's so much hype (like the old wives tale that HP's ink cost more and wastes more because of 3 colors in one tank - but yet the labs have proven that over the course of a year or two the HP's have the lowest operating cost and the Canon's have the highest. How is that possible if separate tanks waste less ink?)I'm extremely skeptical that HP prints are cheaper than anyone's but Lexmark. I'd love to see the actual lab results you mentioned, because all the ones I've seen have suggested that HP is not inexpensive to make prints with. Not any more. Perhaps in the PhotoREt III era, but their PhotoREt IV and PhotoREt Pro printers are rediculous in operating costs (unless your printer can use one of their special value packs).

As far as figuring the costs of prints using manufacturer data, let's start with last year's Photosmart printers using the 56/57/58 cartridge set (and 59 in some cases). HP actually said on their web page (and I don't know if they still do) that the #57 and #58 cartridges were good for "about 125 4x6 photos." Since the #58 compliments the #57, you obviously need both to do these 125 4x6 photos. The #57 cartridge retails for $35, the #58 for $25. So that's $60 for 125 4x6 photos, or 48˘ per photo on ink. Now lets add the paper that HP (and Willhelm Imaging Research) says gets the best fade resistance, HP's Premium Plus Glossy photo paper. A 60 pack of this photo paper is $25, or 42˘/sheet. Thus the total price for a 4x6 photo is a rediculous 90˘! For HP's own numbers!

We can extrapolate this data, of course. A 4x6" photo is 24 square inches of ink, so let's switch that to an 8.5x11" sheet of paper (93.5 square inches). It's not perfect, but it should be very close. Thankfully, HP's letter-sized photo paper is not such a rip-off (though still expensive): 50 sheets is $35, or 70˘ a sheet. If those cartidges are good for 125 4x6" photos, then they should be good for 32 8.5x11" photos. Thus the cost of an 8.5x11" photo is $2.56. Ouch.

But this is last model year's printer. How about this year's Vivera ink-equipped machines? HP doesn't say. But here's what they do say...

The 57 cartridge is $35 and has 17 ml of ink in it and the $25 58 cartridge has the same. This year, the 57 cartridge has been replaced by the 95 and 97 cartridges (small and large) and the 58 has been replaced by the 99 cartridge. How much are these? The 95 cartridge is $25 and has 7 ml of ink, the 97 is $35 and has 14 ml of ink, and $25 and has 13 ml of ink. To sum it up...

#57 = 17 ml @ $35 = $2.06/ml
#58 = 17 ml @ $25 = $1.47/ml
#95 = 7 ml @ $25 = $3.57/ml
#97 = 14 ml @ $35 = $2.50/ml
#99 = 13 ml @ $25 = $1.92/ml

Since the #95 cartridge is rediculous and completely replacable by the #97, we'll skip it. Now I'll sum the above data up another way...

#97 = 21% more expensive per milliliter
#99 = 31% more expensive per milliliter

Ouch again. If we get the same number of prints per milliliter of ink as last year's cartridges, then, we're in trouble. Between both those cartridges, we're looking at an average increase of 26%. That'd be 58˘ per photo in ink (without a value pack, which is critical) and the same 42˘ per photo on paper, making the combined cost of a 4x6" print to be $1! :eek:

How does my above data fit with testing? Not too bad, overall, I'd say. But the tricky thing is that I'm using HP supplied data for the old printers (which should make them look better, not worse, actually) and some guessing for the new ones.

Anyway, here's what the test conducted by Imaging Products Laboratory at the Rochester Institute of Technology published PC World's April 2005 issue (http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,119573,pg,6,00.asp) said photo printing costs were on some printers on the market, though they don't appear to be figuring costs at normal retail prices. (I know this because the Epson PictureMate has fixed operating costs in that it uses a $29 "print pack" that has 100 sheets of photo paper and enough ink to use all the paper up. If used as intended, you'd get exactly 29˘ a print, which is very good and, IMO, why HP came out with their special value packs: to beat Epson. Note that the current model HP value packs use "custom" #95 cartridges without a listed volume.)

http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/graphics/119573-2304p080_14b_640.gif

The moral of the story? HPs suck for photo printing costs.

To make all of this relevant I'll say that Jeff doesn't mention this and I think it's extremely important, if hard to do cull by oneself. :)

RobertM
08-06-2005, 12:00 AM
But as a sales associate at Staples, the #1 question I hear is "why is ink so expensive?"You're a technology specialist at Staples? What a coincidence: I work at Office Depot! :D (None of my customers ask me that, though. :s )
My question to Jeff is how much freedom do the manufacturers give you?A great question. I have an idea that may be a good one for testing operating costs and it only requires two sets of cartridges for every printer. Use the first set to test the printer, to set it up, and do all that jazz. Then remove those cartridges and put in the second set and print out borderless 8.5x11" prints of a generic color spectrum that goes just outside of the color gamut of most printers, so it uses up as close to an equal amount of each cartridge as you could ask for by making it print every color in their gamut. Keep printing them until the printer runs out of ink. Since every printer would be subjected to the same test, it would be an apples to apples comparison. Even if it wouldn't be directly indicitive of what home users could expect, it would allow a fair comparison of all the printers to one another.
You didn't put many samples on your review of the 8150...I wouldn't over-emphasize the samples because they're as much a test of his scanner as they are of the printers. And that's the tricky thing about reviewing printers: outside of operating costs, the subjective part is left more to the reviewer than the reader compared to, say, digital cameras where we can see the original images ourselves. So short of having a colorometer judge the deviance from the control print on colors at certain targets, it's going to be rather subjective. And I'm okay with that. I can always test the printers myself at work to see how they print, and consumers could do the same at most good retail stores—if you bring us your memory cards, we'll let you test the printers a bit. (I run a test photo print on all of our photo printers at work so people can compare apples-to-apples the same print on all of our printers. Let me say, BTW, that no one chooses the HPs after seeing how dull they are compared to Epson and Canon.)

RobertM
08-06-2005, 12:14 AM
I agree, retail customers DO ask questions like "why is ink so expensive?" They also ask the digital camera saleperson "where is your highest megapixel camera". It takes the store salesperson to show them the light and explain why the highest megapixel camera may not necessarily be the best one for them, and why the price of a tank of ink means nothing.Generally, this is true. For example, look at HP's aformentioned #95 and #97 cartridges. If you bought which one was cheaper, you'd buy the $25 #95 cartridge instead of the "more expensive" $35 #97 cartridge. But then you look at the volumes and see the real story: the #97 cartridge may cost 40% more but it also has 100% more ink! Making the #95 cartridge 43% more expensive to use despite being "cheaper."

On the subject of "cost per milliliter," I'd like to share some other numbers with all of you...

HP #78 Large Tri-Color Cartridge = 38 ml of dye-based ink @ $55 = $1.45/milliliter
HP #57 = 17 ml of dye-based ink @ $35 = $2.06/ml
HP #97 = 14 ml of dye-based ink @ $35 = $2.50/ml
Canon BCI-6-series color cartridges = 13 ml ml of dye-based ink @ $11.60/each = $0.89/ml

(Epson doesn't give the volumes of their cartridges.)

Hmm... That HP ink must really be something to cost more than twice as much as Canon ink. Unless someone's willing to suggest that HPs will print twice as many pages per milliliter of ink as Canons will, the HPs have to be at least somewhat higher in operating cost. How much will depend upon how many pages per milliliter of ink they get... but that's a whole 'nother spiel I don't want to get into... :)

beachluvr
08-09-2005, 01:11 AM
The work you have done on the inks costs is truly impressive, RobertM. So far no one has fully read what I am saying.

1. The cost of the ink cartridge itself is only PART of the story. When in-depth reviewers have figured the total-cost-of-ownership (from which you can then calculate how much an individual photo will cost you), HP rises significantly because of two things. One is that some other brands put the print heads in the printer, not in the ink cartridge, which has a long-term added cost effect that increases the cost of ownership. The other is that HP doesn't have to prime the air out of the tanks like printers with separate ink tanks. That priming shoots ink into a pad inside the printer, so it never goes onto the paper to make a photo. As much as 50-60% of the ink in the tank can be wasted that way. Since you are paying for that wasted ink, you MUST factor it into the cost of making a picture. So you can't reallly rely on how much the retail price of a tank is for any of the manufacturers.

2. The figures you cited as outrageous for a picture (like 90 cents for a 4x5), even if accurate, are still cheap compared to the immense waste we spent developing pictures for so many years, and are in-line with making reprints when you factor driving to a photofinisher to have pictures printed, AND we never before had the control to crop, adjust, enhance, etc. photos like we do now with any brand of photo printer. Photo printers are one of the great inventions of the past decade, they are dirt cheap to operate, all of them. And, I say yet again, if you are a commercial photographer printing large volumes of pictures and you buy a consumer inkjet printer at your local retail store you have absolutely no right to complain about how much a photo costs to print because you are using a much too small hammer to build your house.

RobertM
08-09-2005, 08:49 AM
1. The cost of the ink cartridge itself is only PART of the story. When in-depth reviewers have figured the total-cost-of-ownership (from which you can then calculate how much an individual photo will cost you), HP rises significantly because of two things. One is that some other brands put the print heads in the printer, not in the ink cartridge, which has a long-term added cost effect that increases the cost of ownership.True. However, that study that was in PC World took all these things into consideration. My only gripe with it (having read the testing methodology) is that they didn't base their prices off normal, retail prices that people are typically going to pay.

Further, if your printheads are going to be in every cartridge, then you don't want to minimize the amount of ink in them because then your ink/printhead cost ratio becomes completely unbalanced. Unless, of course, you don't care about that and simply want to maximize your profits, which is precisely what HP appears to be after with crap like 5 ml print cartridges.
The other is that HP doesn't have to prime the air out of the tanks like printers with separate ink tanks.It does have the print an alignment page every time you introduce a new cartridge to the machine which is something the other machines don't have to worry about. :)
That priming shoots ink into a pad inside the printer, so it never goes onto the paper to make a photo. As much as 50-60% of the ink in the tank can be wasted that way. Since you are paying for that wasted ink, you MUST factor it into the cost of making a picture. So you can't reallly rely on how much the retail price of a tank is for any of the manufacturers.The fact that HP's professional printers use separated printheads rather than integrated ones proves that the "50-60%" you cite must be false. Furthermore, the very cost-conscious owners of machines like the Epson Stylus Pro 4400 would notice if half their ink cartridges were being wasted by charging the printheads. Certainly, some ink is wasted by charging the printheads, but it's not half a cartridge. I also know this because my own personal Epson R200 doesn't lose half its ink volume when I change the cartridges. And if you want to see it in action, Canon ink tanks are transparent, so you can observe how much ink is used when you insert a cartridge. It isn't much.

Though I prefer my Epson R200 to the similarly-priced Canon alternatives for photo printing (like the iP4000), I must conceed that Canons are pretty damned economical. When you don't have a majority of the marketshare, you have to do things like that to stand out. And even if their operating costs are half of what HPs are, I'm sure their profits are still enormous. They just aren't as enormous as HP's have been of late.

I think HP's pro printers have the best setup, BTW. Individual ink cartridges and individual printheads. Epson, IMO, takes things too far with permanent printheads, but provided they don't break, it does work rather well. On their newer machines they have minimized the amount of ink wasted charging the printheads as well. Note, also, that the inital charging will take a lot of ink from the cartridge but it does throw it all away—it's left in the ink lines.

In the consumer realm, I most like Canon's setup of ink and printheads: individual ink tanks, with a separate, user-replaceable printhead. That way if the printhead is gummed up, you don't have to chuck the whole machine. It'd be nice if the printhead was split at least into a black and color section, but at least it's not an integral part of the machine like my Epson.
2. The figures you cited as outrageous for a picture (like 90 cents for a 4x5), even if accurate, are still cheap compared to the immense waste we spent developing pictures for so many years, and are in-line with making reprints when you factor driving to a photofinisher to have pictures printed,Places like Costco will do 4x6s for about 25-30˘. That's hard to compete with and HP doesn't even really try... unless you buy their value packs, which bring their operating costs down to very low levels. The fact that they can offer such operating costs, BTW, proves that they're fully capable of making an economical photo printer—they just choose not to.
AND we never before had the control to crop, adjust, enhance, etc. photos like we do now with any brand of photo printer.Well, you could do all those things and then buy prints for cheap online and have them professionally printed. Now I personally don't do such things—partially because I print photos so infrequently (if you're not going to frame them or give them to someone, what's the point?) and partially because at the prices I buy my ink and paper it costs me about 35˘ to make a 4x6 according to the data a pro photographer who uses an R300 regularly garnered. :)
Photo printers are one of the great inventions of the past decade, they are dirt cheap to operate, all of them.Lexmarks most certainly are not, and, if you don't buy photo value packs, neither is HP. I used to be a big HP fan, but they went out of their way, it seems, to convert me to Epson and Canon. Perhaps you, too, should look more closely at your loyalty to HP.
And, I say yet again, if you are a commercial photographer printing large volumes of pictures and you buy a consumer inkjet printer at your local retail store you have absolutely no right to complain about how much a photo costs to print because you are using a much too small hammer to build your house.When Epson and Canon offer considerably lower operating costs and when HP themselves offer it in special value packs, I'd say HP owners most certainly do have a right to complain. The "#95 Custom" cartridge contained in the 4x6-only Photosmarts-oriented value packs ought to be available for sale separately at roughly the same cost it is as part of HP's value packs. And it isn't quite deliberately. Similarly, why is HP's Premium Plus 4x6 paper $25 for 60 sheets compared to Epson's Premium Glossy (their top-quality glossy paper) 4x6 paper being $17 for 100? (That's 42˘/sheet and 17˘/sheet respectively, BTW.)

If HP were all there was, your argument would hold more water. As it is, with the alternatives on the market (some provided by HP themselves!), it simply doesn't make sense to buy an HP. Especially because if they ever stop making those value packs (or if the end-user prints more than just 4x6s), their customers are in trouble. And I, for one, will not support such a company. Not in my personal business nor in what I recommend to my customers.

beachluvr
08-09-2005, 12:19 PM
It does have the print an alignment page every time you introduce a new cartridge to the machine which is something the other machines don't have to worry about. :)

Wow, you are very detailed RobertM, it looks like you work for one of the manufactures ;-)

I am not married to any printer company. As a pro photographer I use different brands for differernt purposes (as I recommend other people to do). I just like a level playing field. For example, Jeff Keller made the same mistake in his HP review about having to print an alignment page "every" time you insert an ink cartridge. HP printers only print an alignment page when you install a brand new cartridge, otherwise it remembers the cartridge when you swap for special printing needs. For most people that would be an alignment page every couple of months, at a cost of about 10 cents, hardly a concern. I understand Epson now has some auto-alignment printers as well.

What I have a REALLY hard time understanding is you telling us that you only print an occasional picture, but the cost of the picture is such an important issue to you. Is the difference between 22 cents or 29 cents or 75 cents such a massive difference for an occassional picture? If I were to advise which printer to buy for such a user I would recommend NOT buying a printer at all, just letting Costco make your snapshots and not have to hassle with any of the technogeek stuff.

By the way, I haven't seen the review you refer to, but I have yet to see an honest discussion of ink waste. If HP prints a "test" page, isn't that balanced by Epson and Canon having to prime their cartridges when first installed, using about 10% of the ink just for that? A test page must only use a fraction of a percent of ink, right?

One more thing, your comments constantly have the disclaimer that HP's are more expensive unless you use the value packs. So why wouldn't you use the value packs and save money? Seems like a no-brainer. So what if they cost more in the reviews because the magazine is paying full retail for ink? If you can save money, why not do it?

PS - websites like Jeff's seem to be mostly honest. The ads they sell don't have a direct influence on editorial content. I have been wary of magazine reviews, whether for cars, cameras, entertainment products, or whatever when their prime revenue is from advertising. They do seem to have their favorites that always win, like HP printers being #1 for something like 10 years according to one of the major magazines sold in the stores. Yeah, right!

robertginsberg
08-09-2005, 12:37 PM
Dear Jeff,
As you can tell from comments on your review different people find different features of greatest interest.
I was surprised that no one wrote to inquire about the stability of the prints. Prints from my previous HP printer proved to be very unstable. If a damp finger were moved across the print it would be ruined and the finger would be ink-stained. Also, after the print had remained in the clear envelope of a photo album for several months it reacted with the clear envelope and an attempt to remove the print destroyed the print and the clear envelope.
You have done a great service through the years in bringing information to your readers. I believe you should add to your reviews of printers some comments on the stability and handling problems of the resulting prints.
Keep up the good work.
Bob Ginsberg

RobertM
08-09-2005, 01:28 PM
Wow, you are very detailed RobertM, it looks like you work for one of the manufactures ;-)Since I work in retail, I sell everything, so I guess I kinda work for all of them. :)
What I have a REALLY hard time understanding is you telling us that you only print an occasional picture, but the cost of the picture is such an important issue to you.Ah, now we're to the heart of the matter. Financially, you're right: it doesn't make any real difference to me. I could've opted for an HP Deskjet 6540 just as easily as my Epson R200 and the financial impact to me would've been minimal. It just so happens I like the photo prints from my R200 better, but I care about operating costs for the following two reasons. First, although I may print very few photos, some of my customers print a lot of photos and I would feel very guilty if I didn't explain the long-term costs of owning the various printers we sell. Second, it affects what I personally buy because I'm a nerd and it's a matter of principle. :) I do not like how deliberately HP has engineered their modern cartridges to rape people on prices when they could so easily make them quite reasonable. If buying ink and paper made 4x6" prints cost 45˘ instead of $1, I'm sure they would still be making a healthy profit.
If I were to advise which printer to buy for such a user I would recommend NOT buying a printer at all, just letting Costco make your snapshots and not have to hassle with any of the technogeek stuff.Here's why I like having my own photo printer: First, I can control the output quality. If I didn't care about photo quality, I wouldn't own a dSLR. :) Second, if I'm spontaneouly making photos for family and such, I don't want to have to run down to Costco for one single 4x6. Between the gas and time, it would be much more expensive than the cost of making prints from my R200. Having a personal photo printer is more a matter of convinence than anything else. For 4x6s, getting them printed elsewhere is typically cheaper than most photo printers. (The Epson PictureMate's 29˘/print cost is an exception, but it's also $250 for the new version of it. :) ) If someone prints every photo, having their own photo printer is actually somewhat costly. Depending on the machine, sometimes more than others.

Having said that, the larger the print size, the more a personal photo printer can be worthwhile. The cost for me to make an 8x10 is actually cheaper, even at retail prices, than getting it done somewhere else. Surprisingly.

By the way, I haven't seen the review you refer to, but I have yet to see an honest discussion of ink waste. If HP prints a "test" page, isn't that balanced by Epson and Canon having to prime their cartridges when first installed, using about 10% of the ink just for that? A test page must only use a fraction of a percent of ink, right?The inital charging of the ink cartridges isn't all wasted. It primes the ink lines and leaves the ink inside the delivery system. Having said that, yes, the alignment page does use less ink than that. Except for it being annoying, I honestly have no gripe about that. :) Even the old PhotoREt III HPs, which I like, used to do that. :)
One more thing, your comments constantly have the disclaimer that HP's are more expensive unless you use the value packs. So why wouldn't you use the value packs and save money? Seems like a no-brainer. So what if they cost more in the reviews because the magazine is paying full retail for ink? If you can save money, why not do it?Here's why. First, the value packs are only available for some printers. If you don't own one of their little 4x6 printers, you probably won't have one available. (If you do, yes, the value pack is a no-brainer.) The problem is that if HP ever stops making these value packs you'll be left with a machine that's very expensive to operate.

And the whole value pack thing irks me, once again, because of principle. :) If they could make a #95 cartridge with enough ink to do 100 4x6s for cheap, why don't they just sell that normally? Hell, if they wanted, they could take the approach they have before and have the #95 cartridge be twice as expensive for ink as the #97 cartridge but have the #97 cartridge (combined with a reasonably-priced #99) make 4x6" prints turn out to be around 45˘ instead of $1. They most certainly can do it, as they've demonstrated with their value packs, but they just choose not to. And the price difference between using the value packs and the regular cartridges is huge. (On a related note, HP doesn't publish the volume of ink in their "#95 Custom" cartridge. Perhaps because it would be too easily to use that number to extrapolate printing costs for their normal, rip-off-sized cartridges. :) )
PS - websites like Jeff's seem to be mostly honest. The ads they sell don't have a direct influence on editorial content. I have been wary of magazine reviews, whether for cars, cameras, entertainment products, or whatever when their prime revenue is from advertising. They do seem to have their favorites that always win, like HP printers being #1 for something like 10 years according to one of the major magazines sold in the stores. Yeah, right!For reliability, HPs are still pretty good. Not as good as they used to be by any stretch of the imagination, but they're still pretty good. If you ignore their operating costs, most of their machines are actually pretty good. Not the best photo printers (their prints are rather dull compared to Epson and Canon's and I'm not a huge fan of the way the colors turn out), but great plain-paper printers. Their all-in-one machines are quite easy to use, too. If I were a reviewer who ignored operating costs, I'd easily rank HP very well.

Having said that, I'm sure that any reviewer is going to have a problem if they do nothing but bash your products. Why would Lexmark bother sending Jeff or anyone else their printers to review if all it got them was very bad press? Just to be nice? Not likely. :)

RobertM
08-09-2005, 01:32 PM
Dear Jeff,
As you can tell from comments on your review different people find different features of greatest interest.
I was surprised that no one wrote to inquire about the stability of the prints. Prints from my previous HP printer proved to be very unstable. If a damp finger were moved across the print it would be ruined and the finger would be ink-stained. Also, after the print had remained in the clear envelope of a photo album for several months it reacted with the clear envelope and an attempt to remove the print destroyed the print and the clear envelope.
You have done a great service through the years in bringing information to your readers. I believe you should add to your reviews of printers some comments on the stability and handling problems of the resulting prints.
Keep up the good work.Those sound like pigment-based prints. While pigment-based prints last longer than dye-based prints, the way their ink sits on the page means that the ink can be removed in certain conditions. While dye ink sinks into paper (photo or otherwise), pigment ink sticks to the top of it. (This, BTW, is advantageous in plain paper printing because it makes things like text much sharper.) Only problems is that it can later be rubbed off if handled improperly. Some photographers use dye-based printers for the very reason that their portfolios can start to look rather bad with pigment-based ink.

beachluvr
08-09-2005, 03:39 PM
Prints from my previous HP printer proved to be very unstable. If a damp finger were moved across the print it would be ruined and the finger would be ink-stained.

To Bob Ginsberg - again we are caught with technology marching forward faster than we can type. Hp "claims" their new inks are waterproof. We'll have to wait and see on that one, but if so, I always have trouble with damning an entire company for something bad they used to make. Every company makes some good stuff and some bad stuff or they aren't a company any more. Oh, just out of curiousity, why would you run your damp finger across your photos? Sounds kinda kinky :rolleyes:

To RobertM - I can see now where you get your knowledge, and it is quite impressive. I hope we are not hogging the dialogue here, but by the same token I hope our dialogue is helpful to the readers.

I totally agree with you - buy the printer you LIKE, and if you are not going to use it strictly for photos look at the other features and benefits, like plain paper printing, ease of use, etc. And you did underscore a message I have been trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to make here that $1 or $2, or $3 is still cheap to make an 8 x 10 compared to going to a photo lab and how many of them does the average person ever make anyway?

I don't fully agree with your hangup on how much HP charges for an ink cartridge or how much ink is in that cartridge. I know that HOW the ink is applied to the paper is what really counts, count how much each page costs you and forget how much the cartridge costs or how much ink is in it. If you look at their ink yield numbers on their website you will see that under the exact same ink coverage parameters HP has been able to get the same yield out of cartridge with less ink in it. It's not magic, it's just how the technology is applied. And if most other printer manufs don't publish the content of their ink tanks, well how can you criticize HP? What counts to me most if we are to discuss a specific manuf (which I really don't want to do, I'm kinda tired of hearing any of the brands bad-mouthed) is what they are doing about making even better pictures at an affordable price. Does it count to you at all that HP's current top-of-the-line photo printer uses separate tanks, separate heads, CHEAP waterproof ink tanks (under $10), and the purchase price of the printer is only $200? And it's the "fastest" printer in the known universe?

Geez, if I'm going to say such nice things about a particular brand at least they could send me a printer for free :cool:

RobertM
08-10-2005, 12:11 AM
To Bob Ginsberg - again we are caught with technology marching forward faster than we can type. Hp "claims" their new inks are waterproof. We'll have to wait and see on that one, but if so, I always have trouble with damning an entire company for something bad they used to make.I have a hard time liking a company because of the stuff they used to make, too. :D
Every company makes some good stuff and some bad stuff or they aren't a company any more.I dunno, Lexmark's pretty awful... :)
To RobertM - I can see now where you get your knowledge, and it is quite impressive.Danke. Though my being a nerd has more to do with it than working at Office Depot—they don't teach me anything. :)
I hope we are not hogging the dialogue here, but by the same token I hope our dialogue is helpful to the readers.Aye. Likewise.
I totally agree with you - buy the printer you LIKE, and if you are not going to use it strictly for photos look at the other features and benefits, like plain paper printing, ease of use, etc.Right. My Epson R200 may be great for photos, but its dye ink makes it considerably weaker at plain paper printing. Not only that, it's pokier than my old HP Photosmart 1115. The Canon iP4000 is nearly the same price now and since it has both a dye and pigment black cartridge, it's capable of doing nice plain paper printing as well as good photos. As good as the R200's? No. But close enough for most people. So I think it makes a great hybrid printer. Is it as fast as the HP Deskjet 6540? No. But it's much cheaper to operate.
And you did underscore a message I have been trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to make here that $1 or $2, or $3 is still cheap to make an 8 x 10 compared to going to a photo lab and how many of them does the average person ever make anyway?Depends on the person. Some people love having hardcopies of all their pictures (for some reason). Is 8x10 likely to be their most common size? No. But 4x6 often is and that's not a size you want to use with HP.
I don't fully agree with your hangup on how much HP charges for an ink cartridge or how much ink is in that cartridge. I know that HOW the ink is applied to the paper is what really counts, count how much each page costs you and forget how much the cartridge costs or how much ink is in it. If you look at their ink yield numbers on their website you will see that under the exact same ink coverage parameters HP has been able to get the same yield out of cartridge with less ink in it. It's not magic, it's just how the technology is applied.Yes... "how the technology is applied" indeed. I wrote an article about this that I posted on another forum which you can read right here (http://www.carnuts.ws/viewtopic.php?t=2747).
And if most other printer manufs don't publish the content of their ink tanks, well how can you criticize HP?Canon and HP do, so I can complain about the current HPs both because they used to be so much more economical and because at least one of their chief competitors is so much more economical.
What counts to me most if we are to discuss a specific manuf (which I really don't want to do, I'm kinda tired of hearing any of the brands bad-mouthed) is what they are doing about making even better pictures at an affordable price.You know, besides being more expensive to operate, the HP photo printers also don't print as nice a photo as their Canon and Epson counterparts. That alone sells the Canons and Epsons, but add to that the fact that inferior HP photo prints are more expensive to make and you're left wondering what the point of them is.
Does it count to you at all that HP's current top-of-the-line photo printer uses separate tanks, separate heads, CHEAP waterproof ink tanks (under $10), and the purchase price of the printer is only $200? And it's the "fastest" printer in the known universe?No. :) I tested the new 8250 already when we got it in at work. First, the Canon i9900 is probably faster. It's quick, don't get me wrong, but the i9900 is blazingly fast. Second, the photo print was pretty good, but still not as good as the Epson and Canon prints. And then there's the new inkjet cartridges... (BTW, it doesn't appear that the printheads can be replaced, so HP appears to be copying Epson with this machine.)

These new cartridges are troublesome for this reason: like the #95/97/99 cartridges, they're very small. You can see that on the bottom of this page here (http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF06c/A10-12771-64199-69422-69422-468134-468135-468139.html). All the cartridges for the 8250 are listed except for one that's listed on the box for the machine but not on that list for some reason—a 21 ml black cartridge, model C8719W, that they don't list it anywhere on their web page.

Anyway, the cost per milliliter of ink with these cartridges is awful, especially when compared to HP's old PhotoREt III era machines and, say, Canon's current cartridges. Interestingly, although the sizes of the cartridges are all different, the prices are all the same: $10 ($18 for the black). How does that break down in dollars per milliliter?

Bk = 10 ml @ $18 = $1.8/ml
C = 4 ml @ $10 = $2.5/ml
M = 3.5 ml @ $10 = $2.86/ml
Y = 6 ml @ $10 = $1.67/ml
LC = 5.5 ml @ $10 = $1.82/ml
LM = 5.5 ml @ $10 = $1.82/ml

The average across the board? $2.08/milliliter. Now let's take a look at the cartridges used in Canon PIXMA iP6000, another 6-color consumer-oriented dye ink photo printer, shall we? Every single one of Canon's six BCI-6 series cartridges is $12 and has 13 ml of ink. That's 92˘/milliliter. Why is HP twice as expensive? My theory? They're just evil. :D

That or they've found some way to increase the number of pages per milliliter of ink by leaps and bounds over both their competition and their older models. Which I'm highly skeptical of. Further, your "HPs have built-in printheads so they don't have to waste in charging the printheads" argument doesn't float either, so HP is simply with hideous operating costs.
Geez, if I'm going to say such nice things about a particular brand at least they could send me a printer for free :cool:Indeed. While we're at it, I wouldn't mind an Epson R1800 or a Canon i9900... :D (HP's competitive model is, surprisingly, actually competitive in this category in terms of both quality and price, believe it or not. It's the Designjet 30.)

RobertM
08-10-2005, 12:35 AM
I've mentioned HP's value packs a few times, so I checked at work today to see what ones they're offering right now. It appears I've put my foot in my mouth as I feared and they do offer them for their normal photo printers... sorta. Here's (http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF06c/A10-12771-460054-460056-460056-463555-463542-463558.html) the one for the 57/58 equipped machines and here's (http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF17a/A10-12771-460054-460056-460056-463567.html) the one for the 95/97/99 equipped machines.

Now this surprises me, to be honest. The packaging for these doesn't list their volumes, but their web page does and this is the first time I've seen it. I'm a bit skeptical that this isn't a typo of sorts because the packaging has an astrick saying that these are "custom cartridges designed to print 100 4x6 photos."

Regardless, the cost, as you can see here (http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/product_detail.do?product_code=Q7952AN%23140) and here (http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/product_detail.do?product_code=Q7958AN%23140), is $40 for 100 4x6 photos. IOW, a reasonable 40˘ per 4x6. (My R200 will do them, as I mentioned, for about 43˘ at retail prices... though you don't have to buy value packs to get that price.)

Here's the interesting thing. If you bought a #57 tri-color cartridge ($35), a #58 photo cartridge ($25), and two packs of 60 sheets of Premium Plus 4x6 glossy paper ($25/ea), it would total $85. Remember, HP used to say that a 57 and 58 cartridge were good for 125 4x6s (they still say it for the #58 as you can see here (http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF06c/A10-12771-64199-69422-69422-46085-46086-46088.html)), so those supplies are not unreasonable. Anyway, if HP can sell the value pack for $40, why can't they sell each part of it by itself for close to that?

"But they do," you say? Well, if those cartridges in those value packs are good for exactly the number of photos as included sheets of paper, what if you want to print other sizes besides 4x6? What if you use the color cartridge for printing on plain paper? Either way, you'll run out of ink before paper and if you buy another value pack keep accumulating un-used 4x6 photo paper. Selling all the pieces together as they only way to get their ink/paper reasonably thus creates a major hassle.

beachluvr
08-10-2005, 02:26 AM
The average across the board? $2.08/milliliter. Now let's take a look at the cartridges used in Canon PIXMA iP6000, another 6-color consumer-oriented dye ink photo printer, shall we?

RobertM - you are hard to have an open-minded discussion with :) You seem to hate HP and Lexmark and love Canon. So I guess your mind won't look at real life. I really don't care what used to be with printers, nor do I care what the cost per millileter of ink is or how much ink is in a tank. I care about photo inkjet quality and what the REAL cost per page is (ie. cost of ownership).

You work at Office Depot. Office Depot does NOT sell any commercial or professional inkjet photo printers in their retail stores. So EVERY inkjet printer you sell in your store is a home consumer model, that you try to convince customers is somehow better than a competitive model for photo printing when none of them really are true professional machines. You seem to hate Lexmark more than any other brand, consistent with retail sales associates because Lexmark is the last company to bring you pens, shirts, pizza parties, and other goodies. Canon loves giving spiffs to retail store salespeople to push their products. Sorry it might have sound like the reps are bribing you, not saying that, I know anybody with a brain's not going to sell something because they got a pen. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't take the high road and tell the people who are high volume photo printers that they are wasting their time shopping at Office Depot and should be buying a whole different breed of printer than the consumer models sold in retail stores. Think about it.

RobertM
08-10-2005, 01:41 PM
RobertM - you are hard to have an open-minded discussion with :) You seem to hate HP and Lexmark and love Canon.I haven't owned a Canon printer in over 10 years—I'm just using them as an example. :) Open-minded does not mean blindly loving everything every manufacturer makes.
So I guess your mind won't look at real life. I really don't care what used to be with printers, nor do I care what the cost per millileter of ink is or how much ink is in a tank. I care about photo inkjet quality and what the REAL cost per page is (ie. cost of ownership).As I said, the Canons and Epsons print better photos, regardless of their cost of ownership. The operating cost thing is just an added benefit.
You work at Office Depot. Office Depot does NOT sell any commercial or professional inkjet photo printers in their retail stores. So EVERY inkjet printer you sell in your store is a home consumer model, that you try to convince customers is somehow better than a competitive model for photo printing when none of them really are true professional machines.Duh? :)
You seem to hate Lexmark more than any other brand, consistent with retail sales associates because Lexmark is the last company to bring you pens, shirts, pizza parties, and other goodies. Canon loves giving spiffs to retail store salespeople to push their products.That is actually complete and total bullshit, thank you very much. I haven't been bribed into my position and frankly I'm offended by the idea that I have been. Both Lexmark and Canon do absolutely nothing for retail stores like ours. Canon can't even be bothered to have demo pods so people can see how their printers print on plain paper. Until I used a camera with PictBridge to print a photo on them, I didn't even know what their photo quality was. HP may not bother sending a rep up to us, but they have bothered to host training for us—something none of the other brands have bothered doing. Epson has reps for us (not that I've seen them in a few months), but I know more about Epson printers than they do.

I have provided reasons and evidence for my positions. I didn't come to these positions over night. When I started working at Office Depot in 2001, I was a blind HP fan. I bought a Photosmart 1115 for that reason. It's a great printer—it still is. So is my dad's Deskjet 6122. We still use it, in part because it prints on plain paper better than my R200 and it does it for the same cost per page.

HP has the biggest market share of the printer companies on the market. The other printer companies have to do something to try to compete with them. Epson's niche appears to be photography, which is why their DuraBRITE machines—non-photo ones—are so lackluster. Furthermore, they're too damned expensive to operate. I wouldn't recommend one of them to anyone. Canon typically goes for cheap ink. There are exceptions. Take the iP1500, one of their cheap printers. It may be cheap to buy but it has rediculously small ink cartridges and thus has a pretty high cost-per-page for black.

And then there's Lexmark. You want to know why I hate Lexmark? First, by their own admission, their operating costs are rediculously high. They're typically cheap to buy and hideously expensive to operate. Second, they're not very reliable. I see more of them returned than HP, Canon, and Epson by far.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't take the high road and tell the people who are high volume photo printers that they are wasting their time shopping at Office Depot and should be buying a whole different breed of printer than the consumer models sold in retail stores. Sorry if your commission is hurt by this but think about it.I don't work on comission, thank you. :rolleyes: Your ad hominem statements are telling, BTW.

You want to know what I recommend for printers? I'll tell you.

"I'm looking for something cheap." The Canon iP1500. I don't like it, but it's only $50.

"I don't print photos but I want a color printer." The Canon iP3000. Cheap black ink, reasonable color operating costs (by modern standards, anyway—HP's old 78 Large cartridge is better).

"I print photos and a lot of plain paper stuff." The Canon iP4000. Nicer photos than the iP3000 with the same low operating cost.

"I print mostly photos." The Epson R200. Very nice photos, decent operating costs.

"I want to print photos without a computer." Either the Epson PictureMate for 4x6 photos or the Epson R320.

Now tell me why the HPs are better choices for those categories. By HP's own numbers (which I think are suspect), the Deskjet 6540 has higher operating costs than the iP3000 and iP4000 for black ink. Plus it requires swapping in a special photo cartridge for printing photos, which the Canons don't. It prints inferior photos. It is faster and it does print a little bit nicer on plain paper. But it's also more expensive. So for someone who doesn't print photos, why would I recommend that $130 printer over the $80 Canon iP3000? It doesn't print that much nicer on plain paper and its real-world print speeds aren't much better. Add its higher operating costs and it doesn't have a lot going for it.

You seem to be upset because I'm not an HP fan. Why must they be superior to Canon and Epson? If those two brands came out with something that was crap and HP finally came out with a photo printer with decent ink and better photo quality, I would sell it. When the Photosmart 8250 came out, I was kind of excited—I thought that HP might be turning things around. Then I looked at the cartridges and saw how small they were. What's more, though the photo output is a touch better than the 8150, it's still not as nice as the R200 or iP4000. Plus it loses the one thing the 8150 did extremely well: black-and-white photos (not that many people print them). Admittedly, it is faster at printing photos than our other machines. I think it did my sample 8.5x11" print in about 3.5 minutes. It's not "blazingly fast," but it is quicker than the Canons and Epsons.

fmaxwell
08-10-2005, 02:19 PM
I couldn't care less about color LCDs, memory card reading, Pictbridge, or other low-end consumer features. I don't give a darn about bundled sub-standard image editing software nor do I care about the "user interface" on the printer. Maybe some DC Resource readers do, but I'd bet that most serious digital photographers download the images to their PC, image-process them there, and then print from there.

Print quality. My main considerations when shopping for photo printers are color accuracy, detail, and overall print quality.

Per-print cost. How much does it cost to print a 4x6, 8x10, etc.? I want a printer that doesn't punish me too badly when I make a print. For some, like real-estate agents, this will be the primary consideration.

Speed. I want it. Enough said.

Reliability. I want one that will print fine even if I only print once every few weeks (not being a camera reviewer, life and work sometimes takes me away from my hobbies -- which even interfere with one another).

Print longevity. Do I have reason to fear that the colors will look like 20 year old Polaroid prints if I fail to store them in a nitrogen-filled, light-proof container at 59 degrees F?

Most importantly, how do the printers compare to one another in the above respects? Can I get better image quality by going to printer X? Is printer Y twice as fast for only a little more money? Does printer Z have a much lower per-print cost?

Before anyone jumps all over me and tells me how important Pictbridge, the color LCD display, or bundled software is to them, I can only speak for what I view as important. I bought Photoshop and a DSLr. I'm not interested in editing my photos on a little tiny LCD panel. The freebie PC/MAC editing software will end up on a shelf. I'm not going to be using some grandma-friendly on-screen slide-show or image catalogging software either. I won't be traversing menus on the little display nor will I be inserting the CF card from my camera into the printer. I just want to print from my computer to the printer and get high-quality prints at a justifiable price without waiting an eternity. And I want it to work every time. I don't want to discover that some color isn't working any longer, that I have to clean the printhead, or that the printer has problems if it sits unused for more than a week.

beachluvr
08-10-2005, 04:24 PM
I couldn't care less about color LCDs, memory card reading, Pictbridge, or other low-end consumer features. Print quality. My main considerations when shopping for photo printers are color accuracy, detail, and overall print quality.

Per-print cost. How much does it cost to print a 4x6, 8x10, etc.? I want a printer that doesn't punish me too badly when I make a print. For some, like real-estate agents, this will be the primary consideration.

Speed. I want it. Enough said.

Reliability. I want one that will print fine even if I only print once every few weeks (not being a camera reviewer, life and work sometimes takes me away from my hobbies -- which even interfere with one another).

Print longevity. Do I have reason to fear that the colors will look like 20 year old Polaroid prints if I fail to store them in a nitrogen-filled, light-proof container at 59 degrees F?

And I want it to work every time. I don't want to discover that some color isn't working any longer, that I have to clean the printhead, or that the printer has problems if it sits unused for more than a week.

To fmaxwell: You are the natural born poster child for what I'm trying to get across ... do NOT buy a consumer inkjet printer!! For someone who is doing real estate pictures (not salon-quality museum displays), you will not get economy, speed, longevity, resistence to smearing, and reliability from most inkjet printers in the retail stores. You WILL get expensive ink that dries up if you don't use it often, dirty print heads, and all the other things you don't want.

Turn around, walk over to the color laser printer aisle and take your wallet out. Color laser printers have come down to a ridiculous price of about $300. They are MUCH faster than inkjets (they don't use the same pages-per-minute fantasy as inkjets, they actually print the number of pages they quote), they are much more reliable with no nozzles to clog, the print quality is BUSINESS GRADE which is to say excellent for real estate flyers. The pictures they print on plain paper look much better than what an inkjet will do on plain paper (which will save you a bundle on expensive photo papers)

Don't even ask how much the replacement toners are, it doesn't matter! The cost-per-page of a laser printer is a small fraction of almost any inkjet printer.

RobertM
08-10-2005, 05:28 PM
Turn around, walk over to the color laser printer aisle and take your wallet out. Color laser printers have come down to a ridiculous price of about $300. They are MUCH faster than inkjets (they don't use the same pages-per-minute fantasy as inkjets, they actually print the number of pages they quote), they are much more reliable with no nozzles to clog, the print quality is BUSINESS GRADE which is to say excellent for real estate flyers. The pictures they print on plain paper look much better than what an inkjet will do on plain paper (which will save you a bundle on expensive photo papers)Actually, no. The images printed from all color lasers less than $1,000 look decent on plain paper, but they're not amazing. Color lasers are good for one thing: volume. If you're not doing in excess of 3,000 copies a month, don't buy a color laser printer. I've tried all the ones we carry and the only thing they do well is volume. Some are quick, but not all. (4 pages-per-minute in color is not unhead of in rotating toner/drum cartridge machines.)

Color lasers do not print photos. Period. They print color documents quite well, but not photos. Not the HPs, nor the Okis, nor the Konica-Minoltas... none of them. Inkjets do.

Color laser machines are great for flyers and such, though. Especially when you're doing tons of volume. It's what they're made for. Typically, operating costs are rather good, too.
Don't even ask how much the replacement toners are, it doesn't matter! The cost-per-page of a laser printer is a small fraction of almost any inkjet printer.Well, that depends upon what mode you're printing in. 11˘ per page in color is not unheard of with some color laser machines. Thing is, I don't believe their operating costs vary much between draft and normal modes. So while your inkjet printer will print in color at 8.7˘ per page in draft mode, it is going to be higher in normal mode.

Anyway, the point is that color laser machines are not what they're cracked up to be. A lot of people come into my store looking for color lasers to be everything for everybody, and they're not. They're great for some applications, but if photos are your intent, they won't work for you at all.

(Note also that he said the photo printer was for his hobby, not his real estate. A real estate office would likely be much better off with a color laser than your typical inkjet, I agree.)

fmaxwell
08-10-2005, 05:40 PM
To fmaxwell: You are the natural born poster child for what I'm trying to get across
No, I am not. I'm someone who knows a lot more about printers than you assume. Jeff asked for comments in this thread on what kind of information was wanted for future printer reviews, not our thoughts on inkjet printer technology.


... do NOT buy a consumer inkjet printer!!
I'm not going to. My next printer purchase will be a dye sub photo printer.


For someone who is doing real estate pictures
Which I am not. However, that is an example of someone for whom cost-per-page is an overriding concern. Again, that's an attempt to stick to the topic: Giving Jeff feedback on what kind of information is valuable in a printer review.


(not salon-quality museum displays), you will not get economy, speed, longevity, resistence to smearing, and reliability from most inkjet printers in the retail stores. You WILL get expensive ink that dries up if you don't use it often, dirty print heads, and all the other things you don't want.

Turn around, walk over to the color laser printer aisle and take your wallet out. Color laser printers have come down to a ridiculous price of about $300. They are MUCH faster than inkjets (they don't use the same pages-per-minute fantasy as inkjets, they actually print the number of pages they quote), they are much more reliable with no nozzles to clog, the print quality is BUSINESS GRADE which is to say excellent for real estate flyers. The pictures they print on plain paper look much better than what an inkjet will do on plain paper (which will save you a bundle on expensive photo papers)

Don't even ask how much the replacement toners are, it doesn't matter! The cost-per-page of a laser printer is a small fraction of almost any inkjet printer.
I don't need a lecture from you on printer technology. I have probably forgotten more about printer technology than you've ever known. I was a firmware engineer at a company which produced printers. I've worked with everything from inkjet, to dye sub, to laser, to thermal wax, to thermal, to plotters, to impact. So if you want to impress someone with how much you know about printer technology, go hang out at Best Buy and look for opportunities to contradict the sales people in front of customers.

But the point of this thread is not for us to try to show everyone how smart we are. It's to give feedback to Jeff so that he knows what kind of information is useful in future printer reviews. I suggest you try sticking to that topic rather than trying to impress everyone with your "expertise."

P.S. As you can tell, I don't take well to being talked down to. Nor do I like the tone you've taken with others, even going so far as to imply that RobertM was recommending printers based on bribes, freebies, and commissions.

RobertM
08-10-2005, 05:47 PM
I couldn't care less about color LCDs, memory card reading, Pictbridge, or other low-end consumer features. I don't give a darn about bundled sub-standard image editing software nor do I care about the "user interface" on the printer. Maybe some DC Resource readers do, but I'd bet that most serious digital photographers download the images to their PC, image-process them there, and then print from there.Same here. Between my $100 Epson R200 and the $200 (at the time) Epson R320 there was never any contest for me. Why would I pay twice as much for the same printer just to get features I couldn't care less about like memory card slots, a dinky color LCD screen (really disappointing to see that, BTW—HP rocked their socks on that front), and controls for doing something I don't do.
Print quality. My main considerations when shopping for photo printers are color accuracy, detail, and overall print quality.Surprisingly, some photographers on this point prefer consumer-oriented inkjets for this over their professional counterparts. They're a minority, to be sure, but here's why: dye ink. Take the Epson R200 and the Epson R800. On paper, the R800 appears to be the ultimate badass of photo printers. I was convinced I wanted one without ever using one. Come to find out, though, that some photographers over at the FredMiranda.com forum (http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum) (great photography forum, BTW) have tried the R800 and actually liked the R200's prints better, believe it or not. Now, the R800's prints have better longjevity to be sure, but the R200's prints aren't too shabby (something like ~20 years framed is the estimate) and apparently they look better. I'm aching to try an R800 out to find out. :) The pictures from the Epson PictureMate—a 4x6-only printer based on the R800's UltraChrome High-Gloss ink set—look nice to me. Better than the R200's? Perhaps not, but they're close enough to my eyes that I wouldn't turn down the R800's higher speed and better print life.

OTOH, my R200 was $100 and the R800 is $400. So I'll stick with my R200, thanks. :)
Per-print cost. How much does it cost to print a 4x6, 8x10, etc.? I want a printer that doesn't punish me too badly when I make a print. For some, like real-estate agents, this will be the primary consideration.Indeed. It depends upon your application, but there's a lot of competition in the 4x6 printer market to make cheap prints, and if you do enough photos at that size, they might be worth a look. The aforementioned PictureMate, for example, will make a 4x6 for 29˘ instead of 43˘ like my R200. 33% cheaper, and that's nice. OTOH, the PictureMate costs $200 ($250 for the new Deluxe version with the screen), and you'd have to print over 715 photos to make up the $100 price difference between the two. :)
Speed. I want it. Enough said.Sadly, a lot of the consumer inkjet photo printers are going to let you down here. Much as I like my R200, it's not very fast. I wouldn't necessarily say that it's especially slow, but you wouldn't want to print a lot of photos on it at one time. The HP Photosmart 8250 will print photos faster but they won't look as good, they'll cost more, and the 8250 is $100 more than the R200 because it has all computer-less printing features you (and I) don't want.
Reliability. I want one that will print fine even if I only print once every few weeks (not being a camera reviewer, life and work sometimes takes me away from my hobbies -- which even interfere with one another).Much as I like my R200, this was something that worried me. I've heard of Epsons having their printheads—a permanent part of the machine—ruined by having the printer sit too long. But as long as you run a page through it once a month or so, it should be fine. And I've had my R200 for like 9 months now and it's been idle for a lot of that and I haven't had any problems. After it has sat for a long time, I'll do a printhead cleaning cycle and a nozzle check and then it's ready to go. The longer I let it sit, the more I have to run the cleaning cycle. So the moral of the story with Epsons seems to be like A/Cs in cars: run them every once in a while.
Print longevity. Do I have reason to fear that the colors will look like 20 year old Polaroid prints if I fail to store them in a nitrogen-filled, light-proof container at 59 degrees F?Something else some machines are going to let you down on. Much as I like the operating costs of the Canons, for instance, their fade resistence on any paper but Canon's "Pro" paper sucks, it seems. And their Pro paper is a good bit more expensive than their normal "Photo Paper Plus Glossy" paper. With the Pro paper, though, you can expect to get around 20 years out of the photos before they start to fade, I'm told. Around the same as the R200.
Most importantly, how do the printers compare to one another in the above respects? Can I get better image quality by going to printer X? Is printer Y twice as fast for only a little more money? Does printer Z have a much lower per-print cost?An important consideration. I try to have the same photo printed 8.5x11 on manufacturer's best photo paper for that very reason so that people can compare each of the photo printers we sell to one another. Holding HP, Epson, and Canon prints of the same image side-by-side has helped tons of my customers decide which machines they liked best. And there's very little that can substitute for that, honestly. Sometimes your best bet is to do as much research as you can (at places like DCResource, for example :) ) and then go out to try the printers at a retailer that carries them. Even if you don't intend to buy from them, realistically.

RobertM
08-10-2005, 05:52 PM
I'm not going to. My next printer purchase will be a dye sub photo printer.Oh. Oops. :D Out of curiosity, BTW, what are you getting? And have you cross-shopped any of the pro-oriented inkjets? My uncle's a wedding photographer and loves his Canon i9900. Similarly, I know a lot of people who liked the old Epson Stylus Pro 4000. (I think I mistakenly called it the 4400 earlier. :) ) The new 4800 (http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/WideFormat/WideFormatDetail.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=yes&infoType=Overview&oid=-12801&category=Wide+Format+Printers) looks very cool, too.
Again, that's an attempt to stick to the topic: Giving Jeff feedback on what kind of information is valuable in a printer review.Yeah, I've been horribly negligent about that. :) Bearing that in mind, I'll make a post about what I would want in a printer review next. (BTW, I use Jeff's camera reviews as a basis for a lot of my suggestions for cameras.)

RobertM
08-10-2005, 05:58 PM
Obviously, the basics. How much does it cost, what does it come with in the box, what are its features, what are its dimensions, etc. Specs, basically, but perhaps more than a fact tag at a retail store would have.

Operating costs. This is huge, IMO, as everyone no doubt realizes. :) Unlike print quality, you can't go down to a store and try this feature out—it must be discovered through testing of some kind.

Print speed. Realistic print speeds are always nice because the manufacturer-provided ones are typically hype.

That's basically it. Quality I will have to see for myself, honestly. Now, I'm not suggesting that a review could possibly done without discussing print quality, but I'm just saying what I, personally, would be looking for in a printer review. And basically what I'm after is testing data my work doesn't let me do. :D

fmaxwell
08-10-2005, 06:09 PM
Oh. Oops. :D Out of curiosity, BTW, what are you getting? And have you cross-shopped any of the pro-oriented inkjets?

I haven't made up my mind yet. I've just started shopping that market. That's actually why I stopped by dcresource.com: I was hoping to find printer reviews. At first, I was looking at the Olympus P440 because it would do 8x10, but it's been discontinued, which makes me nervous about supplies in the future. Also, it's cost and cost per print for smaller sizes were both prohibitive. So I'll probably drop back to a 4x6 or 6x8.

Any recommendations? You really seem to know your stuff on this front.

I'm really kind of down on inkjets of all types. I know that some of the higher end stuff is pretty good, but it just doesn't produce a print that I trust to be around in five years. And I don't print on them often enough to keep them from drying up, clogging, etc.

beachluvr
08-10-2005, 10:03 PM
Obviously a lot of dead set opinions here, even if they are dead wrong. Yes the topic of color laser printers is not exactly on the mark of photo printers but get used to them, they are here and they are going to stay. Most of RobertM's diatribe against color laser printers is so wrong I can't spend the time to correct it. So I won't. Jeff, you would be doing your readers a favor by monitoring color laser printers as they continue to drop in price and produce better and better photos. The bottom line remains, for a site like this, where photography is the issue, there are much better choices than the typical low cost inkjet printer.

And don't be so sure you know so much about printers ... technology changes daily, and what you learned as an engineer is likely a useless job skill today at HP, Canon, Epson, Lexmark, etc. Don't question my technical expertise if you don't know me.

Now let's get back on topic and reserve off issues to the separate forum set up for that purpose.

beachluvr
08-10-2005, 10:16 PM
For some, like real-estate agents, this will be the primary consideration.

One other thing ... your post came off as a newie (3 posts) who wanted help and made it sound like you are the real estate agent you referred to. When you seem to ask for help, people offer it in good faith, which is what I did. You can take that advice or leave it. Or you can take RobertM's opinion. For the real estate user, the color laser printer is the ideal choice. It happens to be one of the top targets of the people who make color laser printers.

If you have so much experience in printer technology, shouldn't you be telling us what printer to buy?

erichlund
08-11-2005, 09:55 AM
They're a minority, to be sure, but here's why: dye ink. Take the Epson R200 and the Epson R800. On paper, the R800 appears to be the ultimate badass of photo printers. I was convinced I wanted one without ever using one. Come to find out, though, that some photographers over at the FredMiranda.com forum (http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum) (great photography forum, BTW) have tried the R800 and actually liked the R200's prints better, believe it or not. Now, the R800's prints have better longjevity to be sure, but the R200's prints aren't too shabby (something like ~20 years framed is the estimate) and apparently they look better. I'm aching to try an R800 out to find out.

OTOH, my R200 was $100 and the R800 is $400. So I'll stick with my R200, thanks.

This points out a subjective area that is hard for reviewers. A lot of people like their photos to "Pop". Unfortunately, the way a lot of printers achieve that is to boost color. For me, the perfect print would be one you could take to the site of the photo, hold it up and have it disappear into the background, because it so accurately matches the original scene. For me, I bought the R800 because it had a better reputation for color accuracy than the faster Canon printers. So, I guess I would like the subjectivity taken out of the review and color accuracy become a target.

Of course, even the best printer in the world may not reproduce colors accurately if the entire chain of production is not properly calibrated. Also, measuring color accuracy is probably an expensive endeavor because the tools to measure it accurately are probably not cheap.

Cheers,
Eric

fmaxwell
08-11-2005, 03:26 PM
When you seem to ask for help, people offer it in good faith, which is what I did.
Calling someone a "poster child" and talking down to them is an odd way to help.


For the real estate user, the color laser printer is the ideal choice.
I agree and that's the exact advice that I gave to an agent. Cost per page, speed, and reliability are of utmost importance, so laser was the way to go.


If you have so much experience in printer technology, shouldn't you be telling us what printer to buy?
I could give general advice about printer technologies and their associated pluses and minuses, but I don't pretend to be an expert on the current offerings by each manufacturer. That's why I come to review sites like this -- so that I can get the opinions of people who really do keep up with printers and cameras on a model-by-model basis.

fmaxwell
08-11-2005, 03:39 PM
And don't be so sure you know so much about printers ... technology changes daily, and what you learned as an engineer is likely a useless job skill today at HP, Canon, Epson, Lexmark, etc. Don't question my technical expertise if you don't know me.
So you can call me "the natural born poster child for what [you're] trying to get across," but I can't question your technical expertise? Please!

I read your previous posts. You seem to basically know what you're talking about, but I was able to see enough flaws in what you wrote to recognize that you've got a ways to go.

fmaxwell
08-13-2005, 08:36 AM
For me, the perfect print would be one you could take to the site of the photo, hold it up and have it disappear into the background, because it so accurately matches the original scene.

Take a photo indoors under incandescent light using a film camera with film that you trust for color accuracy. No filters. Have it developed and tell me if that's what you thought you saw. The human mind is exceptionally good at dealing with color distortion due to lighting. What you probably want is a picture that looks like what you thought you saw, not what you did see.

RobertM
08-13-2005, 03:09 PM
Any recommendations? You really seem to know your stuff on this front.Well, you said you already bought one, so it's moot now, but for photo quality I like my R200, but I'd be curious to see a Canon iP6000's prints. The R800 is going to be one of the letter-sized fade resistance champs, but at a $400 MSRP, it's not cheap.
I'm really kind of down on inkjets of all types. I know that some of the higher end stuff is pretty good, but it just doesn't produce a print that I trust to be around in five years.Believe it or not, I printed a photo on my old HP Photosmart 1115 on Kodak Ultima photo paper back in 2001 and gave it to my dad to put in a frame at his auto shop. It sat down there in that frame for four years and looked virtually identical when I brought it home. I redid the print on my R200 and it certainly looked better, but I was pretty impressed with how that print held up on that "old" photo printer. And on Kodak paper, too!

If you got a pigment-based photo printer like the R800 (or even the PictureMate), I definately wouldn't worry about fade resistence. A lot of fine art photography is done with this inkset by professionals and longevity of the prints is certainly not something they seem to be worrying about.
And I don't print on them often enough to keep them from drying up, clogging, etc.As long as you run a page through it once a month, you'd be fine, I think. My R200 hasn't had any problems yet and it's spent most of its life idle. If you were really worried about it, the Canons with their user-replaceable printheads might be your best bet, but the Epsons are still worth a look, IMO.

RobertM
08-13-2005, 03:17 PM
Obviously a lot of dead set opinions here, even if they are dead wrong.Like HP consumer photo printers being cheaper to operate than everyone else? :p :D
Yes the topic of color laser printers is not exactly on the mark of photo printers but get used to them, they are here and they are going to stay. Most of RobertM's diatribe against color laser printers is so wrong I can't spend the time to correct it. So I won't. Jeff, you would be doing your readers a favor by monitoring color laser printers as they continue to drop in price and produce better and better photos.Exactly what color laser printers have you used that produce inkjet-quality photos? Because I have made photos on Xerox color laser photo paper in both a Xerox DocuColor 3535 and an HP Color Laserjet 2840 and they both look bad. The Xerox's are bland but the HP's are awful. The texture of the toner and its density doesn't appear to change on the lasers at all, so the media you use doesn't appear to change much beyond the weight, feel, and texture of the non-printed areas. Hence, your plain paper quality is not going to be much better than your photo paper quality.

The most promising color lasers I've tested are the Okis like 5200ne with their petrolium-based toner. (Since it uses LEDs instead of lasers, it's not technically a laser printer, BTW.) But even with these machines the dithering is really bad. Color is nice, but dithering appears to be the achilles' heel of color lasers.
The bottom line remains, for a site like this, where photography is the issue, there are much better choices than the typical low cost inkjet printer.Did you get bit by an inkjet printer? :D Many of them are actually quite nice, IMO. Not bullet-proof pro tools, of course, but for a lot of photographers, a great choice.

RobertM
08-13-2005, 11:08 PM
This points out a subjective area that is hard for reviewers. A lot of people like their photos to "Pop". Unfortunately, the way a lot of printers achieve that is to boost color. For me, the perfect print would be one you could take to the site of the photo, hold it up and have it disappear into the background, because it so accurately matches the original scene. For me, I bought the R800 because it had a better reputation for color accuracy than the faster Canon printers. So, I guess I would like the subjectivity taken out of the review and color accuracy become a target.I would tend to agree. In fact, this brings up the point that there's little replacement for trying the photo printers you're shopping out for yourself and comparing and contrasting their prints. Personally, I'm looking for reviews to provide for me the numbers—the quantifiable aspects of the machine—and then leave the subjective stuff to my own eyes.
Of course, even the best printer in the world may not reproduce colors accurately if the entire chain of production is not properly calibrated.Indeed. Without custom ICC profiles, the whole thing's not going to be perfect anyway. But perfection is not what the average photographer's after. Often times "good looking" is considered better than "correct looking." I've seen it many times. So while printer A's prints may be more accurate, printer B's prints might look "better" (sharper, more saturated, etc.) and most consumers would prefer it instead.
Also, measuring color accuracy is probably an expensive endeavor because the tools to measure it accurately are probably not cheap.Too true. I think professional spectrophotometers are in the realm of $1,000+ easily. (For people who want their printers calibrated, that's why something like this (http://www.cathysprofiles.com/) is a much better alternative to buying a cheap colorometer.)

lrm1964
10-02-2005, 10:01 PM
I would like to see a review of the kodak dye-sublimation printers. Preferrably the 1440 I believe. Just my two cents. Otherwise I really love the site.

RobertM
10-02-2005, 11:26 PM
I would like to see a review of the kodak dye-sublimation printers. Preferrably the 1440 I believe. Just my two cents. Otherwise I really love the site."Over-priced prints on a proprietary printer."



There ya go. :D

dr_macd
01-01-2006, 01:17 PM
Hi Jeff,

Thanks for news that YOU WILL be doing a Printer Review Site.

There are very few sites that do any printer reviews, :( and some that promise then dont, :mad: but as long as we get some sort of standardised reviews of new printers, then i for one will be very happy.:D

Look forward to the first reviews.

Dr_MacD;)