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Thread: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

  1. #1
    lilmsmaggie
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    Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    I have no experience making exhibition quality prints. I would like to have the ability to make my own 11X14 B&W and Color prints, possibly 16x20. I’ve read good and bad reports about Epson inkjet printers. Although Canon and HP have upped the ante, Epson seems to be the printer of choice for exhibition quality fine art prints. Not sure if the negative reports I’ve read about Epson are from those users that are technically challenged by printer setups and profiles, or just getting their hands on a bad printer. BTW - I’m shooting 4x5 and plan on having the negatives scanned.

    What really concerns me, are reports of poor customer service from Epson technical support, or lack thereof based on my readings.

    I’m considering investing in an inkjet photo printer and would like to hear from those that actually do most of their own print work. I’d like them to share their experiences with inkjet printers – negative or positive. And if they were to start anew, would they continue with the same printer or throw in the towel and outsource their printing.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Many here on this forum have a great deal more experience than I do, with years of making prints for sale or exhibition. However, I have owned an Epson 3800 for several years now and make my own prints. My "first" photography life was with 4x5 B&W printed in a conventional darkroom and I was skeptical about ink jet printing too.

    Not anymore. Silver-based printing has its own charm, but I love what the Epson can do. I'm very pleased and in fact believe that the printer's capabilities often exceed my own.

    I have never had occasion to call Epson customer service since the printer has worked perfectly from day one. I have discovered that there's some work to do to make one's system print-worthy however. Careful and consistent calibration, use of the right profiles and an understanding of color management and file preparation for print are some of the steps included in the learning curve. There were some frustrations along the way but they weren't the printer's fault.

    Do I think it's worth doing myself? Absolutely. Would I buy Epson again? Absolutely.

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    The Epson 3800/3880 are both capable of producing fine prints with appearance rivaling that all but the best wet processes. I have owned a 3800 since it was introduced and liked it so much I purchased a 7900 last march.
    As Tim noted, a careful workflow, good profiles and a calibrated monitor all are essential to produce god prints.
    I use Photoshop to tune my images for printing and make sure that the soft proofed image has the dynamic range and degree of sharpening required.
    print drivers have improved over the years and now the images do not need to be as "toasty" as before, but still sharpening according to the finished image dimensions is important.
    -bob

  4. #4
    lilmsmaggie
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    So far, my only experience with Epson printers were while taking a digital photography class at a local community college. I think it was a R2400.

    It was a bit fussy but I was impressed with the quality of the printing. If I recall, the instructor advised us to buy Epson inkjet paper to minimize problems - but doesn't that just seems to place a limiting factor on potential print quality.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    I think the key to using papers other than Epson is to be sure and obtain a good profile specifically for those papers. Epson's profiles for its own paper are pretty good, some folks have custom profiles made (or make their own) but for most of us earthlings, the profiles Epson makes are fine.

    One of my favorite papers to use on the Epson is Ilford Gallerie Gold Fibre silk. I downloaded their profile from the website and followed the instructions they give and my very first print was near perfect.

    There are many, many good resources on the web with tons of information about Epson printers and printing in general. With no disrespect to your community college instructor, I think you may want to look a little deeper before forming a strong opinion about the company that is widely recognized as the current leading maker of ink jet printers.

  6. #6
    tetsrfun
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    It was a bit fussy but I was impressed with the quality of the printing.
    ********
    The combination of LR3 and an Epson 3880 is almost a fool proof combination. I found that printing with only one or two paper types, the lack of soft proofing with LR isn't a major problem. My 3800 was totally reliable and never had head clogs even with several months of non-use. I moved "up" to a 4880 when Epson had the two combinable rebates and for a few weeks the 4880 was ~$850. (My 4880 will clog if not used regularly)

    Steve

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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    No experience with current Epsons, but I switched to HP after too much frustration with clogs, $750 print heads and clogs in the past. If you are trying to sell prints, some people look for Epson prints as they have done a remarkable job as marketing their printers as they only ones capable of making a long lasting print. Any printer needs custom profiles.

    You really need to consider what your priorities are. Mine were low per-print cost, low-cost and easily available replacement heads, and good image quality with big color gamut on glossy paper. I didn't really care about black and white or matte paper.

    If I were buying now, most of those priorities still remain and I probably would buy HP again, but I'm not sure the differences between the HP, Canon and Epson are as great as they once were. Epson used to have a virtual monopoly and acted like it until HP drank their milkshake. Now they had to step up their game and we are the beneficiaries.

  8. #8
    lilmsmaggie
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Quote Originally Posted by tetsrfun View Post
    It was a bit fussy but I was impressed with the quality of the printing.
    ********
    The combination of LR3 and an Epson 3880 is almost a fool proof combination. I found that printing with only one or two paper types, the lack of soft proofing with LR isn't a major problem. Steve
    The 3880 is on my short list. There are other things that I need to learn e.g., LR, color management, monitor/printer calibration, etc. I only have LR2. Hadn't gotten home or broken the seal, and here comes LR3 -- ARG!!

    I figure it would be faster to setup a digital darkroom than a traditional one.
    With the exception of a scanner, I have the hardware/software.

    I just lack experience with digital printing.

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    Workshop Member Wayne Fox's Avatar
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Quote Originally Posted by lilmsmaggie View Post
    The 3880 is on my short list. There are other things that I need to learn e.g., LR, color management, monitor/printer calibration, etc. I only have LR2. Hadn't gotten home or broken the seal, and here comes LR3 -- ARG!!

    I figure it would be faster to setup a digital darkroom than a traditional one.
    With the exception of a scanner, I have the hardware/software.

    I just lack experience with digital printing.
    The 3880 is one of the finest printers made. Most of the issues with Epson is about clogging, not print quality ... something which is much less problematic with the 3800/3880 than their larger printers.

    Epson support in some countries is pretty hit and miss, but I've found Epson USA to be quite responsive and helpful.

    Good luck with your efforts ... personally I struggled with the learning curve several years back, but have found the results very rewarding ... much like printing in my traditional darkroom.

  10. #10
    Senior Member routlaw's Avatar
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Allow me to stir up the mud on the subject. First suggestion would be to consider a larger printer than garden variety 13x19 models which will do a 12x18 print only. If you are going LF in my experience you're just not going to see the real benefits and beauty of those large sheets of film until you start printing 16x20 ish and perhaps even larger. I would wager eventually you will want larger prints from those 4x5 film scans and end up with at least the 24" models so you might as well belly up to the bar now for the larger floor models . With that in mind… consider the following.

    I started out with the Epson 10000, then bought the Epson 9600 which after 8 years up until this past week was still chugging along and producing excellent prints. Given its age I decided to buy a new printer vs repairing this one. No anyone who wants an old 9600 for parts? Make no mistake the larger counter parts of these printers regardless of manufacturer are different than the table top versions using the same ink set. The exceptions might be the 3880/4800 models by epson.

    During this time I have also owned and operated several smaller printers like the Canon Pixma Pro 9000, Epson 2200 which is still producing excellent prints I might add. And in addition to my own commercial photography & fine art prints sales I run a small printing operation for other photographers as well as reproducing prints for artist in my region. IOW all of these printers have logged a lot of ink and paper through them.

    Not sure where you heard of Epson poor customer service but my experience has been the opposite what little I have had to use it. While shopping for new printers off and on over the last year or so (sensing the eminent demise of my aging 9600) I looked at all of the contenders very seriously and ended up with the new Canon IPF 8300. I agree with some other comments all of the big 3 can produce beautiful prints under the right hands and in some cases do so with little to modest differences. That said HP was last on my list since the intro of these newest Canon's and the Epson x900 series. Both the Epson and Canon are a bit more heavy duty industrial like with Epson having a edge over the Canon. I wrung my hands out going back and forth between the two of these printers but at the end of the day chose the Canon for two reasons, cost and lack of ink jet clogs. From what I understand yes even the Epson x900 series still clogs and uses more ink than the HP and Canon counterparts. Right now you can buy the Canon for literally less than half of what the Epson cost due to rebates, ample amount of inks included in the kit and trade-in allowances they gave me for the 9600.

    All that out of the way, Epson printers are simpler to operate, by an order of magnitude and this is an issue I can't stress enough for someone just starting out with a digital darkroom. They are just so much more intuitive, logical and straight forward compared to Canon printers. Canon manuals are next to useless and in this regard HP rules the roost with Epson a close second. Truth be told not sure I ever read any of the Epson manuals, certainly not cover to cover. No way you can do that with a Canon printer from my experience.

    Sorry for the long winded post and diatribe, but hope this helps.

    Rob

    Quote Originally Posted by lilmsmaggie View Post
    I would like to have the ability to make my own 11X14 B&W and Color prints, possibly 16x20. I’ve read good and bad reports about Epson inkjet printers. Although Canon and HP have upped the ante, Epson seems to be the printer of choice for exhibition quality fine art prints. Not sure if the negative reports I’ve read about Epson are from those users that are technically challenged by printer setups and profiles, or just getting their hands on a bad printer. BTW - I’m shooting 4x5 and plan on having the negatives scanned.

    What really concerns me, are reports of poor customer service from Epson technical support, or lack thereof based on my readings.

    I’m considering investing in an inkjet photo printer and would like to hear from those that actually do most of their own print work. I’d like them to share their experiences with inkjet printers – negative or positive. And if they were to start anew, would they continue with the same printer or throw in the towel and outsource their printing.

  11. #11
    Super Duper
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    I've been using Epson printers for better than 10 years starting with the ink-hog 2200 then moving to today and the 4000 and 9800 both of which I've have since they were introduced.

    I print on a combination of canvas and paper and while I've tried others I keep returning to Epson canvas, paper on the other hand is different. My primary paper choice is Hahnemühle in both sheets and rolls.

    Regarding technical support - I needed at first while I was setting the 9800 up to my network and after 2-calls to them had it up and running. Based on that limited experience several years ago I can say I was pleased with my experience. Ken Doo (who I hope will join in) had to contact tech/customer service about 12 months ago and while I think I remember him being pleased I'll let him talk about his experiences.

    All in all I've been very pleased with by Epson printers and ink. The machines themselves are a beast in that they just keep going. I've been equally pleased with the ink as I get rich tones and colors. Do yourself a huge favor and don't attempt to be cheap with the ink - buy only Epson. You can experiment with paper choices but whatever you do stick with Epson ink.

    To answer you question of if I'd continue with the same printer - the answer is yes.

    Best of luck

    Don
    Don Libby
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    I have been using an Epson 3800 for three years, and I have found when needed that Epson customer service is quite adequate. I find that Epson papers and 3rd party papers work equally well, in fact, Inkjet Art Matte their generic exhibition paper, if profiled carefully is a beautiful paper on the Epson. What that says to me is that post production technique is crucial, that the paper once you get to a certain quality, coupled with the Epson or in all probability other good printers is what matters most. I have found from my experience most (virtually all of the global)of the post production should happen in ACR and then local and output profile tweaking in Photo-Shop. After post production the Epson 3800 is a sweet relatively low cost professional quality printer. Joe

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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Quote Originally Posted by routlaw View Post
    Allow me to stir up the mud on the subject. First suggestion would be to consider a larger printer than garden variety 13x19 models which will do a 12x18 print only.
    I didn't bother reading all of your post, but your implication is the 3880 is a garden variety 13x19 printer. I"m sure you know better, but just to clarify to those less familiar with it, the 3880 is a professional grade 17" printer, with output that is on par with other professional grade printers. Side by side print comparisons from it against other Epson's or Canons will be virtually identical.

    It is very compact for a 17" printer, has large enough ink cartridges to make ink much more affordable, and is probably the best value when considering all factors for anyone other than those needing larger output or high volume operations.

    Based on the original post, it is certainly the best recommendation.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Atlex is selling the 3880 for $799 with the $300 rebate. Good deal.

  15. #15
    lilmsmaggie
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    Atlex is selling the 3880 for $799 with the $300 rebate. Good deal.
    I'll say. Only one small problem. About a month ago, I received one of those "Red Light Camera" tickets in the mail. I went and viewed the 12-second video. Looks like a rolling-right turn seconds after the Yellow turns Red. $456

    I'm thinking about fighting it but I've been really busy lately.

    Contacted a guy I heard them do a news segment about these type of tickets on NPR: http://www.highwayrobbery.net

    He offered to help me write a legal argument.

    Also, I'm hoping to talk to a gentleman by the name of Lenny Eiger in Petaluma, CA. about digital printing before I make my purchase.

    He's invited me to come for a visit. Petaluma is about an hour's drive from me.

  16. #16
    Senior Member routlaw's Avatar
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Then perhaps you should before getting so defensive. First the 3880 is not a 13x19 printer and secondly had you read my post you would realize I did not classify the 3880 as a garden variety desktop printer.

    I was only trying to help the OP make an informed decision based upon printing from LF film, not offend anyone who has a 3880 or equivalent.

    At the risk of it does not make sense (at least to me) to go to the trouble and expense of photographing with LF film only to be able to print at 11x14 give or take an inch, thus my encouragement to look at larger printers. To clarify, yes the 3880 or equivalent would fit the bill for 16x20's and the price is right, but an Epson 7990 or HP/Canon equivalent would allow the original poster to have something to grow into since he or she will be using LF film and dare I say it (as good as the 3880 is) still produce yet better prints.

    However one great feature of the smaller pro printers (ie Epson 38xx or 48xx series) is the capability of stack loading sheet paper to produce multiple prints of the same image at one time. Not something you can do at least with sheets on the floor standing models.

    Hope this helps and please accept my sincere apologies for my discretions regarding certain printers.

    Rob

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Fox View Post
    I didn't bother reading all of your post, but your implication is the 3880 is a garden variety 13x19 printer. I"m sure you know better, but just to clarify to those less familiar with it, the 3880 is a professional grade 17" printer, …

  17. #17
    greyscale
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    FWIW, Epson has a rebate on the 3880, $300.00 of list thru Oct. 15, 2010.

    Happy Shopping
    greyscale


    PS. wish I had waited

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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    I have a 2400 as my desktop and a hp z 3100 for large prints. I am thinking of getting this 3880 MY 2400 has been very up and down about paper feed sometimes I cannot get it to take paper it is working now. Is he 3880 a reliable machine paper feed wise. My other problem with the 2400 is like most epsons drinks ink how is the 3880?

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    Workshop Member Wayne Fox's Avatar
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Quote Originally Posted by routlaw View Post
    Then perhaps you should before getting so defensive.
    Wasn't being defensive. Reading the thread in context, you were "stirring up the mud" directly after the OP mentioned the 3880 was on his short list and a follow up about that printer.

    As far as not reading it, not going to spend time reading it because it seemed to be off topic in regards to the OP concerns.

    I'm sure the OP has considered larger format printers, but for whatever reason feels 16x20 is just large enough, or just doesn't have the money. There are many photographers out there that want something to print up sample prints one, but prefer to out source larger prints so they can spend them time shooting. Whatever the OP's reason he has them.

    As I said before, based on the original post, the 3880 is the best choice.
    Last edited by Wayne Fox; 8th August 2010 at 17:52. Reason: typo

  20. #20
    lilmsmaggie
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Ok - fellas let's keep it civil, no need to go on the offensive. Just friendly conversation and sage advice from those that have gone before.

    Let's not get our Hanes in a bunch

    I appreciate everyone's input.


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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Dseelig & lilmsmaggie

    Here is a pertinent thread with respect to ink costs of the 2880 & 3880.

    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12470

    "Atlex is selling the 3880 for $799 with the $300 rebate. Good deal."

    This is an excellent price assuming no games are being played. I have been burned via Epsons rebates so carefully note the effectivity dates and make copies of everything and obtain a delivery signature on the rebate paperwork.

    I own a 3880 and am very happy with mine, the only problem I have encountered was the printer couldn't find one of the ink cartridges upon power up. I removed the offending cartridge and reseated it and the problem was solved.

    I have found the Atlantic Exchange (Atlex.com) folks good to deal with, their prices are competitive and they pack the papers well (no bent corners).

    Paul
    Last edited by Paul_Kerfoot; 9th August 2010 at 03:26.

  22. #22
    Senior Member routlaw's Avatar
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Just a few more thoughts on the various printers. If cost is an issue consider the following, the 3880 comes with only 80 ml cartridges which you will go through fairly quickly if you're using the printer to any degree. Ongoing, paper and ink will far outweigh the initial cost of any of these printers before the first year of ownership.

    The big 3 manufacturers all know this and if I had to guess the printers themselves be it desktop or floor standers are lost leaders. For instance my 44" Canon IPF 8300 only cost me $3000.00 after rebates, trade-ins, discounts etc. There is no way Canon could have broken even on the cost of this printer at that price, but they know it will be more than made up by the price of ink and consumables over the next umpteen years. The one overwhelming advantage in my case with the Canon vs Epson 9900 printer was this very issue. The Canon came with 330 ml cartridges while the 9900 came with a measly 100 ml give or take a few ml but it takes over half that just to prime the lines and inkjet heads. IOW, buying the Epson meant I also needed to buy an entire set of larger cartridges at the same time which would have added another approximate $1500 to the initial startup cost.

    How this plays out for your situation only you can determine. The point is I would be willing to bet you dollars to donuts within less than a year a 24" floor standing model (especially from Canon at the moment) will be cheaper than the Epson 3880 to own and run. This is not a disparaging remark about the 3880, far from it, as others have pointed out its a great printer and can do things others can't, such as stack loading sheets.

    Having had the time now to thoroughly test my new Canon I can also say with a great amount of confidence it does produce the best prints compared to the Epson x900 series, HP 32000Z, and definitely compared to the x800, x880 made by Epson.

    In summary, if you need stack loading, will not be doing any volume printing or have space constraints get the 3880. But long term it will cost you more to operate than a 24 inch printer and you will give up some image quality compared to the newest iteration of printers from HP, Epson and Canon.

    If you want the absolute best output today (IMHO), have the space and initial budget for a 24" printer, (but the least expensive ongoing cost) and can deal with the worst user interface of the big 3 get a Canon IPF 6300. You can get used to the working this printer but initially the Epson's are easier to work with. And once again my urging for the larger printer is strictly due to your ambition with LF photography. Had you stated from the beginning you were going to use a 12 mp camera the 24" floor standers would have never come up in the conversation.

    What ever you decide on, do yourself a favor and look at the FULL cost of ownership not just the initial cost of a printer. You might be surprised by the numbers.

    Other purveyors of this gear I highly recommend are Spectraflow in the Bay area, and Shades of Paper in NJ.

    Hope this helps.

    Rob

  23. #23
    lilmsmaggie
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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Quote Originally Posted by routlaw View Post
    What ever you decide on, do yourself a favor and look at the FULL cost of ownership not just the initial cost of a printer. You might be surprised by the numbers.

    Rob
    Very sage advice -- Thank you.

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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    I just bought the epson 3880 for 819. I got it for a desktop printer and an emergency back up for my 24 inch hp. We will see me I will never buy another used printer again. Nothing but troubles. David

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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    I've owned the 3800 for a few years now. Never clogged and always spot on with the provided profile and Epson paper.

    The only problem I had was using a canvas (it will not load).

    If I would have the space (and money), I would go for a bigger one since you always want to print bigger than what you have .

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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Quote Originally Posted by routlaw View Post

    All that out of the way, Epson printers are simpler to operate, by an order of magnitude and this is an issue I can't stress enough for someone just starting out with a digital darkroom. They are just so much more intuitive, logical and straight forward compared to Canon printers. Canon manuals are next to useless and in this regard HP rules the roost with Epson a close second. Truth be told not sure I ever read any of the Epson manuals, certainly not cover to cover. No way you can do that with a Canon printer from my experience.

    Rob
    Rob,
    Thanks a lot for your very helpful comments. I was almost decided on the Epson 7900 (just waiting for a rebate to come) but then read many good things about the Canon and am nor seriously considering them. The price difference is quite important in Europe (where, for whatever reason, prices are quite a bit higher than in the US).

    If you don't mind, could you elaborate a bit more on the above point on user interface. I am an amateur and thus not printing daily (although I know have some 4 years experience with the R2400 an think I know what I am doing).

    I am also scheduled to get a demo soon. Any specific questions you suggest I should ask regarding operation?

    Thanks.

    Georg

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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Quote Originally Posted by GMB View Post
    Rob,
    Thanks a lot for your very helpful comments. I was almost decided on the Epson 7900 (just waiting for a rebate to come) but then read many good things about the Canon and am nor seriously considering them. The price difference is quite important in Europe (where, for whatever reason, prices are quite a bit higher than in the US).

    If you don't mind, could you elaborate a bit more on the above point on user interface. I am an amateur and thus not printing daily (although I know have some 4 years experience with the R2400 an think I know what I am doing).

    I am also scheduled to get a demo soon. Any specific questions you suggest I should ask regarding operation?

    Thanks.

    Georg
    Just noticed this post Georg and will try and answer as succinctly as possible.

    Paper loading, I will just cut to the chase and say Epson is way easier especially when it comes to roll media. You can learn to use and load the Canon but its a cruel joke compared to Epson's path from the top down rather than Canons path from the bottom up into a hidden cavity.

    OSD at the printer, once again Epson is just so much more intuitive IMO. One almost feels as if they are on the star ship enterprise with Jean Luc in order to get things done with the Canon. After a series of convoluted hoops one has to jump through, then and only then will Canon issue a "make it so" command.

    The manual is just ridiculously difficult to read and understand, not sure I ever read an epson manual completely or needed to for that matter. Canon has taken something that is fairly basic and turned it into a science project. On a scale of 1 to 10 Epson's might be a 9, Canons a 2 at best.

    Now having vented off all that, I still love the Canon for its image quality and as much as I hate to admit, have gotten used to its idiosyncrasies… more or less. Its very fast, much quieter than my old Epson and produces some of the best color prints I have yet to see. No gloss differential on any media I have tried, very deep blacks and convincing b&w prints and unparalleled shadow detail, no metemarism. In the 3-4 months I have had this printer only once have I had ink clogs and have yet to need to purchase any additional inks, with only two of the 12 showing some 20% or so usage. Simply put the prints are just gorgeous. Its really hard to get a bad or mediocre print off these things, even with its difficult and convoluted UI.

    The print plug-in module is nice and has lots of potential but still needs some refinement. None of the other printers have this attribute, but its a dandy even as is.

    I hope this helps.

    Rob

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    Re: Attention Inkjet Fine Art Printers

    Thanks, Rob. Very helpful. Georg

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