Looking for a photo printer

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by kitty, Jan 2, 2007.

  1. kitty

    kitty TPF Noob!

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    What photo printers have people had luck with, clear images, good color, etc? I really can't spend more than $250. Is it possible to get a decent printer for that much? Also I need to keep in mind how many cartidges said printer would take and how much those would cost. All suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Kitty:heart:
     
  2. Lol999

    Lol999 TPF Noob!

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    Theres another thread with the same question I just posted a lengthy answer to. Have a look there!

    Cheers, Lol
     
  3. kitty

    kitty TPF Noob!

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    thanks, I guess I should have looked through the forum first.
     
  4. basil_chiu

    basil_chiu TPF Noob!

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    I worked as an HP sales rep, (and an Epson rep before that) and I've seen a lot of photo comparisons. Mind you it's been over two years since I did this, but I hope this helps:

    a) There are really no bad printers out there. Still, I'd avoid Lexmarks. Their quality several years ago was atrocious, and I've heard too many customers complain their Lexmarks died after a year or so. With the possible exception of Lexmark, print quality of all photo printers is basically the same, which is really good. Any differences are irrelevant to practically everyone, i.e.: you won't care about any differences.

    b) When Epsons work, they seem to be kick-ass. BUT, you need to be using them all the time, otherwise the nozzles clog. And everytime you start them up, they "blow their noses" to clear out their nozzles. I've heard from customers they go through ink like crazy due to that.

    c) HPs have this nasty habit (at least up 'til two years ago) of leaving trails of little white dots where rollers contact the printing surface. How noticeable are these trails? All owners eventually notice it. I lost a few sales thanks to them. Still, HP cartridges are sealed, therefore, you can let the printer sit there for months, and your ink won't dry.

    d) Next photo printer I buy will be a Canon, only because I've never heard anyone really rage against their Canons like I did with the above brands. Their ink is the cheapest per page, according to manufacturer claims. (It is virtually impossible for lay people to test actual output). My one concern is the interface between cartridge and printer--it's a pad. Unless they've changed it, these pads let the ink dry out the fastest of all four manufacturers.

    Just remember: the human eye can't even discern the quality improvements being made these days. And if you can--do you care? The benchmark many people use are photos they get from a traditional film developer. As far as I'm concerned, all photo printers do a better job.

    There are other concerns too:

    a) speed. Personally, I've never been in such a rush I NEED to print my photos NOW. I still like the anticipation of going to the grocery store to pick up my pix. But if it's a concern, a printer that separates the cartridge from print head is faster. (Moving just the print head is lighter than moving the print head + ink).

    b) cost. HERE'S where I dispute manufacturer claims. Since I worked for HP, I can dispute their claims; but I'm sure it applies to all manufacturers. They made claims their 57 cartridge would crank out something like 75 4"x6" photos in their photosmart 145 printer. MY CO-WORKERS SAID THEY GOT THIS KIND OF OUTPUT. I N E V E R did. NEVER! I would get about 25, then one colour of ink would run out, and the next 10 pix or so would be increasing levels of paleness. So, at the time, we were talking about 1.50CAD to 2CAD per photo--just in ink costs. Imagine: one cartridge would only print about 3 (to maybe 5, depending on the photos) 11"x17" photos.

    c) I understand, (but have no experience with), newer colour laser jets give some pretty good photo quality. That may be, but during my time, laser was absolutely lousy for photos.
     
  5. Lol999

    Lol999 TPF Noob!

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    The only reason I started printing my own is for ease of access to a 10x8 print. Plus my local specialist photo shop has a nice habit of scratching negatives. For a 10x8 b&w I'm looking at about £1 in ink costs plus paper. Still cheaper than high street and I have more local control over how it turns out. One note of warning, you will use a LOAD of ink and paper finetuning the printer output to how you want initially. The first prints you do are great, but then the photographer in you starts picking fault, playing with the image in Photoshop and looking at better papers. Have fun!

    Lol
     
  6. basil_chiu

    basil_chiu TPF Noob!

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    I visited my local Best Buy electronic big box retailer over the weekend, and have some minor updates to make:

    1) HP now use individual ink tanks, and they are no longer sealed. This is slightly cheaper in the long run (replace only the colour you need), and lets the ink stay still while only the print head moves (increases print speed, keeps cheap computer desk from wobbling). The downside is the interface between tank and printer lets in a lot of air, meaning the cartridges dry quickly if not used.

    2) I didn't look closely, but apparently Epson uses the same system. When I worked for Epson, the ink tanks had a rubber valve (like on a basketball) that kept the air out. I don't know if they still use that system.

    3) Again, I didn't check them, but according to the HP rep (my former co-worker) Canon now use a combination of sealed cartridges (with print head included) and indiv ink tanks with some sort of interface allowing a lot of air seepage.

    Bottom line: before you buy a photo printer, look at the type and prices of the ink cartridges you must buy.

    Btw, I might be working for HP again, so I'll have to curtail my responses (or change my user name).
     

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