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Archive 2012 · Need new printer
  
 
Rodolfo Paiz
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Need new printer


Good morning, everyone.

Short version of the question: can anyone help me get a rough handle on the cost-per-print of a larger printer (say 17" to 44"), so I can figure out whether I should print at home as much as possible, or buy a smaller printer and send out the big stuff? Also, any mention of favorite printers in the 24" to 44" class is welcome so I can learn more about them.

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The longer version. My HP B9180 printer is dead -- long live the B9180 -- and, though I'm going to miss its beautiful prints, I need a new printer. So far, I've printed everything the B9180 could handle at home and had bigger prints made elsewhere (WHCC, Mpix, COD, what-have-you...). But now I'm wondering if it makes sense to invest in a larger printer, and if so, how big and which one.

For the sake of reference, I'm assuming a 17" printer like the Epson 3880 costs about $1500, a 24" printer like the Epson 7900 costs around $3000, and a 44" printer like the Epson 9900 costs about $5000. I've chosen a single brand only to keep the comparisons easier and to help me more easily pick out the newer models in the lineup, not because I favor Epson. But after I decide whether to buy a larger printer, I'll need to make a clean-sheet decision of which printer make and model to buy.

Labs charge about $50 for 24x36 prints and $100 for 40x60 prints. I have no idea what the costs of ink and consumables for any of these printers (HP, Epson, or Canon), though, so I have no way to figure out what the true savings is. If I'm going to spend $15 per image on ink and consumables, for example, then printing 24x36 images at home would save me $35 per image and I'd recoup my investment in the larger printer with just 43 prints. But if consumables are going to be $35 per image, then I need to make 100 large prints to recover the additional investment. And of course, even the cost of smaller prints may be different on the larger printers versus the smaller ones.

Any pointers or comments welcome, either on the printer-size issue or about specific printers you regard highly.



Jan 25, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Rodolfo Paiz
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Need new printer


As I work through this issue, I'll post whatever I find out. This will allow others to comment and/or correct me where necessary, and may also help people who find this thread later while searching the archives for similar subjects.

In that vein, I found a Luminous Landscape Article on Epson 3800 Printing Costs in which the author uses nine months' worth of printing to conclude that his ink costs are about $0.012/sqin, equivalent to about $10.40 for a 24x36 print.

I also did some research on the costs of fine-art papers like Ilford Gold Fibre Silk in larger sizes, and I'm finding that those prices are also on the order of $0.01/sqin. Others, like Epson Premium Luster, are cheaper at about $0.003/sqin. Using the higher number to be conservative, the paper cost of a 24x36 print is about $8.65.

Based on these initial numbers, a 24x36 costs about $19.05 (call it $20) to print at home versus about $50 at a lab.



Jan 25, 2012 at 09:00 PM
chez
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Need new printer


I guess I have to question the quality of a 24x36 print for $50. West coast imaging, which is a quality lab charges $108 for that size of print on premium luster paper.

I've dealt with the cheaper labs and was not very happy with the results. I turned to printing my own using an HP Z3100 printer and am much more pleased with my prints.

I just finished 4 large canvas prints ( 2 60x40 and 2 40x30 ) using breathing color Lyve and total cost for all the canvas and ink came in about $39.25 for ink and $76.75 for the canvas.

Now canvas takes the least amount of ink and glossy the most.

Printing large, the savings is definitely there doing it yourself. Don't get caught up in comparing print costs from low quality shops as they do not produce the quality print you can do yourself with a large format printer.



Jan 25, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Taoguy
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Need new printer


Rodolfo,

I bought the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 about a year ago, there was some discount running but not nearly as much as the discount running today.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?atclk=Category_Large+Format+Printers&ci=18353&N=4164498142+4291461369&cm_sp=Filters-_-Category-_-Large_Format_Printers

I really like the quality it produces, mine seems to have a glitch when I go back and forth between rolls and cut paper but other than that no issues. I know Fred Miranda just took ownership of his 4900 a week or so back, its a great printer, check with him on what he thinks of his.

Regarding cost of prints/inks, I ran out one of the light black after a couple months, bought a complete set to have on hand, the 200ml, they send it out with the smaller cartridge size 80ml installed. I had to get quite a few prints out before Christmas and failed to take note of how many prints & sizes I printed so to date I have begun keeping the numbers all over again. So I cannot help you there. I print odd sizes, 16 x 24 most common w/16x 28's, 30's, etc.
Really like the B&W's from this printer.

Re/ paper, I was a long time user of Ilford Gold Fibre Silk, but have been using Canson Baryta for most of last year, like it a little better that Gold Fibre, seems to be overall cleaner to my eye.

FM Fred and we'll see how he's doing on his paper tests and how he likes the 4900.

Cheers,
Gerard



Jan 25, 2012 at 09:40 PM
iweiner
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Need new printer



rodolfo, until Jan 31, the 3880 is available for ~$825 from Adorama and B&H with free shipping. As you know this is a superb printer. Your max print size is 17x37.4, I have been printing on canvas and paper media successfully with minor loading probs.

With the availability of reliable refillable sytems (inkjetcarts, inkrepublic, inkjetfill) for the 3880 last year I chose to buy the printer AND inkjetcarts system. Being a serious hobbyist, running costs are important me and I don't want to hesitate to make test prints because of the egregious price of ink.

I use my Colormunki to profile everything and often--even the supplied profiles have benefited from this care. When my OEM inks ran out and I swapped in the new ink/carts my print quality remained high.

The 3880 is a great starting point, if the generous but limited print size is insufficient and you go over to 24 or 44 in. printer, note the high resale value for the 3880.

enjoy irv weiner



Jan 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Go4Long
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Need new printer


While the 3880 is a good printer, I'd even go so far as to call it a very good printer, the x880 series is getting long in the tooth, the newer ink set in the x900 offers a significant increase in color gamut.

Also, basing the pricing argument off a 24x36 print would exclude the 3880 despite it's current pricing. I went out looking for a 24" printer almost 2 years ago when they first offered large rebates on the x900 series and ended up with a 9900 simply because I couldn't get a 7900 in stock quickly enough for the purchase to still have qualified for the rebate.



Jan 25, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Rodolfo Paiz
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Need new printer


Thanks for the comments, everyone! Note that the pricing examples of 24x36 are just chosen to have one example... I print anything from 8x10's for the family pictures to 40x60 for clients, so something is going to get sent out to a lab unless I get a 44" printer.

One of the things that worries me about taking all my printing in-house is that I really want top-quality prints at all times. And one of the things I loved about my B9180 -- long live the B9180 -- was its internal densitometer and its ability to color-calibrate itself with zero user input. I calibrated my monitor, and voilą!... perfect prints. How much work will I have to do with printer profiles, paper profiles, and so on when I move to a different and bigger printer?



Jan 25, 2012 at 11:16 PM
chez
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Need new printer


Rodolfo Paiz wrote:
Thanks for the comments, everyone! Note that the pricing examples of 24x36 are just chosen to have one example... I print anything from 8x10's for the family pictures to 40x60 for clients, so something is going to get sent out to a lab unless I get a 44" printer.

One of the things that worries me about taking all my printing in-house is that I really want top-quality prints at all times. And one of the things I loved about my B9180 -- long live the B9180 -- was its internal densitometer and its ability to color-calibrate itself with zero
...Show more

The HP Z3100 / Z3200 has a built in spectrophotometer that is used to both calibrate the printer and produce profiles for the different media you want to use. Very simple and effective. I routinely use 5 different paper types, but have tried out around 20 before settling in on the 5. For all 20, I made custom profiles for my printer allowing me to fully evaluate the output on each individual media. Made the initial hunt for the right paper quite painless.



Jan 26, 2012 at 01:42 AM
 

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Rodolfo Paiz
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Need new printer


Thanks for your input, everyone, I appreciate it and it has definitely helped me move forward.

Harry, the spectrophotometer's operation in the Z3x00 printers sounds very much like a bigger and better version of what I had in my B9180. That's a very tempting proposition, since I absolutely loved that about my "little" printer. From what I've seen these last two days, the HP Z3200 would be my chosen printer, and 24" would be my chosen printer size, if I decide to print most of my stuff at home. The general feeling seems to be that the Epson and HP both make prints of fantastic quality, but the spectrophotometer is a big deal for me. If I decide to go with a big printer for home, this one is going to be it.

Now I only have to figure out the lab-versus-home decision. Lower cost at home and immediacy of output are the two main advantages, now I have to check on all the other ancillary things like mounting a print on gatorboard, or stretching canvas, to see which things I'd have to do as "extras" if I print at home that are now done by a lab when I send out a big print.

I also need to find a 13" wide printer to do my miscellaneous home printing in case I do decide to send out all the big work to a lab. HP doesn't seem to make anything like the successor to the B9180. For the price, an Epson 3880 would still be a good choice even though it's bigger. I wonder what the major pros/cons of the new Canon Pro-1 are?



Jan 27, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Taoguy
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Need new printer


Rodolfo - I gave the Canon 9500 Pro to my son when I bought my Epson 4900. I think it is a great buy today at $400 and the quality was equal to anything I have seen. It half price today vs what I bought mine for. I just wanted to up the size and 80% of my printing is handled by the 4900 so I had no need for the Pro9500.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/609352-REG/Canon_3298B002_PIXMA_Pro9500_Mark_II.html




Jan 27, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Dustin Gent
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Need new printer


Also Canon is introducing the Pro 1 (or whatever it is called), the newest printer. I saw an ad for it included with the new 1Dx, kind of a cool ad. I would love to get a larger printer than my Canon, but they are $$$


Jan 27, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Rodolfo Paiz
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Need new printer


Taoguy wrote:
Rodolfo - I gave the Canon 9500 Pro to my son when I bought my Epson 4900. I think it is a great buy today at $400 and the quality was equal to anything I have seen.


You're right. I'm OK with a top-of-the-line 13" printer costing $800, even $1000. But having the just-recently-replaced top-of-the-line model on sale for $400... that's a steal.

I tend to keep things like photo printers for a long time. And if you make a lot of prints, the cost of consumables like ink is the primary driver of the long-term real cost of ownership. So I have a hunch that the Pro-1 might still be a fair purchase, but when considering the 13" desktop-printer path, I'm going to give both the Pro-1 and the Pro-9500-II a very careful look.

Thanks for the pointer! I'm having real trouble deciding between the 24" and 13" strategies, but in only two or three days this thread has helped me choose the right printer for each path: Z3200 if we go big, or Pro-1/Pro-9500-II if we go small. That's a lot of progress.



Jan 27, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Rodolfo Paiz
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Need new printer


Alrighty then... pulled the trigger on a 24" HP Z3200 just a couple of minutes ago.

My most humble thanks to everyone for your input, it has been very helpful. Harry gets special recognition for having told me about the spectrophotometer in the Z3200... in the end, that was the single largest factor involved in the decision of which printer to buy.



Jan 28, 2012 at 11:57 PM
chez
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Need new printer


Rodolfo Paiz wrote:
Alrighty then... pulled the trigger on a 24" HP Z3200 just a couple of minutes ago.

My most humble thanks to everyone for your input, it has been very helpful. Harry gets special recognition for having told me about the spectrophotometer in the Z3200... in the end, that was the single largest factor involved in the decision of which printer to buy.


Rodolfo, excellent choice. The real beauty of have the built in spectrophotometer is that you can buy sample packs of most papers for quite cheap and create a profile for your printer and then determine which set of papers to standardize on. I have different papers for different prints. Here is what I use:

Breathing Color Lyve for canvas prints
Epson Exhibition Fiber for my semi gloss prints
Breathing Color Optica One and Somerset Museum Rag for my matte finish prints
Hahnemuhle William Turner for my prints that require a textured warm feeling.

Best thing to do is pick a standard color and B&W image and get a bunch of different papers and determine which set fits your style.

Good luck and have fun.



Jan 29, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Rodolfo Paiz
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Need new printer


My next question was going to be about recommended papers... Also, are many fine-art papers available in 24x36 sheet sizes, or am I going to have to use mostly rolls to get that size output? Or should I favor rolls when they are available?

Here are some representative images from what I love to shoot... any paper suggestions welcome!

Lots of color...



No color at all...



Animal portraits...



Landscapes...



Metallic...


And of course, some people...



Jan 29, 2012 at 01:47 AM
anthonygh
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Need new printer


Different subjects benefit from different papers.......and different clients like different print treatments.......cute kid at the end...def fine art matt for her...

Hard gloss for the plane above I suspect!!



Feb 02, 2012 at 01:29 AM





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