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Sunday, 10 October 2010


>>Wondering if I'm going to have to buy one, crack it open, and pour the ink into a graduate for the interests of science.

Only if the graduate consents.

The quantity of ink in the various manufacturer's cartridges is a closely guarded state secret. They don't want you to realize that you are paying $2000 - $3000+per gallon. (Which is non an unrealistic figure for many of the smaller cartridges...)

14ml according to
which took ten minutes of frenetic Googling!

Open an ink cartridge to examine and describe its contents!? These days you might need to consult a lawyer before doing that.

"They don't want you to realize that you are paying $2000 - $3000+per gallon. (Which is not an unrealistic figure for many of the smaller cartridges...)"

Actually it might be, Jim...I think we established two days ago that ink costs are actually an order of magnitude higher than that.


I don't know anything about other canon printers , but on the iPF5000 it seems like about half of the ink goes into a big chunk of felt that you periodically either have to replace or wash out and dry then hack the software to reset the chip on it because no one in NYC has one in stock and you need it in a hurry.

Actually the Canon 13ml ink cartrdges work out to very close to $5,000 per gallon!

Even though that probably wasn't entirely serious: Easiest way to measure is actually not to pry one open (because in many cartridges, ink is held in a sponge), but just buy one, weigh it, print it empty, and weigh it again.

One would have to know the specific weight of the ink to derive volume from that measurement, but I assume one can assume that it's close to water.

"Wondering if I'm going to have to buy one, crack it open"

If you do, a radio signal will be sent to the FBI and you will be arrested and prosecuted for revealing state secrets.

Canon's lawyers will have you sent to a prison in Pakistan, and you'll never be heard from again. Think of your son. He'll be sent to live with Liz Cheney.

Remember Jonathan Pollard? Don't do it, because I depend on your daily columns.

Remember Khalid El-Masri? That's all I'm going to say.

Vincent Oliver at photo-i once compared the original Pro 9500 to competitors from HP and Epson in his "Three Pigs" review, and he reported 14mL for the Canon.


The Mk II uses the same PGI-9 cartridges (an anagram of "pig"--coincidence?)

It can't be 14ml... That's less than a tablespoon.

First time dSLR buyers are in shock when they realize that the "expensive" camera is just the preamble of their investment, and the lenses (and other accessories) will come to easily surpass the price of the camera body.
It's just about the same with the printers. I'm done trying to figure out the cost for inks, paper, wasted prints etc.

This being said, I see that nobody wants to throw in the CIS: continuous ink systems. As long as you heed the warning given by Ctein in the other post (calibrate!) then you can count on a little relief.
I'm trying to pick a printer, and until now Canon 9000MkII seems to be my choice; why would I even bother with the original cartriges (or refills, chip resetters and all) when one can pick up a CIS and be worry free for a few hundred prints, or even more?

How about filing a Freedom of Information Act Inquiry? ;-)

Actually, Jim's a little low if you are talking retail, but just about right if you go by the lowest price available for Epson's inks. My R2400 carts contain approximately 14ml of usable ink with prices ranging from $15.49 list to $11.64 online (Atlex.com). That works out to $4200 - $3140 per gallon (3875 ml).

The dirty little secrete that the manufacturers don't want you to know is how much ink is wasted in automated head cleanings, not to mention head cleanings that you request. Epson is especially bad in this regard because the piezoelectric technology they use is more prone to head clogs than HP or Canon printers which use heat to eject the ink. So Epson printers do a lot of automatic head cleanings without the user knowing (requesting) it, in order to keep the nozzles from clogging.

Ink Jet Mall retrofitted an Epson R2400 so it would send the waste ink to an external bottle where it could be captured and measured. They tallied the number of carts they used and later measured the amount of ink in the waste bottle, and found the printer used 25-55% of it's ink to clean the heads. The 25% came from unrequested cleanings that the printer initiated.

I remember a chart from USA Today when oil was at $140 per barrel. They compared the price of oil to other liquids. The two I remember are Epson printer ink which topped the chart at $250,000 per barrel and Chanel No 5, which came in at the bargain price of $120,000.

Happy printing,


If the purpose is to compare dollars per unit of ink across various Canon cartridges then ... Weigh one. Use it up. Weigh it again. Express in dollars per gram.

14 ml cartridges according to http://www.photoreview.com.au/Canon/reviews/printers/canon-pixma-pro9500-mark-ii.aspx

Ink cartridges: Individual 14 ml Lucia pigment ink tanks: PGI-9PM, PGI-PBK, PGI-MBK, PGI-PC, PGI-GY, PGI-M, PGI-Y, PGI-C, PGI-G, PGI-R

Why not just weigh a new and a used cartridge and subtract the difference to find out? Ink should weigh about 1g per cc.

Weigh a full and empty cartridge, assume the ink weight is somewhere between alcohol and water and convert weight to volume.


£10.96 for 14 ml at this UK link:


Equivalent to £0.78 per ml, near as dammit $1.10 US per ml. $1100 US for a litre, or about $4160 US per gallon.

I'll only take the one cartridge at this time...

"CIS" and "worry-free" don't go together. Yes, it's a means of saving money for high-volume printers. But there's usually a significant amount of maintenance headaches that go with that particular territory. Just sayin'.


No wonder the computer mall here in Singapore has so many stores selling nothing but generic and off-brand ink cartridges, refill systems and CIS retrofits.

I should add, these ink refills (likely not archival, but I really don't know) save me about 80%-85% off Canon retail priced cartridges.

Even at those prices, the ink is still being sold for about $400-$600 a gallon. From the viewpoint of the generics, it's still a very good aftermarket business to be in especially because they don't have to spend the R&D on designing printers or the expense of selling them below cost.

1. obtain access to an "Analytical Balance Scale", with a documented, regularly calibrated, accuracy of (at least) 0.1 mg. Said scale should be located in a "Class 100000 Clean Room".

2. using said scale, weigh 2500 sheets of your chosen print paper (individually - of course)

3. carefully record these results

4. weigh the same 2500 sheets of your chosen print paper, after imprinting them (using the ink jet printer of choice) with your one-of-a-kind master pieces

5. carefully record these results too

6. enter all carefully recorded data into an expensive software spreadsheet

7. massage said data until you obtain the desired outcome(s) - maybe now is the time to apply for that intern

8. reallocate all, "per-gallon-fluid-cost", angst to "essential-to-quality-of-life" materials (such as rum...just a suggestion)

9. while consuming rum (...just another suggestion), admire your prints and pat yourself on the back

10. capture more images and start again at step #1.

CAUTION: Recklessly Misplaced Rum May Smear, Or Otherwise Degrade, Even The Most Expensive, Two-hundred-year-archival, Pigment Inks (but as you can see here, it has no effect, whatsoever, on brain cells)!


cheers! Jay

I don't recall the ink for my Parker fountain pen being this expensive
or as troublesome.
Maybe as with all things the only thing that really is of concern is the monetary cost to you the consumer. And the manufacturing companies be they suppliers to Canon or others, the profit is the ONLY thing that matters.

Screw the consumer, make them pay and pay and pay ad infinitum.

Maybe that's why my Epson Stylus printer sells for C$49.50 c/w full ink cartridges and replacement cartridges cost twice the purchase amount of said printer.
Makes me wonder why I even bother
printing anything?

The ink is significantly heavier than 1g/mL. The carrier is more dense than water and the pigments are very dense. You're looking at upwards of 2g/mL. I only know because I weighed some.


Having used the Pro9500 Mark II to print for an exhibition, I asked myself the same question. According to my $25 digital scale, the new cartridges weigh in between approximately 29.7 and 32.7 grams. Before discarding, the lightest was 16 grams but that was exceptional. Typically, "empty" carts weigh 20-21 grams. While I've refilled the Canon BCI-6 carts with generic ink (e.g. MIS or Colorbat) and gotten good results with custom profiles, I haven't dared to put anything but Canon ink in my 9500 Mark II. The Photo Black carts go amazingly quickly.

Fountain pen ink is doing a much simpler job than inkjet printer ink -- it isn't being applied to specially-coated paper in 1.5 pico-liter (varies by printer) droplets, positioned precisely to less than a thousandth of an inch, in an attempt to produce a color image that precisely meets color standards and is stable for hundreds of years.

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