Certain things are hard to buy. For instance, I brew my coffee in a Clever Dripper, essentially a paper filter holder with a valve in it that allows the coffee to steep before it drains. It works fine for one or two people. When I have guests, it would be nice to have a regular ol' coffeemaker to brew a pot for everyone and keep it warm. But I don't have one—I've had paralysis-by-analysis over which one to choose. I've identified the leading contenders, but nothing seems just right. I keep holding back. (Or is it possible I just don't really need a particular piece of gear? There's an exotic thought.)
Other times, there's just too much choice. Have you ever tried to buy a computer monitor? Criminy, it seems like there are 4,000 of them on the market, and most of them have such untrackable alphanumeric gobbledegook for names that I can't suss a single maker's lineup, much less compare between brands.
My brother added, "printers, too."
The Canon Pro-1000
For me, though, the situation with printers is more clear. I'm very torn about what to do about a new computer; not so torn about the printer. I've decided to send the P600 (currently on reviewer loan) back to Epson and get a P800. The other really strong option in the field at that level is the Canon Pro-1000. ($1,300.) (Canon makes two series of printers, Pixma [consumer] and ImagePROGRAF [professional/enthusiast].)
Having surveyed the field, my opinion is that the Epson P800 ($895 currently at B&H Photo) and Canon Pro-1000 ($1,000 at B&H Photo; ordering resumes tomorrow) will peak the "recommendable" and "desirable" graphs for most dedicated enthusiasts of the type who read TOP. If my recent experience with the P600 is any guide, inkjet printers have reached a pleasingly refined state—compact, affordable, easy to use and capable of superb results that are very gratifying. That's not to say the lesser and greater models a little ways down both slopes of the graph from those two printers aren't fine machines or that they won't be recommendable or desirable for certain individuals. Certainly they will. Really dedicated printmakers will probably want a 24-inch or larger floorstanding model, and occasional and casual printmakers will probably gravitate to lower models like the Epson P600 I'm using now and the Canon PIXMA Pro-10.
I personally feel the lower models aren't quite as desirable, what with their smaller ink cartridges and limitations on paper size. Printmaking offers great rewards but also requires considerable involvement, and if you're going to do it at all, I would be inclined to argue that it's worth it to do it right. For most of us, I think the choice is pretty clear: the mainstream 17" pigment printers from the two major makers will be the way to go. They strike the best balance of size and convenience (both are reasonably-sized desktop machines), ink efficiency (both have 80 ml cartridges), quality, flexibility, and purchase price.
If you're going to go to the bother of printmaking at home—a minority pursuit among enthusiast photographers these days, and possibly even a minority pursuit among our readers—one of these two machines is most likely to be your sweet spot. No paralysis necessary.
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Chris: "As someone who does print at home using a Canon Pro 100, what are you going to do with the prints you make? Once you fill up your walls with them? I personally feel discomfort at filling my house with my own shots—smacks of Trumpian self-satisfaction. You can keep them in archival boxes, but who will be looking at them? I like printing, but this is an eternal dilemma."
Mike replies: Classical answer: albums, and gifts. Albums can go on shelves and are fun to look at with guests and family, and prints make considerate gifts. (My advice, though: small prints make better gifts than large ones. I tend to give 8x10s, because they can easily go into the recipient's albums, or into ready-made store-bought frames.
Geoff Wittig: "Inkjet printers are like a lot of other photographic gear, in that each incremental jump in price and capability adds features that are not essential, but oh-so-nice to have. Entry level desktop printers with their tiny little cartridges and flimsy construction can drive you crazy. I'd have to agree with Mike that 17" 'large desktop printers' like Epson's P800 and Canon's Pro-1000 are the sweet-spot for folks serious about making decent prints, as they're far better made and have decent sized ink cartridges, and at ~60 lbs. they're manageable by mere mortals. But the big 24" printers are awfully nice! You can print a spectacular large pano, the ink carts are huge and seem to last forever, and from paper handling to overall durability everything is first class. I've been using a Canon iPF 6300 for more than five years, and it just keeps going. Finally had to replace the maintenance tank last month; took five minutes and I was back up and running. On the other hand, the 24" printers weigh 200 lbs. or more, and I can tell you exactly how much fun they are to get up a narrow staircase.
"There's also a lot to be said for farming out the occasional large print to a good 'service bureau.' Lumiere Photo in Rochester has a bank of large Epson printers, and they do gorgeous work, for a price. They get to worry about maintaining and owning the printers, but that means they charge accordingly per print."
aaronL: "It couldn't be a bigger conundrum. Epson P800 or Canon Pro-1000? Both capable of quality output but both very different machines...."
Edward Richards: "You definitely want the service contract that extends the warranty by two years. This is cheaper for the Canon, bringing them to about the same price."