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Thursday, 03 March 2011


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I bought the B9180, partly based on the recommendation made here. As you said here, it produced beautiful prints and leaked money like crazy, with all sorts of problems. In the end I saved the most money by paying someone to take it away. I have to say that I take product reviews here with a giant grain of salt now. Burned once twice shy, or something like that?

But my opinion about printing has changed too. I'm not looking for archival this or permanent that. When I make prints now they're to hang on the wall and be replaced with new prints later on, or go on cards to family, friends and businesses. I'm under no illusions that I'm a fine artist and that my work needs to survive forever. In fact, I take the opposite approach now suggested by the Roman Emperor Claudius: "When [my story] is written, I shall treat it with a preservative fluid, seal it in a lead casket and bury it deep in the ground somewhere for posterity to dig up and read. If my interpretation be correct it will be found again some nineteen hundred years hence. And then, when all other authors of to-day whose works survive will seem to shuffle and stammer, since they have written only for to-day, and guardedly, my story will speak out clearly and boldly. Perhaps on second thoughts, I shall not take the trouble to seal it up in a casket: I shall merely leave it lying about, For my experience as a historian is that more documents survive by chance than by intention."

So inexpensive printer, low entry cost, nice prints. If I really need something fancy done, I go to a local print shop and have my "archival" work done there. Much cheaper in the long run and less stress inducing.

Mike, I'm with you on the K-M 7D, my favorite for actually using in the hand (as opposed to talking about, wishing for better specs, etc.). And mine still works, all 6 MP of it...

I've had the same discussion with several photographers, wrt the Epson 13 inch printer. The 17 inch 38xx series is not that much more expensive when you account for the amount of ink that ships with the printer -- in some cases, it's *less" expensive when rebates, etc., are in force. The ink costs are much less, too, and the size of the printer isn't really all that bad -- it just needs a decent size desk or table.

Being able to print a 16x24 inch print when I want it is a nice touch, too. Of course, now I want a 24 inch printer, but that's a whole other level of crazy.

Mike, you put your finger on exactly what's wrong with the R3000 and its predecessors: both the printer and the inks are expensive, especially when considering the likely number of prints an amateur will produce during the life of the printer. The step up to the 3880 gets you a larger paper size (large enough to sell in galleries) and $450 worth of ink, for a $450 price difference. Ink refills cost 44% less per ml in the larger printer.

Drop down to an Epson 1400 or equivalent Canon, and you can produce lovely prints from an essentially disposable device (currently $200 after rebate) that you won't mourn when it inevitably dies.

It looks very nice, and I'm sure someone can make very beautiful prints with it. But it looks nicer still not having to pay for it, feed it or deal with it...

Gee...you got bit by an HP B9180, too? Great idea, bad machine; I'm surprised that no one tried a class-action suit charging hp with general incompetence. Mine went curb-side - I couldn't give it away. Their bigger printers seem to be OK... The Epson R3000 was inevitable - I just bought an R2880! Epson seems to have solved the black ink switcheroo with the R3000, though. Time will tell, as far as long-term reliability is concerned.

So you not only prefer non market leaders but actually wait until your prospective supplier has past the liquidation stage :-)
Re hp printers we had a very similar experience with A 10ps designjet, recently consigned to recycling despite still containing at least €150 of ink, it just never worked properly...ever.

I too have a HP B9180, with far less problems than many others -- like those mentioned by yourself and many I've seen on HP forums. But it's starting to appear that the printer's on its last legs. So I went and bought an Epson 3880, deciding not to wait for the R3000. Wider platen and bigger cartridges were the deciding factors.

Although I used to like the B&W output from the B9180, the latest runs (and probably some of my earlier ones) just don't compare with what I'm now getting from the 3880 and the Quadtone RIP

The R3000 sounds like a nice replacement for the B9180 if you want to stay with the same paper sizes. I wanted to afford myself the opportunity to print 16x20 images in the future.


Well Mike, there is a lot to be said for being an iconoclast(some better than others), but on the whole I support your position.... currantly shooting Pentax myself and ironically printing with the R2880 to pleasing effect. Keep the windmills in sight.

"(P.S. As for me and my cameras, it's not really as bad as it looks. I bought the Bronicas and the Hexar RF after, and basically because, the companies had already gone out of business. So Panasonic probably doesn't have that much to fear from me after all.)"

but Pentax does??

Ah Mike, I had (or better have) an excellent scanner made by HP. Bought the thing in a hurry as I had to copy some documents and my previous scanner failed. The problem is that the printer it came attached with was not used by me that often and has printed in grand total about 50 pages. 20 of them ordinary paper and 30 of them glossy photo's. Then about 2 years after I had bought the contraption something snapped.......ploink.......end of story. But hey, the scanner works fine......:-).

One little gnagging question remains......how about the waste ink reservoir? And rule of thumb. Wanna print A4, buy an A3 printer, wanna print A3, buy an A2 printer. Not for the paper size but printing A3 on an A3 printer means having a steady supply of ink cartridges (at 10 euro a pop and 8 of them). On a R2400 its difficult to print more then 2 A3 prints without changing one ore more of the inktanks. And the R2400 has a waste ink reservoir as a ticking timebomb (as a figure of speach, you can't be to carefull these days) in it.

I had an Amiga, a Pontiac Fiero and a Minolta S-1 system. How do I compare with you?

That looks like the printer I'll be ordering. Since I sold my stylus pro 4000 my wife took the initiative to outlaw future purchases of outrageously huge equipment that take up all the living room space until I can get myself an office.

Dear Mike,

Definitely not cheaper ink than the previous generation of 13 inch printer, but not just slightly bigger cartridges, more than twice as big. A real convenience factor for folks who do more than occasional printing.

Meanwhile for folks who can afford twice the moolah (after rebate), the new 17 inch Epson 4900 printer uses their brand-new "HD" ink set with the additional two colors. Should both improve color gamut and subtle rendition and slightly reduce ink costs.

As per previous discussions of things like 2880s versus 3880s, the larger, cheaper-per-milliliter ink cartridges that ship with the 4900 offset a lot of the additional cost of that printer and mean that over the course of a year or so you're likely to actually save money.

On the other hand, if you think the 3000 is large, the 4900 is insane. (One of the reasons I went with a 3880 instead of a 4880 is that I couldn't figure out how to fit the 4880 in my office.)

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

"I bought the B9180, partly based on the recommendation made here"

I do apologize (although, obviously, I bought one too).

The biggest uncontrolled variable in reviewing has always been time. It's just impossible to guess future durability and reliability. Or even get a sensible idea of real operating costs over time. In the past I've been sensitive to the point of paranoia about such issues, extrapolating by intuition from the merest hints and guesses. I think it was Arthur Kramer, optics reviewer for the old Modern Photography magazine, who told me that in the early days of zoom lenses, various reviewers were burned by lenses that performed splendidly when new but went out of spec quickly and quickly saw their performance deteriorate. The reviews turned out to be inaccurate even thought they weren't dishonest or casual. I myself bought a Dodge Neon because it was Automobile magazine's car of the year and it was built in the state I lived in. A lovely car when new, but literally within 18 months it had lost engine compression badly and gotten as sloppy and creaky and acquired as many rattles as a normal car after ten years. It almost seemed to be disintegrating before my very eyes. Actually my 11-year-old Mazda never got as bad.

Of course the situation is virtually reversed now from when I first got into reviewing. Back then, information was very hard to collect--and the people who were in the best position to collect it--the manufacturers--were the least likely to share it if the intelligence was negative. Now, the opposite happens--information circulates rapidly, with the problem being that it is sometimes false. Without going into a blow-by-blow, I've seen several situations where perfectly good products have been ruined by what amounts to an inadvertent internet smear campaign--wrong information propagating from hearsay report to hearsay report until it's "received wisdom."

Hard to say which is worse, or more frustrating.


"but Pentax does??"

No, Pentax doesn't either.

Also, I don't actually control destiny with my actions. That is, if I leave my umbrella at home, and it rains, I don't actually believe I caused it to rain by leaving my umbrella at home....



I actually looked at a Saturn Sky when it came out!!


Of course with my luck, that means the value of Skys and Solstices will skyrocket.



I've been looking at a 3880, which has a rebate that brings it down to $929 from the usual suspects, but this is interesting.

I don't envision printing a lot of 17x22 sheets, and could really farm out anything larger than 10x15 right now ($6-9 for Epson 7880 poster-sized prints from my local Costco - I don't have any choice in paper, but it's a nice deal).

For the $79 difference right now, I'm wondering if the 3000 has any advantages over the 3880 aside from size.

Of course, I bought the 2880 in the fall, and this new version pretty much improves every issue that I have with it. Dang!

Mike, I agree, $850 is a lot of money when compared to Canon's offerings (with rebates) or even the earlier 13x19 Epsons. I bought my R1800 refurbished off the Epson website for $299 (a few years ago) and am quite satisfied. If I decided to upgrade I would rather make the jump to 17-wide for a few dollars more, especially if I could find one refurbished. The ink cost just sucks, but they have you in their pocket.

My very first printer (13 years ago) was an Epson, never again. Since then have oscillated between HP & Canon, love the HPs with the grey ink option for neutral B&W.

Inkjets cost less per page as the starting price goes up so the tempting bargains cost more to run, but really they all need to be used daily to avoid problems.
For "non-photographers" I always recommend a cheap laser for home use and a trip to the shops for photo printing.

I think the biggest thing with this printer is not having to change the black cartrige. One of the biggest pains with the R2880 which I have is having to swap between matte and photoblack. I really don't know who thought that was a good idea

Wish I'd known that about the B9180. I just recently bought a pair of them at "closeout" from Ritz/Wolf Camera for
$150/ea (less than the cost of the replacement inks).

My experience with the B9180 led me to vow never again to purchase a piece of HP anything. My current 3880 is a dream machine compared to the 9180 - flawless operation, beautiful prints. I've had it going on six months now and not a single error message has appeared (if you had a 9180 you know what I mean by "error message").

Wasn't the ceo of HP, at the time the 9180 came out, the same wacko that recently ran for Congress from California? I hope she didn't win.


Thanks, Mike, for the recommendation for the B9180, since mine is one of the ones that have kept working, and it does print very nicely. Having said that, it'll probably fail tomorrow ...

I've been not buying a 3880 for some time now, so I'm getting fairly familiar with the specs :-).

One big difference -- the 3880 comes with a lot more ink. They both come with full sets of normal cartridges (no starter cartridges), but the 3880 ones hold a lot more. Far more than $79 worth of ink difference between the two. So, just for bare price, buy the 3880.

The 3880 does not support roll paper. Dunno about the 3000; the lowly R800 does, though. That's somewhere between totally irrelevant and absolutely vital, depending on what you print.

Ink is somewhat cheaper in the 3880. However, think about your print load. Will you even finish a cartridge before it gets old? (Epson says finish within 6 months of breaking the seal. My own and everybody else's experience is that this is very conservative, you can go considerably longer.)

I keep telling myself that the 16" print width isn't useful. Too big (expensive) for proofing, and not big enough for modern decor (the 20x30 for work are kind of a minimum size for that; bigger would have been better, but our budget wouldn't cover bigger). But this is very specific to my own needs and tastes; yours may drive you right into the arms of the 3880.

On the Costco prints -- on the plus side, the quality is very nice. I did 9 20x30 prints for work there. I used the "panel" material rather than the paper; it's 2.5x more expensive, but 1) it doesn't have optical brighteners, and 2) being stiffer I thought I could avoid both mounting the print and matting over the print (I used shims to space the glass away from the print; we'll see if anything bad happens). The Fuji "satin" paper they use DOES have optical brighteners, so it won't age well. Neither of the materials has been tested by Wilhelm Imaging.

Speaking of the Epson 1400 (and somebody did, way up there), the best deal going may be for black and white photographers who can use that printer with refillable cartridges from www.inksupply.com. 4 oz bottles for refills of the carts are $18 - a savings of $335,982 off the price of 4 oz of Epson ink.


Wow!! another Epson pigment ink based printer.

You may have been bitten by an HP printer or two, I've been bitten by the same Epson pigment ink based printer (the Model 820 which Apple would offer for free with purchase of a new computer a few years ago). I've owned or had the use of three of these turkeys and found that the only real advantage for the infrequent color photo printer (me) went only to the Epson corp since when I'd finally get around to printing one of my sporadic 8 1/2 by 11" color prints one or more of the printer nozzles would have dried up and required the "cleaning" cycle which used copious amounts of ink, and usually had to be run at least twice. After a very few of these cycles the printer needed to have new ink cartridges installed.

I finally bought a Canon IP 5000 (non pigment based) in December of 2004 which has continued to work flawlessly for me all these years whenever I get around to making an 8 1/2 x 11" color print.
I'm sure that the final prints- which look great to me- will not have the archival quality that I would prefer but they seem to be going along OK after a few years for the few that I still possess.

I used to make lots of 4 x 6" prints too, but discovered that it's a lot cheaper to let Walgreen's make these prints (usually for about 10 to 13 cents each) and they usually do a great job for less than the cost of the blank sheets of 4 x 6" photo paper that I use.

I wonder if Epson has improved it's final user experience for people like me who don't make at least one print everyday of the year?

"....Also, I don't actually control destiny with my actions. That is, if I leave my umbrella at home, and it rains, I don't actually believe I caused it to rain by leaving my umbrella at home....

So, you're the guy! I knew it had to be someone's fault....let us know the next time you leave home without it ;-)

Re:Printers - It's the print head clogging that's made me gun shy of Epson. I don't print with enough frequency to minimize the issue....even though an Epson rep has told me it's better on each of the last 3 printer releases. Since I'm a casual printer, I find the Canon's to meet my needs quite well. BTW at the office we have one of HP's big ones - the Z6100PS - it rocks! Then again, for $14K+, it better.

I'm being a bit facetious. The reality is that I don't trust any reviews of fancy new products. I prefer to let the market shake them out and reveal flaws, even if it means I buy "older" technology.

I have to be one of your dinosaur readers, still have a HP8850 (pigment inks) chugging along with a Minolta A2 I still use occasionally when driving one of our three paid for cars; 1995 Lincoln Town Car for the summer cruises, 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix for the winter, and the wife's 1998 Isuzu Trooper for the REAL winter. None of the above now being made...

My DSLR is still a Minolta 7D, but I did upgrade from an Epson 1800 (dyes that faded quite quickly) to an Epson 2200 (Epson's 2nd pigment printer) some time ago.

A friend of mine bought a 9180 for "all the same..." Needless to say I have to make his prints these days.

Please, wait until the 7900-9900 printer tech comes down to 13", this one is not good enough.

It's still $84,000 an ounce, or something like that).

Ah, come on, Mike, you're totally exaggerating.

I did the math(s). It's only $2,840.15 per gallon. (for magenta)

Stop whining, and ante up.

@James, for 4x6 only, you may try the canon portable printer (CP790) (which print by rolling 4 times for 3 colors and one protection layer using dye-sub). Quality quite good (and not ink jet like), portable (with battery option) and not expansive (paper and "ink"). I bought it for fun printing but it seems work quite well as 4x6 dedicated printer. It is fun to for sharing printout. My old R1800 cannot compete with that. And anyone can use it.

Printers! Love to hate them.

I've seen no mention of the Epson/(Snow) Leopard printer driver problems and printing from Photoshop affair.

My Mac asks me to upgrade my Epson printer driver from time to time (to 2.6). The notes claim the R2880 driver 8.37 is compatible.

The thing is don't really trust it/them.

The thing is a new printer means new drivers new testing more wasting of paper and inks and generally all in all more headaches.

Still I can look forward to reading about the headaches of others for a while.

Shopping around, it looks like the full set of 9 cartridges can be had for US$255-$290.

Regarding the new R3000, a review has started on Vincent Oliver's site at: http://www.photo-i.co.uk/

By golly, Mike. For a darkroom owner, surely finding the space and budget for a decent Epson should not be a challenge...

Reread Mark Segal's review plus addendum (feb 23rd) on LuLa and go with the Epson 4900. Sure, it'll cost more and that's mostly ink, but it gives you the opportunity to use decent paper sizes and bigger cartridges. I am confident that us TOP-readers will be happy to celebrate and support you once it is installed and ready for its first TOP print sale: a classic image by our fave editor.

A shame about your B9180, Mike. I've owned a HP Photosmart 7660 for several years now. Never having had any truck with all the profiling, calibrating, RIPping hassle, I've had consistently "good enough" prints out of it right through with minimal effort, particularly with HP's no. 59 grey ink cartridge. No, they don't always quite match what's on the screen, but they've been acceptable for the wall.

Trouble is, as a consumer product, I doubt it has many more years left in it and I don't see an equivalent in HP's current range (although I stopped monitoring the printer market a long time ago).

Old Fart is a wise man.

A 9180 experience. I knew the the heads were easy to replace so I decided to see how to replace them. I opened the
cover and lifted the small plastic piece that covers the heads. When I tried to close the machine I pushed the plastic piece down but It kept springing back up. I could not see what the problem was so I called HP. The 'gentleman' (at least he spoke English) explained that the problem would cost so much to fix that I should just buy a new printer. He offered me a 'special price' on a newer model which sounded very good. Of course, when I thought to ask, he said the inks and heads were not included. They would cost more than the printer. Having told him where he and HP could go I hung up.

All this to replace a piece that probably cost 35 cents. I had an inspiration and the piece is now held down with a small piece of tape. Everything works well now with the usual quirks and problems.

"I can't help but think that the costs of inktjet printing do a lot to offset the `cheapness' of digital pictures compared to film."

I recall that in the '90s, one of the things you heard as "received wisdom" was that, when inkjet printers got good, "at least" the papers would be a lot cheaper than photo paper because they wouldn't have to be coated with costly silver emulsion and gelatin.

Ah, the days of innocence.



I had grief with Epsons whenever the relative humidity dipped below 42%. I had to do the dance of the cleaning cycles, Windex on tissues under the print heads, etc. However last year I bought a zippered sweater storage bag, cut small slits for the power and USB cords, and put the printer inside the bag with a piece of wet sponge on a plastic jar cap. I keep the bag zippered shut except when I want top print. Every four or five days I rewet the sponge. Not one printer clog or spotty nozzle test in a year. It's simple, effective, cheap solution to a problem Epson could have solved with a sealed head docking position.

Have an HP9180 bought after the recommendation here. Actually its the second one but I don't have any complaints.

They've functioned pretty much as expected without any real problems. The first died after being left too long without a print through it.

Bought the second as setting up printers just takes too much time. So many test prints...

The real annoyance is the HP software.

I'll never buy another Epson, I had too much trouble with earlier models.

It will be back to Canon for me.

"For a darkroom owner, surely finding the space and budget for a decent Epson should not be a challenge..."

Unfortunately, it is. The darkroom's in the basement. My office has nowhere in the house to expand, and it's full to the scuppers. Past the scuppers, actually. Overfull. No room for anything. One more thing in the office and there won't be room for me.


Dear Mike,

Innocence, indeed!

Back in the early 90's, I was pretty certain that inkjet (or dye sub) printers would reach the quality level of chromogenic color and then level off, because that had already been demonstrated to satisfy 99.9% of photographic needs. Any substantial further quality gains would be in specialty (expensive!!!) printers for nuts like me.

Once the quality horsepower race ended for the mass market, the manufacturers would turn to competing on price, and that would drive the print price down to a fraction of chromogenic's.

A fine and noble prognostication. It deserved a better fate.

pax / penurious Ctein

Inkjet printers suck. Manufacturers (you know who you are) have no incentive to be efficient with their ink. In fact, they have an incentive to ship semi-defective designs that require constant head cleaning to keep working. "Burn 25% of the cartridge contents cleaning heads? Great! More revenue for us!"

When Epson comes up with a design that won't make me want to throw their printers out of a window in frustration, I'll think about buying again.

I doubt I'd ever be convinced to actually buy an Epson after my last experience - I had serious concerns as to the longevity of the large window in my home office - the one I was frequently tempted to launch the thing through.

I ended up with an HP 7660, and it's been flawless. It's B+W prints were nice and neutral, and the colour ones not too bad either (at least with the Ilford Gallerie Smooth Pearl).

I then chanced upon an A3 HP 8750 for around US$40 - it still had all the protective plastic on, and a full set of cartridges. It too has performed flawlessly.

Neither have ever suffered from clogged heads, even when the baby one was left for 5 months without printing a single page.

I'm not sure what I'll get if these two dye (!) - but it'll probably one of the Canon printers, as HP don't seem to care about this segment any more.

Hey, not everybody hates the HP9180! I have had one for years and it works fine except for the crazy Mac driver that insists all the print heads are missing (and then prints anyway).

I find it interesting there isn't more discussion about third party inks... They seem to be working well for many people and the cost savings are huge... There have been huge advancements in this area...

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