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Wednesday, 28 September 2016


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When you stay up past your bedtime printing what light do you use to view your prints?
Is it passed my bedtime or past my bedtime?
Get the bigger printer and put it on the pool table.

[A Verilux natural-spectrum clamp lamp. Search the old site for "viewing station Verilux" and it will probably come up. --Mike]

Re: occasional prints ... last time I owned an Epson was back when occasional prints were a no-no. If you weren't printing frequently, print heads would clog. I switched to Canon (which hasn't clogged, but likes to spend time & ink running through automatic cleaning cycles) but always wondered if Epson still suffers from that issue (I've been out of the loop when it comes to printers).

I'll stick with my old HP LaserJet for fast black and white proof prints, and to Costco when I need prints for an exhibition.

It's worth pointing out that there's a mail-in rebate on the P800, good through the Sept. 30, that reduces the price to $895.

I think about printer/ink costs like razor/blade costs; companies are willing to lose money on the former to sucker you into buying the latter. Inks are even worse, though, because the machine stops running well before the last ml's are sucked dry (I've seen estimates of over 10% remaining). This is one reason why some users substitute third party 'continuous flow' alternatives (which Epson has made it harder to adapt).

Epson frequently offers printer discounts that can sometimes be combined with additional retailer discounts. In fact, anyone who pays list price just hasn't waited a minute for the next deal; I saved $350 when I bought my P800 earlier this year to replace my 6 year old 3800, which was donated to a local photography program and was still running fine.

You're going to love IP 10; I would never be without it, even though it cost about the same as my discounted printer....worth every penny.

Another difference is the P600 prints with 2 picoliter drops vs 3.5 picoliter drops for the P800 (both at the 2880 ppi setting). In theory this should give better resolution and smoother tonality, at the expense of more clogs if all other things are equal. So maybe the P600 is the better choice if you print digital negatives or small prints where viewing at nose length is more common.

The sizes are almost identical with the main difference being the P800 is about 3" wider and 1" higher and deeper.

I bought the P800 based on the ink costs, easily changed waste tank and my positive experience with the 3880. But I've already had to have it replaced. It developed one deflected nozzle (not clogged, but sprayed at the same position as the one next to it) which resulted in lines in the prints. Epson was very good about the replacement. I plan to buy the warranty extension while I still can.

Final thing - Epson usually has very good rebates at the end of the year. I think I got the P800 for $900 last December. Of course past rebates do not guarantee future rebates.

The wild card relative to ink consumption with Epson printers is what gets used up when switching the black inks. You'll need to gang your printing to avoid switching as much as possible. I believe that you do need to occasionally switch to keep the lines running properly (I have a 3800). For me, the print has always been the end product of my process - I could never give up the ability to print, on my timetable.

Epson has gotten a bit stingy with starting ink sets. My 3800 came with a full set of 80 ml cartridges, while the P800 was shipped with 64 ml cartridges. Not bad, but I guess they're not willing to lose as much money initially as they used to.

Epson offers rebates on the P800, and the current one is $300---dropping that price down to $895. I have been tempted---I've mothballed the old HP Designjet 30 after getting several good years of service out of it.

I'm glad you're having fun. We have an Epson 2880 fitted with a continuous ink supply system from Ink express in the UK that has performed very well. Ink express get their ink in bulk from the US and it seems to be the same pigment ink as Epson's but MUCH cheaper. Our waste ink goes into a little potty at the back, a simple fitting. When the printer reckons it's ink sponge is full and the printer stops working, we have used a reset programme on disk, bought on Ebay and all was sweetness and light again. Manufacturer's ink is certainly one of life's major rip-offs and it grieves me to pander to commercial greed.


Thanks for doing the useful math on the considerable ink-cost difference between the P600 and the P800.

While it is true that "the P800 is bigger and heavier, harder to site in your home or office," the physical size difference strikes me as much less significant. According to the B&H specs, the P600 is 24.2 x 14.5 x 9.0", while the P800 is less than 3" wider at 26.9 x 14.8 x 9.9". The P800 at 43 lbs. is only about one fifth heavier than the P600 at 35 (and I don't imagine one has to lift the thing very often . . .).

So the ink cost does seem to be the important difference, and thanks again for working it out.

Walter Foreman

It's different for everyone of course, but I had the same debate when it was time to retire and move in the middle of winter to warmer climes. I chose to sell my 24" printer rather than the hassle of moving it. It was 8 years old and I sold it to a friend for $1,000. Never once had an issue with it. But I considered "downsizing" to the P800 instead of the newer 24" printer. In the end though-and because I do print panorama's frequently, I chose the bigger printer. It was pricey to fill with ink the first time, but the cost per ML pales when compared to my friends with smaller printers who often wring their hands about making a print, and really don't want to have to make a second or third. I'm not wealthy, but for me the larger printer and associated costs made sense-it wouldn't for everyone obviously. I wondered why you had the P600, but trusted all would be revealed as it has been. At least you are printing. I find that to be one of the most satisfactory parts of the process-as I did in the darkroom.

I can't remember ever having a clog on my 10 year old Epson 7800. :)

My Epson 4800 (same age) has them occasionally when the room is too dry.

Epson makes wonderful printers ,and as you note , the ease and quality of the results are amazing. I've been waiting to replace my aging 4800 which has been kept more current by Image Print, a wonderful albeit expensive product.
I've been told , newer printers need Image print less than older ones, I'll be very interested to see what you think.

I'm still waiting because Epson has always had a 17" Printer that uses its widest gamut ink set. They have recently "disappeared" the 4900 from their website so it's possible we will see it's replacement at PhotoPlus this year .
The Ultrachrome HD ink set is much improved in Dmax and gamut.
As you know HD is a 9 ink 8 channel setup
However their 7000./9000 print engines are 11 ink 10 channel printers adding Green & Orange ink to the Ultrachrome HDX Ink Set
Introduced last year. They chose to make most of their exhibition prints at Photo Plus with those printers, as they currently offer Epson's widest Gamut which I think exceeds the Adobe RGB color space.

So I am waiting to see if a 4900 replacement appears, and if it sports the HDX ink Set

To add to the confusion, Epson also makes the 6000/8000 (24"/44") which use the Ultrachrome HD ink set and are cheaper than the 7000/ 9000 ........AND they make the 10,000/20,000 super wide format printers which use yet another 10 ink 9 channel set called Ultra chrome Pro, which loses Green & Orange, but adds a "Dark Gray" giving 4 levels of gray (Quadtone?)

When I asked about the differences between the Ultrachrome HD and HDX ink sets, the answer I got was" HDX is the widest Gamut which is needed in the graphic arts field"
But when they made their exhibition prints they mostly used the 7000/9000 ?
The HD ink set seems to be the best they've ever made.....except for the HDX....... So if this year brings a 4900 replacement that uses the wider gamut I'll buy that. If not I'll have to decide between the P800 and the 7000. I buy printers very infrequently so it makes sense to get the widest gamut I can.
Enjoy the fun.
Re ink costs, mine uses 110ml/220ml carts. I bought one full extra ink set at the outset, then just order 1 or two at a time as they all last different amounts of time so buying 1 or 2 is never as bad as buying a set.
I've also standardized on one paper ( Ilford GFS Baryta) because it looks truly like 'Photographic paper' (F surface dried on screens)
and I like a similar look to all my pictures. I've standardized on rolls because Image Print has superb layout capability with extreme ease.
I'll look forward to your thoughts on both the printer and Image Print.
Re size, I agree that for most folks, the 17" is the better choice. It would also allow you to print any size for your print offers.
(Image print could automate them)

In my experience the ink never lasts as long as you think it should, no matter the brand.
If you plan on a regular or semi-regular large print run, buy the better printer. Within your budget, of course.

What is it with crazy printer mail-in rebates? Epson currently offers $300 and $125(net) rebates on the P800 and P600, respectively (again, the P800 is the better value, rebating more cash and a bigger percentage discount), plus trade-in rebates. Around the winter holidays, Canon habitually offers substantial rebates on its photo printers.

@Keith B: Mike "was there", at least in the sense that TOP has looked into printing economics several times, and I'm pretty sure since before 2007. (Yep. Just searched the old site for "ink cost". I think "pig printer" would also have worked.)

All I can say is, I sure like the photograph above.

"P600 ink: $1.24 per ml."

There are 3,785.41 ml. per gallon.

3,785.41 x $1.24 = $4,693.90 for one gallon of ink.

King Gillette would be impressed. I agree with Herman and Ian Hunter, above.

I estimate ink costs ~25¢/gallon to manufacture, plus the cost of the cartridge.

Yargh. I had gone through this whole P600 vs. P800 debate last year in a fit of "ooh shiny new thing" madness. And in the end, decided on neither and stuck with doing minimal printing through my local shop for the time being. They do fantastic work that shames my prior hamfisted attempts. Though with that shiny new printer, all would be solved! Right? Right?

My current plan is to learn ABOUT printing first before diving in essentially blindly and dumping so many litres of the stuff down the drain needlessly. (A local pro gives a course once or twice a year.) After that is done, then I can reassess where I should end up and get to dumping ink down the drain with aplomb.

[I think maybe you should read Johnwhitley's comment. :-) --Mike]

I bought the P600 a year ago. If I'd seen your cost analysis first, I may have gone for the P800. Now, after a year of steady use, here are a couple of thoughts about the P600:
- Small prints printed well are a delight to look at 'up close and personal'. And small prints inspire me to think of making bodies of work that would look good in a book. If I want a BIG print (which is seldom), I go to the local fine art printer.
- Changing from glossy to matte-type papers is a real hassle with the P600. Its not just a matter of switching out the black ink cartridge. It seems that the printer insists that all the other cartridges be full or nearly full before it will allow the paper switch!

I'll share a thought about consumables such as ink costs, which first came to me when learning inline freestyle skating. Some skating techniques eat wheels alive: slides, hockey stops, etc. Most folks' impulse is to try to conserve consumable items where possible (wheels, ink, etc.) But one day I had an epiphany: I would gladly trade several sets of wheels for solid sliding skills. Which, as it happens, is exactly what's required.

The same applies to learning many disciplines, including photographic printing: if you want to get better you simply must put the time and materials into your practice. Perhaps obvious, but I found that openly admitting that made the process much easier.

I bought the first Epson Photo inkjet in the mid-90s to compliment my Iris. Overtime I bought ten more Epsons (along with a ffew Canons and HPs) and eventually they made some very nice prints. But all of these fine art printers are designed to be obsolescent within a couple of years, professional service is either outrageously expensive or non-existent.

After more than twenty years of fussing with inkjets I put my last $1000 unrepairable Epson on the curb, sold my paper and ink stockpile.... and settled in to enjoy the far superior viewing experience of my 27" iMac 5k screen.

Like Kodachrome and Polaroid, move on and stop being stuck by prejudice. Screens won years ago.

Booksmart Studios in Rochester is an excellent custom printer for when you need an old-fashioned print.

I have a P600, love the prints, but have this sneaking desire for the P800, mainly for the larger paper size. One minor value point for the P600 is that it comes bundled with the roll-paper holder.

I've had three photo quality (meaning able to print a neutral black) Epson printers – the R800, 3880 and P800. The first two lasted five years each before printhead failures; the P800 WILL last more than five years or my next printer will be a Canon. The best advice I can give is to swap black inks as little as possible, ideally never. Epson even added a menu item to the P800, and presumably the P600, to prevent automatic changing of ink. For the year I've owned the P800, I've been making 50+ prints a month plus printing text on office paper, without switching to the matte ink. So far the only maintenance required was one nozzle cleaning cycle.

I should add that you can reduce your ink costs if you are willing to jump through some minor hoops. Get a set of refillable cartridges from Inkjetmall (http://shop.inkjetmall.com/CISS-for-Epson-P600.html) or ebay. Buy P800 ink, suck it out with a syringe and fill the P600. It's the same ink and you will even be able to completely use the P800 carts, which usually have about 15ml left after the printer says they are empty, saving even more money.

When you figure the cost of ink to the manufacturer, it seems that a significant factor would be the research and development cost for the ink sets. Whatever they have done, it is close to magic in my view and they deserve to make a good profit. Of course, they might be making a huge profit even given the development costs. Probably there are only 3 or 4 people in the world who actually know. But we should remember and credit the time, effort, and money that goes into formulating these inks.

I got an Epson 4900 a few years back. At that time I lived right on the Gulf Coast where the humidity rarely gets below 200% No clogs and the prints were very very good once I worked out the best procedures and drivers. I was only printing about 10 a month and most of those simply went into my portfolio instead of on the wall. I moved to the mountains of Colorado and found that our normal 10% humidity had completely clogged the printhead. No amount of head cleaning worked. A new printhead was more than the printer! I tried several on-line printers. One (Adorama) did a great job. Quick and excellent quality. Later, I tried a local printer with similar great results. Anyone want a 4900 for free (not including shipping)? Sure reduced my stress level!

"Not only that, but Epson considers the P800 a professional product and the P600 a consumer product, and it doesn't provide programming documentation for the P600 to third-party software and peripherals providers."

Keyword: Professional. In 2007, after years of using 13 inch Epson printers, I bought a 17 inch 3800. I am still using it. I have never had an issue with it. Not. One. Problem. I have gone through several maintenance cartridges. I leave inks in the printer for months on end w/o use, and then come back and make a print. No clogs, no head cleaning, no problems. I used to fight with my 2400 regularly. I had a cleaning kit of q-tips & alcohol etc kept next to it, and had to clean and align the heads multiple times per year. The 3800, and indeed all of the Professional Epson printers, are built to a different standard. They just rock. Even if one does not need 17 inch width, the improvement in build quality (and lower ink cost) is worth it.

Now that my printer has been replaced twice (3880 and P800) I have been waiting to buy a new P800. Not quite the right time, budget wise. Think I'll wait until next year... YEOUCH Mike! $300 rebate! Plus evidently an additional $50 rebate for current Epson owners. This is gonna hurt man, but click on through I will. The rebates end Sept. 30.


I recently received my Epson P600. I live in Mexico so a lot of my experience is colored by where I am. We don't have many labs that can print high quality prints - most use high volume diesub printers and they don't have much control over the final quality of their output. I suspect that is true in other places too - but I don't know. There are a few shops in Mexico City and Guadalajara that provide quality printing, but those are both more than four hours from me. I might as well be sending my images for printing in the US. So that said, opportunity cost comes into the decision for me. I couldn't see putting the extra money out. Amazon can deliver ink and paper at (almost reasonable) prices here. I'll deal with that.
The prints I've been doing have been great. I use Finestra Art papers which are quite good for the price and are available - from Amazon. Epson papers are too, but the prices seem way out of line. You didn't mention papers, but if you are going to have a printer of this level, it is a serious issue to consider.

You can buy refillable ink tanks and then you can buy the ink for as little as $28 per liter, compared to $1,240 for the epson ink.


I'm a customer and the products are great and the service is excellent.

My informal test of the ink is to leave a print made with oem ink and a print made with bulk ink on the dashboard of my car , and I don't see any difference.

I have had zero head clogs on my canon prograf printer as tested in service mode and that is zero out of over 30,000 nozzles over twwo years including putting it in a u-haul truck and moving 2800 miles (carrying it down 4 flights of stairs was the scary part. It weighs 150 pounds and is 48x40x35 inches and is a real bear to carry down a Brooklyn brownstone staircase considering that even after pumping out the ink you have to keep it level because the residual conductive ink will kill the electronics)

Epson has done a similar thing with one of its higher end home office color ink jets.

Just over two years ago I bought a new office color ink jet on the basis of the sales pitch that the machines were cheaper to run than an office laser (and they were at the time - I did the math.) Cost of the printer AU$ 150. A set of inks cost about AU$ 200. I bought 4 sets in the first 12 mouths.

13 months in, the ink ports began to clog past the point where I could get them back up with the standard cleaning cycle. Called Epson and they said "not worth repairing."

By then a color model called the ET-4550 came in with refillable ink tanks and a claim that the initial ink provided would run the machine for 2 years. The unit was pricey, about AU$ 700., but a set of replacement 4 ink bottles (after the 2 sets provided in the box) is AU$ 32 and the inks can be bought separately.

Now just over 1 year later I have added black ink for the first time - still using the first set of color inks. Additionally, the cleaning cycle works much better!

Same economics as you are suggesting with the P800.

Nice photograph.

To save ink ($$) don't use mat papers.

Are there any other photographers out there that are using either the P600 or P800 to make digital negatives for alternative printing methods?
If so, please comment on UV blocking of the inks, resolution, quality of prints from the digital negatives, etc.

My two cents worth...
I like to drink coffee so I really don't care about the price of coffee. I like to make and sell prints too so along those lines I really don't care what ink costs. It's the price of having fun and/or doing business.

The P800 sounds like a great deal and when I am back in a sticks and bricks house and have a place to put it I will order one first thing. Right now, it would never fit in my RV without removing the wife to make space.


Rushing slightly, so hope this is right. Just a(n) fyi - a quick search here in Japan gives the following approximate pricing (at Yodobashi camera after taking off the 'points' you "earn").

SC-PX3V (P800) = 151371 yen / US$1500.09

SC-PX5Vii (P600) = 79974 yen / US$792.54

So, a US$707.55 difference.

I recently bought the baby brother of [i]both[/i] the P800 and P600. The new P400 has much smaller ink cartridges than those two, and there are only eight. In addition to cyan and magenta, there is a "gloss eliminator" and two blacks (photo and matte). It is the only printer with [b]orange[/b] ink. It also has red and yellow inks, so this might be the ultimate printer for depicting the subtlety of [i]earth tones[/i].

I'm leaving now for a week, to see some fall colors in Colorado!

I found out the hard way it's a false economy to only print infrequently with Epson pigment printers, in order to conserve that expensive ink. My 3880 clogged after sitting unused for about 3 months and I used AUD$500 of ink and a $200 service call to try and fix it - without success. I was advised by the dealer-recommended service technician the next thing to try would be to replace all the ink feed lines for a further $500, with no guarantee that would fix the problem. The service guy offered to keep the printer and not charge me if it didn't work!

Of further interest: the service guy mentioned this was a regular type of call-out job for him.

I suggest you make a print once a week as a minimum. Better sure than sorry! I loved the prints from the 3880 - the best I've ever made - but replacing expensive fine art printers is not something I can do in retirement. This happened after the HP B9180 debacle.

I have a decade-old Canon A4 consumer dye printer that always works even if it hasn't been used for a year. If I get around to buying another fine art printer, I think I'll try Canon's pigment offerings in the hope they don't suffer the same fate as my Epson. And I'll make a print every week.

Spare a thought for us poor Aussies. The P800 retails for AU$2195 or AU$1895 on "special"! Cartridges are AU$71 each. Those prices were the same even when the AU$ was on par with the US$. I'm still running an Epson 3880 and will be waiting for it to break before replacing it.

There is another professional level 17 inch desktop printer to be considered--the Canon Prograf Pro 1000. It is the first such printer ever released by Canon and by all accounts is a very fine machine. However, my 7 year old Epson 3880 just crapped out, and I am unhesitatingly replacing it with a P800. One reason is that I already own ImagePrint 10 for 17 inch printers and will be able to use the program on the P800. I love IP and would hate to be without it. Also, my experience with the 3880 was extremely positive, and I expect the P800 to be even better. Those of us who love printing are so fortunate to be able to produce unbelievably high quality prints right in our own homes.

"To save ink ($$) don't use mat papers."

But if the person making the prints prefers the look of matte paper, then the extra cost of ink becomes a small matter.

The phrase "a rough monkey-butt idea" was worth reading through the whole discussion!

I'm not sure what is going on but earlier today on Twitter their was an Epson printer ad and it showed the P800 was only $150 more than the P600. Yes!

I tell you I saw this $150 price difference.

O.K. At B&H they show a $300 main-in rebate for the P800. That brings the price down to $895.

The P600 is $749.

That explains that mystery.

Thanks for taking the time to relate your experience with the Epson printer. I am always interested in such things as I have yet to take the dive into high quality inkjet printing. The obstruction is the horrific, or at least seemingly horrific, prices associated with ink. There are two areas of printer evaluation that seem always to be difficult to determine: 1) on average, how many 8x10 color prints can one expect to glean from a new set of ink tanks?, and 2) are the various refillable ink tank options a viable option to control expense related to ink?

On the first question, I realize much will depend on the type of prints produced; but some indication of what a print will cost would be helpful.

On the second question, without information from someone who has taken this route, it has the taint of being one of those episodes of throwing good money after bad. At 56, I have had experience with that type of episode and am anxious to curtail them in future.

The problem with both printers is that Epson still requires that you waste ink when you change from matte paper to gloss paper and back. Two cartridges, but only one black ink tube - not good. When Epson fixes this (Canon has a separate tube for each ink), I will buy one of the products.
Also, I am still using an Epson 2200 - hundreds of prints. The ink pads did fill up, but the printer warns you that this will happen. Epson supplies a software fix for the problem to reset the counter and I installed an external tank for the ink. The printer keeps on running. The printer was purchased in 2002.

If you do decide to move up to the p800, consider using your p600 as the gateway to the world of carbon on cotton printing! I know you like black and white Mike. There's something very special about carbon ink printing on matte paper, and glossy formulations of inks are being developed too. The turnkey option (Jon Cone's Piezography) is a good option if you want an out-of-the-box solution. I went down the road of mixing my own using Paul Roark's formulation and printing with my Epson 3880. The cost of my ink now is negligible; quality cotton paper is what sets the cost bar.

I like to prints my pictures. I understand your calculation, I made a similar (slightly different prices where I live, Italy) but same concept.
From a rational point of view I agree the P800 is more convenient.
But I went for the P600 for two reason: one it is my first Epson printer (it substitutes my old HP9180B) and I wanted to try it without spending too much. The other is that I like to print small and with a large white border (tired to see this huge prints made only because with digital you can do it, just my taste of course) and in this case the cost of high quality paper is more important to me than the ink cost.
By now after only a few weeks od use satisfied with the purchase.

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