« We Hear from Harold Merklinger | Main | What to Do with Prints? »

Monday, 03 October 2016


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My first reaction to this image was: "Pretty cool!".

My second was: "My god, that must have used a lot of ink."

The bummer of digital printing is the range anxiety I experience with large, dark prints.

It's not even the cost, so much as the notion of having to think about the hassle of replacing inks.

Ever since the internet made the world suck, we no longer have decent camera shops. I therefore need to order the ink. Wait for the ink. Install the ink. Then notice I'm out of another ink. Repeat process.

Anyhow...good image!

"Hey Mikey, I think he likes it" - TV ad from long ago

Thank you, Mike, for the most wonderfully timed post ever. Our Epson 3800 started spitting stray drops of ink (again) on Thursday and the Epson Canada rebate on P800 ended Friday. We threw financial caution to the wind and paid for the new printer. (Delivery in a week.) I spent the weekend fretting over having made such a snap purchase … in a week when our faithful workhorse colour laser printer also died, and "I'm sorry sir, they're not making that model any more."

Your reaction to the P600 has left me reassured, smiling, and feeling quite unreasonably smug about my own cleverness.

If you're worried about ink - who isn't? - Epson makes a small range of printers (..ostensibly for "third world" countries, where they can't afford our ink prices..) which have "Ecotanks" ..and which hold a HUGE amount of ink, and use it frugally, so that printing costs are really low.

The printers come with enough ink to last - they say - TWO YEARS! ..and ours must have lasted almost that long before needing refilling, and the refill bottles cost about £9.99 each ..that's about $13 for each of the four bottles (of whatever colours they are).

EXTREMELY economical, extremely dense, extremely capable. Our L355 only prints A4 size maximum, but there are (is?) another one (or two?) which handle greater widths. Oh, and they also operate over wi-fi as well as USB, and can scan documents, too. Ours also makes toast and coffee.

[Cost-effective indeed! However, those aren't photo-quality printers. They're tri-color low-volume business and home office printers (cyan, magenta, yellow plus one black) and the color inks are dye-based (reasonably long-lasting but only on the right papers). The black is a pigment-encapsulated type which will last well on any type of papers, for document printing. Compare to the true pigment inks of the P600 which use 5 colors plus four blacks and grays (really three black/grays, but with different black inks for glossy/luster and matte papers).

The more colors the better the result. The best Epson professional printers like the $6k P9000 use cyan, light cyan, magenta, vivid light magenta, yellow, photo black, matte black, light black, light light black (Epson's most peculiar designation!), orange, and green, and the commercial version of the printer even includes a violet ink(!). --Mike]

Sunset Drive is a beautful photo, Mike. Great job!

I do like that image. I am sitting here imagining what the print must look like. Camera club judges would probably not understand it at all. Mystery and foreboding. What the dark says. Absolutely great.

Epson Premium Luster is my cheap proofing paper. Oh boy, are there addictive items in your future. Just wait until you get your hands on something like Ilford Gold Fiber Mono Silk, or if you like matte papers better maybe some Epson Cold Press Natural.

Okay, now someone is going to have to stage a likely useless print-off between the P800 and P600 so we can know for sure.

Good to hear you like the improvements so much. I have the P800 on my need/want to buy list.

Agreed- I have bins(not British,i.e. trash) of prints that I have no wall space for, but I must say if you don't make a print, WTH are you shooting for? To look at a digital image??
A print on the wall requires one to spend some time with it, to let the image work its way into one's psyche.

I started printing with an Epson 2200 and then/now a 3800 and for years printed exclusively on matte papers. Last year I bought a Fuji X100T and decided to see how the color shots looked on Luster. Long story short, I've become addicted to printing on the Luster paper. One thing I have found, is that paper tends to out gas like crazy. I let my prints sit uncovered for at least a day and then covered with a sheet of tissue paper (can't think of the exact term for the paper)for several days. After a couple of days, the tissue is wavy with moisture/gas from the prints ( the ambient moisture in the room is not enough to do it alone - I've experimented with it).

For me, the process is ultimately completed when I do my own matting and framing. Of course only a very select few pictures are frame-worthy; many others make it only to 'work print' phase.

I made a comment in the 'Picky' post that apparently got lost in the shuffle. It concerned the notion that even after you make the print that just 'sings' and delights you, you decide to mat and frame it, and the cover glass makes it 'die' in important areas. Or the lighting/display conditions change, and the print requires tweaking to bring it back to life. Been there, done that.

It's especially on subtle prints like this that all components must be in synch; and it's wonderful to have one's own home machine to quickly address the situation.

@ Dave: The problem is not replacing the ink cartridge, the problem is when the printer stops (because it is out of ink) when it has printed 90% of the picture. The printer then throws out the picture and you can start all over again.

And how long until you run out of wall space? I built a reconfigurable multi-print frame so that I could change displays. {4x8 feet; no I don't sell them}.

I have had my prints made at Costco, using their printer profiles. The results have been surprisingly good, but obviously limited to their capabilities.

So one buys an expensive toy and manages to excel at producing prints and...how do you stop? Christmas presents for everyone? (This is why I haven't bought a wood lathe.)

I know Ctein has been printing for others for some time - is this something that you would recommend? "Customer service" is always the variable pain/cost, but some people are good at it...

Anyway, do custom printers advertise anywhere, or do we need a forum? I would rather shoot and let someone else change ink sponges, sorry...

"Can you be in love with a printer?"

YES! If I can be allowed to rain on your Epson parade only slightly and indicate there are other potential "lovers" out there, some from a beautiful family of printers named Canon. My first love, lasting a solid 10 years was a lovely creature Sir Donald would have labeled "fat"! She weighed 480 lbs and had a 44" waistline - er, uh, print width capability.

But if you are going to fall in love with a machine, just as with your beloved pets, you will likely find yourself lonely again. And getting older as I have, I no longer cared for the "struggle" of mounting prints up to nearly 4 x 7 feet (2 of which hang in customer homes). So I longed for a more petite companion which I found in a 24 inch Canon ipf6400. She sits on a sturdy 30x48 inch table. As I write this tale, she is always faithfully close by and her 24x36 inch prints (and smaller too) are awesome!

Don't talk to me, however, about her eating habits...:-)

My coin jar might just be full enough to ante up for a print of Sunset Drive. LMK.

Now that you are in love, it may be harder to get an un-varnished answer... but is there any hope of getting good output from less expensive printers?

The P600 seems to be exactly what I would like in a printer (size and quality wise.) But locally that printer is 959.99 Canadian dollars. Well out of the range of possibility.

I could perhaps stretch to the 399.99 dollars for a Canon Pixma Pro-100. 199.99 for a Canon IP8720 would be much more comfortable. But will I be continually frustrated? Spending 200 for a printer that can't make a photo I'd be proud of would be a waste of 200 dollars.

I currently send files to labs (or to drugstores) for 11x14 prints. Probably half black & white, and half colour. I would love to have more control over my prints and be able to create the final product myself.

I've found that using Epson's Advanced B&W driver works just fine for monochrome prints.

That's the paper I used for all the prints which I brought to our session. I've been using it exclusively for years. Glad to hear it works well with the new printer, as I have a great deal of it.

Really pleased that you got there in the end, Mike. It really is all about the print. Epson's been setting the bar for well over a decade now for fine art printing, ever since the near-legendary 2200. I've read great things about P600/P800 series, but I haven't owned my 3880 long enough to be ready to replace it at this point in time. We really are living in a time where we have an embarrasment of riches for photography, with all the wonderful cameras, lenses, displays, editing and printing tools we have available to us.

Fully agree with you about Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Lustre; it's superb all-round paper, suitable for museum quality display. Another paper I like that is more affordable but very close to Premium Lustre in quality is Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl. I use it for less "formal" prints, like stuff I print to put up in the office, around the house, etc. that's not matted/framed.

After reading this:

"I Think I'm Falling In Love...
...With a certain Epson. She is proudly black, admittedly blocky in shape, decidedly petite, expensive, and doesn't say much. But oh, my, the things she can do."

Making a print that sings is wonderful, but Mike,you really need a girlfriend!

Great. My first thoughts were exactly like the first poster: "Nice" followed by "wow that is lot of black inks".
I keep a full set of ink ahead, ordering to replace what I have used from it. A lot of money can be saved by shopping around. Different inks cost different prices. Amazon is often the cheapest but not always, though from them you can get free shipping. I seem to use two yellow to one of everything else. Leaves, I expect.
I also like Ultra Premium Lustre. You can get profiles from Epson.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Epson pigment based printing.

I'm a sucker for shadow detail, so that's an image for me!

First, I have to say, I would love to see that print in person, for I know there is no way to appreciate it via the Web.

Secondly, I believe the Universe is indeed telling you to just get on with it and buy a Nikon. Factory refurbished D7200 bodies hover around $800 right now, new D7100 bodies a mere $698. Add the Macro/Portrait lens bundle (85mm f/3.5 ED DX Macro and the must-have 35mm f/1.8 DX) and you're still in under $1600. You can even pick up the D610 with the excellent 24-85mm zoom for under $2000 right now.

Like you, I also fell in love with the P600 for B&W after a few flirtatious days. Having had a darkroom for many years, and un-easy about buying a refurbished 3880 I jumped off the high dive with theP600 last Christmas. The first print done with nothing other than in camera software and no post processing was amazing. Using Lightroom and NIK and a light hand at the controls, these prints are equal or surpass my best wet prints. Now I am dreaming of prints made from scanned 35mm and 4x5 negatives. Just need to figure out the best place to send them.

I just wanted to mention that for those who printed wet, you have an additional cost savings. No more darkroom GAS buying the newest and most exotic timers, easels, enlarging lenses, light sources etc.

When I reorder ink (through Epson it ships for free, arrives in 2-3 days) I remind myself of all the cost of developers (had a couple different formulas) fixer, stop bath, Hypo-clear, various toners and water. Then add on the shipping costs and the time to mix.

We really live in a new "golden" age for making prints I believe.

Thanks for the recommendation. I've only recently started printing and have a few dark shots that really need the right paper to be printed on. I'll give it a shot.

Epson's Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster is an affordable and decent quality RC paper. My only complaint is that has a somewhat bluish substrate.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a neutral RC luster or pearl paper. I tried Hahnemuhle Photo Pearl 310 GSM, hoping it would be more neutral, but it's even bluer.

I am picky when it comes to printing. So, take my opinion with a grain of salt or a speck of black pepper.

I bought a P800 a few weeks ago and it is an improvement on (the already good 3880) that I needed to replace.

Black and white printing, in particular, is better.

Print longevity was something I worried about when resin coated papers came along, but they have all aged well without any problems. I have no worries for the output from the pigment based inks of the Epsons.

Now you know how I felt after that first print oozed out of my new printer a couple of years ago. I'm not so much in love with my printer as it and my computer seem to be madly in love with each other. Not only does making a print close the loop, but "GAWD, THIS IS FUUUUNNN!!".

Happy Printing.

Oh Oh...better increase the advertising prices on TOP. The ink addiction is about to set in. Next, we are going to see experiments with papers (try Canson Rag Photographique 310 if you dare) and posts about matting and framing. Ink is just the down payment!

You are heading down a very slippery slope as my good wife will attest.

To Dan

A good ink supplier, like Atlex will get your inks there in a few days. I usually stock replacement cartridges for the most used colors. Also, I monitor the ink levels. I know, in an Epson, you do not want to run out of ink and not have a new cartridge ready, drying occurs quickly.

Just one work print? That's impressive!

Were there test "strips"? Soft proofing? And the $64,000 question: profile or driver?

I call that feeling, the one that you get just before pressing the print button and when the entire print emerges from the printer: "print-thrill".

I've noticed that the act of printing imposes a curatorial rigor to my selection of images that the posting of images on the internet lacks.

Hey, the Canon Prograf printers are wonderfully stingy with their ink use -- and you don't waste a drop switching from photoblack to matt black and back again. Just saying...

Try the Epson Exhibition Fiber paper. I've made some beautiful prints with that paper on the P600.

So... which one will you choose? The P600 or The P800?

You're wearing me down with these printer posts ;-)
Trying to maintain discipline to save for the X-T2. The P800 is calling to me in a big way....

Sunset Drive is an eye catching image, and I can see the printing challenge in it, but the Butters (patiently waiting for the pitch) picture really gets my attention. You should offer prints. :)

Just curious as to whether or not you are printing with the ABW mode kicked in?

So, did you make your own profiles or did you take Ctein's advice and use the printer's own?

Does the printer driver get you even just 90% of the way there, because 90% would be good for most people who try to do their own printing.

My P800 is also a beauty. But it has a problem, as does the demo model in the dealer's showroom - the "Front Fine Art' front load feed process does not work, paper often can't make it through from the front to the back of the machine as it hits a block. After some hours on the phone with the dealer, and visits by two technicians, today I have a solution, not a fix but a work around. I suspect these two printers are not alone.

The work around is simple:
Follow all the steps instructed for setting up for "Front Fine Art" but instead of feeding the paper from the front, feed it in through the open support at the back and then line it up on the open front feed guide as instructed. Works a treat for A3 and above sizes, bit tricky for A4.

Is there a sense of how long the P600 and P800 while remain current? ie when are they likely to be replaced? I guess printers get updated less frequently than cameras, but I have a history of inadvertently buying cameras just before the manufacturers announce a replacement model...

Mike, that light is one beautiful picture. Wonderful. And as you say, so simple. Mind you, you can keep the damn dog, I'm not into dog (or cat) pix, but that light and the shades of dark (not gray) around it. Well!!!

You would fall about laughing (or tearing your hear out) confronted by the printing situation here in paradise. It is kind of nil! An HP deskjet A4 size was the only printer in town. Paper? Ho, ho, ho! I just grab half a dozen packets of whatever glossy paper has hit the stores from China. Sometimes there is none. Then we need to laminate them because of the incredible humidity (take two deep breaths on a bad day and you're drowning standing up!); sometimes there are laminating envelopes available and sometimes not. And when they are available, you take whatever weight is offered. I bought a box the other day, then realized they were 50 microns and my laminating thing is rated for 80-125 microns. And so it goes.

Prints okay for >315 years? That sounds disturbingly precise to me. But yes, a lifetime guarantee. I had a little bridge put in my front teeth a couple of years ago. The dentist wanted to do implants (he was running up to retirement and it was showing). "A bridge is only temporary, really," he said. "What does that translate to in years?" I asked. "Oh, about 10 years". "Mate, it sounds like a lifetime guarantee to me," I replied (I am 74). So I got the bridge, contributing only about half as much to his retirement fund as implants would have done.

Yep, I think you'll do okay with that paper.

Actually, I was looking at some of my 50 year old B&W prints a little while back. Ilford paper, processed at 80F (right here in paradise then too), and they are perfect. The negs (mostly Tri-X likewise abused temperature-wise in rocessing) are fine too. But the old color prints? Sorry.

Cheers, Geoff

Mike, what approach are you using for colour management so far? Custom profile? Canned profile? Printer manages colour? Does the print look like it does on the screen?

[Let me get a little further along before I start writing about color management and printer settings. --Mike]

I've been running an Epson pro 4800 for a few years. I bought it second hand but unused (hadn't even had it's cartridges installed) from a photo journalist who hadn't had time to do the projects he'd planned it for.

Although it gulps ink from huge cartridges and has the occasional frustrating head clog, I wouldn't be without it. I'm very much an amateur, but do regularly make several prints before I'm happy with the result. I bought a good quality monitor (Eizo color edge) so, with canned Epson profiles, primarily on premium lustre, colour management isn't a nightmare (colours are pretty accurate compared to my monitor, prints do come out slightly darker than I see them on the screen though).

Ebay is my friend for ink - I rarely pay more than £50 UK Pounds for a 220ml cartridge and I've never had any problems with out of date ink. I can't argue it's cheap to run, but it helps.

I look at prints as they come out of my eldery design and struggle to imagine how much better the quality of the output (not necessarily the photo!) could be on one of the more modern machines.

Your picture choice for the second print made me think of this comic: http://cupcakelogic.tumblr.com/post/124392369931/she-is-still-learning

Yes, seeing a good print appearing in one of the printer output trays (I have two) is a deeply satisfying experience. Much as it was in the developer tray. And it gets addictive. Until you ultimately confront the question ... what the heck am I going to do with all these prints? There's only so much wall space. Exhibition opportunities are limited. Albums and portfolio folders are fine up to a point. So we all end up with what Brooks Jensen refers to as "a pile of prints". There are a number of options about what to do with that pile, but no easy answer. If you find the right answer, you will let us all know, won't you?

The challenge with such a dark-toned print as "Sunset Drive" is giving it the right viewing environment.

That's a terrific image,Mike. As I'm always eager to note, mystery and ambiguity are the main attributes of my favorite images. This image presents those attributes in the best way possible: in plain sight. Pools of darkness in good images let our imaginations wander. That lonely little light is like a brave little tack that keeps us grounded to Earth. Else our imaginations might wander into Hubble image territory.

Well doen!

Possibly because photography has always been my hobby and and my maid career was in computing – mainly development but some time in system admin, I still only see computers and printers as tools, I can appreciate them, but no ‘affection’. They are there to do a job. If they do it OK (and after all those years designing, writing and maintaining software, they often don’t) then fine. If not, they get replaced.

However, cameras… yes, I can get very attached to them, I can’t say I fell in love with them. But my old Pentax MX (still in a cupboard, in need of repair) and my current Olympus E-M10, yes I feel comfortable with them. They may have quirks, but their good points allow me to put up with them.

It may be just me but maybe other hobbyists rather than pros feel that way. And pros feel the reverse?

Mike, with all of these new prints, you'll need some picture rail to display them.

With picture rail, it's quick & easy to change the display. 'Cause the frames are hung, not attached to the walls. If you are still planing on making your home a mini-museum, this would be an elegant solution.

Great image. Even better you enjoy printing it, Mike! Printing your own images is such a joy, even if a bit fiddly. And it impacts the way we shoot in a good way.

I want to say a few things I learned from my 5 year old Epson 3880.

Buy printer based on ink cartridge size. Can you empty 8-9x80ml (P800) once or twice a year?

If your volume is small, buy a printer with smaller cartridges. The P600 has 26ml sized tanks. And of course do you need 13 in. (P400/P600) or 17 in. (P800) wide paper and prints? The even more inexpensive P400 has 14ml tanks.

Replace the cartridges regularly. Epson recommends changing twice a year. Alt least you should not let some old and some new ink sit in the printer for years, check the date and replace when needed regardless of level of ink remaining.

Replace the non used non photograpic black ink as well. Avoids an accidental ink switch to old ink that kills the buffers and ink-lines inside and printerhead with ink from the unused cartridge.

And make an occational testprint to see that the nozzles are ok. I let it sit for a long periode. That´s what killed it.

Learn to clean your printer, there are many 3880 cleaning videos on the net. Just do it, it is easy! Turning off the printer when it is not used, makes the printer head dock and seals the nozzles from drying out. The P800 powers down after a few hours automatically.

I had to abandon my Epson 3880, and I went and got a P800. It is a lovely printer. I even got the Epson roll mount for free, and a discount on the printer. I intend to print more now and not let it sit idle.

I find that the Epson app for iPhone works good and gives you prints directly from the phone. However I usually print directly from Lightroom, with paper profiles, on:

Ilford Galerie Prestige Smooth Pearl 13x18cm (5x7in.)and 42cm (17 in.) roll-paper 310gms.

Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique 310gms, my favorite, up to A2 (17x24in). I can cut any size smaller from A2 stock.

And for an experiment I am testing the Moab Entrada Rag Bright 190gms 30x30cm (12x12in) portfolio paper. I have used the Canson paper earlier for portfolio and paid work.

The files are from Nikon D750 and Fujifilm X-pro2.

Looks like the PK cartridge really took a hit with that print! Seriously, that is one great photo and a beautiful print. Prints like that are why I love black and white.

Look for the text message alerting you to me driving down to view this print. And have lunch.

Where the rubber hits the road. It's the print.

It has always been the print.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007