« | Main | Landmark: Ten Thousand Posts »

Wednesday, 30 November 2022


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

On your Epson printers and ink extortion cost.
Why have you run a ink cleaning/switch cycle to go from matt to gloss printing paper? Wasted ink every time. Epson finally has printers that have separate channels/tubes now - why not from the start?
Was especially galling if one wanted to print the same image on various surfaces to see how it would look - cleaning cycle dumps high priced ink - for no rational reason.

Inkjet printer advice from a fellow car guy. I stopped buying those temperamental exotic printers a while back, and settled for the Porsche 911 of printers, a Canon Pro-300. She's reliable, requires little more than the odd oil change, will happily take me to the store or weekend track meet and all without being trailered home.


I keep hoping that somewhere along the way, a new manufacturer will show up and do things differently instead of them all copying each other. But that's true generally, not just in photo printers. Maybe they all hire the same consultants. :)

I use an Epson 15000 dye inkjet printer and only use Epson papers with their profiles because anything else would exceed my patience limit. I like what it produces. I previously owned both an HP and Canon dye inkjets and detested them both. The Canon was at least fast, so that was something. I read about pigment printer clogging issues and stay away because I know I will never print often enough to avoid clogging.

If we still had photo clubs with actual clubhouses, then you could see a group of photographers sharing a printer but that's not likely to happen.

We have a lab in town that offers both traditional chemical printing and a pigment inkjet. Collaborating with someone like that could make sense. You email them your files and drop by to pick up the prints. It would take some back and forth to get things right, but not sure it would be any more difficult than fiddling with your own printer. But our culture trains us to be "self-sufficient" even if it's an illusion.

I had an Epson 3800 for years; enjoyed printing quite a lot and still treasure many prints i made with it.
I hated the thing though; that magenta clog finally killed it. I hated that thing so much that when i had to 'dispose' of it i started the process with a sledgehammer. Satisfying although a bit embarrassing.
And those cartridges for €50 a piece?! Thieves.
Nowadays i still need some prints made for my work and i have the odd personal picture printed too; i use a local lab that has large format Epson printers and reasonable prices even for fine art papers. Works well to keep a new printer out the door.
And please: do not get a new printer yourself; recently i bought a new decent 27" monitor and don't want a new printer too, thanks!
BTW, i'm actually grateful about the monitor posts that pushed me to reconsider how i was actually working on my pictures: the new one, even if a lowly but decent Benq, is a big improvement.


is ctein's pricer.

[Thanks. I meant to add that to the post. Fixed now. --Mike]

The WiFi problem might be inexpensively solved with powerline ethernet adapters assuming that both ends are on the same breaker box.
I use an earlier model of this https://www.amazon.com/Powerline-Ethernet-Adapter-Extender-TP-Link/dp/B09L85MFNY

My Epson 3800 worked fine, without clogs, from 2009 until 2016, and I donated it in working order, with full ink set, to a local college. I replaced it with a P800 and it’s still going strong; no issues. The new Epsons are much better regarding clogs than earlier models… just run a test print every few weeks if no usage. And, unlike with my computer, I’ve not needed my technically skilled friend to help me set them up. If I can do it..

My goal with photography, going back to the 70’s, has been to make worthy prints of worthy pics; for my own joy, not for profit. If and when I sell prints, that’s gravy. You’ve seen what a monochrome camera can produce with a decent inkjet printer. Not a silver print, but still. I’d sooner spend money on good print gear and materials than on unnecessary extra camera/lens gear.

If my P800 needed replacement, I’d look at both the P900 and the Canon Pro 1000. (Both work with ImagePrint… key for me, despite significant expense). Unfortunately, the cartridge size on the P900 was reduced from 80ml (prior two models) to 50ml. I haven’t used Canon, but reports are good, and the cartridges are 80ml. Be aware, however, that Canon printers run automatic cleaning cycles, whether one wants them to or not, so clogging isn’t a problem, but ink costs per print are high unless one does sufficient printing.

Another great post specific to your printing dilemma, and YES you should be printing your own images. My view is that it completes the photographic process. I also have several Flickr albums but prints are so much more rewarding and I do open those print boxes from time to time and view my prints taken over many years. I recently had to throw my EPSON 3800 in the dumpster due to ink dripping out the the printheads. The cost of the cartridges and maintenance tray are also very costly. The EPSON did a fine job of printing in color and B&W but I could not justify and new pigment ink printer. Please consider a CANON printer in your research, I recently purchased a CANON dye based printer and could not be happier. The output is wonderful in color and B&W, does anyone care if the prints don’t last 200 years, I do not. The printer was reasonable cost wise and the cartridges are much cheaper. My advice is don’t get hung up on pigment ink printers vs dye based, they both have challenges. I have no regrets using my dye based printer, spray the finished print with a UV protective spray and you’re good to go.

Inkjet prints, as truly beautiful as they certainly can be, remain the weak spot in the entire digital process. And I'm forever obliged to you for taking on the challenge and permanently relieving me of even the thought of purchasing an inkjet printer, a product I would no doubt curse into eternity should I have been so foolish to purchase- and you by association should you have enthusiastically endorsed them!

Are you trying to turn an enjoyable hobby into a stressful business?

Are you really considering making your hobby pay for itself?

Why? It's a freakin' HOBBY!

For perspective, try Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic."

Long live HP. They made a firmware update for their printers and this had the effect, that third party cartridges did not work any more on the printers concerned.
EU law is patient, but apparently this was too much even for this patient legislation. A few weeks later, there was a further update which made the third party ink cartridges compatible again.
HP does not give up their fight against their customers, though. I think new models are sold which are not working with third party inksets from the start. Apparently this was the legal loophole they found.
I think they are more or less out of the fine art printing market at the moment. I was and am (when I am printing, which is seldom) rather satisfied with their Z3200 model.
Now, if a company came whose model is not to charge as much as possible for inks by unit but selling as much ink as possible, even at a lower margin per unit, this could revolutionize the market. A "creative destruction" in the wording of Schumpeter.

Oh, one more thing. If you’re printing mostly black-and-white prints, your colored inks will last a very long time. I go extended periods before replacing many of my inks. Factor that into your cost projections. And don’t budget any more camera/lens gear for a while. Enjoy shooting and printing instead. GAS is especially bad for those on a tight budget.

$350 for making a print? What does that include?

My guess is that one option is to research quality commercial printers. Some offer fine art prints using good inkjet printers and your choice of paper. Send a few test prints to work out how you like things to look, and then use them for your next sale. They might even offer shipping for orders, so you can skip that hassle. What you will miss is Ctein's custom photoshop work, masking and such. You will have to do that yourself. Then just use your home inkjet for personal prints and gifts.

Hi Mike,

Clearly Ctein is a master, and you have a lot of confidence in his skills. But somewhere between the bookends of a drugstore print and one by Ctein there might be a print service that is satisfactory and spare you the inkjet demons.

Fellow readers: any suggestions of sourcing prints-to-order: a local craftsperson or a reliable online source for Mike?

I've been putting up with an Epson R3000 for several years - a love-hate relationship for sure. I bought it specifically for B&W prints. My one observation is that multiple black ink types is a big plus (maybe a must have?) for B&W printing. The R3000 has three levels of black ink for photos (plus general purpose matte black). I am generally very happy with the output.

Lastly, two "meta" observations.

1) Like picking doctors, finding a print service where a specialist is doing thousands of iterations a year, with some passion for quality, must know how to get consistent results. The caveat emptor being able to consistently produce your vision of the image. Back in my limited commercial film photography days, it wasn't too hard to find a commercial lab that I could communicate with that could deliver what I was looking for in a print. Communications was the key. Including the grease pencil marks and sticky notes on the contact sheet :-) Communication!

2) Having shot, developed, and printed from film back in the '70s and '80s, I compare the travails of digital photography workflow with how it used to be vs. what I wish it could be today. E.g., I don't mind changing batteries twice a day when I used to have to change 35mm film maybe 10 times in the field on a shoot, or tote around a dozen 4x5 film holders (yes, I walked 5 miles uphill in the snow to school, too :-). I never re-use SD cards - they go into the archives. What? I'm too cheap to replace a 16GB card with a 1,000 images on it, when a new one costs about the same as a couple of 36-exposure rolls?. And prints. Sure, printers are aggravating and ink is expensive, but building and maintaining a wet darkroom? Where to put it? Not being able to preview a dodge/burn before making a print - then waiting 5 minutes to see the result. Repeat for 2 hours (or years...) Stocking multiple paper grades, or the few choices in variable contrast paper? Expired chemicals? Dumping those chemicals into the environment? Etc.

Come to think of it now, I love my cranky Epson and its appetite for expensive ink. It takes up three square feet and doesn't stink up the house (or my hands).

As always, many thanks Mike for your frequent and personal observations. It's been a delight to see your journey to the land of dedicated B&W imaging. Cheers!

John Merlin Williams

I hesitate to even write this because I believe, based on your post, that you will never set up to print. But, having said that, I urge you to try. If you can get an Epson P800 and, and I cannot recommend this more highly, Image Print from Colorbyte, you will have a much easier time than what you described. Image Print, when it prints black and white, uses only the black inks. Therefore your ink costs will be limited to those three inks unless thee newer version of the P800 uses 4. Imageprint will get you very close on your first try. On Epson Exhibition Fiber it makes lovely monochrome prints up to 17"

My main expenses are paper, not ink but ymmv. I believe that, other than Image Print, this is what Ctein uses. As you aren't Ctein a little help is nice.

Anyway, good luck. Maybe you can find a cheaper printer than Ctein who will meet your needs.

As an addition to my previous comments, I have had the Epson P800 for over three years, in an air-conditioned room. Very dry. Twin I have left it for three months, turned off. I have had one minor clog that resolved in one cleaning.

I went through the inkjet printer "experience" starting five years ago. An Epson P600 is still here, but sits stored in a closet. My problem wasn't clogging, but a strong aversion to what I consider excess shininess of pigmented inks on glossy papers. Matt papers just can't, in my aesthetic opinion, make real black, even the best of them, and I've tried a lot.

After a number of print exchanges with Dick Phillips of view camera fame, with whom I stay in touch, it became apparent how different prints on any given paper appeared when made with dye- vs. pigment-based inks. Pigment encapsulants make the image reflective even when the paper isn't. Dick uses a Canon PRO-100; I was blown away by how beautiful some of his prints were, and quickly purchased the same printer for myself. I also bought a supply of Hahnemuhle FineArt Baryta Satin paper, on which both Dick and I have standardized since then. Today, I'd go with a Canon PRO-200, which replaced the now-discontinued PRO-100. By the way, heads on the PRO-100 have never clogged, even after sitting unused for months.

Unlike you, Mike, I've never sold a print and never will. That dye-based inkjet prints reportedly won't last as long on display as their pigment-based cousins is probably important to you, but not me. PRO-100 prints will likely be visibly unchanged longer than my actuarially predicted remaining life. If the few I've on continuous display aren't, it'll be easy enough to have my machine spit out a replacement and put it in the frame. In a storage box, the rest will almost certainly be fine while I'm still alive to see them. There's only so much wall space to hang prints, so most are enjoyed in the hand after temporary removal from boxes. Their elegant reflection-free surface's ability to support solid blacks while still permiting viewing them in normal room light is unparalleled.

The printer does not need to be in the same room as your computer. You might not need a mesh system. Perhaps a wi-fi extender might do and is much cheapest.

[Tried those, and no go. Also, there's no other place in the house for a printer to go except for the back room. Not unless I put it in the living room, which I am just marginally civilized enough to not want to do. :-) --Mike]

Big corporations making as much money as they can from their customers can be infuriating, but the fact that Epson makes excessively more money if I print more images doesn't mean that making more prints costs me more per print. How much you value a print you could make of your own images vs. the cost of buying that print from someone else is a much more relevant question than how much a set of inks costs. Especially as you will buy one set of inks (with the printer) and then individual cartridges as you will run low on one or two colors and still have more than half a cartridge for many of the other colors.
There are three cost centers for my prints--ink, printer and paper. (I'm retired--the definition of my time is free.) The printer costs less per print the more prints I make, the paper and ink cost the same per print, and after making a couple hundred prints paper is the biggest cost.
An Epson p900 will set you back about $1200 and allow you to make beautiful prints up to 17 x 22 in size on a paper of your choice. A sheet of Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, a very nice matte paper, will cost you about $8. Seems a lot, but is in line with the paper that watercolor artists use. The ink to make that print will cost you less than $3. The first online printer that uses this paper that I found in a minute of googling--most use un-named paper--will charge you $40. I live in the sticks so dealing with a local printer is not feasible, but I'm sure they would have to charge more than an online printer. Quality costs.
I'm sure my prints aren't as good as Cteins but better than the online printers. The experience of making my own prints is worth quite a lot to me. With said intangible benefit, I'm pleased with my printer and its ink needs, given that I'm able to sell enough prints to pay for the paper that my printing habit requires!
Have a look at https://www.redrivercatalog.com/rr/epson-surecolor-p900-cost-per-print.html for an analysis of ink costs.

I don't worry about ink jet printers. When I need a print for an exhibition, I go to Costco. For sample prints, my laser printer is adequate.

I wonder if dye inks have improved to the extent that it's as good as pigment inks?

There used to be a lot of hoo-haa about the attributes of pigment inks.

Epson is manufacturing printers with four (4) huge refillable tanks and their own inks are now quite cheap. I have made prints up to A4 size and am pleased with the results.

Ugh. My most hated topic. I have an Epson something-or-other that has never fed paper properly. Each sheet has to be hand fed dozens of times to get it to register in the right place. I suspect some sensor inside is covered in dust. Also the heads were perpetually (at least partially) clogged. I did get some of Cone Editions' pink head cleaner, which kind of helped, sort of. Also a mixture of 100% rubbing alcohol and Windex, which also sort of worked. But generally I just look at the machine with undisguised loathing and become preoccupied with revenge fantasies which should embarrass any nominally civilized person. I briefly toyed with the idea of building an entire shed on the property along the lines of Mike's pool hall (pool room? pool structure?), but the cost was pure folly. I think it takes Graham Nash-level bux to go that route.

So when I want to make prints, I go down to the local UPS store, which has some wide carriage printers of various brands and I make them make me test prints until I am happy (enough) with the output. Last time was about three years ago onto a canvas-like substrate (gifts for my sister's new home). The results have nothing like the control that is needed to call anything a "fine" print. More like an expensive "good enough" print, which tosses the idea of authorial intent out the window leaving us with "what the author will settle for," or perhaps, "Whoopie! Here comes a randomized product."

Of course in the days of silver halide products, I could make prints sing. I could (and did) make my own developers from scratch (remember the Photographer's Formulary? Anyone? Anyone?) and still have a couple of enlargers in the basement (currently housing spiders).

Sadly, I don't know that there is any remaining consumer-level demand for prints as a product. Perhaps in retirement I will roll up my sleeves and learn Pt/Pd printing, or hand-coating of papers. More likely, I will get distracted by a good book.

I used two Epson's for several years. I got very tired of fixing clogs. I bought a Canon Pro-10 and have used it off and on for 5 years now. I've never had a clog! I sometimes use the printer daily sometimes not for two months or more. Never been a problem. Most of my work goes into books but I do do prints for my home, relatives and friends and a rare show. The Canon has have never let me down... except when I screw-up...
Just saying.

A suggestion that may not be of any use to you. Note that I have no interest in home inkjet printing, so I'm biased toward outsourcing that work.

1. Print low-cost work prints through some outside service. There are options everywhere that charge peanuts. The work prints are just to help you decide what merits a good print. Budget $25 a month for this. Cost $300 annually.

2. Every six to twelve months, pick something from the work print pile to have printed properly. Virtually nobody gets more than one or two true keepers a year. Always order a second print in case someone steps on one. Cost $460-$920 annually.

3. Do not buy cameras, printers, ink, wifi meshes (?), etc.

4. Marvel at the enjoyment and satisfaction you get from your personal photography at a cost of $760 to $1,220 annually. That's not nothing, but I wager it is at the very low end of what TOP readers (and writers!) spend on photography annually.


Maybe just run a Ethernet CAT6 from a network switcher at the router going to the back? As long as it's less than 325ft., you would get a relatively strong signal.

That said, though, I wouldn't do any printing these days and find the best deal for outside printing, maybe rating and price the print runs somehow by printer? Like museum quality (Ctein), collector quality, etc.

We gave up after our second or third inkjet printer. Too much clogging, strips, etc. Got a laser printer. Miss having color, but just order a new cartridge for the printer. Bought the printer a year ago. One paper misfeed. And it was the smallest cartridge. Obviously not trying to print photos—have tried over the years.

One thing you have working against you is that you have a very critical eye. We can get by with Walmart prints.

You just have to work the numbers and figure out how many one offs you would print. Two a year or 20? But you knew that. Forget all the evil of the pricing models. Consider the aggravation of printing and how many test prints you'd have to make. And calibrations.

For what it’s worth, I only very occasionally make prints with my seven-year-old Epson P800 and I have only once experienced an (easily fixed) nozzle clog; I do use Epson inks, though. I have recently been shooting 35mm film with a prewar rangefinder camera, and while I always perform soft-proofing when printing color images, I’ve been quite pleased with Epson’s printer-managed Advanced Black and White feature.

The cost of constantly running ink through an inkjet printer to prevent clogs (and it still clogged) was justification for me to just turn it off permanently. Now I send digital images out for printing and get metal prints--no matting or frame required.

I still get occasional requests for prints of my photos. I tell these prospective customers that I will sell them a digital copy but they must find a printer. Not too many takers on that one.

So for me printing died a slow and expensive death. I now just post to my web site at low resolution.

I think the main thing to consider when buying a printer is going for one with at least 17" paper width instead of 13" for significantly lower cost per volume for the ink and better reliability and maintenance options (like replaceable waste ink pads).
I got an Epson Stylus Pro 3800 in summer 2009, when rebates were already heralding the release of the 3880 in fall. To this day it gets provided with new drivers, the cartridges are still available, it prints as it did when it was new and has yet to show a serious clog ...

Yes, the major inkjet companies are charging way too much for ink. However, after spending 20+ years in the darkroom to make prints the value proposition of inkjet (quality/control/convenience)compared to the darkroom makes inkjet worth the cost and then some.

Why don't you use liquid dishwasher detergent?

[This is a reason why it's inconvenient to get information from videos. There's a very good reason not to: there are two chemicals in powders that cannot both be included in a solution, because they react to each other. I can't go through that entire video to find the details for us, though, sorry! --Mike]

Why not put the printer in the family room and get a wifi mesh? My epson is Wi-Fi, no cables needed.

Also I think running a print sale over thanksgiving is… not the best proof of concept.

Mike, you should investigate a Ethernet system that plugs into your main router and runs through electrical outlets in your home. The main piece plugs into your router and then a special outlet plugs into a electrical wall outlet wherever you want a strong signal. The special plug has a Ethernet connection for a computer, printer, TV, etc. it worked like a charm in our other home since kitchen cabinets loaded with stuff, tile backsplash degraded our wireless signal. This may solve your printer location problem, it is NOT a wireless booster or mesh system, it simply moves your router (full strength) to any location without physically moving it.

My dishwasher has only one well. I find that the powder alone does not clean the dishwasher itself very well, so I alternate between powder and pods.

I don't have to run the water before starting the dishwasher because:
A. I have a recirculation line so I get almost instant hot water.
B. My Bosch has an internal water heater to keep the water temperature up.

Times change. I recall your old post A Specific, Detailed Program for Absolutely, Positively Getting Better as a Digital Printmaker, in which you wrote:

"The idea is to make one print every day without working too hard at it or taking too long."


I could never make that work with my old Epson printer. I haven't printed at home for years.

[It's still good advice. I just wasn't able to follow it. --Mike]

My digital print partner produces fine art inkjets for around £70/m2

He doesn't have the cachet of master printer to the stars, but as a long-time photographer/printer from the 1970's he knows his stuff and does a pretty good job.

There are other ways to print your photographs than sending them to Ctein or printing them at home. The most common option is to upload your images to a digital print lab. You would probably want to use a lab that prints on silver-based Ilford B&W photographic paper. Such prints would be every bit as archival and neutral in tone as the paper itself. An example lab is Fromex (https://www.trueblackandwhiteprints.com/), where 10x15-inch B&W prints start at $18.95 each, not including shipping and handling. The results are not of the caliber you would expect from someone like Ctein of course, but are acceptable given the price. You may not necessarily find this option appealing, but it is an option nevertheless.

I'm right there with you, while never very good I spent time in the darkroom years ago and enjoyed the process. I would like to move on to inkjet printing as I appreciate the idea of printing ones own work. A few years ago when I was in a local gallery and doing a few small shows I considered the self print option; however, after reading too many horror stories in the forums of Luminous Landscape and other sites, I chickened out. I was fortunate enough to find a good small print shop a couple hours away that happened to use my paper of choice at the time (Photo Rag 308) and have stayed with them for several years. I showed a few prints to a fellow that was selling out his framing equipment (I bought a lightly used Fletcher Mat cutter for a great price) as he was retiring. He closely examined a few prints and commented that he didn't know who was doing my printing, but they were very good at it, as good as any he'd seen in 25 years of framing. And he was working at a fairly high level of clientele as he was framing originals for artist Bob Timberlake at the time. I like the idea of printing, and read about new printer models as they are introduced, but am still gun shy of the landmines involved. To sum it up, I have a desire to take up printing, just not an intent to take up printing.

I don't get all the angst about printers. I currently have an Epson 2880 that I use to print my photos and the note cards that I sell a few of (very few, a half dozen so far this year) and an occasional larger print (6x9 matted to 11x14 up to 12x18 and even more rarely panoramas up to 12 high/wide). The printer sits sometimes for months between printing sessions and the heads have never clogged. The biggest complaint I have is paper handling. It either doesn't feed or it shoots the paper straight through w/o printing. Sometimes I have to turn it off & on once or twice to get the feed mechanism to work but lately, even that problem has gotten better. Yes, getting an initial print just right is a pain but I print in LR and once you have it just right you can save a print setting for that image, and the next time you want to print it you open the 'saved print', hit the print button and "BAM". Unlike you though, I don't expect o make money from my prints. I gave up that delusion years ago. I used to say I'd like to reach a break-even point but at 78 I have concluded that ain't reality for me. If someone wants a print and I already have a copy the printer will stay idle for a while longer yet. Otherwise, I fire it up and make one the size they want.

For your low-volume printing needs, rather than the print sales, consider Digital Silver Imaging (https://digitalsilverimaging.com/). They made me a large, beautiful B&W print some years ago that’s simply stunning. They’re not cheap, but you won’t have to set up, install, maintain, and buy ink for your own photo printer.

P.S. In response to the dishwasher debate. I don't run the dishwasher, my wife does that. She says she uses Cascade liquid in the 1st well and FINISH in the second well. The dishwasher has its own heating element and steam sterilizes the dishes at the end of the cycle then the door pops ajar to let them cool & dry. No pods, no preheating, no powder detergent. Both Cascade & FINISH are liquids. They were recommended to us by a dishwasher repairman when our old dishwasher clogged from using powdered detergent.

I'm like you in that a photo is not finished until it's a print.
I have not tried them yet but this company and a couple of others makes real black & white silver gelatin prints from digital files. Fairly inexpensive to try them out.
Robert Newcomb

Black and white print makers will find an enormous amount of information on mixing ink-- at a small fraction of the cost of the commercial products--at Paulroark.com. Paul is an outstanding B&W photographer who makes his extensive research of many years freely available on his websites. There is a learning curve, certainly, but mixing inks and making paper profiles is not more difficult than making a fine print by traditional methods.

I watched the dishwasher videos sometime ago and I’ve been trying to follow the advice religiously. Does it work? Mostly yes. The hot water trick seems like a good idea and the cheap powder gets the same results as the expensive pods. I’ve found that rinse aid helps too.

Now, back to photography.

At the onset of Covid, I purchased a Canon Pro 100 printer. A new model was coming out and the price of the Pro 100 was just too tempting. I also grabbed a set of Canon inks and a variety of Canon papers at a big discount. After about 30 attempts I began to get acceptable prints. There is a lot of inaccurate information on the Internet. Just letting technology take care of things proved to be the best course.

This printing thing was a lot of fun, but alas my images are most charitably described as c**p. I now have a large collection of 4 x 5 coasters and a few 8 x 10 placemats. The colour prints were more successful than the black & white prints even though the printer has the special B&W inks. Needless to say the printer hasn’t seen much use of late.

Who knew that I would have more success as a dishwasher than as a photo printer?

I have a Canon 9500 MkII I print B&W with, much to my satisfaction. I gave up on the Canon ink cartridges - setting up the printer and maintaining it with those is too expensive. I found a supplier of the same ink in bulk and now refill my own cartridges. The bulk ink has a device that "resets" the cartridges when they are refilled so the printer sees it as a fresh cartridge. The whole bulk system cost me less than a box of Canon cartridges. I'm in no way a fine art printer but this works fine for my images.

When I first got into (digital) photography about 15 years ago I really enjoyed learning about technique, lenses, cameras, and printing. For a few months I imagined a multi-year plan where I would acquire additional high-quality lenses and eventually a home printer. My daydreaming led to more reading about printing which quickly convinced me that it probably wasn't for me. Along the same lines, I also realized relatively quickly that although I enjoy taking photos I have next to zero interest in farting around with them on my computer in Photoshop or similar software, which saved me a ton of time and money over the years. I try to do the best I can when taking the picture and that's pretty much what I get. I'm probably not doing it right, but I spend my days staring at a computer and have no interest in making my hobby more of the same.

Regarding your recent print sale, I was quite taken with your pictures (including Vultures) but unfortunately the quite reasonable prices were still out of my league.

Ctein's printing is like the last 5%: Leica gets you that last 5%, as does digital medium format, or the very best paper vs. very good. Which and how many parts of the chain from capture to print you are willing to accept 90% vs. the very best is only something you can answer.

As for me, I have had at least one large format printer since ~2007. Currently I have two Epson 7800s, one dedicated to Piezography B&W, and one doing colors work. The 7800 is at least 3 generations old now, but I actually like its usability better than the 7900 I used to have until it died. The piezography produces the best B&W prints, bar none. It's something to consider.

Hello Mike,

Funny how this topic came up just after I spent a few hours last night catching up on some printing. And maybe I can provide a counter-point-of-view to the non-solvable economic rationalization problem.

Assuming you have a fairly well sorted out workflow and hardware process (mine is Mac, Lightroom Classic, and Epson P800) and are not wasting precious time perpetually debugging, the cost of inks and papers is the literally the price one pays to play the game. And if you are an amateur - that is it is not your paid profession - than you are left to decide if it's worth it to play.

I am also an ultra distance cyclist and fly fishing angler. These, like photography are "investment hobbies" notably known for cash outlay. Money spent on gear, supplies, trips to events or places where the fish are (think Montana, Patagonia, and New Zealand) make no sense in a business value proposition, and all the sense if you are lucky enough to be able to fulfill some of your personal dreams and ambitions.

I really enjoy printing. I think I do it ok and probably not real good. And I am sensitive to the cost of mistakes especially if they're on a 13x19 sheet of ultra premium luster. But I also might have planned an early spring trip to Montana only to get there and sit in a cabin with five straight days of snow. In either case, I'm not going to stop printing or fishing - it's the cost to play.

I am sure this p.o.v. is not universally valid. I feel for young (and old) struggling artists and amateurs who for any range of unfair, unethical, or unfortunate situations aren't able to ante up. That no one vendor has succeeded in challenging the Razor and Blades Model as applied to quality photo printing probably means that we as consumers don't have the market power to break it.

John Peltier
Macedon, NY (just a little north of you)

I'm surprised people are taken in by the dishwasher pods, washing machine pods, etc. Someone I know tried the washing machine pods and the stupid things didn't dissolve to let out the contents until, maybe, the rinse cycle was running. Not only that, but one of the chemicals did a great job of leaving bleach marks on some of the clothes!

Those manufacturer "recommendations" remind me (in an offhand way) of the crooked politicians trying to force Carl Strandlund to carry "their brand" of washer and dryer in his Lustron homes, built after the war to ease the housing shortage. I believe the video available at this website detailed the various shakedowns that Strandlund endured: https://wosu.org/2012/archive/lustron/history.php

The original "razor and blade" model isn't such a ripoff as the printer ink. At least the old double edge razor blades are now around 25-50 cents per blade, rather than 100 times what they cost to make. The big ripoff is the cartridge blades. I became fed up with those cartridge prices and changed over to the "old-fashioned" way of shaving nearly 10 years ago. As a happy result, I get much better shaves and actually enjoy shaving now. (Of course, I'm not saving as much money as I could, thanks to the temptation of different soaps, brushes, razors, etc.)

Good luck finding a way to make money with an inkjet printer. Moving all those items to the separate room sounds like a big pain if you're not able to make some good money on future print sales.

(Too bad you didn't really marry a financially independent woman in that April Fools Day 2019 article. She could have chipped in some money for printer ink.)

I realize one sample experience proves nothing - particularly in the face of overwhelming evidence otherwise - but my ten or so years with an Epson R2880 were trouble free. As an only occasional printer, I would often let it sit for months at a time unused.

One quick run of the nozzle cleaning function always produced a flawless test sheet. Then it was on to business.

The cost of Epson ink cartridges always seemed exorbitant but I needed to buy only one or two at a time, and very infrequently.

One thing truly impressive was its color fidelity. The R2880 was often used to make prints of my wife’s watercolor art for sale. In this case the original and the print could be seen side by side. Absolutely impossible to tell which was which when both were shown matted and framed.

I have a Canon Pro 1000 and it prints so very well, it's also very quiet but I had a problem with the ink costs however I have found a UK based supplier of copy cat inks and, well they are really good. I am pretty sure they originate from the the US but don't know for sure.

Imagine the frustration that amateur photographers experience with printers. I am now using an Epson ET-3760 because it meets my office needs and, mostly, photographic needs. I routinely print a few of the photos I take on an outing, solo or with the small photo group I belong to. Sometimes I print failures and study them trying to see how I could do better under similar circumstances.

I have found nothing from Epson or Apple (for my iMac) to help me produce better looking photos. But, that has been my experience for years. So, I just live with it.

This is a helpful resource from Red River Paper:

My printer is in a separate room from my computer. It helps get one up and moving.

In my experience - printing on a P800 - the cost of the paper dominates the whole cost of a print. So while the ink is expensive, the photo paper is super expensive. Maybe look into the Jon Cone ink & refill system.

I'd never priced dishwasher pods or "rinse aid" either for that matter. Now I have ...

Brand name pods from Costco cost between 17 cents and 28 cents each. Their house brand is 13 cents per "Pac". From Walmart pods are priced from 15 cents to 39 cents each.

Rinse Aid from Costco is $10.49 for 32 oz.

Walmart has a larger selection, but the prices are about the same.

Now, if my name-brand color printer was as reliable as my dishwasher, I would be happy no matter what the ink cost. Well, maybe less unhappy.

I remember reading an editorial in Lenswork magazine some years back. In it Brooks Jensen had issues with the high prices fine art photographers were asking for a print. His reasoning was one could purchase other pleasures like a night out to the theater or a first class meal in a fine restaurant, a music CD or a nice hardcover book for much less money so a print should be similar in price.

Yeah apples and oranges I know but I thought he had a point. I have not owned a printer in years and now reading here what it cost to hire talent like Ctein or purchase and buy ink for a worthy home printer then the high prices make more sense.

I have had pretty good luck at least in color with a basic Epson 2750 eco tank printer. A complete inkset costs a little over $50 and I went over a year on the first set. Downside is that it is a dye printer not pigment.
There is a much better eco tank printer out there the Epson ET8550. It is a six tank printer and one of the inks is pigment based and it prints 13x19.

Hmmm... I often read on this interweb thingie of problems similar to those you describe with puzzlement. I have been running inkjet printers for at least a couple of decades and serious clogging has never been a problem for me.

I currently run two Epson printers a 3880 (my second actually; the first succumbed to the dreaded black ink switch failure) and a P800. The 3880 runs the Piezography Pro system for black and white printing and the P800 runs on OEM inks.

I live in New Hampshire with a climate similar to yours and even in the driest months in the depths of winter and house heated with wood, both systems are utterly reliable.

I do have an occasional minor clog (fixed with a simple head cleaning) after the 3880 has sat unused for a month or so. The P800 just works, I don't even run a nozzle check at the beginning of a session anymore. I don't print on any particular schedule. I just make prints when I want.

The Piezography Pro system is a interesting tool (although not for beginners). For me, its strengths lie in its flexibility for split toning.

That said, the Epson Advanced Black and White mode allows one to make perfectly fine black and white (and color, of course) prints as well.

This is strange. Ink cartridge for the Epson SureColor P700 13-Inch Photo Printer hold 25ml of ink and cost $37.99. Ink cartridges for the Epson SureColor P900 17-Inch Photo Printer cost $44 and hold 50ml of ink.

Seems to me if you do any amount of printing you are better off buying the more expensive P900, $1349, than the P700 at $829.

I guess it depends on how long it takes you to make up the difference in printer costs.

Used Epson 3880 converted to B&W Piezography pro inkset!


HP can stop your cartridges in your printer on your desk from working even if they still have ink in them. Isn't this wonderful!


I have only owned Epson printers: 2880, 3800. 3880. As long as your new Epson printer (P900 please, not one of the smaller uneconomical-ink models AND not one of the serious high-output commercial ones) is kept in a "climate controlled" part of the house, meaning a part that is comfortable for human habitation, you *shouldn't* experience clogging of nozzles that plagued the early printers. Also, you can make one small print every 1 or 2 weeks to keep it running. A very low cost of maintenance.
To have the speed of production and picture adjustability of digital photo and not be able to make a print on demand constitutes depriving yourself of one of the main benefits of digital.

I've been following Alec's dishwasher method for years. My dishes come out clean and sanitized.

I have a Canon Pro-1000 printer. I really like it. It does great color and B&W. I have never had a Canon printer get plugged up. It is recommended to print at least every other day but you can go (much) longer. https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4373413

I use it lightly and get about 1 year on a set of inks.

good luck

Mike J.

Printing is expensive and wifi connection is not100%. Best to decide from the start to use cable connection. If the wifi fails at anytime when printing its expensive and 100% avoidable.

After trying waaaaay too many wireless routers and "range extenders" in our 3-story house, I bought the first Google mesh system years ago and immediately had a solid 200mbps EVERYWHERE. Set-up was maybe 30-min. I never even thought about wifi upgrades for years. When my internet service provider upgraded my feed, I sprung for the TP-Link mesh system. Barely over $200 and I have >500mbps EVERYWHERE. I have something to complain about with every tech purchase. Except the mesh networks. Highly recommended.
I am thrilled that we are talking about printers. I have never given up printing and have been happy with my Canon printers and DIY cartridges after suffering through the same HP 9180 (twice) and a number of Epson horror stories, but my latest Canon is getting a little long in the tooth and I've started plotting my next move. Let's keep this discussion going.

I also hate inkjet printers. I don't know if it's cheaper, but I know it's better for my blood pressure, to just let Mpix handle my quick and dirty black and white prints. They print them on Ilford paper and the turnaround time is faster than me running fresh tanks of ink through test pages.

I use Printique for color proofs.

About using an Epson ET 8550? It uses ink tanks which are refillable.
It’s a dye printer, however. Is that a deal breaker???

I have wrestled with these issues for a very long time. In fact, the first article I wrote for Mike was a summary of a printing workshop I took from Jon Cone, the digital printing pioneer, at his studio in Vermont in 2004 which was posted on The Sunday Morning Photographer. I think the main learning curve is less with dealing with the printer itself, and more with adjusting the photographic file to the point that it is optimized to produce a great print. Once that is accomplished, printing really is just a matter of knowing the right settings to use in Lightroom or Photoshop (or your software of choice), and clicking on the print button. My Epson SC P800 has proven to be amazingly robust even with my very erratic and occasional use pattern, and I have been able to restore it to normal function with a few cleaning cycles and calibration cycles and we are good to go. The corner drug dealer approach to ink pricing is undeniably an issue and is the biggest impediment to more profligate printing habits. But, the main value that Ctein brings to this process is his superb skill at post processing and tweaking files pre-print. You could pretty easily learn to knock out the prints once the settings are nailed down.

As far as his pricing model and your print sale financial analysis, clearly it would be advantageous to you to offer only one or two print choices per sale so that you get over that initial cost hump associated with all the post processing work and into the cheaper "button pushing" phase for as many prints as possible. If you offer 6 then you are paying the initial huge set up price 6 times instead on once or twice.

Lastly, if one of your goals is to sell a lot of prints, one thing I think we can say based on your previous successful sales is to sell prints by photographers who are already established and appreciated but who want this opportunity to extend their reach for a few of their images to make a few relatively painless bucks. So, Turnley, Gordon Lewis, and William Neill come to mind as examples. I'm sure the biggest issue is identifying photographers like this, establishing a relationship, and making it happen. I don't underestimate this. However, it is not surprising to me that beautiful custom wet printed romantic photos taken by a world renowned photographer in Paris and offered at an affordable price sold like crazy. Who doesn't want a classic photo of the Paris skyline or lovers kissing by the Seine up on their wall?

I used to shoot exclusively black and white, and printed on Epson 3880 printers using Paul Roark's wonderful Eboni Variable Tone inkset. Think "open source" Piezography. Mike, if you like inexpensive ink, I mixed it in my basement from scratch. Printing costs were, in effect, the cost of the paper.

The catch is there's a very steep learning curve, which is what Cone of Piezography has exploited (in a good way). They offer a turnkey system with support. The cost is... very expensive ink. Plus you can only use Epson, and Epson has neatly locked us out of refilling (which is what this is) with the P900. Boo hiss Epson.

When my last 3880 finally died, I switched to the Canon Pro-1000. The ink cost is outrageous and I hate it too. However, the print quality is superb and mine has been absolutely trouble free. The vacuum system to hold paper flat is wonderful -- no more head strikes.

I was sure it wouldn't beat my 3880 with Eboni Variable Tone. It did. Handily. Black and white printing on all types of paper is sublime on the Canon Pro-1000.

More good news: I too am space limited. I have no room in my 2nd floor office, where the image processing happens, for this big beast of a printer. So it lives in the basement, a full two floors down. I'm using a run-of-the-mill WiFi router -- with no repeaters or extenders. I do not have connection issues. I start the print job upstairs and walk down to get the print.

Sometimes I like to start the print from the basement. I set up an old laptop with Linux (simple to do -- and I'm not a Linux person). I then "remote" into my upstairs computer and start the job down. If I'm doing a lot of printing, or want to fiddle with settings, that's easier.

Last thought on this: for black and white printing, I noticed that from Lightroom and from Canon Professional Print and Layout, I was getting a strange bluish tone (very faint, but I see it) in the deep shadows. I now print from Lightroom to Qimage One to the Canon driver, and the bluish tint is gone.

I don't have to tell you how important printing is to photography. If you can afford it, do it. You'll wonder why you waited so long.

I really like printing with my Canon Selphy CP1300. As a dye-sub printer, it avoids all the drama and waste of inkjets. Results are predictable and quick, even if the printer sits for months between print jobs. Per-print price might seem high but is really nominal when considering it includes both paper and ink costs and has no wastage.

The only drawback is the maximum print size (basically 4x6).

If Canon made one of these for 5x7 or 8x10 prints, I’d buy it for sure.

Mike, there’s a third way you might consider. If using a top flight custom printer like Ctein is too expensive, and setting up your own printer is not feasible, then consider using a professional print lab. A much more workable solution than the Goode Olde Days when you had to stand there in front of the enlarger to do the dodging, burning, cropping, etc. Tweak your file on the computer monitor and send it off. Labs worth their Ink will share with you the printer and paper they use. Some labs will give you paper choices beyond glossy/matte. Calibrate your monitor and download the ICC profiles for the paper and the printer. Then follow Ctein’s game plan. Get a small print made and correct from there.

Not the same has having your own printer or your own printer. but if it moves you ahead, it moves you ahead.

I use two powerline (ethernet over the electric wiring already installed in my home) adapters coupled with access points and they work very wellfor me—far better than wifi extenders, which I also tried.

The data signal from the ethernet port in the router gets injected into (and runs through) the electric wiring in the houseand is available anywhere in the same house—for a remote wifi "access point" to tap into and passively rebroadcast as wifi. It's almost plug and play, except for a minor tweak or two using a setup app on your phone.

The catch? As long as you don't have more than one isolated circuit, it'll work everywhere in the house. If you do, it'll work only in the rooms on the same circuit as the room where the data signal gets injected into the electric wiring. That bit depends on how your house was wired, in the first place, and it can be figured out by looking at your main power fuseboxes.

Here's a link to one manufacturer's options, but there are others, of course.


Unless your P600 was far more clogged than mine, it didn't need to be discarded. I've let mine sit for weeks, sometimes months, and unclogged it by running the nozzle cleaning routine repeatedly. Yeah - it uses some ink, but probably not as much as making a daily print of any size.

Hi there.

Timely post. I’ve been looking into printers, of a decent ‘Goldilocks’ sort for home use. Not too big, not too small, not too expensive, not too… um… Actually, as I type this now, I realise it’s not really a Goldilocks search, as it mostly plays out as ‘Not too [insert negative].’

Basically, that means Canon. I’m not the grumpy old person type who typically goes “I’m never talking to / going to / buying a [insert source of ire here] again,” but my repeated truly and utterly appalling interactions with Epson (over printers that failed to function, died tragically young deaths, or both), really does mean I myself will die before I buy another product from them.

And, in the home Goldilocks range and for what I personally want, that means basically, one model of Canon. Which is expensive. Which has relatively small ink tanks. That cost a lot.

Sheesh, we really are talking negatives here…

Which is why I’m also trying to see if there are modestly priced print makers around me who will do a good enough job for my moderately fussy needs.

Onward, in some direction…

Peace & good stuff,

I had to laugh. I have a cheap Canon photo printer. It was dirt cheap but the ink is too expensive for me to use. I got a 2nd one almost free with the purchase of a Canon GX7. I got it just for the ink. They both sit upstairs unused. One problem is that I have too many TOP print sale prints hanging on my walls and so there is no room for my own prints. I will have to invest in a photo box and take some prints down and replace them with new work.

Two points. (1) I had an Epson P3880 - died of clogs and problems. Now have the P900 -knock on wood - no issues at all. It's been fantastic. So whatever the issue was, as far as I'm concerned, it has been resolved.

(2) Print costs. Having been exhibiting and selling prints in the last couple of years (as a hobby), I have figured out that to sell prints for profit either requires high volumes or high prices (and preferably both). That is why I now print large - the difference in the actual cost of the print is in the hundreds of dollars but the difference in the sale price is in the thousands. For example, I am selling A0 size prints for $3000 that cost me $296 per print (professionally printed) but the sale price for the same print for A2 size is $300 (which I print and which costs me about $50 in ink and paper per print). Work it out for yourself :)

I think there is no way to get around doing one's own printing--as you can see what works. Just accept it IMO. It is not an item that one must stand on principles, and not do it. I think the rewards are too high to give this up.

But certainly do a test print to keep heads from clogging regularly (I do so once a week with Epson pigment ink printer).

If a dye based printer is good enough for B&W then my experience was it was more reliable/did not require so regular a printing to avoid problems. I printed color and for that the dye based one was as good as pigment based ones.

You don't need Imageprint or special inks to print b&w. The Epson ABW (Advanced Black and White) mode will give you beautiful results easily. Unless you want to print in colour too, you don't need to get involved with profiling the printer either. I believe Canon have an equivalent utility. I have an Epson P800 and head clogs are rare.

As for cost. Yes, it is expensive, but cheaper than it was in the darkroom. The amount of waste in reject prints and developer that had to be disposed of after one use was terrible. As for colour printing, that was most definitely more expensive and difficult than inkjet.

Assuming Ed Hawco (featured comment) correctly paraphrased Ctein as "Ctein responded to my comment with a sparkling comment of his own, which can be paraphrased as 'get a good Epson printer, use the default settings, and tweak if you’re not happy but most likely you will be happy.” then it seems to me that good commercial printers must be capable of pretty good results, as many here have said in the comments.

Now you are using a camera with a monochrome sensor, perhaps you should go the whole hog & use monochrome inks. Why not get a couple of your photos printed by cone-editions using their piezography Pro ink set. If you like the results, then work out the cost of at least a 17" printer, inks & cartridges. Jon Cone runs workshops on piezography,& there is a good manual to help you learn at home.

I fully agree with Ed Hawco, my case is exactly the same, even the same printer
my two cents:
1) save the plastic bag (big) from the printer packaging and use it as a cover - maintain some recipient with a sponge and water inside the cover withe the printer - prevents clogging for months even in the most dry atmospheres (I live in a dry area!)
2) consider trying a pair of good "PLCs" like the devolos magic 2 (w/o wifi, mind you) there is a triple for connecting the computer and the printer and pehaps some NAS, an you will need a simple one to connect to the router. Works magic as their name states.
Sorry I'm a terrible photographer and printer (but I love it) however the two points work very well for me
(Sorry also for my english, I am not a native english speaker)

Haha, I too started with a HP B9180 back in the days. Beautiful prints...when I could get to work. Had it replaced twice...

Finally bought an Epson 3880. Fantastic printer, served me well for over 10 years, and could be switched off for months without clogging the heads.

When it died this summer i bought an Epson P900, and happy so far!

I think of it this way: with my own printer I get feedback at once when printing and can improve and tune my images for printing. Sending it away to external printing takes too much time out of the learning process. So I accept the cost to increase my enjoyment of photography.

The good thing about the 3880 and P900 is that you get good ICC profiles for lots of papers and can experiment with paper and get really good prints. And the inks last for a long time when only doing occasional printing.

Buy a large printer, it's cheaper in the long run.

Printing at home is expensive, but less expensive than having a pro lab make your prints.

My Epson 3800 died right after I printed a 30 print gallery show. I figure it cost me about $15/print or let’s just say $500. A lab print of similar quality would have been at least $50/print, but probably $70, but at least $1500 total. Matting and framing is even more expensive.

I’ve replaced the printer with an Epson P900. It’s the only 17” printer that a single person can lift and move.

Print quality is outstanding with a custom profile and my favorite Canson Infintiy Platine paper.

The big surprise was B&W printing. With the custom profile, B&W prints are actually better than the B&W mode on the printer.

So, if you can stomach $20/print (17x22), it may be the best choice for a printer that one can move without a helper!

No lab or custom printer can top the quality of these prints…
As long as you can create good files to print!!!

Dye based prints are beautiful, will last forever when stored in a box and they will last your lifetime when hung on the wall. If you want to chase the perceptions of possible customers…well, then, things can get a bit more complicated and expensive.

I live in the Sonoran Desert and recently turned on my PRO-100 for the first time in at least 6 months and I was up and printing in just a few minutes. I opened the lid of the printer, powered it on, the print head moved to the center cartridge change position, I closed the lid and then the printer ran through a cleaning cycle. The first print always looks great. I’m currently printing a batch of Holiday cards. “The Human Fund. Money for people.”

(As if this topic needs another comment…)
One point I neglected to make regarding my earlier suggestion to use a printing service…

Use of services enables you explore / employ different printing technologies that would be otherwise unavailable to you. For example, I will sometimes use a service to produce chromogenic (c-print) / Lightjet prints to achieve a different “look” than inkjet prints. Not cheap but otherwise inaccessible. And really quite fun!

C-prints aren’t really an option for most b&w prints but I think the broader readership will get my point.

Have you ever had a C-print made from one of your files? You should try it. In many ways it can be better. For as many prints as you're likely to make, you just may be better off not having a printer.

I have a Canon Pro-1000 and it never clogs, and what I see on screen is what I get in the output. I find setting my files up as Adobe RGB and using the Canon printing software makes it easy and predictable. Basically totally unlike every Epson printer I ever had which was a #$%@&*!!! nightmare to manage, and don't get me started on the clogging.

The only reason I have a printer is that I have a client that I shoot for who needs prints the next morning after a shoot. His fees pay for the printer and inks for years at a time, so it's worth keeping around.

I suggest you send the same files you just had printed to my Leslie at Prolabnj.com, and she will hook you up with the most beautiful C-prints at a most reasonable price. Will they be the same, probably not, but like any other media, they will have their own look and feel. Set up your files as sRGB and make sure they look like you want them to look.

Also, be mindful as to how you calibrate your monitor. For prints, or anything for that matter, set the brightness to 100 Lumens and the color balance to D55. It just works.

If you have questions, feel free to reach out.

Good grief that’s expensive! If I was in the Finger Lakes region, I would give The Highland Studio a call. Yes it would be a drive, but it’s a scenic drive and they offer all the hand holding you could ever need to get you from file to print.

Print sales ... umm, how about a printing class, with Ctein as the teacher?

The student would send in one or more raw file(s) of the picture(s) she/he wants to print, along with a fee, and Ctein would tweak the file the way he would if he had to print it, then send his settings back, along with some comments about the reasoning behind his particular settings.

I am sorry, but I guess I have not been paying attention since I got started with photography in 1979. Was there a time when making prints was inexpensive? The only way I see to make photography and economy go hand in hand is to buy shares in the visual-arts-industrial-complex. I hope you find a printer you can live with.

I still shoot LF film and make gelatin-silver prints in my darkroom. My "plan" for 2023 is to get a printer and start making color prints from my digital camera. So this thread has provided a great deal of good information and perspectives. Thanks to all!
And Mike, you don't have to print every exposure on 13x19 paper. Editing is still free...

I got lucky, I guess. I've had an Epson 3880 for 9 yrs. and have made hundreds of prints. The times it has clogged can be counted on one hand, and easily fixed. Sure, the cost of ink and paper are real costs, but did any of us really expect that our hobby would be inexpensive?

Musicians, the vast majority of who are not professional but who are passionate spend thousands on a single instrument. Sometimes multiple instruments. A truly good violin bow by itself can cost upwards of $20,000.00.

I would rather spend my money on ink than on kitchen appliances.

I abandoned my darkroom five years ago when I purchased my Epson P800. I was always skeptical of the inkjet printers because of the feared clogging issue, but this printer has never clogged even when remaining idle for several weeks.

Another advantage with the Epson P850 (and P900) is you can print panoramas using their optional roll paper attachment.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the print quality from the P800, but I do miss the solitude and peace that comes with working in the darkroom.

Dear Mr. Johnston,
first things first: your current black and white photos are very good, a great pleasure to look at and certainly, especially with the known technical background, have a far above average technical quality and I am sure very many of your readers have recognized and appreciated their quality.
Print sales were only a "moderate success" as you put it and that certainly has nothing to do with the quality of your images but points to a very different, larger problem.
Who needs material photo prints these days?
I know and fully accept all the specific characteristics and qualities of material prints!
But the culture of image viewing has shifted for most people, toward the monitor image.
In the days of analog photography, it was practically mandatory to make prints to visualize the shots, whether you needed them as a permanent end product or not.
With digital photography, that has fundamentally changed.
A spiritually educated friend of mine said, in the context of other aspects of living, "In the beginning, consider the end."
In my case, that means that after more than 55 years of analog photography, I have several tall shelves in my living room, with hundreds of photo boxes containing thousands of medium and large black and white prints, of above average quality. Mostly landscapes and great portraits of people no one knows. Due to the large number and size of the prints, it is virtually impossible for me to ever look at them all again.
On the very rare occasions that I pull out a box or two in the evening and look at some prints, I am shocked at how good they are and that it was actually me who had made them, but also shocked at how they have been and will be without consequence.
I have become relatively old by now and you already know what is coming now ....
No one will put my shelves and boxes in their living room, no museum will put my life's work in their archives, because neither I nor most of the people pictured are famous.
A dilemma for which I have no solution.
What remains is my own personal joy in photography and in the world of images. And as painful as it may be: like everything in the material world, these too are ephemeral.
I often think of musicians whose playing is traditionally as ephemeral as a breath of wind, and yet they take pleasure in it as long as it sounds.

Phew! So many great comments. My small contribution - I didn't enjoy your article Mike. By describing a situation very negatively, without offering a positive counterpoint or option? How is that helpful?

I gave up home photo printing a long time ago. I am sure the quality has improved , but I found the results back then very discouraging. Until recently, I have been living in Toronto and had access to a very good print shop where I would upload images . I had them print large chromogenic prints and they always looked great. They have a bulk print price which is fantastic- they print on a roll of 50 inch wide paper and charge around $20 a foot. The files are printed just as they have received them ie. they don’t correct anything. So, it often takes a few tries. I will print a line of smaller test proofs on a foot wide roll of paperand then make corrections to the files for the next set of proofs. So it takes two or three tries until I am fully happy. But the prints look great and the price is totally right! The place is Toronto Image Works.

I love prints and the printing process from start finish which to is place them in a portfolio folder, print box or framed on a wall. They make great gifts and my walls in my house are filled with my work. I enjoy walking by them and seeing my photography results. I strongly disagree that prints are dead and no one requests them. I get requests all the time from friends, neighbors, and yes I do sell a few once in a while. They can be small prints for your desk, nightstand or large prints to fill a blank wall. Everyone has an opinion so this is mine.

I'm on my fourth printer. I'm sure I've spent more money on ink than I've made selling prints in galleries, but I don't care. I enjoy printing.

My first three printers were Epsons, but I got tired of paper that wouldn't feed and heads that clogged. I finally got smart and bought a Canon P1000. It's a joy. Yes, it eats ink, but it works without fail. I've never had a paper jam or paper that wouldn't feed. And, wonder of wonders, the print heads don't clog. Plus, I don't have to waste gallons of ink to switch from matter black to gloss black.

As some of your readers have noted, Epson printers may have improved, but I would pick Canon any day.

...Print quality is outstanding with a custom profile and my favorite Canson Infinity Platine paper.

The big surprise was B&W printing. With the custom profile, B&W prints are actually better than the B&W mode on the printer...

I print only black and white on my Canon PRO-100 using its black and white mode. Rather than employing a custom profile, I experimented and found that adjusting the tone to X=10 matched ink tone to the inherent color of my standard Hahnemuhle FineArt Baryta Satin paper. It's necessary for image and paper to be chromatically compatible or the result is very jarring.

Assuming framing behind low-iron, AR-coated glass, color of black and white prints is also a critical factor when selecting mats. I've had trouble finding a good match for most other inkjet papers, but Rising's white works perfectly with that Hahnemuhle.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007