Photography and Art

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Printer and Colour Management Part I

I purchased a new printer just after Christmas. My old printer was an Epson R1800, a perfectly good printer that was bought on Craigslist for $400 and has performed brilliantly for more than two years. I didn't really need a new printer because I seldom print over 18"x12", but I wanted a new printer because some day I'd like to be asked for prints that are larger. Talk about wishful thinking! There was also the issue of ink costs. My R1800 has 16 milliliter tanks that cost over $16, so I'm always buying ink for the thing. The larger Epson printers have larger tanks and manage to lower the cost of ink from over a dollar to around half that. At least, that was my rationalization.

My original intention was to buy an Epson 3800. This is, by all accounts, a fabulous printer that will print 17"x22" cut sheet paper. It uses Epson K3 inks, but not the latest "Vivid Magenta ink technology". The big brother to the Epson 3800 is the Epson 4880. It does use the latest K3 ink technology and also does roll paper, but the 4880 is as big as a small bungalow and is aimed at photo studios with lots of print business.

However, these are strange economic times and we are in a buyers' market. The Epson 4880 carries a rebate offer of $480 that makes it almost as cheap as the Epson 3800. If you factor in that you get 110 ML of ink per tank instead of 80 ML of ink, then the rationalization almost works and you can make up enough bullshit (big rebate, better ink, more ink, cheaper ink, roll paper etc. etc.) to justify the purchase of a printer that is normally out of your league.

In nutshell, I bought the Epson 4880 at a great price from the Computer Consumables Buyers Club and it took three of us to load it into my Subaru. When I got it home, I was able to convince my wife (all 4' 10" of her) to help me unload it as far as the front door. After that, I was on my own and I unpacked the printer from its crate and was able (just) to manhandle it down the basement stairs to my studio. There it sits beside my older R1800, dwarfing it in the process.

You might well ask why I still have the R1800 and not the $250 cash it would bring on Craigslist. Is it sentiment? No, it is all part of the big rationalization. You see, the Epson 4880 can print on matte papers and photo papers, but not at the same time. You must choose to insert the matte black ink or the photo black ink. And, if you change your mind and you need to switch over between one and the other, it will cost you about $75 because all the black ink in the lines gets flushed out! Ouch. I've decided to use the 4880 for photo paper and keep the R1800 for matte.

Imagine my chagrin when I got the printer home, hooked it up to my network (it has a network card in it) and followed the instructions to power it up. The process involves loading the ink lines and guess what: it uses about a third of the ink tanks to do that! My whole rationalization about getting more ink in the 4880 than the 3800 went completely up the spout in the first hour.

Never mind, the story eventually has a happy ending as you'll see in part two where I struggle with colour management.

No comments:

Post a Comment