The following emails are advice from members on the subject of what is the best type of printer to buy, if at all.

From Jan Harris – 28th November 2015

I hope someone will be able to advise.  I have to buy a printer to use with my mac.  I need to be able to print documents and I would like to be able use it for prints to A3 size.Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Even what to avoid because i dont know where to start.Thank you

Response from Adrian Butt
Hello Jan (et al),The place to start is with some basics:
How much room do you have to accommodate the printer? They can be quite
large, so check dimensions (and weight) carefully.What is your budget? And remember to factor in the running costs of ink
and good photo paper. An A3 print is likely to cost around £2 to £2.50
using Permajet Oyster paper, for example.Is monochrome printing likely to be a big part of your work? Some
printers have extra black and grey cartridges to assist with this.Make / model? There are mainly 2 camps; Epson and Canon and you will get
passionate arguments in favour of both.Have to really got the time to invest in home printing Jan? There is a
learning curve (of course), but Lightroom can help with that.There is much fun (joy even) to be had in producing a really good print,
but the pathway to that goal may be strewn with a lot of wasted
(expensive) paper.If you decide to proceed, there are people in the club who will be able
to get you Permajet paper at a discount, so that will help.Kind regards,
AdrianResponse from Richard Chapman
It’s a tricky one, since the desirable attributes of a document printer don’t really overlap much with the desirable attributes of a photo printer.
For documents you want:
– fast
– cheap to run
– reliable
– reasonable paper capacity
– possibly duplex (double-sided) printing
– possibly ability to print from more than one computer, etc
but you don’t so much care about print quality, ability to handle varieties of papers, etc. You may not even care about colour…

For a photo printer you want:
– high print quality
– ability to print on various papers
– reliable
and you don’t really care much about any of the above.

For photo printers I like Epson – but I wouldn’t want to use it for printing documents. For documents you can’t beat a cheap laser printer…

Response from Pete JB
Hi Janice

I have just bought an Epson XP 960, does All sizes A3-A4-etc, the inks expensive, the prints so far l;look good, dead easy to use and set up, even i can do it !!!!!!!., Does printing on to DVD-CD which is the main reason for purchase, Cost £300 direct from Epson. So Far So Good, it’s a mine field trying to choose one.
I agree with Richard Chapman’s comments, it’s over to you.
Response from Roger Lewis
Hi Jan, I can’t add much to the good advice already given, I believe most Smethwick guru’s use Epson 2880’s. Try our members Peter and Jill Young as they have one and can probably give you an appraisal, although ask yourself the question how much printing do you do and would it be more cost effective to use an online lab.
DS colour labs are very good and offer good value but there are others that specialise more in top-end quality rather than cost.
Lots of permutations for you to consider.
Best of luck.
Roger L

Response from Darkroom Dude
Hi Jan

Of course you can have a butcher’s at the Epson 3880. I don’t use it but Jill says she has no problem with it.

I use a cheap laser printer for documents – quick & easy as well as costing lots less than an inkjet printer.
Bess twitches

Response from Peter Garnett
Hi Jan, can’t add much advice to other comments. But here goes. For me it comes down to a few factors.  One, how much can you spend, how much space have you got, do you enjoy preparing and printing your own pictures, I do, and what are your printing prioritise.  I have 2 printers, an old Epson P50 photo printer for A4, text very good, colour not bad and an Epson R2880 A3. With Permanent paper and profiles produces v good A3 prints.  If it’s just text get a cheap laser, much quicker and best text quality.  If you want to learn printing then invest in a good A3, either Epson or Canon both good quality, look for deals.

Response from Roger Tyler
To add more comment….
I have used DS for the last six years and they have served me very well.  They used to do an “automatic adjustment” service where their printer scanned your image and printed to an average exposure.  I, and others in BPS, found this to be the better option although it didn’t work for moody or high contrast images.  Sadly DS stopped this service a year or so ago and we now have to take responsibility for our own exposure.  This is all very well but however perfect the image is on your computer screen, what comes back from DS is never 100% what you want.  Experience says that you should increase brightness by about 15 points before sending and this seems to be true of my new photo printer too although I have yet to calibrate it.

There may be labs that still do an Auto-Adjust service but, at something like £2 each for 12 x 16 inch prints, you may find it considerably cheaper to persevere with DS even if to start with you have to order two of everything at different exposures so that you get the measure of their equipment.
I have, as you know, decided to squander even more of my children’s inheritance on a printer so that I can have full control (and responsibility) for my printed images.
Some members have stopped using prints altogether and just enter PDI competitions.  This has enormous savings!

Response from Nigel Taylor
Jan,I’ve been watching this correspondence and agree with most of the content but one important topic has not been covered and that is “Dye” or “Pigment” ink.

Firstly in our house we do have 2 printers.  One “all in one” printer, copier and scanner.  These are dirt cheap and are ideal for printing ordinary documents fast and cheap.  Canon and Epson both make them.  For photo printing I use a Canon Pixma Pro machine although my 9500 Mk 2 has been superseded by later models.  I have gone to the Photography Show at the NEC in March and seen identical digital files printed on both Epson and Canon machines and the Canon does have the edge.  However both machines are excellent and unless you do look at the two photos side by side you would be delighted with either.  However I admit that the Canon does have one weakness.  If you get into printing high volumes you may want to invest in a Continuous Ink System and you will struggle to find one for the Canon Printers due to them having a slightly different technology to the Epsons.

Regarding advice you have received concerning photo labs, personally I feel that this should only be a short term fix.  I wouldn’t consider myself a true enthusiast photographer if I had my prints produced by someone else.  I accept not all will agree with that comment.

Regarding the inks, Dye ink is the original technology, makes excellent high gloss images but does have a limited life span before beginning to fade.  Pigment ink is not susceptible to fading, is better for pastel images on fine art papers but isn’t quite as brilliant on high gloss paper.

I attach a link below where David Noton explains these ink differences and relates them to the Canon range of Pixma Pro Printers.  You will see that there are 3 short videos all of which are very relevant to us as club photographers.

Hope this helps,

Further response from Roger Tyler
One factor to which some of the more pecunious members seem oblivious is the high cost of owning your own photo printer.

The better ones cost £500, the paper close to £2 for an A3 sheet and, extortionately, ink can cost £200 for a full set of refils.
Some members cannot and some will not afford these prices.
 Further response from Darkroom Dude
Just in case what Roger has said puts you off:
  1. You can buy a laser printer/copier/scanner from Amazon for £43.50.  See  Viking Direct sell the same printer that I own for £40.19 –  One of these will be just the job for your dissertation.
  2. Never underestimate the unmeasurable value of seeing your photograph coming off your printer.  (And why did predictive text change ‘off’ to ‘of’? Dooooh!)
    Bess twitches
Final email, a reply from Jan
To all who gave me very useful advice.
I have learnt a lot through this exchange and I hope others have too. I am very grateful for the time so many put in to giving me lengthy replies. I think the club is very supportive and I truly do appreciate it. I think it may be that I would have given up my photography perhaps if it had not been for your support.
Now about the printer, I have decided to look at links for a printer for my documents only and continue to use DS colour labs for photography prints. I really do have enough to learn at the moment with processing let alone printing. Plus space and cost are another factor.
Thank you again and I hope none of you felt you wasted your time giving me advice.
Thank you to Nigel for trying to explain the types of ink to me last night and sorry we were not able to finish our conversation.

Warmest regards,

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