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I want to buy my first photo printer. Here is the situation:

  • I am an amateur, I do not take pictures to sell them, so printer will be only for my personal use and to display the photos on my walls

  • this will be my first such printer, so I do not know much how the output will look and do not know much about ICC etc., but I work in computer industry, so quite easy to learn for me

  • I have a Nikon D7000 SLR, I am using SLR cameras for more than 10 years

  • I would like to print both color and B/W, I took quite much B/W shoots on film before

  • I will print probably 2-3 photos per week on average, so I do not need to think much about ink costs

  • I will only use original inks

  • I will not print more bigger than A3 surely

I did some research for a week on internet and I have limited my options to R2000, R2880, R3000 and pro9500mk2. Considering the price for each here R2000=1k money, R2880 and pro9500=1.5k money and R3000=2k money, which one would you recommend for me to buy ?

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If you are looking to get great prints with an at home ink jet printer, I suggest reading the great answers here: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1715/… –  dpollitt Jan 5 '12 at 22:01
    
I would recommend the Canon Pixma Pro 9000 to add to this line up –  Graeme Hutchison Jan 5 '12 at 22:38
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If you're printing that few prints, do you really want your own printer, or would it be more economical to use a commercial printer? That's the direction I went. I can't make prints myself cheaper than I can have them done. –  Eric Jan 6 '12 at 1:44
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Your list of models seems pretty arbitrary. Can you explain what led you to those? –  mattdm Jan 6 '12 at 3:26
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About printing at lab/studio instead of home, I understand well the situation. The reason I want to go home printing direction is that I want the flexibility and also I want to learn about printing since I can count myself as serious amateur about photography. –  mete Jan 6 '12 at 7:55

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

First off, given the printers you have narrowed your options down to (not sure why the R2000 is in there...that one is pretty old and uses much older ink technology...I wouldn't even consider it an option myself), you really will need to learn a bit about ICM and how to use ICC profiles. Its pretty much an essential component of printing properly on any one of those printers, as without at least some attention given to ICM, your prints are unlikely to look correct. Most printers built-in color management are designed for the average user who really wouldn't know the difference, however a photographer, even someone who only prints as a hobby for themselves, WILL certainly see the difference.

Second, you mentioned you want to print black and white. That right there may be the deciding factor. I personally would own an Epson printer right now if it was not for how they deal with black ink in their mid-grade printers (Epson flushes the black ink channel if you switch from photo to matte or back, wasting a lot of ink or time. Note, this may have changed with the R3000...I have not used that particular printer myself.) I own a Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mk II right now for its dual photo and matt black ink channels, and the lack of needing to flush and switch from photo black to matte black when you decide to change paper types like Epson printers to. If you are like me, and want to get the most out of your black and white prints, you will want to use the paper that fits the photo. Glossy papers tend to have a higher dMax, which leads to a broader tonal range that can really make black and white prints stand out. On the other hand, sometimes a nice soft fine-art matte paper can bring just the right kind of character to a black and white print, at the cost of some tonal range. I personally like to use both glossy and matte, and in that area, the Canon 9500 II can't be beat...it supports both types of black ink as well as a gray ink simultaneously on their own ink channels, so there is no need to flush and waste ink to switch from one black ink type to the other.

Regarding ink usage. If you can maintain a print rate of 2-3 prints a week, you should be fine with any one of those printers. However if you slow to only printing once every month or less, you might find that you have dried ink problems with any one of them, including the Canon. All four of those printers use pigment inks, and unlike dye ink printers, regular usage of the printer is essential to avoid dried pigment and either a considerable waste and a lot of cleaning time each time you print, or possibly even clogged print heads that can be very difficult to clean or even require replacement.

Finally, if you are willing to spend the money on the R3000, you might also want to consider the brand new Canon Pixma Pro-1 12-ink printer. It was just released in November at a price of $999, and is the successor to the Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mark II. It contains five separate grayscale inks (in addition to the full compliment of color inks), including the photo and matte black, as well as dark, medium, and light grays. For grayscale printing, I would expect it to produce the finest tonal grades of any current pigment based inkjet printer. It also uses MUCH larger ink tanks, which could be a blessing and huge money saver (if you print a lot) or a curse (if you print very seldom, as you might end up wasting even more money due to dried ink and unrecoverable cartridges.) At its price point, its a direct competitor to the Epson R3000, and offers up just as much in the way of quality, print longevity, etc.

Outside of that, I can't really tell you which printer to get. You have to make that determination on your own, based on what your goals are and how much you want to spend.

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Very helpful information, thank you. –  mete Jan 6 '12 at 7:52

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