#770. Printing saga update n°1: the poetry of a b200

#770. Printing saga update n°1: the poetry of a b200

GAS update : 10 minutes into my noble printing quest, and I’m out 300 bucks. Snafu. And my next update might be in a while.

It all started with the best of intentions: testing. Since Canon printers are known for:

  1. being tolerant of longish periods of sleep
  2. being easy to print from, out of the box,

quick and dirty testing seemed like the natural thing to do to get back into the game.

 

 

Step one : choose test photographs. 2 in colour, 2 in b&w. Those on this page.

Step two : download the driver for my current computer and start CaptureOne.

Step three : Fire up the ol’ girl (a 4-year-old Canon Pro 100 that saw some use early on but gradually less and none for at least 6 months, possibly a year)

 

 

The goal was to check whether everything is in working order. And, if possible, to evaluate how close intial prints are to what the photographs look like on screen (prior to any calibration, ICC fun or other delightful stumbling block that lies ahead), using two monochrome images and two colour images, one with strong colours, the other with a more subtle and muted palette. Worth a shot, right ?

We never got to step 4.

 

 

The good news is that the suffering ended quickly.

 

 

A reluctant printhead was to be expected, so a whole set of new ink cartridges was dug out of a cupboard to assist in as many cleaning cycles and nozzle checks as necessary. But it turns out the problem was a little more serious. A quick look at some articles and videos confirmed that, for 2 cartridge printers, there is a fair chance you can dig yourself out of this B200 issue. But not with the Pro 100.

The printer really can’t be blamed. It seems that some Espon models go berserk after just a couple of weeks of inactivity, so what else was the poor girl to do, after 6-12 months of dusty solitude? The failure of my Canon is entirely my fault. She blames myself.

Now, it looks like a new printhead would set me back about $150. A new Pro 100 or Epson P600 cost double that amount (less, if you can find a good promo). Given the age of my printer, and likelihood of other faults hiding behind the curtains, it seems more reasonable to go for a new one, right? Plus, there’s that invigorating feeling of a fresh start with every new purchase. It’s like it’s Jan 1 and I’m finally starting that sugar-free diet 🙂

 

 

Now, all that remains is for me to decide between the two (or the P800, which is not that much more expensive on Amazon France, not that much larger, and is said to cost a lot less in ink).

Any thoughts or experiences you might want to share?

Let me incentivize the help. Given that my box of inks no longer has a printer to feed, whoever volunteers the best help (“best” being a combination of wittiness, genuine help, sarcasm at my expense and originality of point of view) can have it. You payz for the shipping, the inks are free (note that they, themselves, are also several (12?) months old. Make sure that’s not a bad thing or dangerous for your printer!!!! Caveat victor!)

Since I’ve remained remarkably adult-like and even-tempered throughout the whole debacle, please allow me a final observation. Darkroom photography was  a lot kinder to the lazy and absent-minded tog, back in the days. Films and chemicals that were long overdue didn’t just fail in this binary fashion They gradually waned out of specification, with the kind of dignity you expect from a Zen centenarian. The look faded or altered in some other noble way. Heck, some people actually counted on it to produce their own style. Who, today, is counting on a b200 to hone their workflow? Who? Guys, I’m telling ya. Nostalgia just ain’t the same, these days.

Help? Suggestions? Mockery?

 


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42 Comments

  1. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron September 19, 2018

    I ignored the P800 on the grounds that it prints far bigger sizes than I’d ever do. Now I’m inclined to regret it. The ink question is part of it. But I believe the P800 is also a bit more tolerant to periods of inactivity.

    And even if that’s NOT the case, you can do WONDERFUL things with the P800, that simply aren’t sensible on the P600. Silly me – just noticed in the blurb that they both allow the use of rolls of paper. Trouble is that the only rolls available for the smaller printer don’t make it worth while. And if you use Mirage to print your photos and you don’t even consider using rolls of paper for a bulk print run, you’re clearly nuts and beyond further help.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy September 19, 2018

      Weeeel, that, I probably am 😉

      But a bulk print run doesn’t sound like me very. I don’t expect to print more than a couple of photographs every week. Tolerance to inactivity would be high on my list !!! The P800 does sound tempting. It seems big, that’s my only worry.

  2. Avatar
    Jens September 19, 2018

    I’m through with Epson, therefore my advice is: Go for the Canon iPF 1000:

    – it prints big, so it will keep you happy once you start to discover the beauty of a really large format for your prints
    – ink cost is significantly lower
    – it is absolutely reliable: so far (as in about 400 prints made to date) I have failed to produce a failed print (technically, that is 😉 )

    But it requires some serious real estate on your desk and 2 persons to lift the monster (35kg) out of its box onto the desk.

    But the rewards in reliably giving you one top print after the next are oh sooooooooo good.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy September 19, 2018

      Jens, that’s as I feared. Jose Rodriguez, who makes really good videos about printing is also a great supporter of the iPF 1000. I left it out of the competition to keep it cheap and simple, but it looks like the Canon really needs to be included. That’s made things more complicated, but probably better, ultimately.

      Thanks! I really didn’t want to consider that monster but …

      Pascal

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy September 19, 2018

      Jens, after viewing this, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-VD7ZQLM68 , I feel like chickening out of the very demanding Canon iPF 1000 …

      It looks like a superb printer but :
      * Really for advanced experts
      * Not for small prints because it cleans the head between every single print
      * $720 refill
      * Really large and needs a very stable base
      * Not much difference in b&w, with the P800, which is my main goal
      * Needs to print often

      Do you agree with those comments?

      • Avatar
        Jens September 19, 2018

        Here is my 5 cents on your points:

        – advanced experts: yes and no. Yes, because I would imagine that they demand nothing but the best. No, because color management actually works when you adopt nothing but the most basic steps. You don’t have to be a colour management wizzard to produce absolutely colour-correct prints. I checked my prints with the profiling systems of my trusted offset printer. BWs are also a dream: rich blacks, beautiful tonality in the midtones, crisp white – dependent, of course, on the paper you print on.
        – only for big prints: nonsense. The head certainly does NOT clean after each print. Why should it? I’ve just done a batch of 50 prints for a friend of mine, and there was a brief cleaning cycle before the first print came out – nothing thereafter.
        – yes, the refill is just under € 600, plus the occasional €20 for a waste ink tank. BUT: average cost per A3+ print is about € 3,00 plus paper cost. The real cost of the ink sprayed onto paper is MUCH lower, but taking into account cleaning cycles etc that is what it amounts to, based on my experience of 2 years of use.
        – yes, it needs a largish and stable base. Which is what I don’t have. So the printer wobbles around a bit. It doesn’t seem to mind.
        – no, probably no difference to the P800 in BW, neither in colour. But very much more reliable in terms of paper handling (it prints on literally everything you throw at it, e.g. I’m just printing some internegatives for kallitype prints on OP-Inkjet film right now as I type this – not a problem). And, of course, no need to switch black ink cartridges every time you switch from a glossy to a matt paper.
        – having to print often: the more you print, the more cost-effective you are. This cuts down on the cost I quoted above. I switch my printer off when I know that I won’t be using it for some time (could be months …) When a stroke of genius moves me I switch it on and I have to bear with the cleaning cycles. But then this cost is reflected in the € 3,00 per print.

        I do hope this helps.

        Jens

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy September 19, 2018

          Thank you, Jens. That does help. A lot !!

          My comments were just based on the video I provided a link to. The stable base is apparently to prevent internal damage to the printer.

          But your comment on the print size is super reassuring. Jose Rodiguez indicates very high running costs, which I do not want. It’s OK to pay a lot for the printer, but I really don’t want to have to pay constantly for the inks and repairs. Maybe the systematic cleaning he refers to (just a quick puff of ink, it seems) is something that needs to be parametered?

          Anyway, my main focus would be on b&w and the prospect of constantly changing between matte and gloss is a real pain and the valve that handles it apparently fails regularly. So having a separate channel for both is a plus.

          Also, 3 euros per print is actually very reasonable for such a high quality machine. I am now tempted. Now, I need to convince my wife it’s OK to have such a huge machine at home … 😉

          Thanks again.

  3. Avatar
    NMc September 19, 2018

    Sorry Pascal I can’t help you here, dye ink printers are supposed to be better for longer periods of inactivity, at least that what I thought.
    Why not the Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000?
    It is also dye based and cheaper though less ink tanks so just a little lower in print quality, though you usually need to see prints side by side to pick the difference once you get to this standard of printer.
    Regards Noel

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy September 19, 2018

      Thanks Noel, from I’ve seen so far, the P600 and P800 don’t clog as much as previous Epsons and should be OK for my level of us. It still is worth investigating the difference with dye inks, though 😉 I’ll write a summary of my readings soon.

      All the best, Pascal

      • Avatar
        jean pierre (pete) guaron September 20, 2018

        I have the P600 – I’ve been using it for over a year – I’ve had issues with head cleaning affecting 3 prints in that time (all at once!), and more recently I had a bit of a run on head cleaning (one clean didn’t “do it”, I had to run it several times – wasted 3 sheets of scrap A4 – shocking!) And I’ve done about 2,000 prints in that time frame.

        Sometimes it’s been left idle for 2-3 weeks. Mostly, there are 2 or 3 print runs each week.

        Small format paper doesn’t track 100% accurately – but that doesn’t affect prints unless you do borderless (which I do), and anyway, it’s manageable with a bit of practice.

        What has revolutionised the process for me, has been abandoning other “feeds” to the printer, and dispatching all my prints to the printer using Dinax’s Mirage print program.

        I can’t comment on the relative merits of Canon or Epson print quality – but two experts have, and they both tell me that Epson produces “better colour”. Hmm. That could just as easily be “beauty in the eye of the beholder”. But I don’t believe those differences are so pronounced that they should affect choice.

        What I did find disturbing with the Canon’s was what happens if you have to move the beast. That can trigger a process of draining all the ink tanks, and THAT can cost hundreds of dollars. If you buy one, make sure you plan so that moving it later is NOT going to happen.

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy September 20, 2018

          Wow, 2000 prints in a year. That’s impressive! And 3 cleaning hickups in that period is indeed very benign. You’ve mentioned Mirage before, I must take a look at it. Qimage is supposed to be excellent as well. Not sure how the two compare in terms of features.

          From what several experts write or say online, the difference between these printers are really small these days. Apparently, there’s very little in it, visually, when profiling is complete. It seems the Canon inkset has a slightly larger gammut but that doesn’t really translate into noticeable visual differences. At least that’s the theory, I’ve never been able to compare for myself.

          If I manage to get one of those monsters into my home, I promise not to move it around my home 😉 Before then, a serious crowdsourcing of excuses and pretexts might be useful. After letting a perfectly good Canon rot to death, my wife is wondering why I’d want an even larger one around … Ahem, she does make a point 😉

  4. Avatar
    David Mack September 19, 2018

    Good Morning to all you brave printer people;

    I have on my desk an old epson pro 3800 purchased new more than a few years ago, used briefly then acquired dust of well over several years. Turned it on, no go. Took to a Portland repair shop, the guy laughed and told me not to bother, buy a new one. I persisted handed him $50 and we went to work. After multiple cleaning cycles, and some of his old ink later, I took it home hoping for redemption and it is working great. He said he can routinely save one up to 3 months, occasionally up to 6 months, but hardly ever after that. So what did I do, I made a new commitment in line with New Years dieting, as mentioned, and bought a new Epson Sure Color 7000 24 inch printer after taking John Caponigro’s printing class 5 days in Maine, USA, July 2017. My skills using PS are very light, so didn’t learn as much as I could have, but enough to whet the appetite.
    It turns out that all you really need to do is just turn them on let them cycle through a print prep warm up about once a week and or do a test print color strip and they are good to go. I chose Epson after talking to the repair shop. Seems the big problem with Cannon, as mentioned is the print head which needs to be replaced much more often as opposed to Epson that has less frequent issues, but are more expensive when it gets into trouble. Everyone complains about ink costs, but the real cost issues are the papers. Printing is a challenge of costs, time, and a very long learning curve that only be achieved with lots of printing. I’m hoping that my children will enjoy the prints as I send them out. I finally came to realize a greater value for the buck in printing than buying the latest high cost, short lived camera tech when in fact print quality is not really that much better, regardless of the latest bestest camera, in the scheme of things.

    David Mack

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy September 19, 2018

      David, thank you for this inspiring comment. All of this thinking about printing has made me realise what a cure for GAS printing really is! As you put it, the impact of the camera on the final print is ridiculously small compared to other factors. That is really liberating.

      I’m going to try to clean my printhead myself. Apparently, there are videos showing how to do that. If that works, that’s great news. If not, then it will be necessary to find a new printer. Your SC 7000 sounds wonderful but that is too larger and too expensive for me. A P600 or P800 sound more like it 😉

      Since 90% of my work is from home, it should be able to switch the printer on every couple of days to have a quick test print done. Might as well print a real image, rather than waste the inks on printhead cleaning cycles, right ?

      All the best.

      • Avatar
        Kristian Wannebo September 20, 2018

        Pascal,
        If you should lose the print head battle…

        For lower cost printing, if dye ink (with the shorter longevity) is acceptable, there is also the

        Epson L1800 A3+ ink tank (70ml) printer with 6 dye inks.

        Print longevity test:
        http://www.wilhelm-research.com/epson/WIR_Epson_L355_and_L800_2014_08_20.pdf

        ( I’ve found no in-depth review, but those I’ve found find print quality almost as good as from good pigment printers, so the size of the necessary pinch of salt remains unknown. And I’ve found no reports on clogging, so that’s an unknown too.)

        The tanks are refillable, so I suppose you could fill them with piezography or other grey inks – provided you find a suitable printer driver.

      • Avatar
        Kristian Wannebo September 20, 2018

        P.S.
        One post said that you need not enter a serial number when refilling the L1800, as you are supposed to do with the L800 A4 printer.

  5. Avatar
    Cliff Whittaker September 19, 2018

    I’m glad I read this post, Pascal. I had once more been wavering a bit about buying a printer. The P800 was going to be my choice. But after reading this post and being reminded of paper costs, ink costs, clogged heads, frequency of use required, footprint on a desk top, etc, etc, ad infinitum, I think I’ll take my usual remedy. I’m going down in the basement and hit myself on the head with a hammer until the desire for a printer goes away. I’ll get the same humongous headache that a printer would give me but I’ll save a bunch of money and a ton of aggravation (I’m very intolerant of aggravation). And I can use the money I save to have Brian print more perfect pictures of my birds.
    In fact, I think I’ll start working on uploading a print order right now. 🙂

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy September 20, 2018

      Apparently, the newer Epsons and Canons are quite clog-free, these days. Jose Rodriguez says the P800 is very easy to live with. But it’s still a lot of work to get everything working well, so the pro lab solution still has many advantages …

      My tolerance to aggravation is pretty low as well. That will be a big factor in my choice.

      I’d love to see those bird images 😉 And the prints you make of them! Do you have them on display anywhere on the web?

      Cheers

      • Avatar
        Kristian Wannebo September 20, 2018

        Pascal,
        When comparing clogging risks don’t forget to ask about local humidity.
        I’ve seen many comments about very dry climate making shorter periods between use necessary.
        Someone was said to keep a plastic cover over his inkjet with a cup of water under it…

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy September 20, 2018

          Very interesting, thanks. It can be extremely dry for long periods here, but it’s not the Sahara desert 😉 I’m collecting all this information and will usmmarise it all in a guide later on.

  6. Avatar
    John W September 19, 2018

    Pascal, before you spend a whole lot more money, get the printer to a service tech and have it diagnosed. I had a similar problem with my Pro-10 from little/lack of use. The head just needed an industrial grade cleaning by a tech – cost $67 Canadian. WAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY cheaper than a new head or printer. Its worth an hour of shop cost to find out you may not need a new printer.

    If necessary, replace the head. There’s not much else in the printer to go wrong. Mechanically they are fairly simple with few moving parts. The head is the sensitive part. At least your Canon printer can be repaired at manageable cost … an Epson would be junk.

    If you have to replace the printer, stick to either the Pro-100 or the Pro-10. The Pro-1 and Pro-1000 are designed for high volume use and far more likely to suffer head clogs if left unused for extended periods. The Epsons are much more maintenance intensive and pretty much unrepairable if you head goes south.

    Check around, there must be a good after market ink supplier in the EU. I’ve been using Precision Colors in Toronto and can’t tell the difference between their inks and the OEM Canon cartridges. Their inks are a fraction of the cost and they will ship worldwide.

    Just saying …

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy September 20, 2018

      Hi John, there are articles explaining how to clean a printhead so I’m going to try that. There’s nothing to lose, as the printer is headed for the bin anyway. It would be difficult to find a suitable repair shop in this neck of the woods, but I can certainly try for myself.

      The new Pro 10s seems really nice. My worries about the Pro 1000 do not seem to be borne out in Jens’ experience (see comments above). Jens never experiences any clogging or difficulties of any kind. Keith cooper also has a lot of nice things to say about it. But it’s really large and expensive …

      A real decision factor for me is wether to go for piezography inks or not. That pretty much means Epson. I’ve now received very nice prints made by Chris Stump on several papers, and will have the same file printed by a pro lab using piezography as well as traditional chemical printing on baryta paper. If the differences with Chris’ prints aren’t visible, I’ll probably stick to a Canon printer. Precision colours seem to make exceptional inksets. I’ve heard nothing but great feedback.

  7. Avatar
    Brian Nicol September 20, 2018

    I was debating on buying a Canon printer when I decided on the Epson 3880 as it had lengendary reputation with the pros. The main reason that I did not go for Canon was Michael R. of Luminous Landscape did printer comparison tests and noted that you could not see significant difference between comparable premium pigment printers (P600 and up, canon or Epson) . However, the Canon prints dried down to match Epson prints in colour after a few hours but looked different fresh out of printer – that was Canon deal breaker for me.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy September 20, 2018

      Yes, that would make testing very difficult for me, too. Dye inks take much longer to cure (more than a week, apparently) so maybe that was the difference?

    • Avatar
      jean pierre (pete) guaron September 21, 2018

      When I went into it all, before I bought my current printer, the people at the store were quite open about the differences – and their firm view was that you get a better print out of the Epsons, rather than the Canons. It startled me, because the Canons have more ink cartridges and I assumed that would lead to better colours. But they assured me it doesn’t work like that. Maybe it IS the die vs pigment thing. Anyway, there can’t be much difference, or whichever was better would kill the market for the other one.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy September 20, 2018

      Very interesting. It’s a shame the author doesn’t add a date to his articles, and it would be nice to know whether the situation has changed since he wrote that piece. The key takeaway seems to be that dye prints look nicer and mostly last as long. So why aren’t more printers dye-based, it makes me wonder. One more reason to get my Pro 100 back on its feet, if at all possible 😉 Thanks.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy September 20, 2018

      Yes, the Pro 1 is pigment based while the Pro 100 is dye based. Both are 13″ but the Pro 1 has more inks. I think it’s a tricky but very high-end piece of kit. Thanks for the links!

      • Avatar
        Kristian Wannebo September 20, 2018

        My recent comments have been just as much medicine for me.
        Anti GAS medication.

        I saw a good local ad for a used Epson 3880…
        So I had to read up on printing … a lot … until my GAS began to subside.
        Finally, aah!

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy September 20, 2018

          My thoughts exactly. Focusing on producing a tangible and beautiful object, in a process that requires so many steps, defintiely means that you no longer obsess about a single one 🙂 I’m feeling the relief myself, even though I’ve not yet started 😉

  8. Avatar
    Dogman September 20, 2018

    If it were me, I would go for the P800. Maybe wait for a rebate announcement to save a bit.

    I’ve used an Epson R3000 since it was first introduced. I was reluctant based on reports of Epson printers becoming useless if not used frequently. At the time I wasn’t shooting a whole lot so I wondered if I might be making a mistake. I was also occasionally away from home for up to three weeks at a time during this period. Luckily, I’ve not had any bad experiences. Occasionally I have to run a head cleaning cycle but I can only recall one time I had to run more than two or three cycles at one sitting to clear up a minor clog. Print quality is outstanding in my opinion.

    If I’m not mistaken, the P600 and my R3000 share the lack of a replaceable waste ink tank while the P800 has one. I’ve read that once the waste ink sponge in the R3000 becomes saturated, you have to have the printer serviced by Epson. Since I’m far from an authorized Epson service center, that would be the end of the printer for me–I’ll not risk shipping the printer for service and getting it back damaged. To keep the amount of waste ink at a minimum, I’ve dedicated the Epson totally to photographs and totally to matte papers since switching paper types requires purging the ink lines of the previous type of black ink used.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy September 20, 2018

      Yeah, a rebate would be necessary. I found one at 510 euros just days ago and now it’s double that again. Uh.

      It seems that modern pigment Epsons are very trouble free. All the reviews indicate that the P800 doesn’t clog, so that is great news. The user-replaceable waste ink tank is a must for me as well. Shame about the black ink switching (and unreliable valve) and that the printhead can be replaced easily. Other than that it’s a great printer. I’ll wait and see what sort of b&w prints I want to do. If it’s only matte or glossy, and not both, that could be the right printer for me 🙂

      Thanks for the kind message 🙂

    • Avatar
      jean pierre (pete) guaron September 21, 2018

      Hi Dogman –

      You’re quite right – the P600 uses the sponge, which – under certain circumstances – is going to fill and require replacement. The P800 does not – it uses a waste tank, so end of problem. While I occasionally print matt, it’s rare – and I’d be happy to do all my matt stuff in a single printing session, maybe once a year (if that). So this is not a major issue for me.

      Also the P600 can only theoretically be used for paper rolls – try buying one for it, you’ll soon find out what I mean. But that’s not an issue with the P800 either.

      The P800 uses larger ink cartridges and on the basis of ink consumption costs, is far more economical. But the up front cost is higher.

      With the wisdom of hindsight I should have gone with the P800. Too bad – there’s nothing wrong with the P600, and the prints I get are just fine.

      The tanks on the Canon’s put me off. Get a comparable Canon, and if you move it, you face a VERY serious risk of causing the inks to empty into the waste tank. Not only is that VERY expensive, but I gather that the waste tank isn’t large enough to take all the inks at once – so if it happens when your cartridges are full, you’ll have a flood of ink, all over the place. Not that you’ll move them too often – they weigh a ton, and it’d take two strong men to move one.

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