Techniques - Printing
I have read your articles about printing under your Techniques heading and have one comment to make regarding using third party inks and papers - that is, this article may very well have been written by the printer manufacturers.
I use third party inks all the time, and third party papers; I have tried calibrating my monitor and printer in the past, using manufacturers own inks and papers, and can see little or no difference in the output. My printers usually last about 2-3 years and are relatively cheap in the first place, about £60-70. There is no way I am going to pay £30-40 to replenish the inks in my printer, when the printer itself is only £60-70.
I am quite happy to use third party inks, and third party papers, and only have my printer last for 2-3 years, though my last one lasted 4 years! All the rubbish quoted about chemical engineering etc of the printer manufacturers is just that, just a smokescreen, so that we will not feel too bad about paying their exorbitant prices for consumables.
Are you really saying that people such as Jessops, German manufacturer Sihl, Ilford, etc, do not have the required expertise to produce good papers? Are you really saying that Jet-Tec do not have the required expertise to produce good inks? According to a major advertiser in your sister magazine, Amateur Photographer, Jet-Tec inks were an Ink Test Winner and judged to be "the best ink in this group test", and at half the price or less than their Epson counterparts.
Come on, let's have a meaningful test of inks and papers. Also let's have a campaign by the photographic press to bring down the cost of manufacturers' inks, not just Epson but Canon, HP and Lexmark too.
Does anyone from the magazine read these forums?
Although printer manufacturers mention the risk of damage to the printer by using third party inks, that is not my main concern about third party inks. Its archival longevity.
But there are different levels of printing, and its horses for courses. I have an Epson R800 for my high quality photo printing which is a £300 printer, and takes 8 ink cartridges, including two different types of black. I stopped my kids from using it when I realised it cost over £80 to replace all the inks, so now I also have a cheapish Kodak printer for general home printing, kids homework, quick snaps etc. The inks are the cheapest of any proprietary inks on the market, and the print quality is good, though not in the same league as the R800 for 'fine printing'.
But if I want to make portfolio quality prints of images that I've put hours into shooting and processing, and want to put them on the wall or in an album, I want the very best quality and also want to know that in 50 years time those prints will not have faded away. For me the best insurance against that is to use the manufacturers own ink, rather than a cheap one.
I'd have little or no problem using third party inks for the Kodak printer (though I haven't seen any, and I'm not sure how great the saving would be) because in general, most of what we print on that has only a short lifespan. I don't care whether they last 50 years. But with my best work, my most precious family pictures and my best 'creative' work I'm not prepared to gamble on cheap inks for a short term saving when I won't know till its too late whether or not they will last as long.
As for paper we have no issue with third party inkjet paper. I rarely, if ever, use Epson paper in the R800. But I tend to use the premium alternatives – thick, textured matte papers such as Ilford Gallerie.
That's my view, but there are articles on here written by a variety of pro photographers and tech journalists, and they may have expressed a different opinion.
Thanks for that reply Nigel; I see your point about longevity, but for the average man in the street, especially one pushing 70 like me, longevity is not really an issue; I can see my children having a rare old bonfire when I eventually pass on.
For really important prints, I find that it is better to use a professional printing company, such as Pro-Am, for my prints, especially ones larger than A4.