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August 20, 2008


What you call the "sheer fun" of printing above A4 is a real buzz. The difference "in hand" is astounding. Head for A3/A3+ at least.

Current Epson printers do very well in comparative tests. If you are happy with dye inks then the 1400 is a steal, otherwise there are Epson printers with pigment inks enough to make anybody drool. (I have no affiliation to Epson whatever!) HP make some damn good machines too!

I'd give the Epson 1400 or 1800 more serious consideration if it weren't for their small cartridges. I print often enough that the low ink light on my Epson R800 is almost always blinking. I can't imagine what it would be like if I were making prints twice as large, with four times the surface area. Even if the cost per ml of ink is the same as for larger carts (which I doubt), small carts and frequent charges are a pain.

- Gordon

You want big prints send them out to a lab! Read Ken Rockwell on prints. http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/printing/inkjet.htm


I'd suggest that you look at the cost of inks, not the printer. Determine your usage over, say, a year and see if buying into the low end of the pro printers (17") is worth it. They use bigger carts which always means less cost per equivalent volume. Ink cost is more significant than the width of the printer over time (i.e. how many big prints you may use it for).

For B&W you must buy a machine with at least 2 grays (besides the black). Then it's a matter of which driver to use (from QTR for $50 to real RIPS for more than your budget).

Ask your question at the B&W print forum at yahoo and see what responses you get

Hunt around for refurbs (I saw a 3800 for $950 at the Epson store).

One more scenario: Convert an older/cheaper printer to B&W (using aftermarket inksets) and buy a new extended gamut color printer (which would lack the 2 grays but give better results). Doing "excellent" B&W on a low budget may best be done using a dedicated printer and related voodoo (such as installing a Continuous Flow System).

Thank you for the suggestions. I'm familiar with all these options, which is precisely why I'm beginning to doubt whether a printer would be worth the cost, at least for me. Consider the fact that Adorama's online lab (Adoramapix.com) prints 11x14s on Kodak Endura Lustre or Royal Glossy paper for less than $6.00 each. They're running a promotion until August 31 where they're charging only $1.99. Neither paper is ideal for exhibition quality B&W, but still, unless I plan to print well over a hundred 11x14s--which I doubt--I'm not sure it's worth the investment in a printer and the necessary inks and paper.

- Gordon

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