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I too am wondering where to go next. I have considered dye sublimation such as the Sony DPP EX50 and the Fuji CX300 but don't like the print size limitation. I have been trying various makes and prices of the latest generation of ink jet photo printers over the last six months and generally am not impressed. The cheap Canon (S300) produced the best output and was very fast but the prints faded quickly and badly unless the very expensive Canon PR101 paper was used. This paper costs three times the price of the Fuji Super Glossy I normally use. The mid priced Epson (six ink model but can't remember what its number was) produced good output but was very slow and expensive to use (ink cartidges were used at an alarming rate and were about GBP10 each). The mid priced HP (again can't remember its number but it was a 7 ink tank model) produced rather strange colour quality and was quite expensive to run. I am now thinking of one of the new low priced (less than GBP500) home colour lasers being made by Epson or Konica/Minolta. They print at 600 x 2400 dpi. Has anyone any experience of using these for photo output? It could be an expensive mistake if they are not very good at photos. My only experience was with a GBP70,000 colour laser which I bought for work some 8 years ago and that was OK for photos but no more than that. It certainly was not as good as the Tectronix thermal transfer that we also had. Wilson
I use the color laser QMS 2200 (1200 DPI). The prints are good, but not great. I also tried the QMS 3100 and the prints were not as good as the 2200. They have a new 3300 out. You can go to their website and send them a s&le and they will print it for you.
I use the Epson 2200 for most of my high end output. I think the results are very, very good. The colors are on the saturated side, but still look good. The prints, depending on paper, should last 25 to 100 years! Prints cost:
Paper 50 cents per 8x11.5 for glossy, or 20 cents for Enhanced Matte.
Ink: About $1.00 per 8x11.5 regardless of type of paper.
I recently picked up an Olympus P400 from the Olympus store on eBay for $167.50. I really like it so far. Colors were a bit off so I bought QImage and their P400 profile. I am limited to a max size of 7.64 x 10, but that suites most of my needs. Running costs are about $1.70 per page for all supplies.
I am currently using a Kodak 8500 dye sub as my color printer. It handles up to 8x10 in 8.5 x 12 sheets. Maintenance is non-existent, prints are done in 60 seconds, colors are deep, rich and I match my monitor colors pretty closely.
The printer itself is around $900, but between ribbon and paper you pay around $1.70 per printed sheet.
The only con I've found is an occasional slight banding in large even-toned areas, no biggie considering the rest.
Having seen the output from the Epson R800, I can't now see the point of a dyesub unit unless speed is a primary concern. The per page cost of the Epson is lower and the gloss print quality is so good that I can't imagine anyone complaining. The pigment inks give good permanence and the prints are water-resistant. It's also capable of a most intense saturation which can make 2100/2200 prints look distinctly pastel by comparison. All that plus the superfine dot pattern and the low price, it's hard to say no. The only thing that has stopped me buying one already is lack of room for it, but that will change in a month when I move house. I think it makes a lot of sense to have both units, the 2100 for larger format work on fine-art rag paper and B&W work, the R800 for smaller glossies.
I gave some photos of my daughter's wedding I printed on a borrowed Epson R300 (fossilised brain just coughed up the forgotten model number) to my sister-in-law who lives in Barbados. The ink is supposed to last 80 years. I used Fuji premium super glossy ink jet photo paper. After just 6 months the prints are barely visible. I understand this printer used dye based inks - not too impressive. I am leaning towards either a Xerox Phaser 8400 melting wax printer or an Olympus Camedia P440. I know the Olympus is expensive to run but its results look excellent - any experience anyone? The Xerox is very cheap to run and stunning for presentations/leaflets but not too sure about its photo abilities. Wax melters used to be awful for photos, with their dithering looking like a pebble dashed wall but that was some years ago, when I had one at work. Again has anyone any recent experience of these? Wilson
Can't add much on melting-wax/dyesub recommendations, but I would advise against being too hasty to group the UltraChrome pigment-based Epson units such as the 2200/2100 and R800 in the same bucket as the dye-based printers. They should provide much better print life, although I wouldn't be surprised if some of the times predicted by the accelerated ageing tests do turn out to be optimistic. But then, the same could be said of the dyesub units.