Digital Photography Now Printer Reviews
3-part series: Photo ink-jets laid bare
By Ian Burley
Part 1: The truth about photo ink-jet running costs
Test results printer by printer:
How much did you spend on your camera? Probably, a lot. But how much are you willing to spend on a photo printer? Probably, not a lot. Once you have a printer, how much does it cost to run? The chances are, you canít even begin to answer that question.
Calculating the cost of the paper is easy enough, but after that it gets difficult. Just how long does the ink last and how much is the total cost per print? The only way to work this out meaningfully is to install brand new ink cartridges and then empty them, logging the area covered on the way.
Weíve done just that with four of the top photo ink-jet platforms; HPís Photoret III (using a psc-950 all-in-one printer, scanner and fax unit), Epsonís Stylus 895 Photo, Canonís S800 Photo and a last minute entrant, Lexmarkís Z43. All claim to be genuine photo printers rather than just general purpose ink-jets that can manage the occasional photo print in emergencies.
Does Canonís individual ink tank per colour strategy work? Does the policy of HP and Lexmark, who integrate the print head and the ink cartridge increase costs? Epsonís colour ink cartridges are among the cheapest to buy, but does that mean they donít last as long? Read on and all will be revealed.
First of all, some notes on how the tests were carried out. We focussed specifically on photo printing, not text. We used a composite image incorporating four randomly selected photographic scenes and printed them on A4 media at a size of 10x7.5 inches (25.4x19.05cm).
Default printer driver settings for premium glossy photo paper, or nearest equivalent, were used. Ink cartridges were deemed to be exhausted when they could either no longer deliver consistent colour or when the printer driver refused to allow further printing.
All media and ink costs were obtained from the Jessops UK Web site on 1st October. Jessops is reasonably competitive, but some independent suppliers may be able to beat the prices quoted.