Digital Photography Now Printer Reviews
3-part series: Photo ink-jets laid bare
Updated 19th February - 2002
Part 1: The truth about photo ink-jet running costs
Unlike HP, Lexmark offers a genuine multi-density photo ink cartridge
However, Lexmark deserves to be represented here as it markets its Z43 and the faster Z53 model (£90.47 - dabs.com price). You can use special photo ink cartridges that enable ‘true’ 5-colour photo printing, which is more than HP offers with its Photoret technology, for example.
Lexmark ink cartridges are remarkably pricey. This is partly because, like HP, a print head is built in to each cartridge; you’re not just buying an ink tank. Lexmark and HP will both tell you that you will never suffer from a worn out print head with their printers.
Using Dabs pricing again, a standard colour cartridge is priced £25.84 and the (optional) photo cartridge you need for 5-colour printing is £31.72. That’s a total of £57.56. The photo cartridge is interchangeable with the standard black-only cartridge and both are used in conjunction with a standard colour cartridge. So in photo mode, you are (strangely) using two colour cartridges, though the Photo cartridge includes black ink.
When you buy the printer in the first place, you need to buy a photo cartridge in addition to the printer itself as the Z43 is only supplied with the standard black and 3-colour cartridges.
No own-brand paper?
Unlike all the others in this selection of printer marques we have examined, Lexmark does not supply own-brand photo paper and, apparently, does not actively recommend a third party brand. However, Lexmark does have a commercial relationship with Kodak and supplies Kodak-branded ink-jet printer models like the Kodak Personal Picture Maker 200. Lexmark also uses Kodak paper for all its product demonstrations.
So how did the Z43 do? The low ink warning for the photo cartridge arrived after just 20 pages of our 10x7.5 inch composite test image were printed. The photo cartridge magenta ink mis-fired after the 25th test page. The standard colour cartridge lasted another 10 test pages before yellow ink started to fade out.
At £31.72 for a photo ink cartridge, the photo ink alone costs over £1 per page. Divide £25.84 for the standard colour cartrisdge by 35 test pages gives a cost per page of nearly 74 pence. That’s a total of £2 per page - already making the Z43 the most expensive by some margin without even including the paper cost.
Kodak Ultima Ultra Glossy A4 paper comes in 15-sheet packs, priced £12.99 or 87 pence per sheet. That works out at a very disappointing £2.87 per test page overall. You can save considerably by using Kodak Premium paper instead of Ultima. This paper is slightly lighter in weight, but just as glossy and only costs £8.99 for 15 sheets (60p/sheet), making the overall cost per test page of £2.60.
Test results - printer by printer: