Digital Myth #1: Pro Printers are More Expensive
By Paul ButziOne of the digital photography myths I’ve run across doesn’t quite take on the status of a myth…but it is a pretty pervasive misconception. The misconception is that a printer like the Epson Stylus R2400 is a cheaper way to make prints than its upscale, pro-level brother, the Epson Stylus Pro 4800. That might be true, but only if you plan to make very few prints.
Right now, the street price for an R2400 delivered to my door is about $780. The street price for the 4800 is quite a bit more—$1800 delivered to my door. At first blush, the R2400 looks a lot cheaper. The trick is that in the box with the 4800, there’s a set of 110ml ink cartridges. To really level the price, we need to add in ink cartridges to the R2400, so that we’re buying the printer and the same amount of ink in each case. Ink cartridges for the R2400 would run me $13 apiece, and they have a capacity of about 11ml of usable ink. So we need to add in 9 cartridges, in each of the 8 colors we’re going to use. Nine cartridges, 8 colors, $13 a pop—that means we’re buying $936 in ink, just to get up to the 110ml level we’d get with the 4800. That brings the total cost for the R2400 up to $1,716, so that the R2400 costs us just $84 less than the 4800. Eighty-four dollars isn’t a whole lot to get a printer that’s built to pro standards, can print wider, and has the self-calibration features of the 4800.
But wait! There’s more!
There's more. The 4800 can also use 220ml ink cartridges, which really cut the cost of ink. A 220ml cartridge costs $84, or 38 cents per ml. Compare that to the cost for the little cartridges for the R2400, which run $1.18 per ml—more expensive by a factor of three.
If you compare the cost of running the two printers until you’ve run an additional full set of 220ml cartridges through the 4800, and 20 sets of 11ml cartridges through the R2400, the additional ink cost will be $672 for the 4800 and $2,080 for the R2400. Total cost for the R2400 to this point is $3,796, and total cost for the 4800 is $2,472…a difference of $1,324 in favor of the "more expensive" Stylus Pro 4800.
Posted by PAUL BUTZI