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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Nothing Wrong With That

One last thing about selecting a "pig printer" (thanks to S. Lallement for the image): you don't get any special Brownie points for optimizing your ink investment above all other things. It makes sense to me not to hemorrhage money through the ink carts, especially unwittingly. But, to get the cheapest ink price, is it worth it to buy a printer the size of a bathtub, for which a whole set of inks costs more than a month's mortgage?

You can go insane trying to calculate, to the last infinitesimal fraction of a centime, the cost of ink per square inch of printed paper surface. But why bother? Are you telling me you don't waste more money on useless purchases every day, or week, or month? After all, the best way to save money on ink is not to make prints at all, and that's no fun. There are other things way more important in choosing a printer: principally, how well you like the way the prints look. Oh, there are other things...does it take roll paper? How fast does it print (not an issue to me, but possibly to you)? How are the online reports of usability (i.e., does it have issues) and reliability (does it keep on doin' what it does without fuss)? Don't forget to consider how long you'll probably keep it—the last three printers I've owned are now festooned around my house doing impressive imitations of useless junk (for some reason I have a hard time discarding still-working, formerly expensive peripherals). Their current junkyard status was not factored into my decision to buy them in the first place.

In other words, my advice is to pursue the results you want, even if it costs you a little money. I'm keeping the HP B9180, and I don't care if the ink price per ml is not the best, because I love black-and-white, and I love the way the B9180 does black-and-white. Is it the "best" for black-and-white? I don't care: I like it best. So okay, the ink costs a little more. But paying a little less for inks when you don't even really like the prints you'll make is a pretty fair definition of foolish.

For me, photography is not a way to save money: it's what I save money for.

Then again, in the end you'll probably do your shopping like everyone else: judiciously consider all the pros and cons, and then go right ahead and buy whatever you want the most.

Nothing wrong with that.



Blogger Ernest Theisen said...

"For me, photography is not a way to save money: it's what I save money for."
I am thinking about buying Lightzone or maybe Aperture. I will us this line when arguement about spending too much money on photography starts. Thanks. E

11:50 AM  
Blogger Scott Jones said...

Here, here! Uncommonly common sense stated clearly. Sorry, can't comment further, I need to get back to printing and having a ball.....:)

11:51 AM  
Blogger Stan-Rhode Island said...

Never have I heard truer words spoken. You buy what YOU like. You don't figure the cost of a print down to the last penny.

If it looks good to you, works well for you, then the *&^%$# with what others say.

Those same thoughts should also apply to ALL things computer.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Andy Smith said...

"For me, photography is not a way to save money: it's what I save money for."

Great line!

12:27 PM  
Blogger Photo-essayist said...

Living in the boonies, I'm unlikely to ever see one of the new HP "Z" series printers with their built-in spectrophotometer, but that sort of self-calibration ought to get one to a final print much faster. True, there remain other calibration and profile issues in the complicated chain that leads to a final print, but hats off to HP for biting off a big chunk. Futzing over ink consumption when one is churning out one near-miss print after another makes little sense to me. Getting to THE print quickly counts for a lot in my book.

1:24 PM  
Blogger elgenper said...

Just a question: you say you love the way the 9180 prints b/w; could you elaborate? Do you use matte or semi-glossy surfaces? Do you "tone" your prints, or try to keep them neutral?

(OK, ok, that made it three questions, not just one...;-) )

Per Ofverbeck

1:46 PM  
Blogger ShadZee said...

" For me, photography is not a way to save money: it's what I save money for. "

Thanks Mike. You made my Day.

3:49 PM  
Blogger John Roberts said...

"Is it the "best" for black-and-white? I don't care: I like it best."

Thanks for being honest. I believe that same logic is applied to 97% of all photo equipment purchases, although for some reason most folks are afraid to admit it. I don't know why so many feel compelled to try to justify all of their purchase decisions with cold, hard numbers. Like buying a car, buying photo equipment is a lot more subjective and personal than that.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Big Mac said...

But what if (unlike me) you sell prints or make a living solely from this? Just as in any other business, wouldn't you want to keep your costs down to keep your margins up?

9:29 PM  
Blogger Morven said...

I'd say that even if you sell prints for a living, the cost of ink per page is probably not your biggest cost nor the only economy factor. If you churn out prints like a Fuji Frontier machine does, maybe - but if you're selling art prints?

I like photoessayist's point - the printer that produces the result you want with fewer wasted attempts probably saves you more money than a few cents per page in ink.

If producing prints is your business, the printer that maximizes the human productivity is probably the biggest cost saver - because it's quite likely that human employees (or indeed yourself as sole proprietor) are the biggest cost and the biggest factor.

11:50 PM  
Blogger willfurniss said...

I used to have a 10000CF Epson, I showed it to a girl once (who thought it was a piano) and now she's my wife! Big is good for certain things, but that printer cost me a fortune in many different ways.....

6:30 AM  
Blogger David C. Fox said...

this post and some of the comments remind me of the article i just read on the blog of a NYT science writer:

11:41 AM  

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