Monday, April 23, 2007

From A Comment To A Post

This post was initially meant to be a comment to this post I occasionally came across. The guy’s a designer and an inkjet owner facing the problem of expensive cartridges for his Epson. I found his blog occasionally and was already writing a reply to the post, when realized it’s more like a separate story, not just a comment.

I'm not a designer, though now I do print photos and color graphics sometimes. I also faced the need for color calibration to get better results when I bought my color inkjet printer. It was Canon Pixma i1500. Purchased mainly for printing text, it proved produce photos of decent quality. Being a person who delves into details, I wanted to get best out of my printer. So I tried to find the best way to produce fine quality photos at reasonable cost. ‘Reasonable cost’ didn’t only mean money, it was also amount of efforts I have to put in to get that best results.

I tried different color profiles and different photo papers. Eventually, super-duper photo quality (if you ever get this from a $60 inkjet - that's how much it cost year and a half ago) I was aiming for was compromised for simplicity – I settled for automatic presets. It seemed sensible to me that Canon digital camera and Canon printer should work well together without me jumping around and doing Woodoo magic, and it worked out. I used and still use Lomond Super Glossy Paper, by the way.

Before my Canon inkjet, I used to have an Epson one. The reason I switched to Canon was cheaper OEM cartridges, since firstly I didn’t plan to print a lot, paying extra $5 for brand name was not a problem. However, over time printing volumes increased, partly with the discovery of decent photo printing ability. And when my family began using the printer, too, the extra $5 started making difference to me.

I went to the nearest printer cartridge outlet. Along with original supplies, they sell compatible and refillable cartridges. The difference between the two, they told me, is that refillable cartridges can be refilled with ink many times. Well, actually other cartridges can be refilled too, but they are not very much designed for that, as far as I could get.

I bought black and color cartridges by Sky Horse, and they cost me only $4.5 and $5.5, respectively. At home, I only had color cartridge depleted, so I changed it and reset ink level counter. Then I printed a test color page (little graphics, mainly text), which was OK. However, to be 100% sure it’s OK, I printed a 4x6-inch photo of food and flowers which means lots of small details, variety of colors.

I have absolutely no illusions about this being a professional super-color-match-whatever test. But I was completely fine with what I got. So, I decided to stick with refillables, they provide the quality level I require and they don’t cost much.

Now that I found a cheap source of ink, later I plan on upgrading my printer, probably to an inkjet multifunctional. More and more often I need copying option and my printing volumes are not that large to buy a laser one.

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