Meta: Printing photographs for a show

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I just finished printing out 50 of my disability-protest photographs for a small show that I'm opening at the main Yale library. More on the show later. I used my Epson Stylus Pro 1280 printer. It's an older model -- but still on the Epson books, as it's very popular among photographers for its pigmentdye-based inks.

I usually print on Matte Paper Heavyweight. I've tried a variety of different papers types and styles and have always returned to the matte paper. It reminds me of the old fiber papers when I used to use the darkroom. The blacks are deep and luscious and it especially gives my film-based photography the softer look that I like.

While waiting for my printer to print, I was struck by two sentiments. One is the ease of color photography now that we have digital printers. I had always worked in a darkroom, but never with color because of the steep learning curve and expensive equipment necessary. Photography has also become much more affordable. The cost of printing out 50 photographs came out to around $75 -- the new ink cartridges just barely made it through the batch -- or around $1.50 per 8x10 photograph.

Epson has some of the highest per-photograph running costs of the industry -- especially its consumer and semi-pro models with their smaller ink tanks. I recently bought a Canon for my in-laws and was struck by how much the color gamut (and claimed longevity) has improved on those units. My next wide-body might be a Canon as I'm a bit sick of the games that Epson plays with its "Intelligent" ink cartridges.

In other news, I don't have internet service in my house as Comcast is backed up and can't get a tech out until next week to reinstall things (please, Verizon, bring FIOS to southern CT). So postings will be limited until the end of the month.


Unless you specially modified it the Epson 1280 is not pigment-based ink, but dye-based.

Richard - Thanks, you're right. Oops, corrected. Here's the link to the Epson page for this model:

You can get pigment based inks for the 1280 -- especially the gray-scale inks for black and white printing. I haven't done this yet, I'd be interested in people's experiences with it.

The newer epson R1800 and R2400 wide-body printers do have pigment based inks, but from what I hear the ink cartridges are rather small so if you do a lot of printing, you might be better off getting the llarger format printers in the same model line (such as the Stylus Pro 4800) since the ink tanks on those are much bigger (220ml).

I use an Epson 1270, which uses the same cartidges as the 1280. I have switched to the Pantone ColorVantage inks, which are pigment inks, except for the black, which is pigment/dye. The original Epson inks fade quickly; the ColorVantage inks to my eye produce better color (not more saturated, but truer) and so far appear to have better longevity. I print mainly on Legion Photo Silk, and, less often now, on Crane's Museo or Legion Somerset Velvet.

I have had very little clogging. For reasons I cannot explain, however, I have had to update (i.e., create new) profiles for this ink once or twice. Perhaps there is less consistency from batch to batch, but it also could be corrupted profiles.

How permanent are these inks?

Jerry =

Epson says about 25 years for Epson Heavyweight Matte; 10 with Premium Glossy; and 6-7 with Premium Photo. This is framed behind UV glass and with indoor lighting.

A couple of my unframed photos taken in 2001 and printed with the 1280 are now fading slightly.

My next printer will be a true pigment printer -- and most probably not an Epson or HP because I don't like how they are suing all of the third party ink vendors.


Thanks for the info. The litigiousness of the printer companies doesn't make sense.

What pigment printer would you recommend?

Jerry -

It matters in that it'll be very difficult to get third party Epson and HP ink soon. This includes some of the pigment ink modifications or the multiple greyscale mods.

That all being said, there aren't that many options. :-(

A new printer worth looking into is the Epson 3800. The Pro version (about $1,500) includes a RIP for better color control including better B&W printing. It doesn't have roll paper capabilities but it will print on paper from 17x22 down to card stock sizes. They start shipping in November.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on August 21, 2006 9:51 AM.

Info: Norwegian deaf lives was the previous entry in this blog.

Careers: Doctoral programs in Deaf Studies and Disability Studies within Anthropology is the next entry in this blog.

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