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Author Topic: IPF 5000 vs 3800  (Read 5720 times)
smulder
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« on: February 16, 2007, 08:25:29 AM »
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I'm close to buying.  My usage is as a relatively low volume color printer.  I would be supporting my studio portrait efforts as well as large nature prints.  Black and white is not extremely important to me.

Ok, I've read reviews of both of these printers and I'd like to get comments from those using them.  As far as I can tell, so far:

Cost - close enough not to matter
Print quality - close enough not to matter
Documentation - Canon is bad, but I don't have a problem using the internet


IPF 5000 advantages -
can use a roll feeder
no ink loss in swapping matt to gloss
includes a special driver plugin
wider gamut
no clogging
lower ink usage


Epson 3800 advantages -
size


To me, this feels like a slam dunk for the Canon.  I'd like to get some feedback from those who have purchased and enjoy the Epson.  What advantages am I overlooking?  I have the space for the Canon, so the size issue isn't huge.

Thanks for any input!

Samuel
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madmanchan
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2007, 10:01:57 AM »
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Samuel, I also had to make this choice between the 3800 and ipf5000, and I went with the 3800 (and have been happy so far, but I've only had it a short time).

One reason was size and weight. I don't have room for the Canon.

Another reason is that I'm familiar with using Epson printers and the Epson print driver. As I'm sure you're aware, there is an excellent Canon ipf5000 wiki that is kept up-to-date. However, I still get the feeling that the ipf5000 is somewhat more complicated to use (e.g., there are reports of difficulties with the roll feeder, the plug-in not supporting black point compensation, etc.). If you get past the learning curve, supposedly the ipf5000 is fantastic.

A third reason to a lesser extent is media support. I like to experiment with lots of third party papers. I haven't read reports of problems with the Canon Lucia inks, but it is well known that Epson's UC and UC K3 inks work very well across a very wide range of media. Naturally, Lucia is newer to the market and time will tell if can support the same range. So far so good, it seems. If you already know what kind of media you want to print on (e.g., glossy) then you don't need to worry about this issue.

When it comes to weighing the pros and cons of the 3800 vs ipf5000 that you've listed, the only one that made me think twice was roll support. I do wish the 3800 had it. But frankly I always used cut sheets, even on my older 2200 which had roll support, so the lack of a roll feeder won't likely be an issue for me. All of the other advantages of the ipf5000 weren't a big deal to me.

I don't think you can go wrong here. You just have to figure out what your specific needs are and match the printer to it.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2007, 10:05:02 AM by madmanchan » Logged

grepmat
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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2007, 11:42:10 AM »
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I looked at both printers too, some months ago.

First, I note that Canon has extended its rebate. Nice, but I chose the Epson anyway.

Second, reports are that the gamut differences are very slight - a technical difference that would not be evident in actual prints.

Third, don't minimize the size and weight differences - they are staggering. The Epson can be shipped via normal methods or loaded in your car, it can be lifted easily by one person, and it fits quite comfortably and even almost discreetely in a small home office. The Canon ships on a huge pallet, requires two people (minimum) to move, consumes a massive amount of space, and has a physical presence that will utterly dominate almost any home office. Given a machine that big and imposing, I'd be looking at a 24" printer!

Fourth, after buying an expensive printer and costly fine-art paper, etc., differences in ink use and costs are likely to be minor issues for a user with "relatively low volume" needs.

Fifth, by most reports, the Epson is a more mature system that has fewer glitches in its hardware and drivers. Edit: I'd be quite alarmed by the many reports of teething problems with the Canon. The Epson has been a totally trouble free experience for me thus far.

Sixth, as a previous poster stated, third-party support is likely to be much higher for the Epson, at least for a while.

On the other hand, there's no roll support for the Epson. That's a tradeoff with importance that only you can figure out. For me it was not an issue since I'm also a low volume user that has no interest in dealing with curl. I also note greatly increasing choices in large cut sheets these days, so I don't see it as much of an issue for me.

Also, on the other hand, the ink swapping is still not without costs. I've never quite settled the matte vs. glossier paper debate, and I'd prefer to switch papers without giving that any thought, but as a former 2200 user, I've long-since adapted to making that switch on a less frequent basis.

The bottom line is that the Epson is a very good compromise for a medium-volume home printer, whereas the Canon is intended as a no-compromise printer aimed directly (and perhaps only) at a higher-volume user that has a studio with more space.

I am quite happy with the Epson.

Cheers.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2007, 12:08:55 PM by grepmat » Logged
jpgentry
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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2007, 02:46:08 PM »
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I would go with the canon if you plan to do printing on canvas.  The Epson can is not made to feed canvas though I hear there are some work arounds.

If you think you will do volume work I would go for the canon.  The Canon's 16bit driver will possibly also give you better gradiations and color transitions.  Gamut will be larger on photo satin and glossy while the Epson may give a slightly larger gamut on matte.

If you want to make small 4x6 prints on little cut sheets go for the Epson.  The Epson will also print slightly finer dots for the little prints, something only noticable if you are looking with very close inspection.  Canon just released a new firmware that was supposed to give it a finer dot pattern however.

I look at the Epson as more of a 2400 class machine while the canon is more of a workhorse machine.

-Jonathan
« Last Edit: February 16, 2007, 02:48:12 PM by jpgentry » Logged
Alaska
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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2007, 02:52:37 PM »
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Guess that I came from the old school of if it weighs more 46 vs 99 lbs it just might be better.  So far I am pleased with the iPF 5000.  Both printers have their issues.  Both will give your great results.  With the free roll feeder and free shipping it just seems to be a good deal.  

Yes, it does weigh 174 lbs with the pallet - printer and roll feed.  However two can lift the entire package without issue.  Or just take off the roll feed box and save a few lifting pounds.

The one concern that I have is with changing out ink sets for gloss vs matte for the Epson units.  For the 3800 it is easier, but I for one did not like that technology of ink line purging, etc.  Then there were the stories of 3800 head clogs.  Perhaps a minor issue, perhaps not as one can not tell the percentage of units effected.  

So did I make the right choice -- well I think so -- but time will tell.  In the mean time I will enjoy great looking prints.  

Either machine is a good choice.

Jim
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smulder
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« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2007, 03:07:36 PM »
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Thanks for the feedback.  Certainly gives me food for thought.  I agree that there are definitely some space/usability issues with the much larger printer that I hadn't really thought through.

None of the feature differences seem all that important to me.  I'm not sure about roll printing because the curl may be more hassle than it is worth.  I think my time is more at a premium than the cost difference between roll and sheet paper.  The only problem is that one of the most interesting sizes for me is the 16x24.  I'm not fond of the 8x10 proportions of a 16x20 size for my nature prints.  I see that you can now get a few papers in 17x25, but the selection is limited.  Thats one place where a roll might be nice.

Incremental costs are psychologically important to me.  I can screw myself up for a big investment upfront if it means that I just print and don't worry too much about the costs, but if I find the incremental costs too high I will likely not print as much, wasting the initial investment.  Since a majority of the printing would be for personal or family/friend usage, this is a real danger.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Samuel
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madmanchan
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« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2007, 04:32:52 PM »
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Yup going up to 16x24 is one area where you're going to ask yourself how often you're going to print at that size. If you're going to do it pretty often, go for the roll support. But if you're like me, who wants to print up to that size but only once in a while, then maybe the 3800 will do.

Note that the 3800 will not do 16x24 borderless. If you want borderless, you will need to do 17x25 and then trim. The largest sheet size that the 3800 will do borderless is 16x20.

Another thing to consider is what types of papers you plan to use. If you plan to primarily use a few papers of the same sort (e.g., mostly PK papers or mostly MK papers), then the issue of switching PK and MK inks on the 3800 (in terms of time and ink lost) shouldn't be a problem. For instance if you always print on Premium Luster then it's a non-issue.
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tbonanno
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2007, 04:41:41 PM »
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Samuel,

I have BOTH printers in my studio.  They are both good machines targeting slightly different users.  

The Epson Pro 3800:  If you think you'll NEVER need to print Panoramas or care about the economy associated with rolls, and you don't mind dealing with an occasional nozzle clog, and don't mind wasting a little ink going between matte and photo paper, and don't mind the fact that there is NO vacuum feature on the Epson and therefore you may get headstrikes if the paper isn't completely flat, and are intimitated about learning an unfamiliar and less mature interface (compared to Epson which has been around quite awhile), and initial cost is an issue, then the Epson is for you.  It does a fine job all in all and B&W is excellent, even with the default settings.  Also the Epson has less bronzing than any other printer I've used (except those with a gloss enhancer).  It is also the only printer with decent size ink tanks that prints 17" cut sheet AND 4x6" cut sheet !!  The small cut sheet capability is WHY I have one.

The Canon iPF5000:  More rugged.  NO, absolutely NONE, Not ONE nozzle clog in six months of moderate to heavy use (including two 2-week periods of no use when I was traveling on assignment).  Ink economy with the Epson and the Canon is NOT a minor difference.  Canon signficantly more economical, both in initial purchase (per ml) and in consumption.  Canon's generic profiles actually work well with most papers, including Epson papers.  BookSmart Studio's free iPF5000 profiles (for just about every paper you can imagine) are quite good also.  Rendering intent is important with the Canon, more so for some reason than the Epson, especially for B&W.  There are a few bugs still being worked out, but none that are serious in my opinion.  Canon seems to be getting their support act worked out (Epson's is already  working reasonably well).  The trailing edge banding that some users observed is NOT a problem once folks found that there is an alignment algorithm built into the firmware to deal with the issue.  Firmware 1.23 significantly improved the dot / screen pattern to the point that I prefer it to Epson's 1440 "superfine".  New dot pattern is much "tighter" compared to earlier firmware.  Color and detail is superb with Canon as is the tonal gradation, especially with 16 bit plug-in.  Can use cassette feed without unloading roll.  All blacks on board, excellent B&W controls similar to Epson.  Both Epson and Canon produce excellent 21 step greyscale wedge.  

To be honest, I find that I don't use the Epson for anything other than small cut sheet.  I'm happy to be doing most of my printing (rolls and cut sheet from 8x10 to 17x22) on the Canon.  I think the 12 color inkset does make a difference on certain wide gamut files.  I really like the plug-in.. much quicker and better quality prints.

You'll be happy with either printer probably as long as you know the limitations of each. The Canon however, with the current rebate, is a no-brainer in my opinion.

Tony Bonanno

Quote
Thanks for the feedback.  Certainly gives me food for thought.  I agree that there are definitely some space/usability issues with the much larger printer that I hadn't really thought through.

None of the feature differences seem all that important to me.  I'm not sure about roll printing because the curl may be more hassle than it is worth.  I think my time is more at a premium than the cost difference between roll and sheet paper.  The only problem is that one of the most interesting sizes for me is the 16x24.  I'm not fond of the 8x10 proportions of a 16x20 size for my nature prints.  I see that you can now get a few papers in 17x25, but the selection is limited.  Thats one place where a roll might be nice.

Incremental costs are psychologically important to me.  I can screw myself up for a big investment upfront if it means that I just print and don't worry too much about the costs, but if I find the incremental costs too high I will likely not print as much, wasting the initial investment.  Since a majority of the printing would be for personal or family/friend usage, this is a real danger.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Samuel
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« Last Edit: February 16, 2007, 04:44:24 PM by tbonanno » Logged

Tony Bonanno Photography
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dmg
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2007, 05:09:48 PM »
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Yup going up to 16x24 is one area where you're going to ask yourself how often you're going to print at that size. If you're going to do it pretty often, go for the roll support. But if you're like me, who wants to print up to that size but only once in a while, then maybe the 3800 will do.

...


Being able to print 16x24 (I have an IPF500) has changed the way I approach my prints. It can be a very happy experience or a humbling one, depending on the quality of your images. I have printed several times at 16x32 also without any issues.

I don't seell prints, by the way, but the roll makes it cheap to print. I am willing to experiment and see what a print will look like more willingly knowing that the Canon Sating HW costs me less than Can$3 per meter. Yes, the printer is big, but it is cheap to operate and makes great prints.

Yes, the curl is a drag, but you have to roll big prints to ship or give to the recipient, anyways (or perhaps even to store).

dmg
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madmanchan
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2007, 05:12:19 PM »
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Note that you can print panos on the 3800; it'll just be less convenient to do so, and you can't go to arbitrary lengths. The front and rear feeds can take sheet paper up to 37.4 inches in length. So you can, for instance, do a 16" x 36" pano. Just FYI.
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John_Black
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« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2007, 05:16:41 PM »
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ColorHQ has a waiting list for the IPF6000 24", so I guess that means Canon will announce the IPF6000 at PMA...?...  If the IPF6000 has the same footprint at the IPF5000, I'd probably opt for IPF6000.  I'm also hoping an IPF6000 has fewer quirks than the IPF5000.  I'm assuming HP will be announcing the 24" replacements for the Designjet 130 (a $1100 24" printer).  Depending on their ink choice, such a printer could give the IPF5000 some more competition.  I'll make my printer decision after PMA since it's just a couple weeks away.
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John Hollenberg
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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2007, 06:25:26 PM »
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The one issue with the Epson that may be an issue is the clogging.  In spite of many people claiming no clog problems, a significant minority DO have clog problems.  While is leave 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean (low humidity not a problem), every Epson I have had has had some degree of clogging issues.  This is more of a problem if you print sporadically, as I do.

The Canon does not have a single report to the Wiki of any clogs, EVER.  Most of us don't even bother to do nozzle checks, even if there is some kind of print problem (e.g., a color cast shows up).  Experience has shown that it will always be due to some other problem (like incorrect settings) and NOT due to clogging.  This saves time/hassle and is the main reason I decided not to buy the Epson.

Granted, the software/firmware is still maturing, but most every problem has been documented on the Wiki and a workaround found or a solution.  The only problem that is serious that Canon hasn't fix is the roll feed issue.  An unknown number of people are unable to feed from the top tray when the roll feed unit is installed.  Canon has re-designed some gears that will probably fix the problem, but it hasn't for a couple of people by current reports.  Note that the roll feed unit works fine, and there is an easy workaround--remove roll feed unit and put the original manual tray back in place.  It's just that some of us are too lazy to do this (and feel we shouldn't have to because the problem is due to a design defect in the roll feed holder).  Again, this has been or will be shortly resolved by Canon, so while it is a bit of a hassle, it isn't a show stopper.

--John (Wiki Creator)
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usinare
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« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2007, 07:14:28 PM »
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i bought the ipf5000 in november last year. it was too big for my home office, so i went hunting for the 3800 and found one. got it in december. my initial plan was to sell the ipf5000 because it was too big. i did a about 40 prints of the same pics on both printers.  i digested and studied the prints for a long time. in a few cases, the prints looked the same from both printers, but the ipf5000 prints were better in most cases, although the difference was small. the ipf5000 was better in the blues, greens, reds, yellows. eventually i sold the epson 3800 and kept the ipf5000. i have not had problems with this printer except some minor annoyances initially, because i did not know what i was doing. the epson 3800 is very easy to use, but keep playing with the ipf5000 and you will figure out all its secrets. i hang prints in my office and my staff come and say, i am wasting my talent. i am a statistical programmer by profession, but my passion is photography and printing.

if you have the space, get the ipf5000, period.
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grepmat
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« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2007, 07:19:53 PM »
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Just as a general comment, and I'm not trying to start anything here: It's interesting that now that Canon finally has a real competitor to Epsons K3 printers, printer debates on the various sites are starting to sound more like the perenial favorites such as Nikon vs. Canon debates, where its human nature for posters (myself included, I suppose) to defend their own choices (with all due respect to the current posters, who all make excellent points).

This is especially odd since the 3800 and the 5000 are not really intended as competitors at all. For a direct competitor, one has to wait for the inevitable 4800 replacement. It's clear that the present rebate is a way of Canon competing both with the established 4800, and with the 3800 in a product class (advanced home users, etc.) that the 5000 is not well positioned for simply due to its huge weight and bulk. I also have little doubt that Canon will introduce something more like the 3800, in a few years, for that class of buyers is a large and growing one.

P.S., no clogs with my 3800 yet, with use every few weeks (but typically for many hours at a time when I get to it). Switching inks seems to have little impact on ink consumption thus far, and given the ridiculous amount of prints I've made with it, it seems far more economical than my old 2200. No head-strikes either, and there's a trivially-easy way to prevent them when using oddly-sized third-party paper. On paper sizes, I do agree that 17x25 or so would be nice. I cut my own mats, though, so pano's in various aspect ratio's are not that big a deal.

By the way, with the Canon printers, one should amortize the cost of replacing the heads (or plan on retiring the printer when the heads expire). They may last a long time, but replacements are very costly, and along with the good side ("no clogs"), head wear is a down-side of the technology.

Cheers.
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Dan Wells
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« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2007, 11:36:34 AM »
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I've never used the 3800, but both the iPF5000 and the Epson 4800 are excellent machines. The Canon gamut is clearly better (noticeable to a very discerning eye, or with prints side by side). The Canon's running cost is significantly lower, due to more economical ink usage (no clogs plus it seems to use less ink on the same amount of paper). The 3800 is less economical to run than the 4800, because its 80 ml cartridges are the same price as the 4800s 110s (except for switching matte and photo blacks), so the difference is even larger. Add to that the fact that large sheet paper is MUCH more expensive than rolls (anything from 30% to 300%, depending on manufacturer), and the 3800 is probably at least twice as expensive to run.

What you need to weigh that against is that the 3800 looks like a 13 inch printer, and folds up to take little more space than one, while the iPF5000 looks like a 24 inch printer, and basically needs to be on its own table. The Epsons are also much less quirky to deal with (they actually come with a manual, unlike the Canon!)

If you can get the profiles (either make your own or find a source of downloadable ones - there are a few out there), the Canon's Photoshop plugin offers a real improvement in image quality and flexibility over any standard driver for any printer. It's halfway between a regular driver and a RIP like ImagePrint. It does NOT take the same profiles as the regular driver, so make sure that any downloadable profile is for the plugin (conversely, make sure that any profile you download for the driver actually IS for the driver and not the plugin).

                                                              -Dan
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madmanchan
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« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2007, 12:51:55 PM »
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The sheet vs. roll cost comparison is often overstated. Sheets made by the printer manufacturer (e.g., Epson) will sometimes cost more than rolls, but generally they're about the same price, maybe within 10% or so. Look at Moab's papers, InkJetArt's papers, Innova's papers, Hahnemuehle's papers, etc. Also see http://www.inkjetart.com/news/archive/IJN_12-28-06.html#4

There are definitely advantages to rolls in terms of volume work, unattended operation, etc. But cost isn't one of them.

The 3800 is currently less economical than the 4800 in that the former's 80 mL carts and the latter's 110 mL carts both cost $50. But the 3800's carts will probably drop in time once the feeding frenzy dies down. When the 4800 first came out, its 110 mL carts were closer to $70. Just FYI.

I'm not sure what to think about the Canon 16-bit plug-in. We've had a recent thread where it was claimed that it offered no improvement in color gamut, but an advantage in smoother gradations and perhaps a better halftoning algorithm. We've also had a recent thread suggesting that the new firmware for the Canon improves the dither so it looks the same as on the Epson 3800. And then we've had Michael's first impressions report on the 3800 where he says in his few comparison test prints it's quite difficult to see any difference between these two.

So it seems the quality differences, if they exist, are so slight that the only way to satisfy the end user is to have the user compare prints for themselves with their own eyeballs.
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« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2007, 01:06:51 PM »
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So it seems the quality differences, if they exist, are so slight that the only way to satisfy the end user is to have the user compare prints for themselves with their own eyeballs.
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Good advice for sure.  They are both VERY close.  Working with both, I will say that ONE area where the new Epson printhead really shines is with B&W on glossy papers.   The Epson 3800 has the least "bronzing" of any pigment printer I've seen that isn't using a gloss optimizer.  The Canon and the 3800 are about equal as far as gloss differential goes, but the lack of bronzing with the 3800 amazed me.
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Tony Bonanno Photography
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« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2007, 12:14:50 AM »
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Several of the Epson papers show cost differences of over a hundred percent between large sheets  and rolls. At B&H right now, the popular Epson Premium SemiMatte paper is $79.99 for 100 17x22 sheets, and $74.99 for a 16 inch by 100 foot roll. Per square inch, the sheets cost just over twice as much. I agree that some of the third party papers show much less difference, or even none at all, but I would not agree with Eric's (or InkJetArt's) blanket assertion that rolls rarely save money (IJA's house brand papers ARE generally priced the same). Rolls are also more efficient for odd-sized prints (square prints are a great example), although IJA's point about sometimes losing paper off the beginning of a roll is well taken.

                                  -Dan
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