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Author Topic: Epson 7900 - please help me buy  (Read 11471 times)
Primus
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« on: March 22, 2009, 09:40:31 PM »
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I've reached a point in my photography skills where family and friends are asking for my pictures to hang on their walls (I am mostly into wildlife and landscapes). I have an HP B9180 which is great, but the same 13x19 prints that looked huge at one time are now looking decidedly small, especially when viewed from a distance in a big office lobby.

So I am thinking of buying a 24 inch printer. From what I've read, the Epson 7900 seems the best choice currently, all things considered. Fortunately, money is not an object at this time (within the choices available). And 'she who must be obeyed' has given the nod, so it's a go. I do have some questions and would appreciate very much your responses before I take the plunge.

I am not a professional, just a passionate amateur. Someday somebody may pay me for my pictures, but right now it is just for my personal enjoyment and that of my family, my coworkers and friends.

1. Am I being stupid spending this kind of money on a printer when I am not going to sell those prints? Is there anybody else in my position?

2. What is a good price for the printer? Meridian in CA is offering it at $3075 net (along with 2 rolls of paper) - $500 mail in rebate and a $425 instant discount. This is the best deal I've found so far. They are listed on Epson's website as one of their retailers. Anybody bought from them?

3. Coming from the HP-B9180, I am in love with BW prints. Is the Epson as good, if not better?

4. Given that I may not be printing daily, is the printer self-cleaning, like the HP? How big is the problem with the clogs? I've gone over the thread on the head clogs on this forum and it bothers me a little. But it seems like other big printers have the same problems.

5. I've seen some buyer's remorse here, wrt having bought the wrong size printer. If I find myself in the same boat a few months from now (very unlikely), how easy is it to sell the printer for the 9900?

6. How about 3rd party paper? I mostly prefer matte or luster papers and I love the HP Hahnemuhle smooth fine art and also like the Red River polar matte. Any problems using those?

This is my first post here and I am sorry to ask what may be very basic questions. Unfortunately there are very few sites where a wide-format printer like this is discussed in some detail. I appreciate your answers very much.

Regards,

Pradeep
« Last Edit: March 22, 2009, 09:43:12 PM by Primus » Logged
PeterAit
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2009, 10:00:25 PM »
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Quote from: Primus
1. Am I being stupid spending this kind of money on a printer when I am not going to sell those prints? Is there anybody else in my position?


NO!!! You only go around once, and if you love photography and making top-quality prints, then do it! I am in the same position and have not regretted for one second buying an Epson 4880 a few months ago. I may sell a few prints a year, but I have made a conscious decision that this is my avocation and not my vocation, so I am 100% free to please myself and not the customers.

Peter
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Peter
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bill t.
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2009, 11:06:52 PM »
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In regards to...

"5. I've seen some buyer's remorse here, wrt having bought the wrong size printer. If I find myself in the same boat a few months from now (very unlikely), how easy is it to sell the printer for the 9900?"

I convinced myself than I would NEVER EVER need to print anything bigger than my old 7800 could handle.  WRONG!  Over the weekend I framed 23.5" x 68.5" and 30" x 87.5" versions of the same image.  What a huge difference a little bit of extra scale makes!  The 30" version will sell for about twice the 23.5" version.

In general, I think it's easier to resell a 9900 than a 7900, and you will take a beating trading in a 7900 for 9900.  

Don't be deterred by postings like the head clog ones.  On forums like this there is an emphasis on problem solving that makes issues like that seem more common and more of a problem than they really are.  The are a lot of happy, silent x900 users out there.

You can print on just about anything that will safely pass through through the printer.  But if plan a lot of mix&match then invest in a low end print profiling device.  The devices are especially useful for equalizing monochrome prints.  I took the hour required to read both the large black & white and color targets with a Spyder 3 Print device, the result is a dead-neutral grayscale that the canned profiles can't even come close to.

And yes, you can count on some pretty decent looking B&W prints.  Last time I was in the Andrew Smith gallery in Santa Fe, there were several big monochrome pieces of classic photography on the wall proudly labeled "Epson Pigment Print."
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Primus
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2009, 08:50:18 AM »
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Thanks, Bill and Peter. Makes me feel a bit better about my decision.

I think for now I will go with the 7900. Unless I begin to sell some prints I am going to have a hard time justifying the purchase to myself and to my wife. It is also much bigger and I doubt I will be able to find a place for it in my home office. Of course I may realize very soon that I've made a mistake! Oh well......

Pradeep
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snickgrr
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2009, 09:45:00 AM »
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Re:  #2.  That seems like a great price.  At the last MacWorld in San Francisco in January, Meridian had a booth set up manned by both their people and Epson reps so I would be confident in a strong relationship.  Don't know if you're a Bay area person but I bought my 7900 from Spectraflow another local company, they have an office a block from me.  Besides great service and a good price if you're local they throw in an hour of onsite consultation.  If you're not then it's done via phone.

They're active here at LL as well

http://www.spectraflow.com/
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Tklimek
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2009, 11:17:43 AM »
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I agree with Peter...I agonized over the same decision although on a smaller scale.  I finallaly bought a 4880 and totally love it.

Cheers...

Todd in Chicago
 

 name='PeterAit' date='Mar 22 2009, 10:00 PM' post='270044']
NO!!! You only go around once, and if you love photography and making top-quality prints, then do it! I am in the same position and have not regretted for one second buying an Epson 4880 a few months ago. I may sell a few prints a year, but I have made a conscious decision that this is my avocation and not my vocation, so I am 100% free to please myself and not the customers.

Peter
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bob mccarthy
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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2009, 11:31:46 AM »
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If your happy with the HP ink family, why are you not looking at the Z3200. Also an excellent printer and does very nice B&W. Having a "glop" nozzle makes for super glossy prints also.

bob
« Last Edit: March 23, 2009, 11:32:12 AM by bob mccarthy » Logged
Bas Stekelenburg
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2009, 11:50:18 AM »
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Quote from: Primus
3. Coming from the HP-B9180, I am in love with BW prints. Is the Epson as good, if not better?

4. Given that I may not be printing daily, is the printer self-cleaning, like the HP? How big is the problem with the clogs? I've gone over the thread on the head clogs on this forum and it bothers me a little. But it seems like other big printers have the same problems.

5. I've seen some buyer's remorse here, wrt having bought the wrong size printer. If I find myself in the same boat a few months from now (very unlikely), how easy is it to sell the printer for the 9900?

6. How about 3rd party paper? I mostly prefer matte or luster papers and I love the HP Hahnemuhle smooth fine art and also like the Red River polar matte. Any problems using those?

This is my first post here and I am sorry to ask what may be very basic questions. Unfortunately there are very few sites where a wide-format printer like this is discussed in some detail. I appreciate your answers very much.

Regards,

Pradeep

Hello Pradeep, Welcome to the club!

Indeed I also could not really justify the purchase of a HP Z3200 with my print sales, but I bought it anyway and now I sell more than before, but more important, it is such a joy to print. I went through all my "old" files, well organized in Lightroom, and reprinted many with amazing results. That is in terms of quality and the overwhelming beauty of (your first) 24"x 36". I’m an old black and white darkroom worker and for the first time I found the quality of the Z3200 prints outperforming my darkroom work. On Ilford Galerie Gold Fiber Silk that is, profile included but with the build-in spectro of the Z3200 you can use any kind of paper. Big advantage!
If you want bigger then 24"consider that you need a lot of pixels (medium format preferably) and a lot of room to place the machine and to walk around it with large prints.
BTW What made you so Epson minded? Nothing wrong with it, but for a satisfied HP B9180 user, I just wondered. Do not get negatively influenced by all the posts with piza wheel problems of the older Z3100, there are many more happy Z-users then unhappy, Z3100 users included!
Anyway, buy whatever you're happy with and join us; again, welcome to the club!
Bas
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Dan Berg
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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2009, 12:37:46 PM »
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Do not want to bust your bubble but I think if you are not or do not plan to sell prints their may be other choices . Something like the Epson 3800 would be perfect for you. Smaller footprint and fairly cheap to operate. You can print 17 X 22's and mat to 26" X 30". Pretty big for home owner printing,and selling too. I spent $7600.00 on startup with my 7900. $3995 for the printer,$1,000 for paper and canvas and $2600 for the 700ml set of inks. Remember the printer is pretty cheap but the consumables will eat you alive if your not generating revenue. When you charge your ink lines on setup 50% of the starter inkset is consumed in this process. Good luck with your choice.
Dan Berg
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« Last Edit: March 23, 2009, 12:44:15 PM by Dan Berg » Logged

Primus
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« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2009, 12:37:50 PM »
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Quote from: HasselBas
Hello Pradeep, Welcome to the club!

Indeed I also could not really justify the purchase of a HP Z3200 with my print sales, but I bought it anyway and now I sell more than before, but more important, it is such a joy to print. I went through all my "old" files, well organized in Lightroom, and reprinted many with amazing results. That is in terms of quality and the overwhelming beauty of (your first) 24"x 36". I’m an old black and white darkroom worker and for the first time I found the quality of the Z3200 prints outperforming my darkroom work. On Ilford Galerie Gold Fiber Silk that is, profile included but with the build-in spectro of the Z3200 you can use any kind of paper. Big advantage!
If you want bigger then 24"consider that you need a lot of pixels (medium format preferably) and a lot of room to place the machine and to walk around it with large prints.
BTW What made you so Epson minded? Nothing wrong with it, but for a satisfied HP B9180 user, I just wondered. Do not get negatively influenced by all the posts with piza wheel problems of the older Z3100, there are many more happy Z-users then unhappy, Z3100 users included!
Anyway, buy whatever you're happy with and join us; again, welcome to the club!
Bas

Bas and Bob, thank you.

Yes, I am one happy B9180 owner (though did have problems with several units that were replaced by HP under extended warranty), which I bought after reading Neil Snape's excellent review on it. I've yearned for a bigger printer and had the Z3100 in mind and then the Z3200. However, it appears (from what I've read here and on DPReview) that the Epson is the one to beat, esp. the X900 series. The price differential between the Z3200 24 and the 7900 is about $600 at Meridian, but the big brother HP is much more expensive ($5000 vs $7150).

I've still not given up on the HP, but leaning heavily towards the Epson. For that matter, I've also considered the Canon ?6100 (used to have an old i9900).

Still thinking.

Pradeep
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bob mccarthy
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« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2009, 02:47:19 PM »
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Don't know where you got your prices. This was the first shop that hit on Google. If I get the numbers, not much over $2k for the base 24" printer.

Looks like there's a rebate program ongoing.

But your money - your choice. I own both Epson and HP. My Epson 24" is fantastic as long as I keep it busy. The HP is better when it's used less frequently. Why, I don't know, just works out that way
« Last Edit: March 23, 2009, 02:49:31 PM by bob mccarthy » Logged
Richard S
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2009, 04:11:05 PM »
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Hi Pradeep,

I recently picked up a refurbished Z3100.  The dealer is a heavy HP refurbished outlet and was well known by HP when I called to check them out.  They sell refurbished Z3100's for $1590.  They were great to do business with and in that I'm Los Angeles area based (as they are) they didn't charge me for shipping.

When it arrived you wouldn't have know it was anything but brand new and comes with a full 1 year warranty.  If you pay for it with an American Express credit card, American Express doubles the warranty to 2 years.  The built in spectro saves an enormous amount of time and creates outstanding profiles that are much closer then the canned ones.

I went round an round as well because most everything I do could be called a serious hobby.  I had an Epson R1800 and was kicking around the Epson 4880, but when I saw the price for the Z3100 I jumped and am not the least bit sorry I did.  The unit came with the updated starwheel assembly and I can't give it a paper that it doesn't profile and make beautiful prints.  I used to profile paper for the Epson clicking on 729 color patches by hand.  Took over an hour and they were not as good as the profiles generated on the Z.

If you're interested, the company is Ama-Supply out of Los Angeles and they run their items through Ebay.  Last I looked they had 3 Z3100's available (24").

Thanks,
Richard
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Primus
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2009, 04:45:03 PM »
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Thanks Richard, I will check to see if they have any Z3200s.

Bob, I think I made a mistake in looking up the numbers.

Checked on Meridian's website again, they are still the best so far:

Epson 7900 24" Net cost: $3075, 44" net: $5035 (both include free rolls of paper)

HP Z3200 24" Net cost:$2495, 44" net: $3795  - both have a $1200 cash back, BUT you have to give proof of ownership of another 24" or larger printer (i.e. it's an upgrade discount) from any company.

The HPs are slightly smaller (4" less on the width) and much lighter, the 44" weighs the same as the Epson 24".

From what I've read so far, if it weren't for the HP's paper loading/feeding  problems it would be a no brainer.

If they can get me the upgrade discount, then just for $700 more than the 7900, I can get the 44" HP.

Man, this is getting even harder. I thought the choice was easier last night, when I didn't know.
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PeterAit
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« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2009, 04:54:17 PM »
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Quote from: Primus
The HPs are slightly smaller (4" less on the width) and much lighter, the 44" weighs the same as the Epson 24".

Do you really want a lighter printer? Easy to move, but I wonder how much weight speaks to the durability and build quality?

Peter
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Peter
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Miles
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« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2009, 05:14:26 PM »
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If you can afford it, what is the difference between spending money on this hobby or the next?  You should definately buy a printer.

I started with an epson 4000 and found I enjoyed the possibilities that come with printing your own work;  paper selection, rendering intent, all that stuff.  I learned all the printing basics on that epson and had no complaints with the support offered.  Unfortunately, the one thing that I didn't take into account is that the 4000 needs to be used every day.  If you are a serious hobyist, but don't print every day, that printer would clog.  It clogged so often, that it finally became habit to print a test image before trying to print my work.  I could never count on just walking up and printing an image with out spending some time to verify I would get a good print.  I think I used more ink on head cleanings that on my prints.  Seriously.  

When I went to the Z3100, all of these problems went away.  I can let the printer set for weeks, send it a print job, and no problems.  I consider this one of the best features of this printer.  

So what's my point.  It sounds like you won't be printing daily, just like my usage experience.  Make sure you check to see if the printer you are buying will match your printing habits.  I understand epson has made improvements since the 4000.  I also understand not everyone had the clogging issue I had.  Do your research.  Then go for it!
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2009, 05:53:32 PM »
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I've wondered about the weight difference myself, why does the Epson have to weigh 43 pounds more than the HP Z3200?  That's a HUGE weight disadvantage and HP isn't exactly known for making flimsy products.  The HP does look nice, but the paper handling, lack of a vacuum system make me wonder.  I like the GE but I would like to see prints from both.  Does the GE only make a difference on the very glossy papers?  I still like the output of the Epson / Canon dye printers on glossy papers.
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2009, 06:20:54 PM »
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Quote from: Gemmtech
I've wondered about the weight difference myself, why does the Epson have to weigh 43 pounds more than the HP Z3200?

Stability. Ever see one (or the other) shimmy while printing?
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Andrew Rodney
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Gemmtech
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2009, 06:36:26 PM »
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Quote from: digitaldog
Stability. Ever see one (or the other) shimmy while printing?


Actually I haven't seen either yet.  When we are talking less than 200 pounds for one to weigh 43 pounds more than the other
makes you wonder why?  That's a lot of weight, what's the benefit?  The HP products don't fall apart.

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« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2009, 06:43:51 PM »
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Quote from: Gemmtech
Actually I haven't seen either yet.  When we are talking less than 200 pounds for one to weigh 43 pounds more than the other
makes you wonder why?  That's a lot of weight, what's the benefit?  The HP products don't fall apart.

The new Epson's are built like shit-brick houses. Having had to move a few, I can tell you they are monsters. But if you haven't seen either, last thing I'd worry about is the weight. Look at the output. Take some of your best quality images and have them output on both.

A Hummer and a Mini are not known to fall apart but I know which one I'd rather be in if weight and strength were a factor <g>
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Andrew Rodney
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Gemmtech
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« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2009, 07:01:00 PM »
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I had decided to go with the 7900, but I was wondering about any gloss printing?  I don't think even the Epson fans will dispute that the HP does much better on glossy media?
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