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Author Topic: Frank discussion re: print permanence and printer/ink recommendations  (Read 11057 times)
Len Bigwags
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« Reply #40 on: December 15, 2011, 05:20:18 AM »
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I approach the questions of print longevity with a response that "best current day practise" has been implemented. Whether that be ink onto cotton or baryta papers, or wet process properly bleached/fixed and washed. All handled with care and presented / finished appropriately. Over the years the only prints that have ever been returned to me for attention have been physically damaged RA4 and/or inkjet prints or "completely" faded early days encad dye based prints Cry.  That is not to say that there are prints out there that should be returned or reprinted that were initially produced using technology that at the time looked acceptable- ( think early ink or even internegative prints)
           It seems that correct print handling, open discussion, appropriate action and a willingness to question and investigate with our own eyes rather than rely on repetitive "web speak" when required will see us through most situations.
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« Reply #41 on: December 15, 2011, 11:55:39 AM »
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...Add to historically significant photos, photos that are merely sentimental family photos but having enduring value nonetheless even if only to one's own family...

this significance can't be understated. The importance of my family's photo history to myself and others is huge. I often thought in the rush to digital in it's earlier days, when storage was not given a lot of attention, particularly for the casual user, and prints were all inkjet dyes, that there would later be large gaps in people's personal image history. I find that tragic in a way, my old shoebox with my father's WW2 Alaska basic training days, his photos he sent back to connect, will still be there when another family member's new baby born in 1995, those images may be gone.
Another far more mundane point, the boring assignment photography I made in the 90s for annual reports... worthless now in the marketplace.. are becoming of interest to a local museum that focus on regional industry.

There's no way of knowing how images may become important in the future on a wide variety of levels. It's interesting how a community well aware of this, and keeping some concern alive on some levels, has changed so dramatically and quickly. I don't mean that as a judgment, but it does seem confusing...
Tyler
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MHMG
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« Reply #42 on: December 15, 2011, 12:59:33 PM »
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.. It's interesting how a community well aware of this, and keeping some concern alive on some levels, has changed so dramatically and quickly. I don't mean that as a judgment, but it does seem confusing...
Tyler

Yes, digital imaging has radically changed the perception of photographic prints as keepsakes, but not the reality. The hardcopy print may well be more important now than at anytime in the history of photography, because we really don't know how the attrition process of digital files (i.e., loss for all reasons including simply being thrown away) will compare in the long run to the loss of film as the original source content. That said fewer and fewer people share my concern about the importance of human readable hardcopy prints.

Mark
« Last Edit: December 15, 2011, 05:30:37 PM by MHMG » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #43 on: December 15, 2011, 01:39:51 PM »
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Hi!

I understand that some issues may come less from the pigments than from the optical brighteners that may "wear out" under intense illumination.

Best regards
Erik


That's not necessarily true. I wish we could control where people display prints but we can't. Unfortunately "collectors", aka, the wealthy people who buy expensive photography, more often than not, in my experience, put them on the wall right beside a big window or under a skylight. They usually have a house full of color work hanging in fairly bright light, and certainly enough to burn out these brightening agents in short order. The issue, as Mark has pointed out a million times, is the it is very common to have much, much greater intensity than 450 lux for short periods of time than it is ever as moderate dosages. Short bursts of real intensity can really quickly damage them, like from here in Atlanta, or California, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, etc, etc.  I've seen it happen, and I've seen the C prints and Iris prints go green or red right there in their homes. It isn't  a theoretical issue for me, I've seen it first hand. And I've seen friends Epson Ultrachrome prints turn gray in the whites on the old "archival matte" garbage right in the middle of a show in a  public space under sky lights, in a couple of weeks.  And these were for sale. I also recommend uv glass for any client that is going to have anything in bright light for any period of time. That is the easiest way to cover you self.

john


quote author=ErikKaffehr link=topic=60227.msg486025#msg486025 date=1323897961]
Hi,

I see that some art is sold as decoration. That kind of art would hang on display, possibly in intense lighting, but not for very long times (like > 50 years).

Art that is sold to collectors would probably stored in dark conditions, hardly continuos 400 Lux lighting assumed in the aging tests. So I guess that the humble permanence figures for the Epsons actually quite OK.

Best regards
Erik

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John Nollendorfs
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« Reply #44 on: December 15, 2011, 01:44:23 PM »
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<<The hardcopy print may well be more important now than at anytime in the history of photography, because we really don't know how the attrition process of digital files>>>>

Here, here Mark!
That has been my matra for quite a while.
"the best photograph is a print"

"the best camera, is the one you have with you"

« Last Edit: December 15, 2011, 01:47:01 PM by John Nollendorfs » Logged
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #45 on: December 15, 2011, 02:49:36 PM »
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Hi!

I understand that some issues may come less from the pigments than from the optical brighteners that may "wear out" under intense illumination.

Best regards
Erik



I've had Epson Archival Matte - as it was called then - prints hanging on my fridge door for years. The colours are fine, the OBA gradually faded - evenly- so I now see the underlying paper white. Not a big deal.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Kerry L
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« Reply #46 on: December 15, 2011, 04:05:07 PM »
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I've had Epson Archival Matte - as it was called then - prints hanging on my fridge door for years. The colours are fine, the OBA gradually faded - evenly- so I now see the underlying paper white. Not a big deal.

Mark, I'm not sure how long you mean by "for years" but it certainly isn't decades. So your print has changed in a relatively short time. Can you say with certainty that some colours haven't shifted?

While that may be OK with you in this instance but if you had paid a significant amount for a print would you be happy watching your investment deteriorate?
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« Reply #47 on: December 15, 2011, 04:11:27 PM »
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Mark, I'm not sure how long you mean by "for years" but it certainly isn't decades. So your print has changed in a relatively short time. Can you say with certainty that some colours haven't shifted?

While that may be OK with you in this instance but if you had paid a significant amount for a print would you be happy watching your investment deteriorate?

OK, years here is three or four. No, I can't say with certainty some colours haven't shifted because I didn't measure specific spots all over the print when I hung it up, nor therefore could I do so now and produce any scientifically valid data. Colour change becomes a problem when you look at a print and it doesn't look right any longer. That happened with prints on the fridge door made a bit earlier with an HP inkjet using non-pigmented inks. It was pretty clear in that case when the prints became unacceptable.

The main point I was making is that the kind of OBA fading I observed simply DID NOT make the print "unacceptable". The presence or absence of the OBA turns out to be no big deal, and the manner in which it faded turned out to be no big deal. If it had faded in a manner leaving uneven blotches - different story, but it didn't happen.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #48 on: December 15, 2011, 09:17:19 PM »
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Well I have "archival matte" prints all over my studio and they all have deteroirated horribly. Actually I've thrown most of them away by now.

It totally efffects all the light values in a print and changes their color and tonal value, as so the garbage red river "premium" papers the Premiere bright junk papers etc.

This is an issue most of us agreed on about 6 or 7 years ago. Old news.

The major issue is, as my Dad used to say when he was still with us, is that we are living in a "throw away society". That is only accelerating geometrically and the corporations are certainly aware of that fact. With photo being taken over by I phones and toy cameras and the like, not to mention video and the web.

But as long as humans will be around there will be this tiny little segment of the population that will care about longevity of flat art. But it's a small group for sure and getting smaller.

j
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #49 on: December 15, 2011, 09:41:44 PM »
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Truly high quality "archival matte" prints off the desktop became possible with the Epson 4000 back in 2004. I bought that printer when it first became available and it was a huge improvement over the path-breaking 2000P. I have many  hundreds of prints made in that printer on "archival matte" paper. Clearly, much depends on how they are stored. My letter-size prints are bound in books (as described in my article on this website) and my larger prints are kept in print storage "Century" boxes. Reading your post, I just wandered over to my shelf and looked through some of those 2004/2005 volumes. They really are fine. The OBA hasn't deteriorated (to judge from the face of the print versus the back) and the colour is just as I remember it being when I made them. As for the stuff on the fridge, well I've explained that. So my experience is clearly different from yours and perhaps leads to some different conclusions, but perhaps much more time needs to go by before we jump to conclusions. Let's revisit this 10 years from now, "inchallah".
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #50 on: December 16, 2011, 02:32:26 AM »
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There is a wide variety of OBA use in papers. The papers that have just enough to make their already good paper white more neutral and the OBAs applied in a way that they last longer have their place in printing. The papers that rely on the OBAs and little else for their paper white, score up to b -11 from neutral and are prone to fading the way they are made, are a xxx* anyway. Most of the profiling done these days is done with UV cut instruments which does not trigger the OBA effect and by that is not taking any OBA influence on the colors into account. Display conditions vary; glass of different qualities, even more illumination varieties, 24 hour changes in illumination. OBAs being more or less effective, colors changing accordingly. That kind of paper whites are prone to fading, both from light and ozone. So print permanence is just one of the reasons to avoid them. There are papers around that have little or no OBA but a high white reflectance and not all of them fall in the expensive category. Several tested well at Aardenburg but more have to be tested. Spending some time and money on a wise selection of papers should not bankrupt a print shop and could do a lot for the public image of this industry. John's excellent "the best photograph is a print" asks for an approach like that.


met vriendelijke groeten, Ernst

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John R Smith
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« Reply #51 on: December 16, 2011, 03:04:38 AM »
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Looking back through my family photograph archives (which were kept in a messy selection of albums, envelopes, boxes etc) the common factor is that prints survived, but not many negatives did. There is a very patchy representation of the original negatives, which makes those paper prints all the more important. The next noticeable factor is that early colour prints from the 1960s have mostly faded or taken on a magenta cast, where the monochrome ones are fine. And the other thing I notice is that the older monchrome prints are often better than the more recent ones - I have studio work from the early 1900s which is in perfect condition. None of these prints have been particularly cared for, fussed over or curated, but they seem to have made it OK.

If the family snapshot has really migrated to the i-phone and the laptop screen then there is likely to be a massive hole in most folks family records in the future, because the average family PC user generally has no backup stragegy in place whatever.

John
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« Reply #52 on: December 16, 2011, 05:15:11 AM »
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Add to historically significant photos, photos that are merely sentimental family photos but having enduring value nonetheless even if only to one's own family.
Ditto! I really enjoyed to see my father in law, born 1930, posing on a big motorbike at age 3 prouder and cooler than James Dean, and photographs of my own family in Tunisia in the thirties and fourties, and stereo glass plates of my grandfather's youth in the beginning of last century...
And these family photos do also show the 60's-70's discoloring syndrome, some barely readable, leaving a few decades much worse documented (including my own early childhood).
So yes, print permanence does matter, even for more casual shots.

Quote
I do my best to share my information about print permanence with fellow photographers and printmakers. There are days where it seems to me like no good deed goes unpunished, but every now and then I know I've connected with someone who feels similarly about these matters as I do.
Mark, I really feel we can't thank you enough for your work!

Looking back through my family photograph archives (which were kept in a messy selection of albums, envelopes, boxes etc) the common factor is that prints survived, but not many negatives did.
Yes, and digital files (especially raw files) might share the same fate : anything that is not evidently a photograph is much more at risk, especially once the author is not there anymore to look for it.
It's part of a good conservation job to add meaningful captions to photographs to give them sense, and to present them in a well-looking way to give them value (ie more in a portfolio print box with title or album than in a shoebox).
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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« Reply #53 on: December 17, 2011, 01:55:03 PM »
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Looking through the various posts, I'm not sure we ever fully answered Luxborealis's three questions, so I'll make a go of it here.


So, this begs three questions:

How much of your decision about which printer to purchase is based on print permanence? Should we collectively be placing more emphasis on it that we have been?

When I choose papers I generally consider several factors not  always in this order: 1) price and availability 2) surface finish (i.e, gloss/matte level and texture), 3) media color (cool, neutral, or warm) and brightness/lightness values), 4) Dmax/Lmin, 5) Color gamut with chosen printer and inks 6) media thickness/flexibility 7) any available print permanence data.

Image content plus intended purpose for the final print (i.e, is it going on the family fridge or into a gallery for sale) influence how I weight these factors into my final decision.

Because knowledgeable printmakers can discern the first six factors on their own, meaningful results on print permanence remain the toughest information to obtain. I believe that if print permanence information was more readily available, more printmakers would act on the information.

Are those who use Epson (including myself) at a significant disadvantage? If by recommending Epson, are we putting brand name ahead of the real-life data? Or is print permanence really not an issue? i.e. Is 45 years for Canson Baryta long enough? (99 years under UV filtered glass).

Although both WIR and Aardenburg data suggest that we can rank order HP Vivera pigment inks (both versions) as the most stable on average, Canon Lucia (three versions) second, and Epson Ultrachrome k3/k3vm/HDR (they share a common yellow ink) as third in overall lightfastness, there is significant overlap in system performance when we also factor in what media are chosen. In other words, casually choosing a paper for an HP can sometimes lead to inferior print permanence results compared to wisely choosing a paper for an Epson printer.

Additionally, by the time fine art inkjet prints land in a gallery, the print permanence information is usually applied in very general "catch all" phrases like "archival pigment print on 100% cotton paper". I rarely see the specific printer, ink, and paper combination identified although a discriminating collector might eventually inquire about this information when deciding to buy a print. I've also never seen pigmented inkjet prints identified as pigment-dye hybrid systems which is what they really are when the paper contains OBAs. Hence, I would have to say for all practical purposes you are not at a disadvantage using any of the major OEM pigmented ink sets these days. All that said, I do believe printmakers should be trying to choose printers, inks, and media wisely if they are concerned about print durability, and that's why Aardenburg, WIR, and one or two other labs do what we do.


How much of your decision regarding paper is based on print permanence? I realize that there is more to paper-selection than permanence (e.g. D-max,base colour, etc.; the paper has to suit the photo), but I notice, for e.g. that Canson RC paper has longer permanence (Satin = 88 years) than Rag Photographique (69 years), Platine (53 year) or Baryta (45 years) - three favourites of the print-selling crowd. Obviously, UV filtration makes a huge difference, but overall permanence is still relatively longer with RC.
In my case, I do place considerable emphasis on print permanence in my choice of media when purchasing expensive fine art papers and canvas media. I believe other printmakers would too if they had more access to good information. What I don't do is obsess about longevity ratings expressed in "display years" because the results are at best only crudely relative not absolute. They don't tell us about non linear fade rates, or how the appearance of fade manifests itself as different systems reach noticeable fade levels (e.g., some systems show color balanced fading, others show selective losses in specific colors/tones). Moreover, it's very easy for the informed collector to radically alter the print longevity outcome. Consumers who take these "lifetime" ratings as absolutes are largely ignorant of the environmental control they can exert over the predicted lifetime. The end-user's actual chosen display environment can alter the outcome by three orders of magnitude. Thus, a print rated at 250 years and placed on display in one part of a home may fade faster than a print rated at 25 years if it's displayed in another part of the same house. This is why AaI&A reports exposure dose ratings and not display life ratings. I leave it to the end-user to extrapolate the exposure ratings to display years based on his/her own assessment of the real-world environmental light levels. It's not hard to do, and it is much more informative.

kiind regards,
Mark
http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com
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« Reply #54 on: December 20, 2011, 08:04:42 PM »
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Thanks, Mark, for addressing the original questions. Although the other discussion was interesting, it did wander a bit off topic!

The questions were posed more for us to think about what we are recommending and why. I love my Epson printer, but am wondering why it came so highly recommended when, given the same paper in high-end Epson and HP printers, the HP comes out way ahead in print permanence.

Perhaps the Epson is:
  • better for Dmax?
  • better for B&W? or
  • better for some other unquantifiable reason
for so many photographers to be unconditionally recommending it. Or is it just the popularity factor since Epson seems to have been the company that led the way in pigment inks.
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« Reply #55 on: December 21, 2011, 04:14:49 AM »
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The questions were posed more for us to think about what we are recommending and why. I love my Epson printer, but am wondering why it came so highly recommended when, given the same paper in high-end Epson and HP printers, the HP comes out way ahead in print permanence.
 . . . for so many photographers to be unconditionally recommending it. Or is it just the popularity factor since Epson seems to have been the company that led the way in pigment inks.

Terry

I only print B/W. I've tried HP and Canon, but for me the Epson K3 printers using the ABW mode have a "look" which the others just don't have. There's a kind of creamy, more subtle tonal gradation which to my eye is more complex and interesting, and which more closely approaches the quality of a fine chemical print. This being the case, I would rather have this "look" rather than be fussed about the finer points of print permanence.

John
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 09:39:07 AM by John R Smith » Logged

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« Reply #56 on: December 21, 2011, 07:32:51 AM »
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Thanks, Mark, for addressing the original questions. Although the other discussion was interesting, it did wander a bit off topic!

The questions were posed more for us to think about what we are recommending and why. I love my Epson printer, but am wondering why it came so highly recommended when, given the same paper in high-end Epson and HP printers, the HP comes out way ahead in print permanence.

Perhaps the Epson is:
  • better for Dmax?
  • better for B&W? or
  • better for some other unquantifiable reason
for so many photographers to be unconditionally recommending it. Or is it just the popularity factor since Epson seems to have been the company that led the way in pigment inks.

Epson was first to the market with widely accessible pigment ink printers.  Some will consider these the 2000/4000 models.  Personally, I consider the 2200 the first widely accessible and accepted pigment ink printer.  Epson came out with newer (and better) models of pigment ink printers before Canon and HP even got into the game.  Epson had a huge installed user base ahead of the others.  Epsons also produce wonderful prints.  The odd complaints about head clogging and/or other foibles aside, Epson produces very fine printers.  There's really no mystery why Epson is so often recommended.  People generally recommend what they know.  With that large, installed user base, people know Epson more than the others.  

Canon and HP came later to the pigment ink game.  They had to go through their respective pigment ink growing pains, just as Epson did.  Unlike with Epson; however, users weren't prepared to go through those growing pains with them on a wide scale basis.  They did with Epson because there was no other choice.  There was another choice when it was Canon's and HP's turn.  As noted further up in the discussion, when HP came out with its good pigment ink printers there was a dearth of OEM paper choices and third party papers didn't work overly well with HP inks.  As more paper became available, giving users more options (i.e., from Hahnemuhle), the acceptance of HP (and Canon as more media was produced for its machines) can grow.  But there still is a greater media choice for Epson printers than the others; although the gap is narrowing.

All three of the major printer manufacturers now put out machines that are capable of producing high quality, long lasting prints.  There really isn't a mistake in choosing any one over the other.  Your apparent narrow focus on print longevity is, I believe, misleading as a major factor in printer choice.  Selection of media, quality of media and switching costs; both in hard $ and in time to learn a new system - aka soft $ - for those who own another brand, also need to be taken into consideration.  By now I'd guess the printer market is fairly mature.  Those who want to print themselves have, likely, purchased into a system.  The number of new users now is probably fairly small with much of the sales coming from existing users upgrading to newer and/or larger models.  Brand choice, in this situation, is sticky.  

While we can get into the technical minutiae of dmax, gamut and the like, the question has to be asked how much matters in real world conditions.  Are the small differences in dmax going to be overly evident in real world viewing conditions?  The colour gamut of a particular inkset may be good for some photos but not others.  It's very much image and media dependent.  I guess to cover one's bases one each of HP, Canon and Epson should be owned.  And wouldn't the manufacturers love that?  Grin  All three now have multi-black/grey inksets and can produce very good b&w prints.  That's the area where there may still be the widest, relatively speaking, difference between them and if one were looking at a printer for just b&w (or mostly b&w) then getting into the minutiae may matter more.  But then, really hardcore b&w printers still seem to be converting to third party inks and the extremely hardcore are mixing their own inks.  Go back to the 2200 for a minute.  One of the big complaints about it was gloss differential.  In my experience to see this you had to look at the prints from a very shallow angle, an angle that simply wouldn't be used in real world conditions with a printing hanging behind glass.  It's not something that's unique to inkjet prints either.  I've got a limited edition press made print that has the opposite problem - higher sheen on the deep blacks.  But, again, it's only evident from a very shallow angle. 

I'm not saying that the longevity data should be ignored.  Not at all.  What I am saying is that an overreliance on one particular piece of data isn't the best way to approach the buying decision.  As Mark points out, there are many other considerations that all need to be weighed.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 07:53:06 AM by BobFisher » Logged
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« Reply #57 on: December 22, 2011, 02:28:55 AM »
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Bob,

Reading your message I see that single opinion (again) expressed; people that do not select Epson are motivated by the longevity of the prints and compromise on the print technology, image quality, media choices or whatever and feel the related growing pains. I can only write that I and many others do not have to compromise more than we would have with Epson printers. The compromises will not be the same but are in all cases bearable. Most at this side of the fence have used Epson printers or still have Epsons next to the other brand(s) so can judge the differences.

My reply on all your opinions will not be written. We differ in opinion and see the facts in another light, for both of us accepting a compromise on our views is not likely to happen.


met vriendelijke groeten, Ernst

330+ paper white spectral plots:

http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm




« Last Edit: December 22, 2011, 02:59:45 AM by Ernst Dinkla » Logged
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« Reply #58 on: December 22, 2011, 06:40:34 AM »
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Ernst, I'm not saying buyers of Epsons don't make compromises as well.  In point of fact I said that, at this point, choosing a printer from any of the three major manufacturers wouldn't be a mistake.  I also said all three now make wonderful machines and all three can produce excellent, long lasting prints.  We all make compromises.  What compromises we may find bearable is an individual choice.  My point to Terry is that concentrating solely or largely on print longevity isn't the way to judge a printer.  My other points about Canon/HP coming to the pigment ink game later and the lack of papers (in the past) for HP and the stickiness of brand choice wrt switching were trying to explain why Epson has a larger user base still today.  

There were problems with the early Epson pigment ink printers, that is true.  Users went through a fair amount of frustration with those early machines.  But it's also true that those problems had largely been sorted when Canon came out with its first pigment ink printers.  And it's also true that, based on reviews, there were frustrations from users.  It's also true that, early on, there was a lack of media for HP and HP branded media offered not much choice.  But I've also said those issues are now not relevant.  

I'm sorry you feel I'm slighting your printer choice.  I'm not.  

I've been an Epson user for a good number of years.  Starting with one 1280 then when I converted it to a third party pigment inkset for b&w I bought a second and converted it to a third party pigment inkset for colour.  Then a 2200 and now a 3800.  If I were looking for a new printer today would I definitely stick with Epson?  Maybe.  I'd certainly look at Canon.  I'd be less likely to consider HP, although wouldn't rule them out definitively.  First because of bad experiences with (non-photographic) HP printers in the past.  Second, the company is in flux and the future of many of the business sectors appears uncertain.  The second may be resolved at some point.  The first can't be.  But that's my own personal experience and relates back to the personal decisions/compromises we all make.  That doesn't take away from the fact that current models can produce excellent prints.  Weighing all of the factors may, note may, trump past experience. 
« Last Edit: December 22, 2011, 07:30:33 AM by BobFisher » Logged
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« Reply #59 on: December 22, 2011, 07:56:32 AM »
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Quite a bit of loose talk here about "this side of the fence" (what "side", what "fence") and "compromises" - what "compromises"? Choices usually involve trade-offs, some trade-offs are theoretical while others are tangible; none of this kind of language helps people to understand them or make decisions. History is one thing and current reality may be quite another. While the history is academically interesting, people buying printers today need be concerned about not only what the machines do in the here and now, but what quality of service and support they can expect going forward. For the latter, history can be of some guidance, but that is also a moving target; hence customers need to keep their eyes and ears open in real-time evaluating this factor.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
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