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Scanner and Printer Purchase

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  • Scanner and Printer Purchase

    I've been restoring historical photos as a hobby and am starting to get larger chunks of business and want to invest in a really good scanner and printer. Right now I am using a HP Scanjet 4400c and an HP Photosmart 8450 printer.

    I'd like to be able to make prints for clients from my own printer.

    I would welcome suggestions.



  • #2
    Cindy--I'm afraid I can't give you much help with the scanner...but I'm happy to share my two cents' worth on printers! :-) (This is my opinion, without knowing the particulars of your own needs and set up--I'm sure others will have different opinions--so bear that in mind! :-))

    Frankly, I wouldn't suggest that you purchase a printer for anything other than your own fun. Why? Quite simply--because between the costs of ink, paper, and the hassle of printing (making sure your colors match perfectly, reprints that you have to do because you ran out of one color of ink, mid print, or because you got "pizza tracks" on the last bit of a print, or for some reason, the rollers slipped a bit, and your print is fantastic, except for the last little bit), it's more expensive in terms of actual physical costs, not to mention your time, to print your own work.

    I was given this advice before I bought my first photo printer (an Epson Photo Stylus 890), and I was reminded of it before I bought my second photo printer (an Epson Photo Stylus 960)--and I pooh-poohed the advice. After a year of testing, however--and armed with the knowledge that I could get 8x10s for between $2-3, through online services, and no longer spend ANY time soft proofing and fiddling with printer profiles, I was sold. My 960--and it prints BREATHTAKING prints--which, on high quality semigloss paper or glossy paper can't be told from lab prints--sits idle, under my desk...and I happily upload my digital images, and have the prints back in a day or so. (AND--if the colors aren't right--I get a reprint at no extra charge!)

    I've been very happy with , but there are other online labs out there with comparable prices and service, that others are just as pleased with, and are just as loyal to.

    That said--if you STILL want to buy a printer, I suggest you visit a computer store, like a Microcenter (it looks like you're in Massachusetts?), and compare test prints from the different photo printers. Make sure you're looking only at true photo printers--not printers that "can print photos"--there is a definite difference. (Photo printers are usually very slow printing text, and the quality of their text prints is often not so great...whereas your average inkjet can do decent photos, and much faster, cleaner text.) The big names in that area are Epson, Kodak and HP. You'll need to decide what your budget is--and what sizes you need to print. (I am speaking only of inkjet printers--up to, say, $600 or so. If you are thinking of getting into even higher end than that, then I lack the knowledge to offer good advice. :-))

    If you don't need anything larger than 8x10 or so, then you're looking at one price point in printers. If you need to move up to 11x14, then you've made a big jump in price. You'll also want to consider what sort of prints you'll do--and what sort of archival qualities you need in terms of ink--ie, the more vibrant dye inks of printers like the Epson 890, 960, and 1280--great on glossy and semi-gloss papers, but less color-fast (27 years or so)...or are you looking for archival inks, like those used in the Epson 2000P, where you have 100+ years of life, and that print beautifully on matte paper, but less nicely on glossy and semi-gloss...and that are less vibrant.

    One thing to look for is separate ink cartridges. I upgraded from the 890 to the 960 in less than a year for one reason--because the 960 had separate ink cartridges...and nothing's so annoying as having to replace ALL your colors, because your magenta is low! :-) Much cheaper to have them separate!

    Do you plan on using only OEM inks (more expensive, but possibly also better)--or replacement inks (cheaper--considerably)? Do you see a continous inking system in your future? (Cheapest of all--where you no longer buy cartridges--but bulk quantities of non-OEM ink--that is fed directly into your printer via a set of "dummy" cartridges that you purchase. Great in the long-run--but another $200-300 up front. If you're thinking of a continuous ink system--then you'll want to make sure you buy a printer that you know you can purchase a continuous ink system for--and that you like the inks you can use with it.) There are some lovely continuous ink systems out there that can turn your printer into a lovely "duotone" machine--where instead of having cyan, magenta, light magenta, yellow, black and light cyan inks, you would only use a set of blacks and grays, or blacks and browns, to get richer black and white or duotone prints. (Unfortunately, this means you probably need two printers--one for normal photos, one for black and white only--since you don't want to have to flush out your machine and install a new system everytime you want to print color!)

    There are some terrific resources online--places like: , where you can read up on longevity of inks, papers, and do printer comparisons. I suggest you put in some time reading up on the subject, to get an idea for what you want...and once you've got an idea, then head over to Microcenter--and look through their printer sample books.

    I was pretty sure I wanted to go with Epson, before I bought my printer...but it was the printer sample book that convinced me. At the time I was buying, the Kodak printer in the same class as the Epson 890 had very warm skin tones--too warm, for my taste...and I could see the ink dots, in some places--not all, but too many The HP had no dots--but cooler skin tones...and the Epson had invisible dots and looked very neutral to me. If I wasn't a portrait photgrapher, doing more landscape printing--then the Kodak might've been what I'd want--because the colors were very vibrant and rich, when it came to their landscape samples, and the dots weren't so noticeable in that sort of printing. You would want to find what YOU like best...and also bear in mind that the same images will look different, on different types of paper. (Ie, I love to print landscapes on matte paper--but I only use semi-gloss for portraits.)

    Finally--you might also want to consider what sort of support their is for the printer you purchase. I was a member of the VERY active, VERY supportive group for a couple of years after I bought my printer...and from their erudite and exhaustive emails, I learned much about color management, printer maintenance, and even printer repairs--for Epsons. I don't know if there are similar groups for other manufacturers--but having people who can send you a manual, and step-by-step instructions on how to change printer parts, clean your printer, or reset your printer counter (when your Epson reaches a certain number of prints--it has to be serviced--won't work anymore, without being reset), was invaluable.

    Of course, I still stand by my original statement--that it's more cost-effective to send the prints out to a lab--but hopefully this will give you some ideas about what sorts of questions you need answers to, if you do, in fact, decide to purchase something for yourself. :-)

    Best of luck to you! :-) (Oh--and I enjoyed your website, btw! Your father's site, especially, was beautifully designed and a joy to browse through! :-))


    • #3
      Cindy, welcome to RetouchPRO
      I have absolutely nothing to add to what briarrose has written, so well, about printers. I do not have one, nor do I intend to get one.

      However I would like to join in the praise for the site you made for your father. * I especially liked the "paella" - looks good enough to eat!

      Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

      * Detail: The "Stairs at Sundown" (other 7) seems to have been rotated.


      • #4
        Regarding Scanners...

        I just recently (a few weeks ago) purchased an Epson 4990 Photo. The difference between the Photo and the Pro version is the version of the Silverfast software that comes with it.

        I have been VERY pleased with the scanning results. The quality of the results that I got scanning in color slides with digital ice was simply amazing.



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