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 user 2006-10-04 at 11:06:00 am Views: 62
  • #16543

    Photos fade with cheap ink
    INKJET printers capable of producing brilliant prints are cheap. Unfortunately the materials needed to make them work are ruinously expensive.
    Canon, Epson, Hewlett-Packard and Lexmark all make printers capable of producing excellent prints and the hardware is remarkably affordable. However, buying the gadget is only the beginning of the shock to the credit card.Imaging’s Canon i9950 printer is a wonderful machine but it uses eight ink cartridges that cost $24 each. Genuine Canon paper is also expensive, particularly if you opt for the best Photo Paper Pro. And the story with Epson and Hewlett-Packard is much the same.It is understandable that the frugal photographer will be seduced by cheap third party ink cartridges and refills. We proceed on the cynical assumption that the printer makers are giving away the hardware in order to get us addicted to their ink and papers but we are not fooled. We’ll outsmart them by buying no-brand.It’s an appealing logic, but be warned. For a few years Epson ran a series of advertisements intended to scare their customers away from third party inks. With graphic photographic proof the company claimed that if any but their own genuine inks are used their printer heads would be ruined.

    There was widespread hooting at the self-serving alarmist advertisements. But what if it is true?Imaging can’t speak of Epson experience but we can report that third party inks wreaked havoc on the expensive printer heads of a Canon printer we owned. The heads clogged up and there was nothing we could do to clear them.When we checked with Canon they told us that use of third party inks does not void their warranty. They neither recommend nor warn. But our experience turned us off no-name inks forever.

    Now comes another persuasive reason for not using third party inks: prints made with them quite literally fade before your eyes.The Wilhelm Imaging Research Institute – the de facto standard setter for inkjet print longevity – has recently tested a range of alternative inks from the big office supply companies in the US. The house brand names are unfamiliar to us but presumably these inks come from the same source that supplies our third-party market.Wilhelm found that where, for instance, Hewlett-Packard inks used with HP Premium Plus Photo Paper produce prints that last 73 years under standard illumination, the cheap inks faded in five months or, at the most, six years. HP 95 and 99 photo cartridges produce prints with a life expectancy of 108 years. With the cheap inks the life of a print is 4.6 years at best.The disparities are just as startling for Canon and Epson printers. Wilhelm considers “the permanence of all the after-market products tested to be unsuitable for printing valued consumer photographs”.Sadly, we get what we pay for. And what we pay for when we buy genuine inks and papers is a total system where the chemistry and physics of all the components have been optimised to work together to produce the best results and protect the microscopic ink jets from damage.