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Better print quality - inkjet or lab?

Discussion in 'Printers, Monitors, and Color Management' started by gilbert, Apr 10, 2007.

  1. gilbert


    May 6, 2005
    So. CA
    It has been at least 3-4 years since I last printed images on my home printer. I used to use an Epson Photo 780 (little brother to the 1280) but stopped using it for several reasons:

    1) Clogs - The print heads would repeatedly get clogged and it got to the point where I could not clear them no matter how many cleaning cycles I ran through them.
    2) Price - Price per print was cheaper at the lab.
    3) Convenience - I print a lot of 4x6s to 8x10s and it was tedious to load the paper, replace cartridges, clean-up clogged heads, and especially to cut 4x6 paper (Epson didn't make 4x6 heavyweight matte paper).
    4) Quality - I felt that my prints from the lab were higher quality than my home prints. I was using Epson Heavyweight Matte paper with OEM inks. For a lab, I used to print at Costco and now I have all my prints done at WHCC.

    I have been very happy with my prints from WHCC, but was wondering about the 'other side' because I know that inkjet technology has been improving quite steadily these past few years since I stopped doing my own prints. My questions is, how does the quality of the current state of the art inkjets such as the Epson R2400 compare to prints from a lab where all things are equal (color profiling, etc.)? Are clogged print heads still a problem?

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2007
  2. BigPixel

    BigPixel Guest

    clogging is pretty much a thing of the past Gilbert with the newer generation dye based printers. I have an HP DJ130, a 24" dye based inkjet, that has never clogged or needed a head cleaning in 3 years. Print quality is far superior to what I could get at a lab here. Its archival on only 2-3 HP papers which is fine for the work I do.

    But many people are going for pigmented inkjets today. You can get archival prints on a wider range of papers. The per print cost is higher and they are more prone to clogging due to the pigments held in solution. In fact the newer pigmented HPs are supposed to be left on permanently so that they can go through a head check/cleaning cycle every so often.

    But to answer your Q directly, current inkjets are more dependable than you're used to and the print quality is exceptional. Canon, Epson, HP all have fine printers out now.
  3. I own an Epson 3800, no issues with clogs.... but I had a 1280 before that and never had a problem with clogs either. I always used Epson ink.

    I think the quality on all the new printers is very good.
  4. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    I wonder if clogging on the newer pigment printers could be due to local humidity. It is dry here and I often have clogs on my R1800. My DJ130 has not clogged on me yet.

    As to the question....

    I believe that no lab can match your personal touch. There is more to it than gamuts, details, and tonal trasitions.
  5. Just bought a canon ipf5000. Prints are stunning, archival and far superior to what I have been able to get at the lab.
  6. Toklat


    Aug 31, 2006
    Hey Matt,

    I finally got down to the Captain Cook to see your nice body of work on the very last day of March. My favoriites were the B/W trombone player(your avatar), the hand on the trumpet and the swans. Nice job!
    Did you print these on the Canon ipf5000 ?
  7. I have two Designjets, a 130 and 750c - never had a clogging problem. The local museum just bought a monster 44" Epson 9800 - they have to print something every day to keep it from clogging. The price is cheaper for me at home since I don't live near a large metro area, so the turnaround time and shipping make it more economical to print at home.

  8. Hey cool. Glad you made it. Yes they were all on the Canon. However the two on canvas were printed on an Epson. If you have something you would like to see printed let me know and we can play with it on my printer.
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