Over the years I have become quite disillusioned with inkjet printers because they cost so much to operate. I switched my main printer to a laser printer years ago and never looked back.
I used to print photos quite a lot on my Epson printer and didn’t have many complaints. Then I got to the point where I just didn’t need to print that much. So the Epson printer heads started plugging up due to lack of use. Every time I wanted a print I would have to clean the heads once or twice and I could see $5-$10 of ink go down the tubes. I stupidly paid to replace the heads to no avail.
Finally, I just quit using it and send anything bigger than a 4×6 to a great lab which happens to just be a few blocks away. For 4×6’s I have a sublimation dye printer which works perfect every time, even if it sits for 6 months.
A photographer friend of mine convinced me to purchase the Canon Pro Mark II because he never has issues with it plugging up. I’ve had that printer for about 2 years now. It’s true it doesn’t plug up, but it still burns through a lot of ink if it has been sitting turned off for a few months. A full set of ink is $100 so if I only print an 8×10 every couple of months, I swear that first 8×10 goes thru $10 of ink. I’m not really ahead.
I mentioned this to my buddy. He told me he never buys Canon ink. Everything he does is on large canvas and he goes through a lot of ink. But his photo style is painterly whereas I go for realistic, so I was skeptical. Everything I’ve learned over the years is you must use the manufacturer’ss ink and their paper to get the printer to correctly color match. So I was pretty skeptical about buying ink off ebay.
I needed to purchase 2 ink cartridges and they were going to cost me $20. I figured I’d take a quick look at ebay. I found 3 full sets of ink for $25. WOW. Talk about cheap. I figured, what the heck, for that price I couldn’t really loose.
I imagine this ebay.com link won’t last that long, but here is where I ordered it:
After I received the ink, I printed my favorite reference image:
You can find this reference image at
I printed the reference image with the new ink. I can’t say it was perfect, but it was EXTREMELY close. The only thing I could see different was the teal color in the upper right corner of the macbeth color checker card was just slightly less saturated.
It’s pretty rare I need perfect. And for $.78 / cartridge rather than $10 for cartridge, I definitely willing to compromise.
This past week I was working on an image of the local Maker Space’s logo and printed off several 8×10’s to see the exact output and realized I was about out of Canon paper. I was making a Costco run that evening, so what the heck, let’s try Costco glossy photo paper.
100 sheets of canon paper is $20 at Amazon. I got 150 sheets for $19. I printed a reference image on the Costco paper. No difference between the two.
Costco photo paper is not significantly less expensive, and I’ll go back to Canon paper when this stuff runs low, but it is good to know I can use other paper with no adverse effects.
So my plan is to keep buying cheap ink and checking it with the reference image. If the color strays too far, I can just send my output to the nearby lab when I need perfection.