Red River ink life testing

Following up on our recent post concerning ink cartridge life, Red River Paper, one of our favorite paper companies, has posted some similar test results regarding Epson’s Stylus Photo R1900 and Stylus Photo R2400 printers. They used the same test image and similar measurement techniques to come up with a cost per print for images printed at 4" by 6", 5" by 7", 8" by 10", 11" by 14" and 13" by 19". They also work a bit deeper on trying to define a metric for something they call “Cartridge Equivalent Usage,” or CEU.

This report addresses concerns and arguments about the true cost of ink in desktop photo printing. Using the Epson R2400 and Epson R1900, we conducted a series of print tests to determine how much ink is used in a full coverage 8”x10” print. From that figure we extrapolated ink usage per square inch. The objective is to share a realistic cost per print vision with inkjet users. The choice to pursue photo inkjet printing is in the end an individual economic choice.

We think this is pretty important stuff, and it’s good to see others working on similar tests — the data regarding the R1900 is especially welcome, and it looks like Red River’s results on the R2400 are very similar to ours, which speaks well to this style of test’s repeatability. If you’re interested in this topic, it’s worth going through the report.

Based on some of the comments we’ve received, we think there are a few tweaks we can make to get the test methodology a bit more secure, and be extended to HP and Canon printers. Stay tuned.

Glossy papers from Red River and Moab

We’ve been testing quite a few printers in the past month or so–in fact, there are 10 printers set up in various states around my office as I write this. When we evaluate a printer, we start out with the printer manufacturer’s papers with our test images; in theory, that combination should offer the best quality “out of the box.” Realistically, it’s also the way that most people will use their photo printer. (The printer companies have also understood that providing a range of high-quality papers is a smart business move, so it’s a much easier way to go than it was a few years ago.)

When you want to compare prints between printers, it helps to have a more-level playing field. Looking at a print from competitive printers on the same paper stock can help draw some clear delineations on the qualities of a specific unit. To get to this point, we profile the paper-printer combination with either X-Rite’s i1 or DataColor’s PrintFIX Pro, which gives us an ICC profile that we can use when printing from Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture. Both products do a very good job of creating ICC profiles for us: the X-Rite solution offers more automation, but the PrintFIX system–since replaced by the Spyder3 Studio–is significantly less expensive. We find the profiles created with both to generally be of high quality, although you can often find very good profiles on the paper vendors’ Web sites.

When printing on matte papers, we’ve found Epson’s Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte (formerly Enhanced Matte) to be a good strong paper that has held up well and reproduces images very well on printers from Epson, Canon and HP.

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