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Thread: The New HP B9180 13x19 printer WOW WOW

  1. #1
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    The New HP B9180 13x19 printer WOW WOW

    I try vry hard not to be overly enthusiastic about new products I am evaluating, certainly not before I have put them through a full shakedown cruise but in the case of the HP B9180 printer I am going to throw caution to the winds. This printer is just a solid joy to work with and, so far, produces outstanding results. This is HP's entry into the photo printer market to challenge the Epson 2400 and from waht I have seen so far it is a clear winner.

    I first used the printer at our last Scanning Workshop at Midwest a few weeks ago. Jim Andracki set the printer up with no complications and the very first prints we made with no attempts at any heroic adjustments were excellent. During the workshop we tested the printer head-to-head against an Epson 3800 printing two black and white and one color image on both printers ... same file, same size, same paper, etc. Looking at the prints side-by-side there was absolutely no visable difference. Looking at them through an 8x loupe you could see slight subtle differences. Just differences, nothing that said this one is beetter than than just tiny differences.

    Since then I have been running a lot of paper through the printer,mostly 8x10's until recently to check how the results looked versus proof prints I have on file for prints that were eventually printed 11x14 or larger on my Epson 4800 or on an Iris printer. Again, excellent, solid images. Black & White prints show solid deep deep blacks and images hold detail well into the darker shadows. I have been using Ilford Pearl, Hanemuhle Fine Art Pearl, Hanemuhle Photo Rag Smooth and HP's own Soft Glossy (manufactured for them by Hanemuhle I am told). I will also be testing the printer with some Red River, Crane and Moab papers over the next month. The printer has an 8 ink pigmet ink set with no changes from matte to gloss required. Also, different from Epson, the print heads (one for each two colors) are user replacable. Finally the inks are slightly less expensive than Epson inks

    My initial impressions are that this printer is built like a tank, far more solid and precise than I have come to expect from consumer printers. My only complaint so far and it is a minor one is that some heavier papers that use the single sheet 'specialty tray' have to be loaded from the back of the printer and pulled through. No big thing, but not documented by HP.

    HP has said they are going after Epson head on and if this printer is an example of what the larger Z3100 wide format professional printers can do then they are doing it right. Saving the best for last, the B9180 sells for as low as $505 (Amazon) or $544 from B&H (and it was 506 from them last week so who knows what's next). Midwest will have them in stock next week. This is the same price as the Epson R1800 and some 230 to 270 less than the 2400, WOW. At a price like this it is a real Epson killer. Given that, in our quick tests, it preformed on a par with and is built better than the 3800 I'd say it is competes well with this machineas well ... as long as you can live with the smaller output (no, it doesn't have a roll feeder either).

    I'll keep posting bits and pieces as I continue to work with the printer and the full review will be in the May-June issue of View Camera. I also have a Canon 5000 in the studio now and will say something about it in the next few weeks. An HP Z3100 will be arriving for a 4 month shake down cruise in 3 weeks or so and then I can look at the Canon v. the HP v. the Epson wide formats.

    For the moment I strongly recommend that anyone thinking of purchasing a 2400 or an 1800 or a 3800 (unless they need the size) think hard about this new HP printer.

  2. #2

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    Re: The New HP B9180 13x19 printer WOW WOW

    Ted, I had the same reaction with the first print out of my 8750 almost 4 months ago, and it hasn't faded yet, even after >300 prints. I'm a wet darkroom kinda guy, but living in an apartment makes setting up my 8x10 enlarger just not possible, at least with digital output, I can still shoot LF and output fine art quality prints.


    erie

  3. #3

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    Re: The New HP B9180 13x19 printer WOW WOW

    Ted,

    I think some people would be interested to know if this printer would work for prnting digital negatives for alternative processes. The dye ink sets of previous HP and Canon printers did not produce enough UV blocking to be useful for digital negatives. It would be intersting to know how the pigment ink printers perform in this regard. Would you be intersted in working with me to test this?

    Sandy

  4. #4
    Eric Biggerstaff
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    Re: The New HP B9180 13x19 printer WOW WOW

    Great to know and thanks Ted, I look forward to reading the complete review in View Camera.

    Eric
    Eric Biggerstaff

    www.ericbiggerstaff.com

  5. #5

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    Re: The New HP B9180 13x19 printer WOW WOW

    I don't have printer yet, but am in the market. How does the HP ink cost compare to Epson's?

  6. #6
    Dave Karp
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    Re: The New HP B9180 13x19 printer WOW WOW

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Harris View Post
    . . . Finally the inks are slightly less expensive than Epson inks . . .

  7. #7

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    Re: The New HP B9180 13x19 printer WOW WOW

    Thanks for the mini-review Ted. It's good to see some competition for Epson, should be good for all of us. Personally, however, I plan to stick with Epson, at least until ther are some reports from long-term users. My first digital products were both HP, a printer and a 35mm film scanner. Both malfunctioned after a couple years of light use and the advice I got from HP tech support was "throw 'em away, it's cheaper to buy new ones." OTOH, when we moved from Florida to Oregon the movers threw my Epson 2200 in a box upside down with the cartidges still in it. It stayed that way for a couple months in my garage during a Central Oregon winter. When I was finally able to set up my computer system I opened the box, plugged in the printer, and it worked flawlessly as it does to this day. So my next printer will be a 3800, maybe if HP is still around and making excellent printers for photographers four or five years from now I'll look at one as a replacement for the 3800.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  8. #8
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: The New HP B9180 13x19 printer WOW WOW

    The thing is, a higher quality output would get me to take notice. Sharper, wider gamut, better shadow detail, more versitile with use of substrates, faster, ... that kind of thing.

    But you don't seem to be saying that it makes a better print. Just that the printer is cheaper. This doesn't make me go "WOW WOW" unfortunately. One of the worst and most overused phrasing is marketing is "just as good as" if you know what I mean.

    That said, I look forward to a complete review. Maybe better prints or better printing will be in there somewhere.

    Bruce Watson

  9. #9

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    Re: The New HP B9180 13x19 printer WOW WOW

    Ted, as I recall, the first comment you made to me at the Fall Workshop critique was "get rid of that #$%$# HP printer and get an Epson." My, how times change.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  10. #10
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    Re: The New HP B9180 13x19 printer WOW WOW

    Bill, that was an older printer. I don't remembeer the model number but it was vastly different than this printer and the "Z" series. With the introduction of the B9180 and the Z series printers HP has decided to play for real in the fine art photo printing market and take on Epson. All of their preivous printers have either been half-hearted attempts or no attempt at all, rather just consumer oriented machines.

    And in the digital world things change, sometimes way too rapidly.

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