View Full Version : inkjet recommendation (EpsonR1800 vs Canon i9900)?

Daniel Geiger
8-May-2005, 00:39
I am interested in some feedback, comments, insights on injet printers that I am looking into. I know there are computer forums, but I would like to get feedback from photographers, not computer nerds. I intend to do mainly color, mainly on glossy paper, relatively small (4x5 "contact" prints to possibly 8x10). I have the following set-up so far:

At hand: Mac G5, LCD monitor, Nikon Coolscan 4000ED, Photoshop CS.
In the mail: Epson 4990 Pro (with Monaco EZcolor 2.6) flatbed scanner.
On the list: Monaco Optix spider plus transparency target.
Agonizing: Epson R1800 (2400???), Canon i9900.

I saw a very informative review on the R1800 vs others under
http://www.photo-i.co.uk/Reviews/interactive/Epson%20R1800/page_1.htm but wonder about real life experience from other people. Second, I also wonder about i-ink system from inkrepublic. There are rumours about an Epson 2400 as a replacement for the 2200 with a new generation inkset.

The pros and cons of the two printers seem to be:
- Canon easier to use (If I'm willing to take the color management plunge, then I am willing to deal with a bit more intricate operation).
- Canon dye (?) ink with more vivid colors, but less archival, vs tried-and-true durable ultrachrome pigment ink from Epson with a bit less punch.
- More clogging problems with the Epson. True?
- Epson is a mainstay in the printing world with many thrid party products (e.g., ink systems), vs. Canon being more peripherally in the printing business.
- Canon has no black ink, no K cartridge: problems with "colored" blacks? Should be able to address that with color management.
- Differences in resolution seem to be rather of engineering interest, but have little effect on the image under normal viewing condition.

I think I am leaning a bit more towards the Epson R1800, but did I miss something?

As always, thanks for your time and always informed opinions.

Best wishes

David Luttmann
8-May-2005, 09:42

First of all, the Canon does have a black ink. The 9900 has a larger color gamut than the Epson, however, longevity is an issue. For prints needing archival qualities, Ultrachrome is hard to beat. You can combat this to a great deal on Canon printers by using resin coated paper. Ilford sells their Galerie gloss & pearl in both classic & smooth. The smooth is quick drying nanoporous paper...but not very archival (about 3 to 8 years in good condition). The Classic is a resin coated paper and should give little trouble for you for between 14 and 18 years. The latest chromalife dye based inks extend lightfastness out past 30 years, and some tests have shown that using the proper paper combos, extend lightfastness out to approx 50 years. This should be satisfactory for most saleable requirements.

I've never had a clog on anyof my Canon printers. Everyone of my Epsons has experienced clogging. And when my Epson 7600 clogs, it can take quite a bit of ink to clear it.

You can find the Canon i960 fairly cheap. The i9900 is still a good deal as well, and gives you up to 13x19. Resolution between the Epson and Canon is identical to my eyes. I do find that the output is somewhat smoother on the Canon printers due to the smaller droplet size. This is more visible under a loupe than to the naked eye at normal viewing distance.

I'd buy a Canon again for color work and an Epson for B&W.


Will Strain
8-May-2005, 10:11
If you're not going over 8x10" why not get the smaller...cheaper Epson R800? Same inkset as the 1800 and still has the gloss optimizer overlay for those nice pretty glossy prints (with minimal gloss differential).

8-May-2005, 10:22
I don't have any experience with the Epson printer but I have been using the Canon i9900 for several months. I've never had any problem with the printer, nor have I had color management problems. I have printed beautiful pictures up to 13X19 from the first day. I think you would be happy with either unit and you do seem to be leaning toward the Epson.

BTW, there is a black ink cartridge for the Canon. Personally, I have been leery of using third party inks but your mileage may vary. Before you make your decision about using non-manufacturer's ink, weigh in the money you invested on the printer, warranty may be voided if there is a problem, etc. Maybe other posters can address the ink issue.

I recently looked at 25 y.o. Kodachrome slides that have started to fade and Canon inks are supposed to last 25+ years...that length of time is good enough for me. Epson inks have a stated 100 year archival quality...sounds good to me. If your aspiration is to become a world renowned photographer this is something to consider.

As for Epson printers having a tendency to clog. If you print daily, or several times a week, this would not be a problem. I had an Epson 825 that clogged up if I didn't use it for 3 or more days. It was a waste of ink having to clean the jets each time. I've never had problems with the Canon ports plugging up, though I think the printer does it automatically each time I print anew???

I have used Printasia, Ilford Gallerie, Kodak Professional, and Canon paper. The setting for third party paper is Photo Paper Plus Glossy, otherwise your pictures come out muddied. Subjectively, pictures do seem to come out more vivid on Canon's Photo Paper Pro. FYI, you can download profiles for the printer of your choice from the Ilford web site.

Have you considered dyesub printers like the Olympus 440? I have the old 400 I got on sale. It's very nice but the colors are muted slightly...but it might that I have to do some color management.

You have quite a digital studio so I don't think you're going to have a problem with whatever printer you choose.

Hope this helps,


Slightly Advanced Amateur,
Nikon & Mamiya gear,
Toshiba laptop, Celeron processor with 512 ram,
Apple Powerbook G4,
and a Gateway P4 something,
PS 7 and PS Elements

Eric Leppanen
8-May-2005, 11:48

Just in case you haven't seen these already:

www.outbackphoto.com/printinginsights/pi033/Epson_R1800.html (http://www.outbackphoto.com/printinginsights/pi033/Epson_R1800.html)

www.outbackphoto.com/printinginsights/pi031/HP_Designjet_30.html (http://www.outbackphoto.com/printinginsights/pi031/HP_Designjet_30.html)

David Luttmann
8-May-2005, 13:26

Particularly notworthy is the Designjet 130 for B&W work. Numerous well known printers have commented that the blacks they are getting from that printer are not only better than they achieve from the Epsons, they equal or exceed that of silver or platinum printing. I know some people on these forums take issue with this as it goes against what they "know" to be true rather than what they have actually tested, but my tests, among many others show this to be the case. However, if you're only interested in maybe 8x10, the Designjet would be overkill. If what you are interested in is the best color, you'll get it from the Canons. If it's B&W, either the Epson or the HP would do well for you.

Good luck!

Ed Eubanks
8-May-2005, 13:26
Regarding Epson printers clogging: I understand that Epson has a inkjet-head "parking" system that caps the heads when the printer is turned off. This is supposed to reduce/prevent clogging. However, my practice has always been to simply leave the printer on until I needed it, rather than waiting to turn it on when I was printing; thus, until I learned about this "parking" idea I left my printers on all the time. It seems to have reduced clogging, although I confess I don't do a lot of inkjet printing of photos.

Anyone else know if this issue is solved by Epson's parking technology?

Bruce Batchelor
8-May-2005, 23:00
I have run an i9900 for six months and I am very satisfied. Canon is in a bind with the longevity issue, which is complicated marketingwise by the age of the BCI-6 ink technology. I agree with the comments on coated papers. Canon needs a new concept and has popped out with the BCI-7 ink set. Delivery to North America has been delayed. Notice that Canon itself has not said that BCI-6 has a longevity problem. My personal opinion is that it does not, but Canon has made the announcement that they are to be pals with Wilhelm and I betcha a couple of ink changes that we never see the BCI-6 tested, and that BCI-7 will be touted for 100-year life on the basis of Wilhelm tests. Probably at double the price too. Note that the i9900 will not take custom paper lengths over [I think] 22" if you need to do panoramas or banners. There does not appear to be a workaround for this either.

Brian Ellis
9-May-2005, 13:45
I don't know about "new generation" inks with the 2400. The only information I've seen (from someone in the Yahoo digital black and white printing group) indicated that the inks in the 2400 were the same as the 2200 except that a "light light" black had been added to the 2400. Of course at this stage AFAIK everything about Epson's new line of printers is rumor, the only thing "official" that I've seen cited was in Russian.

Kirk Gittings
9-May-2005, 14:25
"However, my practice has always been to simply leave the printer on until I needed it" This generates a slight amount of heat which in my experience and Epsons makes clogging worse in dry climates.

Clogging problems with the Epson 4000 in New Mexico have been solved with a couple of simple homemade humidifiers made from a 35mm slide box filled with a piece of wet sponge and with holes drilled in the top. Set them next to the head and cover the printer with plastic. Don't forget to remove them before you turn the machine on in the morning! Put a piece of tape over the on off button to remind yourself. I have not had a single clog since doing this.

Eric Leppanen
9-May-2005, 20:27
Here's info on the next generation Epson printers:


Conrad Hoffman
10-May-2005, 22:19
Don't dismiss the HP Photosmart 8150 and 8450. Archival performance, photogrey cartridge for wet process b&w quality, a new head with every cartridge for maximum quality, doesn't clog, reasonably fast and inexpensive. I have not seen better color from any other printer. The only downside is the cost of ink cartridges, but for low volume personal use, it just isn't that much of an issue.

Jeremy Dean
11-Jun-2005, 12:20
I use the Epson 2200 every day. I work at a pro. lab with very high quality control. We have had no problems with the Epson. I have used the Kodak 8100 and 8660 thermal printers and prefer the Epson by far. I have had no problems with cloging what so ever but then again we print quite frequently on it. If you are printing 4x6's and 3.5x5's mostly let me make a suggestion to save you a bit of money. Do not print on 4x6 cut sheets. Print 9 on a 13x19 page with a border on them to eleminate loosing the edges of the print. Also it saves on inks, paper and time. The Epson will print the larger paper faster than it will print 9 individual prints. I use a custom desktop computer and screen comfiguration. We have tried to use a spider to calabrate the screen but it didn't work. I sugest printing one print with multiple colors on it and then calabrate your screen to that print. That way you can adrust every image on your screen to fit the printer. You will get the most consistent prints that way. At least we do. The only down side to the Epson is the price of the ink. We use a great deal of ink and we are curently looking for other options. The I-ink sysetm seems to be the best solution for the price. I do recamend the Epson over the others. If you use it regularly you shouldn't have any problems at all. However, I see you use the Mac G5. I too am a Mac man. I use the Mac G4 powerbook and I also have a G4 dual. The Epson is compatible with the Mac OS-X system but it will not print on roll paper with the OS-X system. That is the only proplem that I have ran into with the compatibility of the Mac. I hope this information will help if you have not already made your purchase.


Mark Carstens
11-Jun-2005, 23:04
Iíve used an Epson 2200 for the better part of two years for color work and love it. No clogs, not even a hint of one, and thatís with occasional two week stretches without printing. As for the paper you use, if these are images destined for photo albums, and borderless is what you want, then fine, but if you plan to mat and frame anything, or like what to my eye is a richer look, then you'll want to consider other paper options (like Premium Luster) and gang up the images like Jeremy suggested.

I use an Eye-one Display2 to calibrate my display, and print mostly to Epson Premium Luster (pearl finish, semi-gloss type of finish) using the latest iteration of the Epson profile, and produce consistent results Iím pleased with. If youíre wanting to dial it in even further, then AND youíre calibrating your display, then you can always spring for a custom profile which can cost anywhere from $25-125 depending on who you work through. It all depends on what you expect to see coming out of the other end of the printer. In my experience, it doesnít make sense to invest in a solid image processing system like you have, only to lose control of the image once itís sent to the printer.

First of all, decide if you really want to print these images yourself. While I canít speak to the quality, there are places like Costco who will output your digital files for less than $0.20 per print. If you want to control the process from editing through output, then consider these observations to some of your concerns/assumptions:

Canon (is) easier to use

My 2200 hasnít been difficult to set-up or use. Iím on a G5 Dual and save for having to create two preset printer options in the Print Center (so I can switch between photo black and matte black without editing my printer selections), itís pretty much effortless. I canít imagine it being any easier. If you mean producing prints that resemble what you see on your display, you need a reliable way to profile your monitor regularly and learn how to use soft proofs to refine your output. There's no way around that, regardless of the printer you choose.

Canon dye (?) ink with more vivid colors, but less archival, vs tried-and-true durable Ultrachrome pigment ink from Epson with a bit less punch.

This is an inherent difference between dye and pigment ink sets, but if print permanence is important, then itís a trade-off many are willing to make, myself included.

More clogging problems with the Epson. True?

Not in my experience, but YMMV.

Epson is a mainstay in the printing world with many third party products (e.g., ink systems), vs. Canon being more peripherally in the printing business.

True that, but itís not to say that despite Epson's dominance, there arenít other options out there that would serve your needs just as well. If youíre looking for an alternative to Epson, youíd be better served looking at HP. Theyíre beginning to tune into the needs of photographers, but they have a lot of ground to make up as theyíve let Epson dominate the market for so long now.

I think I am leaning a bit more towards the Epson R1800, but did I miss something?

While I canít speak to the HP printer options, maybe other users will chime into this thread and offer up more feedback.

Speaking solely to the Epson alternatives...If youíre looking just to print color images no larger than 8x10 on glossy paper, then the R800 is probably a better choice than either the R1800 or the 2200. You are the market niche that the printer is created for. If, however, youíre considering printing images larger than 8x10 to glossy or want to print to both matte and luster paper, then you would be better served going with the R1800 or 2200, respectively.

Finally, if you want to print images larger than 8x10, use a printer that can print color (and B&W out of the box), and want the latest Epson inkset, then order yourself a 2400.

Hope this helps.

Oliver Reid
22-Jun-2005, 19:45
I have used Canon printers for years and have just switched to Epson.

I am not sure why, but trying to create custom profiles for Canon just doesn't work. Further Canon tech support is geared for consumers ("Colorsync? What's that?").

Canon prints look great on Canon Paper, but for fade resistance you need to use Ilford Classic or an non-instant dyring paper. Ilford publish profiles for the Epsons and actually work closely with Epson for their professional products. I believe CIBA, who own Ilford, make some of Epson's papers.

I spoke to a techie at Ilford who worked on the profiles and he said they has zero cooperation form Canon. May things have improved but getting perfect color with Ilford paper on a Canon is strictly a trial and error matter. Canon want you use their paper (which is made by Mitsubishi, I think) which is not that good, is hard to get except in consumer size packets and suffers from gas fading.

On the other hand the R1800 and 2400 are professional build quality machines and seem to work well with 3rd party papers and profiles. (Provided the paper is compatible with pigment inks) The Gamut is actually just about as good as the Canons, and in fact superior in the blues - the pure blue tank on the 1800 helps here, no doubt.

And, the latest Espons seem to be just as fast as the Canons.

Greg Bartos
30-Aug-2005, 00:07
I have been using the Epson R 1800 for about 4 months now and have put at least 1000 prints (mostly 8 x 10 borderless) through it. I upgraded from a P 2200 and have been very pleased. The print nozzles clogged only once so far, and clearing them was easy.

The reason for my high volume: weddings and family events.

Summary of pluses and minuses:


1. Great quality - took about a week to get used to it. With my Nikon D2X, I have just about no color adjusting to do, and have found the colors to be true without hitting the "digital" button option in the printer's software. With the P 2200 I did a lot more color, brightness and contrast adjusting. The P2200 replaced my Epson 1280, a pretty good printer. The 2200 was really not much of an improvement over the 1280, but the R1800 is a HUGE improvement over either. Color fidelity, tonal gradation and nice gloss are the reasons why.
2. The "glosser" cartridge outlasts the color cartridges about 4 or 5 to 1, and takes care of the mosaic pattern or metamerism issue I had with the P2200 on glossy paper. The P 2200 HATES glossy paper!
3. Speed is fine... even on 8 x 10's and larger prints. The printer is usually done with last print before I am done with my tweaks in Photoshop on the next. Incidentally, I never make a print except at the highest quality setting - "Best Photo."
4. Borderless printing is a no brainer, and Epson fortunately has a variety of paper finishes and sizes available for borderless prints.
5. Software is very easy to understand and displays/menus/options are more user friendly than with the last 5 or 6 Epson printers I've had.


1. Ink is quite expensive and for my fairly high volume of work, the cartridges are a bit small. I hesitate to use bulk inks as I am getting great results, but c'mon Epson.... I've spent almost three times as much on ink as I did for the printer... and in only 3 or 4 months! Ink cost is about .50 for an 8 x 10, which I suppose could be worse, but sure could be a lot better too.
2. I cut paper from rolls for panoramic prints 13" wide by 39" long. It's a pain doing a reverse curl on the end of cut roll paper so the printer feed will grab it. I have found it best to reverse roll the cut paper and stuff it into a tube for a couple days. And no, I don't want to feed the paper by the roll as I don't want to be switching back and forth to run sheets. By the way, the 13 x 39 prints take less than 10 minutes at the highest quality setting and are gorgeous.
3. See # 1 above. Anyone need a pile of empty cartridges?

Epson Vs Canon? The Canon products I've bought have been nothing but a pain, both cameras and printers. They, more than any manufacturer I know, go out of their way to tie you to their products. Their software must be made by Microsoft... it's that bad! I must be biased, because if ever a Canon product of any kind is recommended as tops, I'll buy whatever is rated 2nd best and be quite happy, thank you!

Rob McAleavy
7-Sep-2005, 06:39
i9900 vs. r1800 - I've been using an i9900 for about 6 months for heavy production work on thick matte paper. I recently tested the printer against an Epson r1800. The Canon was using third party inks from Weink.com, the Epson was their stock 8 colors. Image files were the same and printed on the same paper stocks.

Color: The Canon blew away the Epson r1800. Epson blacks were roughly 80% - 85% of a Canon black. All colors were significantly and noticably more vibrant with the Epson having a "flat" apperance compared to the Canon. Did not test an image for blue comparison. In a nutshell, the Epson prints looked great until I placed the Canon print beside it.

Speed: Again, same image file printing at highest resolution from a G5 iMac (printing 8.5 x 11 at 600 DPI, full bleed).
Canon - 30 second RIP, 75 second to print, Later production print times with different settings were 2.5 min.
Epson - Same settings, Same file, 60 - 90 sec RIP with print times of 4.75 min.
By definition the Epson pigment-based printers are noticably and significantly slower than the Canon or HP dye-based printers. In larger wide-format printing circles Epson has taken a beating because of their lack of speed.

Costs: Canon is noticably less expensive for consumables, Glogged nozzles were no problem, inks don't "go bad" after 6 months.

Profiles: Ink and paper profiles abound for Epson and should help considerably the Epson output. But what does it say about the Epson blacks that they had to make the 2400 with 4 black inks. Canon profiles are hard to find or have to be custom made. ( There are a few services that will create good custom paper and ink profiles for your individual printer. Check Google.)

Paper options: Canon completely missed the boat on this. The i9900 is a great, fast printer but significantly hobbled by the whimpy paper feed mechanism and paper weight and thickness limitations. Thin papers were fine (Canon, Hahnemuhle, etc.), but heavier coated watercolor matte stock (250 gsm, 15 mls thick) has to be pushed through by hand to start. The r1800 seemed slightly better in this respect but appeared to choke on different papers of about the same weight. I'm currently looking for a printer or paper-feed option that will free me from feeding paper and baby-sitting the i9900 while it tries to print the thicker paper stocks. Any suggestions?

Ink Options there appears to be a number of better and higher quality third-party ink options for the Epson. Many serious printers use alternatives to the Epson inks and get fantastic results. Canon ink options appear to be more about saving money, and less about improving on longevity or quality. The "Weink.com" inks I'm using look great, and save a ton of money, but they are not more archival or have a greater color space than orignal Canon inks.

Other printer Option: the HP 130 has gotten rave reviews with some of the darkest blacks measured. Dye-based so it's faster, with a greater color gamut than Epson, and inks rated to last up to 87 years (reportedly), and designed more with the pro user in mind. It also has multiple black inks. I hope it has a "production" thick-paper-feed option.

Hope this helps