Epson ink and paper - better quality printing?

  safe as milk 00:48 18 May 2008

Hi all

I've got an Epson Stylus Photo R800 colour inkjet printer - had it for about 18 months and got it on the strength of several very positive reviews. Print quality for photos as good as the labs etc etc.

I find the quality varies a lot which is a real frustration as I never know when a photo will come out looking good or not. The manual says (surprise!) that I should only use Epson's own ink and paper which I must confess I haven't done as they are much more expensive. But I wonder if that's what's making the difference.

Any thoughts?

  Jake_027 00:51 18 May 2008

Admittedly it's old-it'll be 8 this year. But I've nearly always used compatibles as they are much cheaper and there is very little difference in quality. Have you run the print head cleaning utility? Also if you don't print often (ie only every 3 weeks or more) I find my ink tends to dry a little.

Hope this helps

  LastChip 01:21 18 May 2008

I've used all sorts of paper for photographs, even some from the "pound shop" with Epson compatible ink (yes, I fill my own cartridges) on an R200 and have never noticed any deterioration in quality.

It's more likely (as Jake_027 suggests) to be a clogging of the print heads, that a few runs through should clear.

Or, if it's had a lot of use since you bought it, could be the result of the paper feed deteriorating and the paper not running true through the printer.

If you don't use it much, it's not a bad idea to run the print head test utility once a week, to check the print pattern. Not only will it give you a clue if something's going wrong, it will also mildly clear the heads, without the waste that is associated with a full head clean.

  eedcam 09:48 18 May 2008

If you chop and change media or ink you will get a difference epsons are set up for their own brand of ink and paper.Whether some notice the difference is another story .I dont mean you cant use compatibles or other paper but there will be a difference .Not especially quality but variance in colour ect. .If you stick to one brand of compatible ink should'nt be a problem.its when you start mixing epson with brand X or brand x with XXthat you may notice variances .As for paper well thats more of what you find acceptable

  Totally-braindead 10:33 18 May 2008

I must admit I have have Epsons and personally I found the printouts of some photos on Epson paper to be rather poor with my aging 680.
The worst paper I even had was Kodak strangely enough, terrible pictures on both of my Epsons regardless of what settings you used.
Before my original carts ran out, and I did this with both my Epsons, I chose a test photo and printed it out on a variety of media, I then did the same once I had swapped over to compatibles.
In my opinion there was nothing to chose between them.
Epson do say that their ink is designed to last longer IE it will not fade so much as compatibles and maybe that is true. But I can always print another picture out every couple of years even if it is true as all photos are backed up.
I use compatibles and have done for years and use Choice paper and I get excellent pictures.
The originals don't in my opinion give a better picture and they are just too expensive. Epsons can be prone to blocked heads if you leave them for long periods so all I do is make sure I print something every month, even a nozzle check seems to do the trick.
I think I've had my 680 for maybe 6 or 7 years and my 3800 for about 3 years and both are perfect and both have used compatibles since the originals ran out.
If theres a difference between the printouts using originals and compatibles I can't see it.

  safe as milk 11:45 18 May 2008

Thanks for the helpful and interesting comments, guys. I've done a lot of nozzle cleaning and the other various maintenance procedures to try and sort the problem but not to any consistent or satisfying degree. I've not used the machine heavily so I trust it's not wearing anything out. Maybe I need to clean the heads etc more frequently.

At least you've saved me the expense of buying only epson materials.

  jakimo 13:44 18 May 2008

Compatibles can vary fronm one batch to the next,in other words there is no continuity with these reviews the R800 is top of its class,providing genuine Epson ink & paper are used. its not surprising that your prints vary.(there are many reports on the subject,do a google search)

I have tested many brands of compatibles,and apart from the regular blockages,none could match original equipment,(just compare prints using both genuine & generic)You have a professional quality printer & yet you use cheap inferior ink & paper(that don't make sense)so don't expect quality prints.

the contrast & brightness of my prints using origins look very professional compared to what your printing...if on the other hand your prints are only short term or for displaying on a notice board,then to save money go on using the cheapies,,but for quality, compatibles are no match

  jack 14:01 18 May 2008

Print Quality is a huge topic which casual observations such as already given does not do justice.
Standardization is the key - find the ink paper combination that suits- then stick to it.
Manufacturers branded paper tend to be overpriced.
A 'dedicated paper' such as Ilford Gallerie Range
in various surfaces is probably one of the better ones at modest price
[Take a look in click here]
Inks whether or not compatibles - pick one and stick with it[Ubiquitous Choice Stationery 'Think Range' for example.]
When it comes to printing
Careful use of an image editor to correct the colours and judicious cropping will make all the difference to simply bashing out prints 'straight from camera'
Selecting the the paper type in the printer properies tab is also another area that can make or mar a print.
I have found the selecting 'Ink Jet transparency' for all my photo printing - no matter what paper is used gives an altogether brighter image- because it uses less ink.
On the subject of less ink- take a look at click here
This little utility really does work.
Last but not least- as already mentioned -print a full colour something at least once a week [on any paper] to keep those heads moist.

  eedcam 14:28 18 May 2008

'Careful use of an image editor to correct the colours and judicious cropping will make all the difference to simply bashing out prints 'straight from camera'
Thats assuming your finished print is identical to the on screen image a whole different ball game . I think the word quality should be repaced with accuracy to the originalThe only standard I would use is Forget digital cameras .Scan a print and does the finished print match the original in every way if it does great but check that any time you change ink brands or paper

  safe as milk 14:42 18 May 2008

Thanks, people, for these detailed responses. It seems as tho the key may be to keep printing frequently and being consistent with my choice of materials.

Will also experiment with the 'Inkjet transparency' option. I've not always found the 'best photo' option to be one that produces the best results so it'll be interesting to see what happens.

  Totally-braindead 18:17 18 May 2008

I must admit that the carts I have had from Choice do seem to be better quality than the ones from 7dayshop as the 7dayshop ones seem to need to be cleaned a lot - IE I get a lot of blackages with them. However the printouts look as good to me regardless of which one I have and it has to be said the 7dayshop ones are a fraction of the Choice compatibles.

But I haven't actually done any sort of test to see if the cheap Choice carts give 3 times more printouts than the 99p 7dayshop carts give.

I do tend to use the Choice ones as I think they are better quality as they choke up less.

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