back to article Ten... inkjet photo printers

There’s only really one choice of technology for printing photos well and economically. Inkjet printers produce better quality photos than traditional silver halide, one of the reasons digital photography has superseded it. Most of the major printer manufacturers produce inkjet printers and even the most basic of these can …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you own an Apple don't buy the Epson Stylus Photo PX720WD

    ...the supplied software is absolutely terrible. Even HP software is better.

  2. Gordon 10

    Most importantly

    Which one DOESN'T come with 100mb plus of bloated "drivers" that asks to download updates from the Internet every 5 mins?

  3. Jim Lewis
    Thumb Down

    cost per print?

    Your analysis is all well and good, but you give no indication of the total cost of ownership. (Ie cost of replacment ink), and consequent cost per page of printing.

    Given that for example HP seem to follow a 'loss leader' approach with their printer pricing, to lock you into buying their expensive ink refills, the price of the printer is a small proportion of the cost over the life of the device.


      The big picture.

      While I can certainly see how cost per print might be a consideration, I think it is a little short sighted. A photo printer should above all produce excellent results. Cost should be a secondary consideration. If you are concerned about per page costs, you can always have another printer for that.

      Something to be more concerned about is perhaps how certain HP AIO devices don't allow for network printing in Windows. My HP inkjet is like that.

      1. Jamie Kitson
        Thumb Down

        Re: The big picture.

        Not true. There will always be a compromise which will involve cost as a factor. Very few people will be able to go out and buy the best printer no matter the price. If printer A is slightly better than printer B but is twice the price then I think a lot of people would seriously consider printer A.

      2. DPWDC

        re:The big picture.

        I'd say it's more myopic to NOT consider the cost per page.

        It's cheaper (and much better quality!) to get prints done by a professional printing service, the only reason to have a printer in your home (for photography) is speed.

        Then we have to ask the quesion - Is the cost per page (and the initial outlay) worth more than having to wait a couple of days for your prints?

        £100 buys A LOT of A4 prints online...

  4. Mystic Megabyte

    Epson Stylus Photo PX720WD Linux drivers

    Avasys list the scanner driver for this model but only seem to have the printer driver for a PX-A720.

    Any ideas why?

  5. pPPPP

    I bought an inkjet a while back and while it's pretty good quality, I mostly use it for printing out boarding passes and not much else. Consequently the ink runs out and costs a fortune to replace (it's a Canon).

    If you want to print out photos, the best thing to do is to take your photos to a photo developers (remember those?) and they'll do a high quality print-out for not much cost.

    Of course, if you print out all of your photos then this probably isn't so cost-effective, but if you print out one or two every now and again like I do then this is the way to go.

    Get a cheap printer with cheap ink for those boarding passes.

    1. Brangdon

      Instead of the cheap ink jet, consider a laser printer. They use toner instead of ink, and toner is a powder so it doesn't dry up and clog the heads. They can't do glossy photos but they are fine for boarding passes.

    2. OrsonX

      yup, that's the way to go

      HP Photosmart 2575

      HP Photosmart Plus WiFi

      My last two printers, both stopped picking up photopaper, the second even had a dedicated tray, usless!

      So much faffing, such expensive ink!

      Will just print online in the future, screw you HP!

    3. Piro Silver badge

      Almost right, but pass on the inkjets..

      Get yourself a cheap monochrome laser printer for those boarding passes.

      That way it will never dry up, and like me, you'll still be on the toner that came with it, 4 years later. (Cheap 50 quid Samsung).

    4. Jamie Kitson

      > if you print out all of your photos then this probably isn't so cost-effective

      I disagree, economies of scale works as well at a printers as it does at home. The only time I can think it would be useful to have a printer is if you want something immediately, or if you need to keep making corrections/alterations.

  6. Chris Miller

    Cost per print

    As with any printer, anyone using one of these is likely to spend much more on consumables than the purchase price. You've given cost per page for some (presumably where the manufacturer has provided it - because they think it's a good selling point), but not all. A comparison table would be handy.

  7. Svein Skogen

    Products Missing?

    Your article seems to be sadly missing the Pixma Pro 9x00 printers, while containing some Hopeless Products. This is an oversight, isn't it?


  8. Richard Taylor 2
    Thumb Down


    oh why don't you compare the cost of running these printers *as you do with lasers)?

  9. Adam Price

    Rubbish Reviews

    How long does a set of ink cartridges last in a turned off printer?

    How much does a replacement set of print cartridges cost?

    The major failing with the last 3 ink-jet printers I have owned (Cannon, HP and Kodak) has been that if you leave them untouched for 3 months then come back to print something the ink has dried all over the heads and you need to buy new.

    Often a new printer is cheaper than a set of ink-cartridges.

    Now I send them off to snapfish or take them to the local print-shop, it's cheaper and gets better results.

    1. Fuzz

      Turned off printers

      This is never discussed. I had several Epson printers because they could be bought for a decent price, you could get cheap 3rd party ink and the print quality was excellent. Every single one of those printers (about 5 over the years) had to be thrown out because the ink dried up in the heads, to begin with you can clean the heads which uses about 25% of your ink. After time this becomes less and less effective. Sometimes the printer can be revived with cartridge flush. Eventually though they all become irrevocably blocked and not worth fixing.

      About 3 years ago I bought an HP photosmart C5800. I use it infrequently, have never cleaned the heads other than when the printer decides to do this itself, and it prints as perfectly as the day I bought it. It's also extremely frugal on ink. My understanding is that the ink used in cleaning is recycled back into the cartridges. I've also only ever used official HP cartridges which are expensive but offer a consistent quality.

      When printers are tested in reviews the cost per page is calculated by printing a page continuously until the ink runs out. Nobody prints like this, a better test should be created.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Excellent point @Fuzz

        I rarely print, but when I wanted to - on all Epsons I owned - it always meant an hour of doing cleaning head cycles and a wasted ink cartridge doing so.

        Now had my first HP (the Photosmart Premium mentioned in this article) for a few months and never had any problem., it comes out first time.

      2. TheMD

        HP Photosmart Premium

        I've had one of these large hp printers for about 6 monts - and it is very good overall. Photo quality is great and under moderate use the ink seems very economical. Iv'e used up the low volume cartridges that came with the printer and about a third of a set of high capacities ones (roughly £40) in this time. Id estimate i've printed about 150 pages of text/light graphics, 30 A4 photos and maybe another 20 standard photo. To get results that resemble the image on the screen i have to lighten the image by about 10% before printing. I don't know if it's possible to calibrate the printer with the screen to do this automatically. Tbh - although the output looks good - it is often quite different to the image on the screen :-/ any advice on this would be appreciated.

        Previously i had a predecesor of the large canon in the review (from about 3 years ago.) I was very disappointed with it. I couldn't get good output from it on most jobs no matter what i did, and and the ink ran out eye wateringly fast. I'm sure the HP cartridges last 3-4 times longer than the canon ones did and it's east to get reasonable output.

        For the me the duplex scanning was what clinched the deal but although it works okay and is very reliable it's also quite slow. Worse, the document management/ocr software that comes with the printer is poor so i don't use this as much as i would have liked to.

        I would like to be able to put a stack of paper bills, statements etc into the tray and come back to have it all nicely ocr'ed and catalogued but the current process requires too much manual intervention to be worthwhile.

        As much as i like this printer, here's a couple more bad point.

        1) The shiny black plastic has lots of small crevices where dust gathers - it's hard to clean and it always looks very dusty. The plastic is also quite flimsy though - not so much that it would break, it just feels cheap and poorly fitted. I'm also sure it would cost a fortune to replace if any of the pieces broke.

        2) The printer shakes and rattles like mad when printing, especially in fast draft mode. I have it on a light Ikea desk and the desk and printer shake so much so that in quick draft mode vertical lines come out jagged. nasty.

        Still i like it a lot, in fact it's one of my favourite gadgets - maybe it's just that it has a very non apple personality :-)

      3. JEDIDIAH

        Turned off printers...

        Sounds like you need a cron job or the Windows/MacOS equivalent.

        Just have it print something on the first of the month just to keep the print heads servicable.

        It's like driving a car every so often to keep it from rusting out inside. Except computers can be automated.

      4. Wyrdness

        I've had exactly the same problems with Epsons. The last one was an expensive top-of-the-range model which ended up down the council tip. I replaced it with a cheapish Canon, having never owned a Canon printer before. I've been very impressed with the Canon and will probably stick with them in future. One thing's certain and that's I'm never buying an Epson printer again.

  10. banjomike

    Be wary of Epson printers

    They have a built in system which stops the printer when it THINKS the pads which soak up spilt ink will, maybe, be full. You will have a fully operational printer one minute, the next it will be dead and the official fix involves a trip to the official repairman and LOTS of money. You have been warned.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge


      This shit is why I will never buy an Epson product, or inkjet printers ever again. I managed to get a copy of the service manual for my Stylus that did this, and after N cartridges (where N varies by model price) it demands a reset by software you can't get if you're not an Epson service depot.

      So it's literal programmed obsolescence. There aren't enough swears to express my hate and frustration.

      It may not be cheaper, but it's less pain to take stuff to a print service. There's even one next to me that prints on glass tiles, with various backings (or none) that looks cool as hell (

      Nuke icon, for what I'd like to do to Epson HQ.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Bloody hell, little perspective please, yeah, it's annoying, no it's not impossible to solve.

        There's lots of info out there on how to reset this 'service error' and there is a good reason for having it there, the felt pads are used to soak up waste ink from the purge/charge/cleaning operations, imagine how pissed off you'd be if they overflowed and spilled ink went all over your desk.

        If this is the most annoying thing in your life then I would consider you extremely lucky (apart from the obvious personality disorder)

        1. banjomike

          Of course there are ways around the error message. For the recent printers they all involve spending money even if you go for an "unofficial" utility because none of the freeby utilities like SSC work with the latest Epsons. Your printer is dead until do this. If you actually take the ink pads out of a so-called dead printer you will find that the pads are nowhere near saturated. Obviously the liquid quickly evaporates and only leaves the dried coloured dye behind. Having reset my R360 printer twice, so far, I can say that the pads are still nicely absorbing the ink that they need to. I fitted an external waste tank so that ALL purge/charge/cleaning ink now goes to a plastic tank and not into the pads. The printer will still stop with this error because the printer only seems to count the number of pages printed and the print quality in order to decide when to stop working.

          And it is not the most annoying thing in my life. I posted it as a warning. What you do with the information is up to you. As for the personality disorder, Anonymous Retards are easy to ignore.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            The comment wasn't aimed at Banjomike, it was aimed at Gene Cash who wanted to nuke Epson HQ because they impose a maintenance schedule. However as Banjomike seems to feel everything is about him, I think I 'm probably on the money with the personality disorder comment anyway.

  11. Richard Scratcher

    I'm sorry Dave I can't do that...

    I'd like to know how may of these printers will still allow the printing of a B&W document if one of the colour cartridges has run out. I have an Epson RX640 next to me that refuses to print my B&W document until I install some more cyan ink.

    I have an Epson "all in one" printer at my office that refused to send a fax because it ran out of yellow.!

    1. flying_walrus


      How can it make sure the relevant authorities can use the fax receipt to identify you if it can't print the secret yellow dots?

    2. Jock in a Frock

      Couldn't you ask head office to fax some yellow over to you?

  12. Trevor Marron

    Refillable tanks for Epson

    If you use it regularly then an Epson can usually be refitted with ink tanks or a continuous ink supply system as the print heads are not in the cartridge. A six set of tanks is circa £12, as is a set of all six 100g bottles of ink , one of all six colours. So for about two thirds the price of a set of genuine cartridges you get the equivalent of about 12 sets of cartridges, and next time round you need only buy the ink.

    The comments above about the heads drying up is true, but that is not nearly as much of an issue as it used to be, and with tanks you can afford to run a few cleaning cycles.

    Also software is available to reset the ink-pad counter so that can be worked round too.

    1. The last doughnut

      The only way to make an Epson printer economical to use, is to ditch part of it and install some more expensive hardware? FFS forget it. Use an online lab.

  13. petur


    Canon is supported pretty well, with linux drivers available for download from their site (at least, they were, last time I checked). They are also very reliable.

    +1 on the negatives about Epson. Had one, and that count will stay like that forever. Horrible machines requiring a lot of maintenance.

  14. The BigYin

    Missing info

    As others have said:

    Cost per print

    Cartridge type (single inks, or 3 colours in 1?)

    Are pattern ink available (and in fully working cartridges)?

    For the WiFi ones what band? Are they WiFi only or can then be cabled (USB or Ethernet)?

    OS support? Are these MS only?

    I am glad to see you did not include any Lexmark ones, I am suffering a re-badged Lexmark (Dell 964). What a hunk of junk. Can't use pattern ink, OEM ink is a rip-off, lacking in drivers for non-Windows OSs, just horrible (came with a PC, heading for the skip soon).

    Next printer will have to be a laser or support a continuous ink system. And not be wedded at the hip to MS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missing info

      Most of your questions can easily be found on the manufacturer's pages, I'm sure. Probably the cost, too. Don't trust them on that? As others have said, Google is your friend. You might be able to find other reviews? I really hope the people whining about Reg reviews don't rely upon those reviews only. That'd be sad. But I suppose some people just like to whine.

  15. Stuart 25

    Why not get someone who knows what they are talking about?

    "Inkjet printers produce better quality photos than traditional silver halide" There was really no point in reading any more of the article if the writer has such a poor understanding of image quality that they seriously believe that statement.

    Inkjet printing has many advantages over optical printing but quality isn't among them.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Buy Laser Printer

    Inkjet is expensive and dirty. All it will do is to drive you crazy.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another Discontent ... Or, at least a polite request!

    Although more of a general request for these 'n' Best ___ articles.

    1. Can you rethink the format. Two machines each over five pages is tedious.

    2. Can you please include a final roundup, with a comparison table of at least the most important features?

  18. b166er

    @SRS Christ! are you sure!

    I didn't think it was possible to write worse software than HP do.

    Any chance of a round-up of photo only printesr? They're much smaller y'know.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HP = Good, except...........

    Another +1 for HP, I had one die after about 6 years of use, but I have never had a dried out print-head problem. I refill my carts with generic ink and only have to buy a new HP cart when the print head starts to wear out, which is usually every 2-3 years (I print a lot of photos for work).

    One word of warning about HP though, they do a special, cheap range of printers for the Chinese and Indian markets, the Deskjet 1000 series has truly AWFUL photo printing, even on maximum quality settings.

    I bought one for general printing while living out in China and it is the biggest piece of junk I have ever come across, the heads clog if you leave it more than a week, the carts contain a tiny amount of ink, the paper-feed fails to pick up the paper nearly every other sheet and getting the carts out to refill them is fraught with danger; you have to pull so hard I worry about snapping the mechanism.

    Way to go HP, you are really going to win a market share in the worlds two fastest and largest growing consumer economies with this POS!!!

  20. MJI Silver badge

    Epson are junk I think

    I had to scrap a 2 year old printer due to unfixable head clogs.

    Now got a Canon with seperate tanks

  21. proto-robbie

    Unlike some commentators above...

    ... I'm going to recommend Epson, or at least one particular model.

    You can buy (admittedly small) generic cartridges for the Stylus 480SX for not much more than one pound each, and there seems to be no inbuilt mechanism in the printer to reject them (unlike my dad's much more expensive Canon which stops him refilling their own cartridges, thus racking up £30 per cartridge when they dry out).

    Until I got him another Epson, that is. As for print quality - there's virtually nothing between the two printers, and the Epson has a scanner too. A great machine for the money and very cheap to run, especially for infrequent users.

    1. proto-robbie

      Should have double-checked, and not gone on memory. It's an Epson SX415, not a 480SX as speculated above.

      1. banjomike

        It still has the "stop because the ink pad police say so" feature:

        1. proto-robbie

          So, rather than let you screw up...

          ...our printers by using them until they break, we'll screw them up for you in a controlled fashion. This has to be specifically for the British market, 'cos no other country would be so effing stupid as to put up with this.

          You'd think that some consumer protection agent with a grain of decency in their body could... oh no, what was I thinking?

          1. banjomike

            True everywhere

            "This has to be specifically for the British market, 'cos no other country would be so effing stupid as to put up with this."

            It is also true for the US market except in the US Epson will GIVE you the software to remove the error message and get your printer working again. In the UK the only fix Epson offer is a trip to the repair shop and loads of money. In the US they email you a piece of software.



  22. Anonymous Coward

    "Inkjet printers produce better quality photos than traditional silver halide, one of the reasons digital photography has superseded it."

    You haven't got a clue.

  23. Danny 14

    the problem is

    for most people it is far cheaper to do a photo run down at asda. Unless you are an amateur photographer printing reams of odd sized pictures I imagine the purchase price + media + ink would far outweight the cost of asda prints. Then in any case you would use a bulk ink system anyway. I have a most venerable canon IP4000 that I fill with ink from squirty bottles - good enough for kids homework pictures and rough "put on fridge" pictures. For framable piccys I get them from asda. The average person paying a £100+ on an inkjet and running the beast (with weekly cleaning because you dont use it very often) i'd say a waste of time.

  24. Jon Massey

    Get a laser

    As many have said here already, get a small laser for home use and find a decent local photo lab to do your C-type prints or large-format inkjet (Giclée) prints.

    I've yet to see an injet print that can match a well-made c-type or silver print for quality or longevity - you can pry my ilford multigrade paper from my cold, dead hands!

  25. Toxteth O'Gravy
    Thumb Down

    This review... sadly missing the product I have already purchased. I am therefore very annoyed that you were unable to validate my purchase decision, and therefore give me the warm fuzzy feeling I desperately need in order to to convince myself I bought the right kit.

    In future, please preach to the converted, and cover what I already own, not what I don't.

    Sheesh, guys (readers not writers)...

  26. Senex

    H p photosmart 5510 ink

    SSorry, the 5510 has separate ink cartridges for each color. I just bought one.

  27. Rob Smith 1

    "Inkjet printers produce better quality photos than traditional silver halide"

    I stopped reading at this point...

  28. Mark 65

    Photographer needs...

    "As well as photo card slots, which include CompactFlash for older, pro DSLRs"

    Older, like the 7D, 5D MkII, 1D-X? Non-beginner/compact end of the market? Yes. Old? Nope. Whether any owners would use any of these is anyone's guess, but I get great results from a pixma 4000/MP610.

  29. earl grey

    about that pixma

    the one with the slide scanner? how good a job can it do? a little more info would be nice. thanks

    an i have no more epson...when first one died and they couldn't be bothered to get back to my email... i figured they didn't want my business.... so i have had HP up until getting my little Samsung laser.... which is just great.

  30. Guillermo Lo Coco

    +1 rubbish review

    Which one support Linux ??? Yes, Brother.

    Who do not infect you winPC with 300mb of drivers? yes, brother.

    Whichone use only ink cartridges? yes, brother.

    your review seems for christmas.

  31. Nick Roberts

    Dear, oh dear

    Must say this isn't exactly the best photography-related article yet on El Reg, and this is an area that the site doesn't do that well anyway due to lack of expertise, I presume. For the most part, these certainly aren't what most photo enthusiasts would consider to be photo printers for starters. Also, it's just utter nonsense to say that "Inkjet printers produce better quality photos than traditional silver halide, one of the reasons digital photography has superseded it". NO! Inkjet printing is a lot easier than colour darkroom work without rivalling the quality standards, particularly at the level of these printers, and it's convenience and ease of use that's largely driven the photographic revolution. Yes, there was a huge amount of shoddy D&P on the high street which has made consumer-level digital seem better than film, but really it's only top-end DSLRs that can actually challenge traditional film photography in quality terms - the simple fact is that digiital is good enough, and consistent, as well as cheap (to use) and easy.

    Finally, CF cards remain at the heart of top-end DSLRs used by amateurs as well as pros.

    I do wish that photo-related articles were written by someone with more knowledge of the field, as these articles almost invariably fail to meet the normal standards I expect from El Reg.

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