adydula wrote:Thanks for taking the time for such a nice reply. I understand and agree....time is money and these new printers are definitely not orientated around the hobbyist or even a prosumer....unless you have the money to play.
The technology is indeed exciting, but there are many wonderful ' just printer's that will continue to make wonderful prints and cause liots of use to smile in our labor intensive workflows...
It might also be worth mentioning again something I somewhat glossed over, above. MTBF - Mean Time Between Failures. Much of the cost of these printers, or for that matter "professional" photo equipment, is that it is built to really last. It does not necessarily do the job better, but it does it for a lot longer.
As a working photographer, for 35mm my main camera system was based upon a Nikon F3 or one of its F-series predecessors. Someone who bought an entry-level camera and mounted the same lens would take an identical picture, at least for the first fifteen or twenty thousand. At that point, it would either need an overhaul in a camera repair shop or it would be too worn out to bother. An F-series Nikon probably would not need any maintenance below 250,000 exposures, and an overhaul would be good for another quarter of a million. Though the camera may have cost ten times as much as the entry-level body, it would probably outlast 30 of them, so it instead of being the most expensive Nikon, it proved to be the very cheapest.
When your tools are putting bread on your table, this is the prime reason for buying it - I could trust when I did a shoot, the editor or client would have pictures. Blow a shoot and lose a client. Professional equipment can be seen as income insurance.
I have never recommended an enthusiast buy such a camera. Unless one is doing a thousand exposures a week, it is simply bad economy. Cheaper bodies tend to have more buzzword enabled features, do a great job and cost less. Most enthusiasts would never wear out a mid-range camera.
Maybe this technology will move over into Photoshp and make our lives easier in this area (smile)....boy do I (we) spend a lot if time playing in that area of the hobby / business....
The major new feature of the Z printers has been available to anyone with a decent pocketful of kopecks and loads of patience. While it is not automatic by any stretch of the imagination, colour management tools abound. With a reasonable investment, you can calibrate most any device in the image chain. While these printers can do it automatically, you can manually generate optimum profiles for any ink and paper combination with readily available equipment.
Yes I have inhabited the low end world of the Epson R2400 and recently ( abut a year now...) have a Epson 4800 and have thoroughly enjoyed what it is capeable of producing...if your careful, and consistent you can make really gereat prints that are quite repeatable as I know you are well aware of...
The R2400 is the high-end of consumer printers and capable of making prints that will be welcomed with open arms into galleries and museums. Many printmakers are generating substantial amounts of income with the R2400. In the art industry, gallery owners and curators are very aware of its archival prints. While the R2400 may be on the low-end of professional printers, the 4800 is clearly in the pro class due to its sturdy build.
Like the Nikon F3, few enthusiasts could afford to wear out an R2400. That is a lot of paper and ink! Unless it is a unquenchable lust for large prints, powerful enough to empty the wallet, there is little to be gained by going into the truly pro printers. In fact, the R2400 has one step higher resolution than the pro printers. It will do 5760 x 1440, while the pro printers are 2880 x 1440. Under certain circumstances, the R2400 may be able to print a slightly smoother gradient with a slightly higher degree of detail when prints are viewed at reading distance.
The other consideration for an enthusiast longing for pro equipment, is that before the printer is anywhere near worn out, there may well be new printing technology or features that are more desirable. There is little sense in buying a printer that will last ten years, when a generation is 18 months to two years. For the last eight years, you are stuck with ever more antiquated media.
No major gallery would accept my dye prints, and even 2200 prints might be questioned. Walk in with a portfolio of R2400 prints, and the gallery owner will be discussing content, not metamerism, bronzing and fading problems.
I enjoyed playing with Bill Atkinsons Boquet of Profiles that he developed using all that high dollar profiling euipment and it works well on the 4800...
Of course, if the equipment gives you value for the money in pleasure, go for it. Hobbies are not meant to be practical. My synthesizer was top-of-the-line Yamaha along with a wind-controller, and cost far too much to justify buying, a decade back. Since then it has given me fifteen to twenty hours or more of pleasure a week. On an hourly basis, that is really cheap entertainment. It is still so good, that I have never gone shopping again. I just finished close to four hours of pleasure with it.
I have hundreds of prints using different appers and profiles trying to see what all the differences are...and have settled down to a few favorites and am back to enjoying the photography and art form once again...and then along comes some new technology like these Z printers that are ery enticing...
My main weapon of choice is still the old 1280 - dye-based printer. Yes, the prints will begin to fade in a few decades, but I will probably fade first. At this point, I have too many personal projects I wish to pursue to get into printmaking for sale. If the time comes that I do, I will buy whatever I need based upon the situation. At this moment, if I were to score a one-man show in a hot gallery, I probably would buy the 7800 to feed the market I would anticipate. I would certainly look at the HP Z-machines as well. However, since I would probably settle on a single paper-type, the built-in automated calibration would go to waste. Canon too has some that would be considered.
But you know if its all that easy and consitent how much fun would that be at our level!!!
Perhaps too many years as a working photographer. I have little fascination for gear. If I did decided to go after the galleries, there would be no particular rush of pleasure in buying and using a 24" printer - more of a bother. There would be a rush when handed a cheque for my first print sale, but that too would be tinged with regret. For so much of my life, I have been a very responsible adult, putting off much of what I wanted to do "until the time was right".
I worked for the Man, and worked hard. After a fight with the Big "C", it was clear that if the "time was not right" right now - it certainly would not be any more right if I am pushing up daisies and feeding the worms. Plunging into a career as a printmaker, would again be workin' for the Man - even if the Man is me. I am the worst boss you could imagine, 12 hour workdays, seven days a week. I can not even begin to remember when I took a non-working holiday! I should form a union and picket me.
Compared to the conventional darkroom, the digital darkroom wins hands down. What I see on my monitor is what comes out on the paper, and the cost per print is a tiny fraction of a traditional print. Paper and ink is dirt cheap, and my time grows ever more valuable. It is lovely to spend 30 minutes in Photoshop instead of three days in the fume-room, to make a perfect print. (Most fume-room prints were "good enough".)
I do have a strong interest in the relationship of the artist to the medium, and have been using computers as a creative medium since the beginning. Steve Wozniak lent me one of the very first Apple computers. He once told me that I was the first person from an art background to ever use a personal computer. Of corse, techs had played with graphics before me. I think the main reason Woz lent me the machine was to see what an artist could do with it. Thus I still do keep up with what is happening in media, though I buy only when there is a specific need. I have never bought anything, just because it was the latest thing, unless it solved a specific, defined problem and would give me a clear edge.