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Old Mar 1, 2008, 7:55 AM   #1
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With the ongoing legal implication which third party ink cartridge manufacturers face in producing cartridge to fit Epson printer and the high cost of OEM cartridges which I can ill afford and cost of paper, it works out its cheaper per print to get them printed at my local pro lab, even cheaper at on line pro labs.[shadow=red] [/shadow]

I thought what is the point of paying for the maintenance of the printer and the hassle of colour balancing and exposure correction in printing when someone else could do it cheaper for me.

I then decided to go down the route of third party ink cartridges for my Epson R2400 but I was very disappointed with the quality and consistency of prints I was producing. Most of the work I was doing was 1 image X 100 A4 prints, trying to match print 1 to print 100 was near impossible and also meant 2 or 3 ink cartridges set changes with colour shifts. At that point I became very disillusioned. I couldn't afford OEM cartridges and not happy with third party cartridges I started to look around several photo forum websites to find an answer to my dilemma. Continuous Ink System (CIS) was the answer and believe me the way one will have to go in the future, but which system and whose CIS? I posted the question on several websites and got much appreciated advice.

The next thing I was told I needed to get a grasp on was colour management and profiling. These were all new things I had to learn about. I decided one of the most important things in purchasing a CIS was that of customer service and after sales back up. One thing I'd learnt in the past was to buy from a small company concern for that personal touch you only seem to get from small companies.

I ended up purchasing a CIS called the Bigfoot from Inkjetfly.

I spoke to the owner about which inks to use, so when the package arrived he had also put in 2 full sets of ink cartridges, one of Lyson ink and the other of Injetfly.com ink. So I could compare and see which I liked. I sent for a couple of free test prints and a sample pack of paper from Lyson. I downloaded the profile and printing instruction from their website. I downloaded the copy file of their sample test print and printed it on their semi-gloss paper using the profile. I was quite pleased with the results I obtained. I got a print which was almost as good as the sample print, which was custom profiled and printed on the same Epson 2400 printer model as mine. I am sure I could have matched this if I too had got a custom profile made.

I used Epson semi-gloss paper and both Epson's and Lyson's profiles and got a print almost as if I had used Epson ink and paper, the only difference was Lyson's ink seems to produce a more punchy and contrasting print in my view.

Next came the Inkjetfly new formulated ink. I printed the test sheet using both Epson semi-gloss paper and Lyson using matching profiles to the paper type. The print on Lyson paper did not quite have the punch or contrast as the Lyson ink on Epson paper but nevertheless still prints good.

The next was Epson paper and Epson profile. When the print came off the printer I stared at it in amazement. It was visibly indistinguishable from Epson ink and Epson paper combination. I then spoke to a print profiler who said that if you really wanted to see how good an ink could perform, I should download a 22 grey step wedge and a grey graduating wedge and print them. I got 19 shades of grey and one of black and 0 to 95% on the grey graduated scale wedge. This was about as good as it got so I downloaded the files he suggested and printed them out as he instructed on Epson paper. I was able, without custom proficiency, to get 19 shades of grey and 1 black. Not bad at all I thought. I phoned him back and he stated that I had got a good ink paper combination for my CIS and would probably only do marginally better if at all by doing a custom profile.

I was sent a sample pack of Epson premium gloss photo paper and Epson's enhanced archival matt paper when I bought the printer so I used the matt paper and the canned profile for the paper and I was blown away with the quality of print I was getting using this paper. I was now at this time left with the choice of which company should I use. I still couldn't make my mind up. They both looked equally as good as each other to me.

Now on to the actual CIS. It came well packed with a letter of introduction and a very comprehensive set of instructions, with text and pictures.

The reservoirs which hold the ink are made of clear, hard plastic and from these lead a flexible ribbon tubing which the inks flow along to a block of cartridges which slip into the cartridge carrier like normal cartridges. The inks are bleeded by placing the reservoirs higher up than the printer and the air vent holes in the cartridges are unplugged and the ink flows in until the cartridges are full and then the plugs are then replaced. The system then had to be charged. This is done simply by tilting the whole unit onto its front for 30-40 seconds, then back upright. The air caps on the reservoir are then uncapped. You then do a nozzle check and a head clean and away you go – you are ready to print.

The whole installation took me 40 minutes or so from start to finish. There is are comprehensive video clip you can watch at each stage of the installation on Inkjetfly.com's website or You Tube. Yes, I did get the ink on my fingers from doing the set up of the CIS and I had to do 2 head cleans before I got a perfect nozzle check pattern but all in all it was quite simple to install. There is no need to take the cartridge carriage door off the printer like on some CIS's so the cartridges and tubing can fit. No tools or special equipment are needed.

I also purchased and installed a waste ink tank which I was told would help prolong the life of the printer by collecting waste ink from the head cleaning and every time you swap from photo black to matt the printer purges ink and also when you switch the printer off and on it uses ink. This waste ink from what I understand feeds from 2 tubes normally into the bottom of the printer into a large absorbent sponge block which in turn becomes saturated. To install the waste tank is very simple. The only tool you require is a Phillips screwdriver. The install involves removing 2 retaining cover plate screws from the back of the printer and unclipping 2 clips from the bottom of the printer side cover panel. Lift off the cover to expose 2 waste feed tubes, unclip the connecters and slide in the 2 waste tank tubes. Replace the cover back on and do up the 2 screws and you are done. This took all of 5 minutes to accomplish.

As an extra idea, I placed an 8 inch strip of Velcro along the printer side cover and the other half on the back of the CIS so it keeps the whole thing neat and tidy and together on the desktop. If you want an even cleaner and simpler CIS, then Inkjetfly has just brought out their new X1 CIS, details can be found on the website. I always buy at the wrong time, I brought the EOS 1D-MK2 just 3 weeks before they upgraded to the new 1D-MK2N which came out some £500 cheaper, but hey, that's life.

Well my ink now works out at about £8.10 per set of cartridges with Inkjetfly ink and £25.00 per cartridge set with Lyson ink as compared to £80.00 per set of cartridges of Epson ink. I am making a great saving over Epson inks and now can afford to print lovely 13" x 19" prints without having to worry about the cost.

I have read a lot about printer heads getting blocked with third party cartridges and inks. I left my printer standing for 10 days while I was away. I came home, switched on the printer and did a nozzle check and all was fine. No blockages at all. I do 1 nozzle check each time before each large print run and head clean every 2 weeks and so far, no problems. This was my main concern when using a third party ink as I had blocked the heads of my old Epson EX printer by using cheap third party ink cartridges and could not unblock it no matter how many times I did the head cleaning cycle. I was well upset after running the printer on Epson ink for 8 years with no problems. I used just 2 sets of third party ink cartridges at a cost of £12 per set and they ruined the printer beyond repair. So whatever ink you decide to use, make sure it comes with a warranty not to block your printer head or void your manufacturer's printer warranty. You might ask what third party inks I would recommend. Well all I can say is that I am using the CIS with its manufacturer's ink and could not be happier with the print qualify or customer service I get from Inkjetfly.

I would like to state here that I have no financial or business connections with either Lyson or Inkjetfly and have not received any items or money in favour for this review. It is entirely based on my experience and opinions. I hope this has been informative to those who have read it. There are some articles that are worth a read to help you have a better understanding of printing listed below which I certainly found useful.



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Old Mar 1, 2008, 12:49 PM   #2
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Any chance you could post that review and any follow ups to continuousink.info...

We've not had much on Epsons for a while so it'd be nice to see how the 2400 works out over time and the kit/ink too...
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