Best Inkjet Printer for B&W in 2021

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Noisegate

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So I am thinking about upgrading my 3880 Epson printer. I have two of them. One is converted to Jon Cone B&W ink set and the other is standard. This replacement would be for the standard. That said, can't say I am completely blown away by the Jon Cone version but it is better. Perhaps I would think more highly of it, if the Epson wasn't so finicky. Bad paper feeds, pizza wheel issues, print head strikes. Ugh. My frustration is maxing out so maybe it's time to consider something else for both B&W and color printing. So, has anyone had and B&W printing experiences with the current line up of Epson/Cannon 17 to 24" printers? Which one has the darkest blacks? Best detail? Looking for the Best DMAX/detail out there under $3000ish.

Oh, just FYI, I live in an area with high humidity so head clogging is not, usually, a problem. Less dust too so it's win win!
 

jtk

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Canon Pro 10 or Pro 100 assuming you really do want the best and don't need bigger prints (also require Canon).

The way to produce the darkest blacks is to sepia tone the image using printer tone settings (not just Photoshop)....I inkjet tone most prints slightly coffee-toned if I don't want even warmer. Paper selection isnt as important as proper use of printer tone in addition to Photoshop...working darkroom I often preferred the warmth of Agfa Portriga Rapid....
 
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Hey jtk, Thanks for the suggestion and information. I do seem to add sepia (to various degrees) to most of my photos. I'm not sure how that got started but I probably, without realizing it, felt the contrast was better when toned. I can be a bit dense but now it makes sense.

Regarding print size, I do sometimes print fairly large (no panoramas) so was drawn towards the larger Canon model. Still, the view from the fence has not invoked any commitment on my part.
 

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Viewed your great images on Media... I do like your substantial brown tone but should mention that I do use Canon's "coffee tone" adjustment for most of my B&W. I don't use coffee tone as an effect or "look" but instead use it with restraint mostly to deepen black, often on a paper that itself tends to be neutral or faintly warm. Image rarely looks other than neutral black. This setting requires restraint as I usually try to avoid much of a warm look...can be a little tricky.

Few printer folk seem to notice the pigment printer tone setting (they mistakently assume the only possibility is PS adjustment)... I don't think Canon itself mentions the printer pigment toning capability.
 
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Thank you for the compliment. I have to admit it has never occurred to me to try a more subtle approach for increasing contrast. I will certainly experiment with the idea. Epson has toning capabilities within their Advanced Black and White section but I normally do most of my toning in PS. I have begun experimenting with the ABW program as someone suggested it might provide better results than PS. So far, the jury is out but it could be a question of "skill" vs "printer." As you said, it can be tricky.
 
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Paul Ozzello

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You won't get any better B&W results than with the piezography pro inks. Are you using the newer generation inks with HD black?

Epson Advanced black and white isn't that great, you're much better off using QTR with the epson k3 inks. The problem is that QTR still has limited support with the latest epson printers - so you're probably better off keeping your 3880 for now
 

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I have been using a 7900 for 6-7 years, and now inherited a 7800 which is using the Special Edition piezo ink. The 7800/Piezo is miles better than ABW. Absolutely no comparison. QTR on the 7900 using the stock K3 is quite good as well. Piezo K7 is better but you need a side by side comparison to see that
 

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Epson/piezo is incredibly expensive, given that the printer itself will quickly be discarded. Fiddling with piezo is sometimes justified in direct comparisons. .

Epson has hurt the reputation of inkjet printing through terrible engineering design.
 

Paul Ozzello

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Epson/piezo is incredibly expensive, given that the printer itself will quickly be discarded. Fiddling with piezo is sometimes justified in direct comparisons. .

Epson has hurt the reputation of inkjet printing through terrible engineering design.
Nonsensical misinformation. The 3880/p800 are great printers with a long lifespan and don't have the clogging issues of other epson printers. Piezography inks are no more expensive than epson color inks (cheaper actually) and far superior to any other black and white inkjet product. Piezography prints are even superior to traditional darkroom prints with better tonal seperation and richness that rival platinum prints. Canon printers can make decent black and white prints - but in no way are they in the same league as piezography.
 

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Nonsensical misinformation. The 3880/p800 are great printers with a long lifespan and don't have the clogging issues of other epson printers. Piezography inks are no more expensive than epson color inks (cheaper actually) and far superior to any other black and white inkjet product. Piezography prints are even superior to traditional darkroom prints with better tonal seperation and richness that rival platinum prints. Canon printers can make decent black and white prints - but in no way are they in the same league as piezography.
hi Paul
the 3880 printers don't clog ? I've seen some remarkable prints and digital negatives that came out of one of these printers but clogging issues always kept me far away.
John
 
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Paul Ozzello

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hi Paul
the 3880 printers don't clog ? I've seen some remarkable prints and digital negatives that came out of one of these printers but clogging issues always kept me far away.
John
Hi John, yes the 3880 has a really good reputation and almost never clogs - and when it does it's pretty easy to clear. The p800 is "the same" printer just more recent and is also very clog resistant. Both are really well made - If you want to do piezography those are the printers I would recommend (the p900 isn't fully compatible with QTR yet).
 

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Hi John, yes the 3880 has a really good reputation and almost never clogs - and when it does it's pretty easy to clear. The p800 is "the same" printer just more recent and is also very clog resistant. Both are really well made - If you want to do piezography those are the printers I would recommend (the p900 isn't fully compatible with QTR yet).

I fully agree with this... in my experience both my 3880 (running Piezo Pro inks) and my P800 (running OEM inks) have been very reliable. The rare clog is cleared without drama using a single regular cleaning cycle. My 3880 is over a decade old and my P800 is about five years old.

The 3880 is a bit easier to convert to Piezography than the P800. The P800 requires the addition of a circuit board to bypass Epson's mechanism that checks for OEM inks. This is not necessary with the 3880.

Epson's ABW mode does a pretty good job at black and white prints. However, the Piezo Pro system is somewhat better. What I really like about the Piezo Pro system is the very fine control one has over split-toning. In this aspect the Piezo Pro system is way ahead of ABW.
 

Paul Ozzello

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The 3880 is a bit easier to convert to Piezography than the P800. The P800 requires the addition of a circuit board to bypass Epson's mechanism that checks for OEM inks. This is not necessary with the 3880.

You don't need that circuit board anymore. There's a chipless firmware for the p800 that bypasses the chips.
 

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So I am thinking about upgrading my 3880 Epson printer. I have two of them. One is converted to Jon Cone B&W ink set and the other is standard. This replacement would be for the standard. That said, can't say I am completely blown away by the Jon Cone version but it is better. Perhaps I would think more highly of it, if the Epson wasn't so finicky. Bad paper feeds, pizza wheel issues, print head strikes. Ugh. My frustration is maxing out so maybe it's time to consider something else for both B&W and color printing. So, has anyone had and B&W printing experiences with the current line up of Epson/Cannon 17 to 24" printers? Which one has the darkest blacks? Best detail? Looking for the Best DMAX/detail out there under $3000ish.

Oh, just FYI, I live in an area with high humidity so head clogging is not, usually, a problem. Less dust too so it's win win!
I was so fed up with my Epson 3800 that I went to White Wall, and now, I could't be happier; no more headaches with the printer!
 
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You won't get any better B&W results than with the piezography pro inks. Are you using the newer generation inks with HD black?

Epson Advanced black and white isn't that great, you're much better off using QTR with the epson k3 inks. The problem is that QTR still has limited support with the latest epson printers - so you're probably better off keeping your 3880 for now
I was using the Piezo Pro ink set. I did think there was a "noticeable" difference in print quality but I wondered if my empty pocket book was influencing my opinion. It started to have problems and I'm not sure if the print head was having issues or if the ink just went bad. Walker at InkJet mall was very helpful in attempting to fix the issue but ultimately, it was not solved.

I've never thought of using QTR with a standard Epson printer. Tunnel vision at it's best, I suppose.
 
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RalphLambrecht

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I was using the Piezo Pro ink set. I did think there was a "noticeable" difference in print quality but I wondered if my empty pocket book was influencing my opinion. It started to have problems and I'm not sure if the print head was having issues or if the ink just went bad. Walker at InkJet mall was very helpful in attempting to fix the issue but ultimately, it was not solved.

I've never thought of using QTR with a standard Epson printer. Tunnel vision at it's best, I suppose.
Have you been coned yet?
 
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jtk

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I was using the Piezo Pro ink set. I did think there was a "noticeable" difference in print quality but I wondered if my empty pocket book was influencing my opinion. It started to have problems and I'm not sure if the print head was having issues or if the ink just went bad. Walker at InkJet mall was very helpful in attempting to fix the issue but ultimately, it was not solved.

I've never thought of using QTR with a standard Epson printer. Tunnel vision at it's best, I suppose.

QTR has long had excellent epson support...but it does call for close examination of test prints just as do darkroom test prints.
 

jtk

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IMO the ultimate answer if / while stuck with an epson printer entails PS (or LR) and NIK and Epsons own oem pigment. Nothing wrong with epson pigment but ....
 
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I'm updating this post (albeit not very timely) as I finally went out and bought another printer and thought I would share the results. I came across a used Canon Pro-1000 at a good price and decided it was worth a shot. Two words - I'm hooked. The black and white print quality is noticeably better than either of my Epson 3880s (utilizing various processes). In fact, I'm a bit stunned as to how much of a difference there is in print quality. The blacks are way blacker and the highlights hold more detail. The combination of the two provide a greater sense of contrast emphasizing almost a 3-D effect. It's remarkable.

In addition to improved print quality, as a bonus, I found using Canon's own plug in print module was both easy to use and more importantly, provided exceptional results with very little tweaking. This is in stark contrast to dialing in a print on the epson. Within a couple test prints, I had beautiful, rich prints that blew the doors off of anything I achieved on the Epson after burning through stacks of paper.

Speaking of paper, when I purchased the Canon, it came with a a bunch of Canon paper. As a bit of a paper snob, I would never consider any of their paper but decided to use some of the Canon Pro Luster as test prints. Holy Cow! The Canon Pro Luster produced one of the best prints I have ever made. Time to rethink my paper choices....again.

I realize it's a bit unfair to compare an older Epson model with a newer Canon so perhaps the Epson P900 is just as good. For me, however, the P900 was never in the running due to the downsized ink cartridges and a few other gripes. I was going to keep the one Epson and convert it to Piezo as I already have the cartridges and inks but I see no reason to do so at this point. That said, both the Epson printer and piezo stuff is going up for sale!
 
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Thanks Niranjan. I always try to close out my open ended questions when I have reason to do so. This one especially as I was awe struck with the canon. Life is good.
 

Lachlan Young

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I came across a used Canon Pro-1000 at a good price and decided it was worth a shot. Two words - I'm hooked. The black and white print quality is noticeably better than either of my Epson 3880s (utilizing various processes). In fact, I'm a bit stunned as to how much of a difference there is in print quality. The blacks are way blacker and the highlights hold more detail. The combination of the two provide a greater sense of contrast emphasizing almost a 3-D effect. It's remarkable.

In addition to improved print quality, as a bonus, I found using Canon's own plug in print module was both easy to use and more importantly, provided exceptional results with very little tweaking. This is in stark contrast to dialing in a print on the epson. Within a couple test prints, I had beautiful, rich prints that blew the doors off of anything I achieved on the Epson after burning through stacks of paper.

Speaking of paper, when I purchased the Canon, it came with a a bunch of Canon paper. As a bit of a paper snob, I would never consider any of their paper but decided to use some of the Canon Pro Luster as test prints. Holy Cow! The Canon Pro Luster produced one of the best prints I have ever made. Time to rethink my paper choices....again.

Pro-2000 user here - the jump in quality in terms of what the Pro-1/2/4/6xxx series can deliver on matte papers compared to various Epson printheads is remarkable too. That the print head is a drop-in part is another huge plus - as is a standard set of ink tanks across the 24/44/60" models.
 
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Pro-2000 user here - the jump in quality in terms of what the Pro-1/2/4/6xxx series can deliver on matte papers compared to various Epson printheads is remarkable too. That the print head is a drop-in part is another huge plus - as is a standard set of ink tanks across the 24/44/60" models.

Hi Lachlan, I am still stunned at the difference in the print quality I am getting out of the Canon. When I first started researching this topic, I was very hesitate to try the Canon based on people complaining about the automated cleaning cycles and ink usage. I honestly don't care about that any more now that I have seen the step up in quality. Now that I am happy with the print quality, I am eager to see larger prints as I have always avoided printing anything over 11x14 just because it didn't look good. So, can you see were this is going? There just might be a Pro-2000 series in my future...
 
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