Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Which Printer Should I Buy? Epson or Canon?

Years ago when I decided to take on the challenge of learning all there is to know about photography printing, I swore that I’d never pick sides. I’d just state my opinions and I saw them and try to encourage people to get their images off their computers and into their hands via printing. I still believe in that mission and still feel strongly that both Epson and Canon make outstanding products.

This article started out as a simple post about Henry Wilhelm’s comments in the next section, but evolved into this long overdue discussion where I put my cards on the table about what I really think. This blog has always been about open and honest feedback like I’d tell a personal friend with no sugar coating or bullshit.

In this article I share my advice based on my daily experience with the 5 professional printers I keep in my studio. I love all of my printers and they all have their strengths and weaknesses, but I realize that my readers can’t afford to own so many so you just need someone to give you the facts as they see them. I hope to accomplish that in this article and hopefully my comments will be taken to heart by both Canon and Epson so they can make their products better.

With that said, let’s stir the pot by referencing a August 3, 2012 Canon video interview with Henry Wilhelm about the history of photography, print permanence, and "the look and feel" of silver-gelatin and inkjet prints. (NOTE: I say good things about Epson later too <g>)

Canon PIXMA Pro-1 Printer – The Best Black & White Printer Ever Made? Henry Wilhelm Thinks So!

PIXMA PRO-1
Canon PIXMA PRO-1 Photo Printer (Adorama, Amazon, and B&H)

Henry Wilhelm is a very well respected name in the photo printing industry. In fact, when I first started doing my printing series I frequently heard my Epson contact reference Henry and his Wilhelm Imaging Research web site as the source for the best and most accurate print permanence ratings. Henry also claims to be an apprentice to Ansel Adams when he was younger, so I took pause when I watched this video where Henry raves about the Black & White performance of the PIXMA PRO-1 printer:

Canon HD video interview with Henry Wilhelm about the history of photography, print permanence, and "the look and feel" of silver-gelatin and inkjet prints  (low bandwidth version)

In this video he states that:

The Canon PIXMA PRO-1 printer which uses the 12-ink LUCIA system with 4 level black gray inks and a clear Chroma optimizer ink is the first printing system that to me has fully solved [the problem of differential gloss]. It produces the most beautiful black and white prints ever made on an ink jet printer.

If Ansel [Adams] were alive today he would absolutely love the PIXMA Pro-1 Printer – I have no doubt about that!

Those are some bold words (and honestly dems fightin’ words :-) in the photo printing community where Epson is the alleged leader of the industry. According to one source, total printer sales put Canon in a higher spot, but that includes lower-end printers and copiers so from what I’ve seen Epson does appear to be the golden standard.

I’ve been singing the praises of my iPF6300 (review) and iPF6450 (review) printers great performance and definitive ease of use over the 7900 (and definitely over the clog prone 4900). However, the Epson fanboys would have me tarred and feathered for speaking such blasphemy!

The truth of the matter is that I do still agree that Epson and Canon both make very, very good products. I also think that in the photography community Canon’s are highly underrated and Epson’s are very much overrated. In addition, while I much prefer the Epson HDR and Canon LUCIA EX inks over the Canon LUCIA inks, the Wilhelm Print Permanence Ratings for the Canon Pro-1 Printer with Canon LUCIA Pigment Inks is convincing data that proves you can trust these inks. In fact, my own independent “rain test” of the LUCIA EX convinced me that these aren’t your ordinary consumer printer inks! However, what sealed the deal was this report:

CANON iPF8300 with LUCIA EX Pigment Inks and CANON Media Receives High Permanence Ratings (Report) From Wilhelm Imaging Research (Press Release)

It should be noted that the iPF6400, iPF6450, iPF8400 and iPF9400 (and their predecessors the iPF6300, iPF6350, and iPF8300) all use the same exact ink and print head technology, but the image quality has improved in the newer models (see my comparison). This means that you can expect the same permanence ratings when paired with the same paper used in the test.

What does all this mean?

It means don’t buy into the Internet malarkey that Epson printers are superior to Canon. They aren’t. Sure if you pixel peep various images you can create results where one printer shines over the other – especially if you use third party printing software like ColorByte ImagePrint with Epson printers – you can find that Epson printers perform very well. However, if you get Canon print masters together than can show similar examples where the Canon’s come out on top. In my own testing the screening technology of the Epson’s do seem to have an advantage, but the new LUCIA EX based Canon printers released last year close that gap. The PRO-1 certainly has outstanding screening technology as well!

The Canon printers using LUCIA and LUCIA EX inks are excellent printers, so don’t let the naysayers scare you away. I’m not as fond of the cheaper printers that use the cheapo ChromaLife 100+ inks though, so keep in mind that all printers aren’t equal. In fact, even Epson has this problem with its cheap dye inks (i.e., Claria® Hi-Definition).

Does this mean Epson printers aren’t any good?

Heck no! In fact, one huge advantage that Epson has is its HUGE fan base that has created some of the best ICC Profiles for photo printing. Printers like the Epson Stylus® Pro 3880 have no end of brilliant paper profiles for nearly every paper, so when used properly that will guarantee great results! My own testing with the new Epson Stylus® Photo R3000 also showed that it’s superior head technology gave better print results than the 3880 and was near identically to the much larger and more expensive Epson Stylus® Pro 4900! So there’s lots of great Epson printers to choose from, and their Advanced Black & White mode when used with Epson Exhibition Fiber (and other Epson Signature Worthy Papers) will create jaw dropping black and white (as well as color) prints.

Ron, just tell me which one you like best!

Epson SureColor P600 Inkjet Printer
Epson SureColor P600 Inkjet Printer
 (Amazon and B&H)

I wish I could, but this is like comparing Nikon to Canon cameras – again, both are great products but there’s a lot of variables that come into play when deciding which is right for you. The same holds true here. The Canon PRO-10 and Epson SureColor P600 are the best starter printers on the market and they are sure to make you fall in love instantly!

I can also state, without hesitation, that I think the Canon LUCIA/LUCIA EX models and Epson K3™/UltraChrome HDR models are the best photographic printers on the market – PERIOD! I do find the Canon printers to be MUCH easier to use and I’ve never had any clogging problems (whereas I can’t use the 4900 without spending 30 minutes addressing clogging problems).

In addition, as I stated earlier, I think Epson has the advantage in both screening technology and availability of great printer profiles (although the PRO-1 marketing team did a brilliant job of getting a ton of fantastic profiles for third party papers for it too). There’s also better third party RIP software for the Epson printers (3880 and up), so if that is important to you then Epson is the way to go. Products like like ColorByte ImagePrint also make brilliant prints, offer free great paper profiles and fantastic features like hot folders which make it a great solution for the office environment where you want drag and drop photo printing.

Canon iPF6450
Canon iPF6450 – Large Print Heaven!
iPF6400, iPF6450, iPF8400 and iPF9400 at B&H
iPF6400, iPF6450, iPF8400 and iPF9400 at Amazon

Please check out my printer reviews and printing series page for more information. Here’s my reviews so far:

If I could only pick one it would have to be the P600 simply because it produces near 4900 quality prints via a easy to use wireless configuration that was a snap to setup. It’s just stupid easy to get going making fantastic prints. If the Canon PIXMA PRO-1 was wireless, then it would have easily been my first choice due to its outstanding color and black and white performance.

My next choice would probably be the iPF6450 because it’s go large, or go home! The Canon LUCIA EX ink set is fantastic, and this printer is a dream to use (the Photoshop Export Module and Accounting Manager are brilliant)!.

For Black & White prints on the PRO-1 (Adorama, Amazon, or B&H) are delicious so if I was a black and white only print master then I’d be hard pressed not to own the PRO-1 (mainly due the advantage of the clear Chroma optimizer ink).

If I was doing fine art sheets of cut paper (which I prefer) then there’s really nothing better than the 3880 (Amazon, B&H or Adorama). Sure it’s ink set and print head technology are a little dated (my SureColor P800 review is coming in late 2015), but it just handles paper and prints borderless (up to 17x24”) so darn well it’s really my go to printer for heavier fine art papers.

So yeah, I love both platforms and think you can’t go wrong with either! Seriously!

Conclusion

As I state in my Printing 101 eBook, these are exciting times in photography and the experience of controlling the process from capture to physical output is a blast. Printing doesn’t have to be a pain in the ass and cost you a fortune creating prints that look terrible compared to what you see on your screen. This is why I dedicated over a year of my life to adding content to help people enjoy the world of self-printing like many film photographers enjoyed developing their own prints.

Happy Printing!

P.S. One last note – NEVER, EVER buy third party inks. I can’t stress enough how stupid it is to not use the OEM inks by Canon and Epson in their printers as that’s one of the most important factors in getting great results. Putting generic ink or doing refills is like buying a Ferrari and putting an old Yugo engine in it! It just makes ZERO sense! Cut corners on paper if you must, but DO NOT USE third party ink – PERIOD!

Where to order

Please visit the articles mention in this blog to order your printer. It helps to support this blog and it really encourages me to add more printing related content. If you are in the Seattle area then consider JVH Tech for your printing needs as well.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, please check out my Printing Series.  You may also enjoy these Canon articles:

and these Epson articles:

and be sure to visit the bottom of my Printing Series page for a bunch of great articles that apply to both platforms. You will also appreciate my discount coupon code page where I occasionally have printer paper special offers.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this. Canon and Epson have also both provided printers, paper and ink for my review, but neither have paid any monetary compensation or for advertising.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Choosing the right Canon printer (UPDATED: Aug 7, 2015)

Canon Printers

There are a ton of Canon printers on Adorama, Amazon,and B&H to choose from but for this article I’m going to focus specifically on printers designed for those who wish to do professional quality photo printing typically referred to as Fine Art printing. This means I’ll skip a larger number of PIXMA printers with the “photo printing” moniker. Canon calls their pro photography printers the Professional Photo Inkjet Printers and Professional Large Format Graphics Art Inkjet Printers.

Narrowing the Selection

Canon offers a dozen printers in the aforementioned subset, but for this article I’m going to target the 4 that I believe are targeted to the high end consumer and professional photographers that read this blog. Therefore my recommended subset of Canon pro printers for photographers to consider are as follows:

Canon PRO-1 – The Best Black & White Printer Ever Made? Henry Wilhelm Thinks So!

PIXMA PRO-1
Canon PIXMA PRO-1 Photo Printer (Adorama, Amazon, Canon Store and B&H)

This desktop printer supports a maximum of 13x19” sheet paper is very comparable to the Epson SureColor P600 and Epson Stylus® Pro 3880 and is a great choice for those doing small scale fine art prints. It does 4x6” sheet prints very well, and Canon camera users will appreciate the fantastic results they get when they do NOTHING to their in-camera JPEG images and just send them to this printer.

One thing to keep in mind about this printer is that it is surprisingly large and heavy, so do your measurements first before ordering. Definitely plan to lift it with a friend too!

Read my review here and/or order yours today at Adorama, Amazon, and B&H.

Also see my PRO-10 review if you are wanting all the goodness of a PRO-1 with wireless and AirPrint support.

imagePROGRAF iPF5100 - The pro solution for the (large) desktop

Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5100 Large Format Printer
Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5100 Large Format Printer

This is a printer designed for those who might be considering the Epson 3880 or 4900. Size-wise it is larger and heavier than Epson’s 4900, so space planning should be done prior to taking delivery. This is not going to fit on your average desktop like a Canon PRO-1 or Epson 3880.

Feature wise the iPF5100 is a 17” wide pro printer featuring roll paper support and technology from the last generation of Canon printers so it offers Lucia inks (instead of Lucia EX) and previous generation control panel and processor technologies. This is a fine solution for those who don’t wish to go up to a 24” wide printer and who find the print quality and archival needs of this printer sufficient for the work they are doing. It’s designed for heavy duty and larger volume printing than the Pro9500, so it’s an ideal choice for the wedding or studio photographer.

Learn more here or buy one today at Amazon, B&H or Adorama.

Ink Cost: $0.58/ml (as of 9/10/2010 @ JVHTech)

Canon imagePROGRAF 6400/6450 – The 24” WOW Printer

Canon iPF6450
Canon iPF6450 – Large Print Heaven!
iPF6400, iPF6450, iPF8400 and iPF9400 at B&H
iPF6400, iPF6450, iPF8400 and iPF9400 at Amazon

Let me cut to the chase and say I’m biased because I have a iPF6450 printer and love it (see my review). I also adored my iPF6300 that I had before it! This is an outstanding 24” wide format printer that is pure joy to use, but it is very big so space should definitely be a consideration before considering a printer this large. However, it is smaller and lighter than Epson’s 7900.  

This is is a true wide format printer designed for those who want to go large with fine art prints. It’s primarily designed to print from rolls. It can print cut sheets, but it’s just less enjoyable as you have to eject your roll paper and feed them one at a time. However, given the nature of fine art work, it’s common to do that even on printers that support multiple sheet feeders. It’s a fantastic choice for “wow” panoramas too (I did a 24”x51” borderless print of Seattle that still has me giggling like a school girl years later).

The 12-Color LUCIA EX ink based printers are the latest in print technology offered by Canon and feature an ink which Henry Wilhelm has declared as the greatest invention for printing since the invention of the ink jet printer (source: Randy Hufford & Canon USA).

You can read more here about some of the benefits of these new printers, but what I can tell you is that every pro who I’ve talked to who has used one of these new *300 and *400 series printers has said great things about them. Starting with the *300’s many have stated (including former Epson Stylus® Professionals – off the record) that Canon is “finally in the pro printer game” (meaning these are as good as anything else out there). Their words were less kind about the prior generations, so beware of great sales right now on outgoing models as there’s a reason for it! They may look the same, but print quality-wise they are in a league of their own in the Canon print lineup thanks to improved processors, ink, print head improvements and much more.

iPF6400 versus iPF6450

The ONLY difference between the iPF6400 and iPF6350 is that the later has a hard drive which is handy for a number of reasons – mostly doing re-prints. My recommendation is to spend the extra bucks and get the iPF6450 if you can. Everything is besides the hard drive is identical between these two printers, so if you want to save a few bucks then the iPF6400 is a great choice – just be prepared for iPF6450 envy when you see someone using one and their print job frees up their computer very quickly!

Learn more here or buy one today at B&H or Adorama.

Ink Cost: 61 cents per ml for the 130ml ink tanks versus 47 cents per ml in the new larger 300ml ink tanks (as of the time this article was written)

imagePROGRAF iPF8400

Image Courtesy of Canon USA
Image Courtesy of Canon USA

Like its competitor, the Epson 9900, this 44” wide printer is a beast designed for a high end print masters and print shops, but not your typical photographer. Sure, it’s just as easy to use as the other printers, but the size is closer to a smart fortwo! It’s effectively just a larger version of the fantastic iPF6450, so if you need the extra width then this is a great choice.

Learn more here or buy one today at B&H or Adorama.

Ink Cost: 61 cents per ml for the 130ml ink tanks versus 47 cents per ml in the new larger 300ml ink tanks (as of the time this article was written)

Get a FREE Print Sample

Click here to get a using LUCIA EX inks and Canon papers. In the past you’ve been able to submit your own image and choose to do prints from each of the printers provided, but I haven’t tested this offer so you’ll have to check it out for yourself.

Attention Northwest Shoppers – JVH Technical – A GREAT Place to buy local

image

Talk to anyone in the Northwest who is serious about printing, and odds are they’ve come across the path of John Harrington (no, not this one) and his company JVH Technical, LLC. When you do, the first words out of their mouth are always “John is a great guy”, and after meeting him myself I have to agree. John and his son Ryan are a big volume printer sales and supplies company with home grown service – literally – they run the business out of their really cool classic Northwest home!

Now, I know to some this business operated from John’s home might be a turn off, but the reality is that when John talks about printing people listen. Industry greats like Canon Explorer of Light Greg Gorman (featured on my Top Photographers list) , John Paul Caponigro, Randy Hufford, and Bambi Cantrell have been in attendance to his past open houses (sponsored by Epson and Canon). His printer sales blow away even local big shots like Glazers and Kenmore Camera, so it may seem small but it’s really quite big. Their annual digital print festival is a great treat to attend too!

This is no small mom and pop shop either, as John carries an inventory of over $400,000 in fine art papers and a huge selection of the latest printers from Epson and Canon that are available for immediate delivery. Not only that, they’ll deliver and install them for you at no charge! In fact, even if you didn’t buy your printer from John, if you have questions or are having problems odds are they’ll come out to your house and help make things right again – usually at no charge! In addition, John’s always happy to provide free samples of the papers you’ve wanted to try, but are wondering if they are worth the expense! This is the kind of customer service that simply doesn’t exist very much in the world today, but it is also why everyone loves JVH! I can’t recommend them enough as a great local resource for printers and supplies, and if you do go visit John or Ryan as a result of this article (or series) please be sure to tell them that I sent you. They may just have something special for you for doing so - wink wink

Here’s more in John’s own words as to why you should buy from JVH.

PLEASE READ

If you have any interest in printing, you must check out my Printing Series page. It has a wealth of information which you are sure to enjoy. You will probably also find my article entitled Which Printer Should I Buy? Epson or Canon? to be helpful as well.

Disclosure

Canon has provided me with a PRO-1, iPF6300, iPF6450 paper and extra ink so that I may bring you this series on printing. I do not get any monetary compensation from Canon, but I do get a commission if you use my links to Adorama, B&H, or Amazon so thanks for supporting the blog! I have no specific arrangements with JVH for a commission, but please mention this blog as a token of my appreciation to John & Ryan for their assistance in this series.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Epson Ultra Premium Luster Review and How To Walkthrough Videos for Mac & Windows

Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster Inkjet Signature Worthy Paper
Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster Inkjet Signature Worthy Paper

If you use an Epson printer, the odds are you’ve had a chance to use Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster so you know how good it is. If you haven’t, then run out and get some now because this is the paper that you grew up thinking was the stuff that professional studios used. It’s a high quality, but reasonably priced paper that is easy to use and produces gorgeous results on any Epson printer (as well as other printer brands if you can find the ICC Profiles for it).

This paper is also has the prestigious distinction of being an entry level member of the Epson Signature Worthy™ papers. These papers are for those who insist on the highest quality papers that perform extremely well with today’s best inks like Epson’s UltraChrome® K3 and HDR. When you buy this paper, you know you are getting what Epson believes to be the best media for their printers and something you should be proud to sign your name on. Based on my experiences with all of the Signature Worthy papers, I couldn’t agree more!

Quick Facts

Basis weight  240 g/m² (260 Roll Available)
Thickness  10 mil
ISO brightness  97%
Opacity  97%
Gloss at 60ยบ  16
Hot lamination  Yes
Base material  Polyethylene Encapsulated Paper
Surface finish  Luster

Here’s a few more things to know about this paper:

  • It has a super high color gamut available for vivid color reproduction
  • RC paper base for photorealistic prints
  • Luster E surface finish
  • Dries instantly for easy handling with Epson inks
  • 10 mil thickness for a durable photographic feel
Helpful links on Epson’s web site

Print Test Image

For this review, I chose to use the following image:

Copyright (c) Ron Martinsen - All Rights Reserved
Copyright (c) Ron Martinsen - All Rights Reserved

However, I’ve printed hundreds of images on this paper so I’m quite familiar with it. I often use the Outback Print Printer Evaluation Image to evaluate papers and printers when doing side-by-side comparisons, but I already had done that with this paper and printer so I decided to use a different image for this review.

If you are doing your own evaluation, I strongly encourage you to use the Outback Print Printer Evaluation Image or something similar to it.

How To Videos for Mac OS X

The following videos are designed to teach you how to use your Epson printer driver with Photoshop and Lightroom to successfully print out your favorite images using Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster on a Epson Stylus Photo R3000, Stylus Pro 3880 and Stylus Pro 4900 printers. For the Mac versions I’ve created separate videos for each printer.

I should note that in one of the videos for the R3000 when I talk about the SPR3000 Luster profile I say SP stands for Spectrolina but ignore that. It actually means Stylus Photo in the case of the R3000 profiles.

Photoshop CS6 Tutorials


R3000 Tutorial


3880 Tutorial


4900 Tutorial

Lightroom Tutorials

The following tutorial applies to Lightroom 4.3 for Apple OS X (10.8 in this case) using Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster on a Epson Stylus Photo R3000, Stylus Pro 3880 and Stylus Pro 4900:

 

How To Videos for Windows

Since it took me so long to make the Mac videos I decided to consolidate them for the Windows videos. Besides, Windows users tend to be a little more computer savvy, right? ;-)

Photoshop CS6 Tutorials

The following tutorial applies to Photoshop CS6 for Windows using Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster on a Epson Stylus Photo R3000, Stylus Pro 3880 and Stylus Pro 4900:

Lightroom Tutorials

The following tutorial applies to Lightroom 4.3 for Windows using Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster on a Epson Stylus Photo R3000, Stylus Pro 3880 and Stylus Pro 4900:

NOTE: I say "distorted" for Zoom to Fill, but it's not really distorted. What I mean to say is that it will scale your image to fit which may be undesirable for pixel peepers. Most users are going to be very satisfied with the results.

Sample Pack

Okay, I know paper is expensive so if you just want to try out these papers and others from the Signature Worthy collection then I recommend the Epson Signature Worthy Sample Pack (8.5 x 11", 14 Sheets) .  If you like these then please support this blog by coming back here and using my links when ordering more paper – thanks!

Conclusion

Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster is a fantastic paper for any Epson user to begin with. It’s a high quality paper that you can be proud to give your customers and it’s available at a price that won’t break the bank. I use it all of the time and love it!

If you want to step up from this paper, then I strongly recommend Epson Exhibition Fiber as the ultimate paper to show off your work. In my opinion, EFP is one of the best papers on the market – period!

Where to order

Click here to order Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster on the B&H web site. My friends at Adorama have it available here and Amazon has it available here.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Monday, February 25, 2013

PRE-ORDER: Sony Alpha A58, NEX-3N or 3 new Sony lenses

Sony has announced some new cameras and lenses today. Click on the images or links of any of any below to learn more and place your pre-order today!


Sony Alpha SLT-A58 Digital SLR Camera
with DT 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SAM II Lens


Sony Alpha NEX-3N Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm Lens


Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G2 Telephoto Zoom Lens


Sony 50mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Planar T* ZA Lens


Sony DT 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SAM II Lens

Learn more via the press releases at http://presscentre.sony.eu/content/default.aspx?NewsAreaId=2.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support this blog – thanks!

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Canon Video Gold Mine on YouTube

Canon Videos on its YouTube Landing Page
Canon Videos on its YouTube Landing Page

Canon North America has done a fabulous job of consolidating all of its videos in one place at http://www.youtube.com/CanonUSA.  I’m very impressed with the structure and design of this site, and the quality of the material is fantastic!

If you haven’t discovered this resource yet, you are missing out!

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Kelby Training: Character Compositing (Discount)

As Glyn Dewis says in the humorous video above, it can be frustrating when you don’t have the perfect background, model, etc… for a shot. However, in this fun Kelby Training video he shows how to do professional quality compositing to express your artistic vision in the way your mind intended.

Click here to read my review of Kelby Training and get cash discount too!

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

REVIEW: BlackRapid RS-Sport Camera Strap (UPDATED 2/24/2013)

BlackRapid RS-Sport Camera Strap
BlackRapid RS-Sport Camera Strap

Sometimes a product is so helpful to me that I just start using it and never get around to writing about it. This was certainly true of my original Hoodman Loupe and I’m sad to say it’s been the case with my BlackRapid RS-Sport Camera Strap. I got this product a little over a year ago and immediately put it to good use at a Seahawks game (see below):

Ron & Blitz - Copyright Rod Mar
All grins looking like Tim Taylor of Home Improvement with my Think Tank Photo Modular Components and Keep It Up Shoulder Strap as well as my BlackRapid RS-Sport Camera Strap

I’ve been using it nearly every time I go outside of the studio since that day. At first I hated the strap that goes under the arm, but I found that when I run around I find it super helpful to keep the strap snug on my shoulder. Your mileage may vary so you can go with this strap and remove the under arm strap if you find it to be annoying (as I once did).

Long-Term Report

Here's how I carry my long lenses
Here's how I carry my long lenses

Yes, it’s true that if you aren’t careful this strap will cause your camera to swing around and whack things – mostly your own thigh. To prevent that you need to lock the clips and swing it behind your hamstring which I found to be the safest place for it. I didn’t like mine on my hip bone so I typically just toss it to the back.

I’m also ultra paranoid based on reports from users who have had accidents, so I am always checking my camera mount to make sure its screwed in tight whenever I lower my camera. In the year plus that I’ve used mine none of those checks have ever caught an even remotely loose connection, so I’m not too worried about any accidents while using this anymore.

I also still like to have my regular camera strap as shown earlier, so these days I’ll wrap it up in a BongoTies.

Great Video from blog reader, Donald Scarinci

One of my blog readers, Donald Scarinci, made this great video that demonstrates how to use this strap with a Arca Swiss style bracket so that you don't have to remove your bracket from your camera. It's a very well done video that I encourage you to check out:

Conclusion

As photographers we are constantly bombarded with new crap to buy, so it’s hard to tell the good stuff from the junk. We all make mistakes and buy some junk products from time to time, but this is one that has stood the test of time as being essential to my kit. I love my BlackRapid RS-Sport Camera Strap and highly recommend it.

Where to order

Click here to order the RS-Sport strap or click here to see a selection of BlackRapid straps on the B&H web site. My friends at Adorama have them available here and Amazon sells them here.

Other articles you may enjoy

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Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

I also live in the same city as BlackRapid so I’ve been given straps to test with no obligation. I also have been featured as a Friend of BlackRapid.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

onOne Discount Expires on March 2nd–ORDER NOW

Check out my review for Perfect Photo Suite 7 and decide quickly if you want to get this awesome set of products for super low $36.42 per product ($254.96 total with coupon code RMART20). onOne is retiring their affiliate discount program so this could be the lowest price you’ll see this year!

Here’s all the cool products you’ll get:


Click to read my review

Order Now and Save 15% with Coupon Code RMART20[EXPIRES MARCH 2nd, 2013]

If you don’t have it, you should get this one. If you do, then you definitely should upgrade (it’s only $127.46!!!). It’s that plain and simple as this is a game changing release. It’s dirt cheap too for what you get – especially when you compare how much stuff you’d need to buy (on top of Photoshop) to get the equivalent products.

Click here to order your copy of Perfect Photo Suite 7 or any of its individual products. However, the bundle price is so sweet I recommend just getting the whole thing. With my discount, it’s actually less than I paid for my first copy of Color Efex!!!

onOne Coupon Code

What’s more, if you own any Nik Software product you can get the entire suite for 50% (expires February 28th, 2013) . See my article entitled Nik Software Owners: Get onOne Perfect Photo Suite 7 for 50% off for more details.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. I was also provided with a copy of this product for the purposes of evaluating it for a review.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dell UltraSharp U2410 24" - $379.99 only with free shipping!

Dell U2410 only $379.99
Dell U2410 only $379.99

Save 30% off Dell UltraSharp U2410 24" Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor w/ PremierColor for $379.99 only with free shipping! Code MNXN0MQWV?WW2L

Tech Specs

Conclusion

I’ve had my old Dell 2407WFPb (shown here on my desk – page down) for so many years that I’ve lost count, but it’s still kicking. While I haven’t used the U2410 and prefer my NEC PA Series display for my serious work, this at a minimum should make a great 2nd display.

Where to order

Click to order

Click here to order on the Dell web site and enter the coupon code MNXN0MQWV?WW2L as shown above.

Offer expires February 27th, 2013!

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Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pre-Order: Nikon D7100 24.1-MP 6 FPS Now Available


Pre-Order the kit now at Adorama or B&H

Nikon announced the new D7100 today - the new flagship of Nikon’s DX-format HD-SLR lineup. It achieves a thrilling new level of image quality and sharpness thanks to a specially designed 24.1-MP DX-format CMOS sensor. You can enjoy speed, precision and convenience at every step, from shooting up to 6 fps to instantly sharing your shots with the optional WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter. Create dazzling Full HD 1080p videos and ultra-smooth slow-motion or time-lapse sequences. Unleash the power of Nikon’s nimble DX-format system.


Pre-Order the body only now at Adorama or B&H

You can pre-order here:

D7100 BODY ONLY -  $1196.95  (Adorama or B&H)

D7100 Kit  - $1596.95  (Kit lens is the 18-105mm)  (Adorama or B&H)

Learn more on Nikon’s web site.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

COMPARISON: Canon iPF6450 -vs- iPF6300 – Part I


My iPF6450 began its life at PhotoPlus Expo 2012

If you followed my printing series and/or read my Printing 101 eBook, then you probably know how found I am of my Canon iPF6300. It is a great printer and certainly part of a family of Lucia EX based printers that really got Canon into the same game as Epson. However, as great as it was, there was room for improvement as the gradients and tonal range were marginally better on the higher end Epson printers.

With the new iPF6400, iPF6450, iPF8400 and iPF9400 Canon worked hard to address the feedback from customers about how to make the the ultimate Canon printer for photographers. Some of the improvements include:

  • A new multi-sensor for better accuracy and faster performance
  • Gallery wrap feature built into the driver
  • Calibration Linking (link multiple printers together and calibrate together - see pdf for more info from one PC)
  • Improved driver with support for variations like the PRO-1 (woohoo, this is a great addition that won’t be back ported to the iPFx300 printers.
  • An optional integrated Spectrophotometer for the iPF6450 only – shown below

Canon imagePROGRAF 6450 with SU 21 spectrophotometer
My iPF6450 is shown here with the optional onboard SU-21 Spectrophotometer accessory ($1795)

Of course there’s the marketing improvements mentioned above, but there’s also living with the new printer. I’ll dive more into what it’s like to own the iPF6450 based on my experience owning the following professional quality printers:

Why are you comparing the 6300 to the 6450 and not the 6300?

Since I know this will be a FAQ, let me state up front a few important facts:

  1. The 6300 & 6350 are functionally identical, but the 6350 adds a hard drive.
  2. The 6400 & 6450 are functionally identical, but the 6450 adds a hard drive.
  3. The 6300, 6350 and 8300 are functionally identical and print exactly the same. The differences are only the paper size and the absence of the hard drive on the 6300.
  4. The 6400, 6450, 8300 and 9400 are functionally identical and print exactly the same. The differences are only the paper size and the absence of the hard drive on the 6400.

With these facts in mind I decided that since I covered the iPF6300 base model so well in my first review, that it made more sense to cover a model with a hard drive for the review of the new models. THE PRINT RESULTS ARE THE SAME, but the *50 models have the added convenience of a hard drive which allows you to reprint jobs very easily without using your computer.

The iPF6450 is unique in this line up in that it is also the only printer that supports an optional integrated spectrophotometer (SU-21 for $1795). I do not have a SU-21 and am not sure if I’ll get one to review, but that was also another consideration for me choosing this model.

Physical Differences

Canon iPF6300 - PCMag.com Readers Choice
Canon iPF6300 - PCMag.com Readers Choice
39.1 x 46.4 x 34.3" (99.3 x 117.9 x 87.1cm) with stand
Approx. 146 lb (66.2 kg) with stand

Canon iPF6450
Canon iPF6450
39.4 x 48.3 x 34.3" (100.08 x 122.68 x 87.1 cm) with stand
154 lb (69.85 kg) including stand

Size-wise these two printers are roughly identical in size with the 6450 being a little heavier and slightly larger. If you look carefully though you’ll notice one big difference and that has to do with the size of the ink reservoirs shown below:

Canon iPF6300/6350's Ink Reservoir
Canon iPF6300/6350's Ink Reservoir

Canon iPF6400/6450's Ink Reservoir
Canon iPF6400/6450's Ink Reservoir

Here’s views of them open:

iPF6300/6350 Ink Reservoir supports only 130 ml Ink Tanks
iPF6300/6350 Ink Reservoir supports only 130 ml Ink Tanks

iPF6450 Ink Reservoir supports both 130 & 300ml Ink Tanks
iPF6400/6450 Ink Reservoir supports both 130 & 300ml Ink Tanks

As you can see the older model only supports 130ml ink tanks, but the new model supports both 130ml (PFI-106) and 300ml (PFI-206) ink tanks which is great because you can upgrade without wasting ink and you can take advantage of the value savings of larger ink tanks. That comes out to about 61 cents per ml for the 130ml ink tanks versus 47 cents per ml in the new larger 300ml ink tanks (as of the time this article was written). That’s can be a pretty significant cost savings!

Cost Savings with the iPF6400/6450

Now you take that cost savings and you add the fact that the iPF6400/iPF6450 uses less ink (from what I’m observing – using identical settings) and the larger tanks and this can be significant over the year. Let’s just say you print five portraits similar to the one below at 13x19” each week (or any combo thereof) and you do that for a year.


This image printed at 13x19” was printed the exact same paper and settings on both printers
Accounting Manager reported 2.152ml with the 6300 vs 1.7155ml with the 6450

Accounting Manager reported 2.152ml of ink was consumed with the 6300 vs 1.7155ml with the 6450. That would mean that using the smaller 130ml tanks in the iPF6300 it would cost me ($0.61 * 2.152ml per print * 5 per week * 52 weeks) about $341.31. For the iPF6450 with the larger 300ml tanks it would cost me ($0.47 * 1.7155ml per print * 5 per week * 52 weeks) about $209.63. That’s a $131.67 savings for even the most casual user, whereas working professionals and printing business will see HUGE savings worthy of an upgrade.

Control Panels

For printing businesses looking to integrate some of the newer printers in with their older printers, you’ll be happy to notice that the new control panels are identical to their predecessors:

iPF6300 Control Panel
iPF6300 Control Panel

iPF6450 Control Panel
iPF6450 Control Panel

There’s nothing new to learn here and under the covers they seem functionally the same.

Setup and Overall Usage

I’ll cover this topic in more depth in future articles, but fundamentally both printers work the same way. Your workflow won’t be any different, but the new x4xx printers have some great new features that you are sure to enjoy.

The one I’m most excited about is the variations feature which users of the PRO-1 will enjoy. Be sure to see my PRO-1 review if you want to see right away what variations works like – it’s identical in these new printers. You can also click here to see a sample of what one of these sheets looks like (and you can print as large or as small as you want).

Image Quality

I’m finding that the Canon paper profiles that ship with it seem to be better than those in the iPF6300, but it could be the printer itself is just better. I haven’t done enough testing to determine which one it is. All I know is that I am getting better prints that are visible to the trained eye, but it’s not so drastic that I think clients would really notice. What’s more I don’t think it’s so drastically different that you couldn’t print jobs with old and new printers and not feel comfortable mixing the prints together in the same package. If you are a print master you’ll see the difference, but customers won’t. I consider this a very good thing!

A word for Epson users

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got what I think is a good understanding of the Epson platform as well. While I don’t own a 7900, I have used it and I often use my 4900 which is very similar. While Epson does have the edge on the vast number of great paper profiles out there, I find that I’m very satisfied with the Canon prints. On identical paper with identical quality paper profiles, I find the Canon results to be just as good. However, I do appreciate on the Canon platform that I don’t waste tons of ink on clogged heads, the driver is so much easier to use, and I have the Accounting Manager to track my costs.

Conclusion

Click here to learn more in the second part of this review.

Where to order

If you are in the Seattle area then my friends at JVH Tech are a great local business to purchase from and get great personal support. However, most of my readers aren’t local so you’ll probably find the white glove service from B&H a great choice. Click one of the links below to research or order your new printer today:

iPF6400, iPF6450, iPF8400 and iPF9400 at B&H

iPF6400, iPF6450, iPF8400 and iPF9400 at Amazon

If you look carefully on both sites you’ll see that there are very rebates available from time to time that really make these printers ridiculously cheap compared to their Epson counterparts.

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Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.