EPSON SPECIAL PROMOTION: You’ve paid hundreds of dollars for a top-quality digital camera and hundreds more for a photo printer – so why compromise your investment by buying cheap inks and papers? Using genuine media (in other words, the inks and papers supplied by your printer’s manufacturer) will also give you the best possible prints your camera images can produce.


[Epson special promotion] You’ve paid hundreds of dollars for a top-quality digital camera and hundreds more for a photo printer – so why compromise your investment by buying cheap inks and papers? Using genuine media (in other words, the inks and papers supplied by your printer’s manufacturer) will also give you the best possible prints your camera images can produce.

There are plenty of other reasons for sticking with genuine media. Here are just a few of them.

1. It’s Better for Your Printer

Modern printers have been engineered from the ground up to produce high-quality photo prints. To achieve this objective, they use some very sophisticated technology. Each printing head is manufactured with extremely high precision to ensure it delivers ink droplets with the correct sizes and places them on the printing paper with absolute accuracy. Anything less and the resulting print can suffer.

To achieve these objectives, each inkjet printer requires specially developed inks, which work best with specially-designed papers. Different types of printer have different requirements, as you can see in the ‘Know Your Printer’ box on this page. Your printer’s ink requirements are closely linked to the way it deposits tiny droplets of ink on the paper. With the diameters of some inkjet nozzles being smaller than a human hair, if the ink formulation is less than perfect, the nozzles will clog up and the printer’s performance will deteriorate. In a worst case scenario, the print head may need to be replaced.

Each printer manufacturer formulates inks to meet the requirements of specific printers in their range. In some cases there is a different set of inks for each individual printer; in others, one ink set can be used with several models in a range. For both situations, buying the manufacturer’s inks ensures you will be using the best possible media for your printer. You will also be assured that the inks will be manufactured to high quality standards and subjected to rigorous quality control.

Using cheap, third-party inks is risky for a number of reasons. Cheap inks are produced with little or no quality control, so nobody can guarantee their performance. Cheap ink cartridges are often poorly-manufactured and may be susceptible to leakage, allowing inks to spread inside the printer’s electronics and mechanical components. This can damage cables, circuit boards and associated mechanical parts.

The inks in cheap cartridges are also unlikely to match your printer’s requirements in terms of viscosity and heat tolerance – regardless of what type of printer you use.

Many cheap inks are also too acidic and can etch the nozzles in the print head. Furthermore, if you combine different ink types and formulations by buying from different manufacturers, the chemicals in the inks may react and coagulate. This will clog and damage print heads and may cause internal damage to the printer.

2. You Will Produce Better-Looking Prints
Printer manufacturers invest a lot of time and money in producing ink formulations that blend together to produce correctly-balanced colours and subtle tonal nuances. This is no mean task, given that digital images can contain up to 16.7 million different hues and tones. The best digital photo printers are capable of reproducing all of these tones – as long as they have colour-accurate inks. If you want prints that look like the photographs you have taken, the colour-accurate inks from your printer’s manufacturer will give you the best results.

Consistent colour reproduction is also vital. You must be sure of producing the same image colours each time you change an ink cartridge – regardless of the age of your printer. Once again, only cartridges and inks from the printer manufacturer can offer this guarantee. Colour reproduction can also vary with different papers so the inks should be matched to the paper requirements.

Inks from the printer manufacturer have also been created to match the papers in the manufacturer’s range, so you can also be sure they will be applied evenly to the surface of the paper. They will also be applied with the correct dot sizes to produce the finest detail, subtlest tonal nuances and most vibrant colours the image is capable of producing. Your digital print will look just like a ‘real’ photo!


Epson’s MicroPiezo printer heads [right] can produce different sized ink droplets, depending on the image type and media used. The smallest droplets are used for areas with fine detail, while the largest can be used to quickly cover large areas of the image with minimal detail. This system not only improves print quality; it also optimises printing speed.

In contrast, cheap inks may not be applied uniformly, leading to streaks, blotches and surface irregularities on prints. The print will look unattractive and be nothing like a true photo print.

The inks produced by printer manufacturers have been formulated to dry quickly so the print emerges dry from the printer. This makes it easier to handle and reduces the chance of smudging when you lift it from the output tray. In contrast, cheap inks may dry slowly and/or unevenly, leading to an increased risk of smudging.

3. You Will Produce Longer-Lasting Prints

Genuine media are subjected to rigorous, independent testing so purchasers know what they are buying. The leading testing authority worldwide is Wilhelm Imaging Research (WIR), whose standardised image permanence test methods and specifications provide consumers throughout the world with ‘apples-to-apples’ comparisons for a wide range of inks and photo papers. You can view the results of these tests free of charge by visiting

The WIR testing program helps consumers differentiate between printer manufacturers’ papers that have been optimised for that company’s inks and third-party or private-label papers that claim to be ‘universally compatible’. Many of these have been subjected to much less rigorous testing using different test methods and most are supplied with no image permanence information at all. WIR has recently established a program that allows manufacturers to mark their inkjet (and other) media with a seal showing the WIR Display Permanence Rating in years. All leading inkjet printer and media manufacturers support the WIR testing program.

In contrast, prints made with cheap inks on cheap papers are seldom, if ever, tested so you can’t be sure how long prints made with them will last. One thing you can be sure of, though, is that they will definitely be less durable than prints on genuine media.

4. It’s Easier to Print With Genuine Media

Inkjet printer manufacturers have gone out of their way to make it easy for digital photographers to make the best possible prints from their images. For starters, each printer’s driver is already set up for certain papers from the manufacturer’s range. All you have to do is select the paper you’re using from the drop-down list in the printer’s driver.

Because the printer’s driver is set up to match the image file to the ink and paper, you’re more likely to produce a good ‘first-up’ print that requires few (or no) extra adjustments.

The prints will be dry when they emerge from the printer, making them easier to handle.

5. You Will Save Money

Although your printer manufacturer’s inks and papers may cost a little more initially, they will save you money over time. Because they are matched to the printer’s requirements, your printer will run smoothly for longer. The printer will require fewer cleaning and realignment cycles and fewer services and repairs. Ink usage will increase when you use third-party inks because you have to clean and realign the print heads more frequently. (Each cleaning and realignment cycle uses up quite a lot of ink so it should only be done when necessary.) So, although the ink cartridge may have been slightly cheaper to purchase, it will probably end up costing you more than the genuine inks from the printer manufacturer.

With cheap ink cartridges, your printer may give incorrect messages about ink usage. For example, it may tell you the ink has run out when up to 40% is still left in the cartridge. Consequently, what looked like a cheap ink set initially may end up costing you many times more than genuine inks from the printer manufacturer.

You will also have a better chance of making a good print first-up, so you won’t need to reprint the image. And, because your prints will last longer, the need to reprint them to counteract fading will be minimised.

6. You Will Save Time

Your printer will produce a higher percentage of high-quality prints first time with genuine media, reducing the number of reprints required. It will also take less time to set up the printer for printing as you don’t have to worry about loading or selecting paper profiles. All the settings and adjustments you require are there in the printer’s driver. All you have to do is match the paper selected in the driver to the paper you’re using.

Time and Money-Saving Tips for Inkjet Printing.

One of the best ways to save money when making prints is to print a small section of the image on the same type of paper. The process is very straightforward with the latest inkjet printers and editing software. Here’s how to go about it.

A. Edit the image in your favourite software application and save it separately at the correct output size – either in a special ‘printing’ folder or with the tag ‘for printing’ added to the file name. If you want white borders, this is the time to use the Image > Canvas Size setting to position your image on the page. In the example shown, the image size is 19 x 25.33cm, which fits on an A4 sheet with a narrow white border. To place it on a canvas size of 32.9 x 48.3cm (A3+ size), simply change the New Size Width and Height to 32.9 x 48.3cm

B. Using the Crop tool, select a strip that runs through a critical area of the image where you want detail to be fully resolved. The strip should be rectangular but it can be almost any size you want – as long as it covers the key ‘exposure’ area. Do not change the size of the image as this could change the print quality. (There is no need to save the ‘test strip’ unless you wish to use the same area subsequently. If this is the case, tag the file name with ‘test’.)

C. Load the printer with an A4 (or smaller) sheet of the paper you will use for your final enlargement and re-set the paper size and orientation accordingly. Open the printer driver and set the paper size and orientation to match the paper you’re using. Uncheck Centre Image and use the Position settings to position your test strip on the sheet of paper.

D. Print the test strip using the settings you plan to use for the final print. Now assess the test strip, checking colour, brightness, sharpness and any other adjustable parameter that is relevant. Make the required changes to the saved image file you plan to print from and, if you wish to check them again, get ready to make a second test strip on the same sheet of paper as you used for the first.

E. Repeat the steps above until you reach the point where you position your second test strip. Use the Image > Image Size control to see how large your cropped test strip is (re-crop it if necessary to ensure it fits on the sheet of paper). Measure the distance from the top (or side) of the page and adjust the Position settings to make the second test strip fit in either below or beside the first one.

F. Load the paper in the printer again so the second test strip is correctly printed. (Most printers work from the top of the page downwards, which means you should load the paper top-downwards.) Print the second strip and evaluate it as outlined above.

With care, you should be able to fit between four and six test strips of a suitable size for making A3 prints on a single sheet of A4 paper. The illustration on this page shows a typical example. Success depends on accurately measuring and setting the correct position for each successive strip – and remembering to orientate the paper correctly each time you make a print. (If you’re using an Epson R800 or R1800 printer, turn off the Gloss setting to prevent an excessive build-up of resin on the surface of the paper when making test strips.)

When you have a test strip you’re happy with, use the Page Setup function in the File menu to set the paper size and orientation to match the output size for the final print. Then open the image and adjust it to the correct size for printing. You may need to refer to the printer driver page to match the image Document Size to the Scaled Print Size. Checking the Scale to Fit Media box in the printer driver will ensure your picture fits the paper and is placed centrally on the sheet.

How to ‘read’ the ink usage graphs

Many inkjet printers produce a graphic display to show the levels of ink in each cartridge so users can see when the ink is running low. Some will alert users when ink levels are low, usually when less than 20% of the ink remains.

In most cases you can get three or four extra A4-sized prints after the warning has been displayed. With practice, you will learn to estimate just how much ink remains and the area of paper it will cover. Many printers will cease operating when the ink in one cartridge runs very low. If yours doesn’t, a change in the print colours part-way down the print will indicate a depleted cartridge.

Replace the cartridge and insert a new sheet of paper before you continue printing. You will probably need to wait for a minute or two while the printer prepares the new cartridge for use.

Post-printing Handling Advice.

Follow these simple precautions to keep your inkjet prints as bright and colourful as the day you made them for years to come.

  • Never dry your prints using a hair dryer;
  • Never dry your prints by placing them in direct sunlight;
  • As the prints emerge from the printer, lift them carefully from the tray and stack them interleaved with plain office paper;
  • Allow your prints to dry thoroughly for 24 hours prior to framing;
  • Wherever possible, avoid exposing your prints to atmospheric contaminants or direct sunlight;
  • Use acid-free archival sleeves for photo print storage;
  • Use acid-free mattes between the photo and the frame’s glass;
  • Framed pictures are better protected from atmospheric contaminants if mounted under glass;
  • Don’t display or store your prints outdoors;
  • Don’t store your prints where they are exposed to chemicals, such as in a darkroom;
  • Protect prints from ozone sources, such as monitors and TVs, air conditioners or other sources of high voltage electricity;
  • Avoid framing photos when humidity is high, as condensation may form behind the glass.

Know Your Printer

There are two main printer types: thermal and piezo-electric. In thermal printers, heat is used to drive the ink through the nozzles in the printer’s head, forming a tiny bubble, which bursts to leave a microscopic dot on the paper. The bubble collapses as the heating element in the printer head cools and the resulting vacuum draws more ink from the reservoir to replace the ink that was ejected. The majority of inkjet printers use this system.

The nozzles in Epson’s proprietary piezo-electric printers contain tiny crystals which flex when an electric current is applied. This opens a nozzle and forces out a tiny droplet of ink. No heat is applied.

These different types of printer require radically different types of inks. Thermal printers need inks that can withstand rapid heating and cooling cycles, while piezo-electric printers need inks with a specific viscosity that is high enough to stop the ink from leaking through the nozzle, yet low enough to allow droplets of ink to be expelled. Unless these individual requirements are met, neither type of printer can operate correctly.

Look for Genuine Inks

Company logos and trademarks are protected by law and it’s illegal to copy them. In the current marketplace, where third-party inks and cartridge refilling kits are being offered in shopping centres and markets and on the internet, it’s wise to be familiar with the packaging used by your printer’s manufacturer for its inks. This is usually quite distinctive, although a few third-party manufacturers may produce similar-looking packs.

Epson has developed a special Colour Shifting Label (shown here) to help users identify genuine inks and papers. Consisting of a 17mm disk it has a logo that changes between bronze and green, depending on the viewer’s angle. This colour shifting technology is internationally renowned as the latest effective anti-counterfeit security. It is being used extensively to prevent counterfeiting of currency and other products and is your guarantee of genuine Epson media. [28]