One last thing about selecting a "pig printer" (thanks to S. Lallement for the image): you don't get any special Brownie points for optimizing your ink investment above all other things. It makes sense to me not to hemorrhage money through the ink carts, especially unwittingly. But, to get the cheapest ink price, is it worth it to buy a printer the size of a bathtub, for which a whole set of inks costs more than a month's mortgage?

You can go insane trying to calculate, to the last infinitesimal fraction of a centime, the cost of ink per square inch of printed paper surface. But why bother? Are you telling me you don't waste more money on useless purchases every day, or week, or month? After all, the best way to save money on ink is not to make prints at all, and that's no fun. There are other things way more important in choosing a printer: principally, how well you like the way the prints look. Oh, there are other things...does it take roll paper? How fast does it print (not an issue to me, but possibly to you)? How are the online reports of usability (i.e., does it have issues) and reliability (does it keep on doin' what it does without fuss)? Don't forget to consider how long you'll probably keep it—the last three printers I've owned are now festooned around my house doing impressive imitations of useless junk (for some reason I have a hard time discarding still-working, formerly expensive peripherals). Their current junkyard status was not factored into my decision to buy them in the first place.

In other words, my advice is to pursue the results you want, even if it costs you a little money. I'm keeping the HP B9180, and I don't care if the ink price per ml is not the best, because I love black-and-white, and I love the way the B9180 does black-and-white. Is it the "best" for black-and-white? I don't care: I like it best. So okay, the ink costs a little more. But paying a little less for inks when you don't even really like the prints you'll make is a pretty fair definition of foolish.

For me, photography is not a way to save money: it's what I save money for.

Then again, in the end you'll probably do your shopping like everyone else: judiciously consider all the pros and cons, and then go right ahead and buy whatever you want the most.

Nothing wrong with that.



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