I’ve got quite a bit of printing ahead of me, and just the thought of burning through OEM pigment ink cartridges for my Epson R2400 was making me dizzy. From a reputable dealer, they cost anywhere from $12 to $18 a piece. That’s for about 15ml of ink. And we thought the price of gas was high (or use to be at least). The good news is, I have some spare Epson carts in stock. The bad news is, they’re not going to last that long, and before I know it, I’ll be needing to buy more. Enough of the madness!
After a few weeks of getting educated as to the availability, price and quality of inks manufactured by third party companies, I decided the “risk / reward” was worth it. Oh, I make it sound too easy though. I agonized over the decision of which company to trust with my images. After all, the quality of Epson original inks is truly outstanding. Could any of the after market inks even hold a candle to Epson? According to what I’ve been reading, the answer is yes. A couple of them anyways.
It came down to 3 companies. ConeColor, Inkjetfly and Inkjetcarts. All three companies have their followers in the various forums. All three appear to have their pros and cons, and when it comes to price, they vary quite a bit as well.
Inkjetcarts was tempting to say the least. In fact, they came in a close second. They had the best price by FAR! They also provide quite a bit of customer support in the way of YouTube videos showing how to use their products. And on top of that, I sent a question via email to their general “support” email address, and within 40 minutes had an answer waiting in my inbox. That’s fast! So why not just use Inkjetcarts? I print about 80% in black and white. I had read about some possible issues with “bronzing” when using their inks for black and white printed on anything but matte papers. I need the assurance of a quality b&w image regardless of the stock it’s printed on, so, with regrets, they were taken out of the running. Darn! They were literally 40% cheaper that the competition. But it can’t be only about price.
Next was Inkjetfly. They were always getting very good reviews on the Internet for quality products and great customer service. But the price! By far the most expensive. So much so that I just couldn’t get beyond the price point. That, and the fact that their website appeared to be kind of “homemade”. For some reason it did not instill confidence in their company. Again, MANY people raved about their inks. I’m just giving you an insight as to my personal decision making process. Inkjetfly was out. But the truth is, they were never really in the running. They need a new website desperately.
Jon Cone of ConeColor got my business for several reasons. First off, he has been a fine art printer himself, specializing in black and white for probably close to 30 years. He has printed shows for names such as Avedon in NYC. He offers classes in digital fine art printing using specialized inks that he developed called Piezography. Basically all of the 8 (or 9 depending on the printer) cartridges are replaced with black and shades of gray pigments. This provides the ultimate in tonality. For those interested in reading more about Jon’s process, here is a link to one of his blogs:
The fact that Jon Cone is an active printer/ artist /educator was the deciding factor. His pricing fell somewhere at the higher end of the spectrum. But the reviews of his inks, especially for black and white images, were glowing. Add to that, a professional looking website offering a ton of detailed information about the use of his products, and a few, simple, but well done YouTube videos showing how to use and refill his ink carts, was enough to make the decision a clear one. The price of the kit was $194 including shipping. This will be enough ink to refill the carts about 3 – 4 times, making it a smart investment, as long as it brings the quality I am expecting.
I placed my order about 3 days ago for my Epson Stylus Photo R2400 printers conversion kit. It consists of 9 refillable ink carts, 8-60ml syringes and blunt ended needles, and 9 60ml bottles of K3 equivalent pigment inks. and the merchandise was delivered via USPS from Virginia just today. Not bad considering the blistering cold weather the Northeast is currently experiencing.
In addition, I purchased a Waste Ink Kit. Basically when installed, all of the waste ink that usually finds its way to the bottom of your printer (where there is a waste ink reservoir) is instead diverted outside of the printer into a plastic bottle that can then be emptied.
It was a quick and easy installation and will be perhaps the subject of a future blog installment. For now, as my Epson OEM carts run dry, I will be replacing them with ConeColor Pro ink carts. I will of course update my blog as I go, reporting to you about the quality as well as any issues that might arise. If you have any comments or questions about my Ink Research, please feel free to post your comments below.