What I think of inkjet printing sometimes
I just finished half a day of frustrating print testing on my ink jet printer. I need to produce a folio for a workshop that is coming up and was trying out some new matte papers for which I did not have good profiles for my printer. After a long afternoon of printing, tweaking, googling, making notes, installing a new firmware for the printer, installing a new driver for the mac, more printing, tweaking, googling, etc. etc. I finally came up with a set of profiles that works well with these papers, and was able to use my method of printing the folio on them. But Lord I don’t want to go through that again for a while.
Looking back I can remember what a pain it was getting things working with my usual set of glossy and semigloss papers, but I had forgotten how painful that was and how many test prints I’d had to make to get good results. Once you’ve got the process right it’s nice and repeatable, but my feeling tonight is that we are still a long way from where we ought to be regarding home fine art printing, at least as far as ease of use. It’s like walking through a pasture–you’ve got to watch out for all the crap you’ll step into!
The driver software for my HP9180 is particularly crappy. It produces some nice output, but has some very non-intuitive settings, frustrating interfaces and just plain bugs. Half the time I spent today was trying to get these thicker matte stocks to feed through the straight feeder (so called “specialty media tray”), since they are a little too thick to go through the usual paper tray without causing scratches on the prints due to print head strikes. The printer kept giving me an error message that the paper size was too small for the print, which was nonsense, because I could print the same image on different paper of the same size in the regular paper tray. I finally figured out that any paper type that I selected from the “fine art” papers submenu would cause this message. Choosing a matte paper from a different submenu, changing the tray to the specialty media tray and then selecting the correct ICC profile did the trick, but I had to try several paper types in the alternative submenu to find ones where the ink distribution matched the paper effectively. Rrrrr!
I’ve now owned printers from Epson, Canon and HP. They’ve all had their problems. Where is the dark horse? I outsourced the printing of the exhibition images and that worked out well, but I like to be able to print at home. Still seeking that elusive ink jet. Almost thought I’d found it in this HP, but I don’t think so anymore.