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Ink Consumption and Angels

The most frequently asked question about ink-jet printers is: "How many pictures can it print before the ink runs out?" Given that replacement cartridges are not cheap (about $30-$50 a set) it's a valid concern. But, unfortunately, that's like asking how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, and centuries ago theologians and philosophers concluded there was just no way to calculate it.

Images are not made up of equal amounts of color and since multi-color cartridges have to be replaced when the first color runs out, there's bound to be some wastage. Most well-designed ink-jet printers have separate black ink cartridges because when the printer is used for both photos and correspondence black usually gets depleted first. As a rough estimate, figure about 25 prints, 8 by 10 inches in size for Epson Stylus Photo printers when they output at 720 dpi, less at 1440 dpi.

Of course, if you print smaller pictures, you'll generally get more output from the same amount of ink. I used to make big 11 by 14 inch silver prints when I worked as a photojournalist, but now that I'm doing fine arts and portrait photography, I prefer smaller prints. A 5 by 7 inch or 6 by 9 inch photograph surrounded by a generous white border makes a handsome-looking print, and one that doesn't have to be held at arm's length to be appreciated.

 

 

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