I have owned the Epson R2400 printer for a while now, and been wondering how much it really costs to print at home. Before buying I researched the topic, but found nothing really definitive on this topic. After running through 25 ink cartridges I thought it was worth to do some math and come closer to estimating the real cost of printing. There are obvious benefits to controlling your workflow end-to-end, but I wanted to know how much this was costing me.
With a sample of 137 prints of diverse sizes and a few paper types, my preliminary conclusions are that it takes 0.03 of an ink cartridge to print a 4×6, 0.13 to print an 8.5×11 and 0.34 to print a 13×19. Estimating the prices of each ink cartridge at USDs 15 (I know this might vary slightly, but just as reference), the ink cost (not taking into account paper – more on this later) of a 4×6 would be USDs 0.45, 8.5×11 at USDs 1.95 and a 13×19 at USDs 5.10. [Note. More detail on the methodology I used to calculate this below].
So even though this is not a strict scientific approach, I think it provides a reasonable estimation to the cost of printing.
I used a sample of a 137 prints, distributed in 23 (17%) 4×6; 68 (50%) 8.5×11 and the remaining 46 prints (33%) 13×19. All the 4×6 were printed in Ilford Smooth Pearl Paper, while over 95% of the remaining prints were done in Epson Premium Luster.
In order to understand the cost, I decided to perform an analysis based on the printed area. I calculated the printed area for the 137 prints, totaling 18.272 square inches. Below, you can see a breakdown by print size.
Since I did not want to have to deal with the variances in color balance of the sample prints, and since the cartridges cost all the same price, I eliminated from this first part of the analysis the breakdown between color cartridges.
In order to print this 137 prints, I used a total of 25 ink cartridges. Simple math concludes that if 25 cartridges were required to print 18.272 sq/in, a 4×6 (with an area of 24 sq/in) would require 0.03 of an ink cartridge; 0.13 for an 8.5×11 (93.5 sq/in) and 0.34 for a 13×19 (247 sq/in). At an estimated USDs 15 per cartridge, the ink cost of a 4×6 would be USDs 0.45; 8.5×11 would come up to USDs 1.95 and the 13×19 to USDs 5.10. Note. One of the elements that might have an impact on these measurements, it’s when to replace the ink. The Epson driver advises of low ink, yet I tried to push as much as it seem reasonable before exchanging it. Yet, I did not allow it to get to the point where the printer forces you to replace the cartridge before continuing.
Finally, I added the cost of paper, to get the whole picture. The 4×6 Ilford Smooth Pearl Paper (30 sheets) costs approximately USDs 11 (tax included). The Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper in 8.5×11 (50 sheets) costs approximately USDs 17, and the 13×19 (50 sheets) costs 107.
Just as reference, my local professional lab, prints an 8×10 for USDs 10 (in a direct to printer mode, without any human intervention), or at USDs 0.13 per sq/in. Comparatively, I am printing at 0.02 per sq/in, or 80% less.
As I said before, even though there are many areas of improvement for this study, it does provide a reasonable basis for comparison and thus for supporting the decision making process of purchasing and owning a printer.
If you have done some sort of analysis yourself, or have gotten access to one, please don’t hesitate to provide me a link to it.
Please send any comments to Martin Herrera | Martin@MartinHSphoto.com | www.MartinHSphoto.com.