I have been using a Epson 9900 converted into K7 for printing mainly digital negatives. Due to intermittent use I have had recently problems with pigment settling and some clogging (not stable and quickly going away on the nozzle tests after a series of cleanings though).
Now the inks are coming to an end, I am thinking on whether it might be a good idea to switch our other printer, a 9880, for printing negatives, and leaving the 9900 sit filled with piezoflush for when in the future we might print more regularly and on matt-gloss paper besides digital negatives. The other option would be to leave the 9880 for color work (it seems to stand well the intermittent use) and continue to commit to the 9900 for digital negs. In the case however, I would fill it up with piezoflush and only load it with inks when heavy printing of negs is planned during a long “darkroom” season.
The reason I am considering to switch to the 9880 for digital negs is that for what I see, the 9880 is quite “uncloggable” and when some clogging appears, it always goes away with ease. I also know the 9880 has “proper” power cleanings, and can be flushed and filled with 3 power cleanings rather than using init fills as with the 9900… The 9880 prints slowly though, but I guess that in the future when using the new driver for PiezoDN that is about to arrive, prints will take long anyway due to the high resolution and the new dithering system?
What is important for us is to have a system that provides the best quality in terms of digital negatives (more than colour or b&w prints on paper), and very importantly that is consistent and works well without clogging, pigment settling, bandings and other problems. I know printing frequently, cleaning the machines and shaking the carts are some of the things that need to be done in order to optimize the functioning of the printers… but based on your experience and feedback:
Would you recommend using the 9880 over the 9900? Will the 9880 perform better as workhorse than the 9900? Will it be less prone to clogging, banding, etc than the 9900?
If we choose the 9880 for printing digital negatives will we obtain the same level of quality than when using the 9900?
With the future arrival of the new driver for printing PiezoDN will any of these two printers loose advantage over the other?
With the future arrival of the new Pro inks for printing digital negatives, will the 9880 still be equal to the 9900 or limited in any way?
I see the Epson 9880 only has carts of 200 ml. We would be interested in purchasing inks in 350 or 700 ml in order to keep costs down… Can one fill the carts of the 9880 and keep the remaining ink in the bottles stored for some time? How long and how can it be stored safely to guarantee it does not go stale?
As you can see, I am trying to figure out whether to commit to the 9900 or switch to the 9880 for future printing digital negatives, with a special consideration towards ease of use and reliability, quality and future-proof in terms of incoming improvements in the inks and driver technology.
Thanks so much!