If you feel you need the Epson 1520, and Epson 3000 ink jet printers be sure to check with people that have used them already before you decide whether to buy those models or not..

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Avoid the old circa 1996 Leaf Lumina digital camera/scanner.

Try to avoid basing your decision on price; yes its tempting as their price drops. If you already have them and no problems have occurred then enjoy them. Hopefully not all of these printers have as many problems as the ones we hear about.

Leaf makes great products and their Leaf Lumina, Leaf 35mm slide scanner, and Leaf 4x5 slide scanner were the earliest of their kind on the market (years ago, before everyone else had products). The Leaf 4x5 slide scanner was the best technology of its kind in those years (early 1990's).

Unfortunately, American television was the first on the market too. This allowed French and German TV systems to improve on the original invention and provide far superior television reception. Now High Definition TV is even better.

Same with Leaf products. Everyone else makes a better product than the first one out the door. I tested a Leaf Lumina. It was a disaster and I returned it. I was severely irritated by its inhabilities to meet standard norms.

It's weight and bulk was unbalanced in every respect and thus difficult to hold or even use on a tripod.

The lens was some cheap low quality brand, something comparable to a Sigma. How can any company ask $5,000 for a product and then deliver it with a cheap lens? They should have at least included a Nikon lens. The ad claims it has a Nikon F lens mount, but that only means a Nikon lens can screw in. In fact the Lumina that was sent to me had a cheapo lens, the buyer got screwed.

The software was difficult to load, in fact I was not able to get it properly working. Even if the software did wonders for the scans, this did not help if it was not yet user-friendly. This was years and years ago, but in 1998 I still saw a major desktop publishing mail order catalog store offering the Leaf Lumina for $4,995, which was an outrageous price even four years ago.

What is all the more unrealistic is this price for a used item; it is "factory refurbished."

Don't buy a Leaf Lumina even if it is reduced to $1,000. It is not worth it. I am sure that somewhere someone is happy with their Leaf Lumina, but after you try any of today's sophisticated scanner and digital photo solutions, you may ask yourself how could anyone even consider the Lumina.

Although I have not personally used the Leaf 35mm film scanner or the Leaf 45 4x5 film scanner, they are based on hardware and software of many years ago. It is unlikely, that however advanced they were originally, that they can match the quality (or speed) of today's newer products. I mention this because just this week I saw a Web site of a service bureau which advertised"scans from a Leaf 45 are near drum scanner quality." Umax also got badly burned for this exaggeration. If you can get 4000 dpi out of your equipment, then at least you are close, since low-level (entry level) drum scanners from Howtek offer precisely 4000 dpi. Yet you can get that much dpi in a Polaroid SprintScan 4000 and more in the higher models of Imacon.

If, however, someone offers to give you a Leaf 4x5 scanner, considering accepting it. The Leaf 4x5 scanner was so advanced for its time that it is probably still better than other 4x5 scanners. The 4x5 products by Nikon and Polaroid have not fared very well though their new models are greatly improved. If you have lots of 4x5 chromes to scan you probably need a CreoScitex EverSmart flatbed scanner.

Same for the Epson 1520 and Epson 3000 inkjet printers. Yes, many people are content or don't try to produce much with them so may escape problems. But I have spoken or received mail with several people who had bought the Epson 3000. One was not impressed and bought it only because it was cheap. The other reported frequent problems.

The other person had made the mistake of buying three or four Epson 3000's. He reported precisely similar problems. If there is the slightest glitch (which is common) then your print is totally ruined.

More than that, if you forget to clear the memory manually, all your subsequent prints include digital garbage left over from the print that was just scrambled. None of my other printers from any other company print digital garbage and then spew the same garbage out print after print.... all on overpriced paper.

Epson ads do not picture digital garbage being printed yet this seems to be a known failure of the printer drivers.

The other major problem (other than being glacially slow and thus tying up your computer for hours) is that neither of these Epson printers is made for mass production. You can print one or two copies, but forget trying to print 30 to 50 copies. You need a color laser for that.

Another headache is that the ink is excessively overpriced. The ink is sealed to make it impossible for you to refill it with more economical ink. The printer comes to a complete halt when it decides it wants more ink--we tore the ink cartridge open and found ink still inside, but the paper counter decided it had printed enough sheets so it demanded that I buy more ink. Worse, the printer requires fancy expensive paper to produce a reasonable print. Fortunately now you can get aftermarket ink for most Epson printers. This ink lasts longer and does not fade. It would help if the ads indicated that special paper was required, and give a forthright estimate of the ink and paper cost combined, as well as warn you that you also ought to buy an after-market RIP.

Now you know why the printer costs so little: you don't get very much. You get a cheap printer and then pay for the RIP separately,then you pay the rest of your life for costly ink and premium paper. A color laser uses ordinary paper and even premium paper for a laser costs only a few pennies a page. Ink jet photo glossy paper can cost over a dollar a sheet; the ink alone can cost a dollar a sheet as well. That is $2 a sheet, so when the printer mangles the file and prints digital symbols, you have lost another hard earned dollar(s).

I also met one user of the Epson 3000 who was perfectly content, but I am not sure that he actually uses it often. Also, he is a professional and thus less likely to have his pictures turn to digital disaster. The lab technician at the Center for Advanced Imaging said he had precisely the same problems with the 3000 as have been reported for other models, namely indigestion (prints computer gibberish every few pages), you have to purge the system manually to get the printer to print a clean page. I do occasionally get e-mail's from people are are satisfied with their Epson 1520, so do not base your purchasing decision on my experiences. Fine people that you know who already have these models; if they like them, then you should consider them for your use as well. The purpose of this discussion is to suggest that people should consult with others who have already tried equipment rather than believing what the ads promise and then ending up being dissatisfied.

A documented problem with Epson Printers is that some paper turns colors. The discolored print is then effectively ruined. This is only certain kinds of paper, not all kinds. Evidently most people don't keep their prints long enough to experience this problem or by luck have not used that kind of paper. I tended to throw all my Epson prints away when the color of the image faded so I did not experience the paper fading, probably because I was not using Epson paper.

This warning does NOT apply to the new Epson 7000 or Epson 9000. The Epson 9000 has a Fiery RIP from EFI (though you are better off with PosterJet, BEST, ColorGate or comparable quality software RIP). If you want a 6-color printer, consider the I-Jet. They produce great quality if you don't mind wanting an hour for a poster or several hours for a long banner. If you need a fast printer, ColorSpan makes an 8-color printer as well as the newer 12 color model. FLAAR has two Hewlett-Packard DesignJet printers and the ColorSpan DisplayMaker XII in our photo studio.

Rreports on scanners by the senior review editor, now available. Just send in the inquiry form and the reviews will be sent to you by return e-mail.
which scanners are best for digitizing your slides or negatives for digital printing, especially for large format inkjet printers. Includes mention of which digital cameras are best for direct digital photography.  No reports available on cheap scanners. If the scanner you intend to buy is sold by CompUSA then it is not covered in a FLAAR report.
 FLAAR report on drum scanners (in preparation but you can go ahead and order the work-in-progress version now). Discusses whether drum scanners are still worth the extra cost. Pros and cons of drum scanners vs flatbed scanners. Tips on whether you should buy a used scanner.  drum scanners cost between $20,000 and $140,000. You can get an excellent drum scanner for $40K to $60K. The newest models are easy to use (yes, you don't have to have a technical background). Ideal for photo labs, museums, fine art giclee studios, and advanced hobbiests.
 "overhead scanners," (repro stand scanners), a list of all the various cominations of copy stands, large format scan backs, or dedicated scanners mounted on a repro stand.  For museums to scan objects of any size or shape; for fine art giclee printers to scan paintings of any size; for technical photography; for general studio photography.
 List of the various wide format sheet-fed scanners which are available.  for scanning maps, large drawings, GIS, CAD; the better wide format scanners cost from $5,000 and up.

Please note: no reviews on cheap desktop scanners; no reviews on HP scanners for example. No technical help on scanning available.
We do not cover older, obsolete, nor used scanners.

This free service is exclusively to assist individuals, studios, and companies who would like to know which of the new breed of scanners is best for your needs. Contact: Nicholas Hellmuth, e-mail ReaderService@FLAAR.org

The FLAAR reports on scanners are suitable for photographers, artists, and pre-press professionals. The reports are suitable for beginners if you are prepared for the reality of professional digital imaging. FLAAR is a non-profit research institute so there is no cost for the reports.


Directory of midrange to high-end flatbed and high-end drum scanners

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