Why, oh why, oh why, oh why? DIY or Do I Dye? – more inkjet printer trials and tribulations


An head-alignment test print from my Canon Pixma ix6550, but I’m not sure what those black blobs are for.

 or The pigmented black of middle-class Hell – Cantos V – VIII

After an unplanned hiatus, I’m back in the printing business. Strictly for the enthusiasts, here are some the details of my recent shenanigans, with more to follow.

Despite the problems I had with all my printers just before the Sheffield Zine Fest, it was a great success for me, although I was still assembling my stuff as the fair was opening. The only thing I failed to get done at all was issue 01 of “Catalogue”, a new multi-part publication from Black Daffodil Press, comprising the catalogue entries for my retrospective, and designed to be reminiscent of the Exchange & Mart, but more about that in a later post.

Canto V

Anyway, the Brother MFC-J6510DW had to go back to Amazon and they handled it all with no fuss. Mind you, I had tried absolutely everything I could to keep it running myself. I’ll not bore you with (much) detail about the decision-making, but after much deliberation I decided to replace it with a Canon Pixma ix6550, which cost more and is not an all-in-one. The only thing I will miss about the 6510 is the A3 scanner.

Whilst it seemed like a good thing to have a proper paper tray, the build quality on the 6510 was very plasticky and there was a lot of fiddling to be done to adjust the tray to and from A4 / A3. It survived the 3 month’s use I gave it, but with the amount of swapping I was doing, it was bound to fail sooner or later. Removable paper trays might seem better, and they probably are in high-volume environments using the same paper size, in practice slot-loading is much more convenient, faster and less prone to wear and tear, especially if you are doing a lot of two-sided printing. This problem was exacerbated by the 6510’s paper feed problems and the fact that I had to keep reloading the paper to print the other side because the duplex mode would not print borderless.


Canto VI

After a lot of googling and comparing reviews and running costs, the other printer I considered was the HP Officejet 7000, which is also a printer-only, but what swayed me in the end was the generally good reviews of the ix6550 and the low price of compatible cartridges. Both these printers also have continuous ink supply systems (CISS) available for them from third-party suppliers. The Canon cartridges seemed very small when I first installed them, but I am still using the included set and I have already done a lot of test printing. I’ll keep you informed on running costs.

I only got the ix6550 last week so I still have to get used to it, but already I have discovered some very strange features, conceived in the unknowable mind of a Japanese corporation.

The ix6550 is a five-ink printer: cyan, magenta, yellow, dye-black and pigment-black. The pigment black gives a much deeper BLACK than the dye black, and it’s there to print good quality text, but it looks a bit too black against the CMY when printing graphics. What’s more, when printing borderless it uses the dye black and when printing non-borderless it uses the pigment black, but with no warning and no discernible choice on the part of the user.


Canto VII


Delivery driver: “Canon printer, eh? Epsoms are best, you know.”
Me: “Err… well….”
Delivery driver: “Full set of Epsom inks for six quid.”
Me: “Okay, thank you.”


Maybe he was trying to distract me from the damage to the box.

Canto VIII

The first thing I did, of course, is to print something I am familiar with in order to compare it with what I am used to, and immediately the colour looked wrong. Much as I am fully committed to the DIY spirit, I am also a finnicky visual artist and I notice such things. After numerous prints with a downloaded colour test chart, I could detect no difference when using the adjustment sliders in the Canon colour adjustment printer driver settings.

The driver software is far superior to the Brother software, and at least it has a good range of utility functions, but the colour adjustments that have no discernible effect.


Anyway, alternate fiddling with Apple’s ColorSync revealed a range of other Canon colour profiles which only make marginal difference. I have had a degree of success matching colour profiles and paper stocks, but this particular circle of Hell has not been fully traversed. Despite my moaning, the ix6550 looks very promising and I will post more about colour correction when I’ve corrected it.

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