Digital Photography And The Home Printing Boom

By: Michael Stollery

Digital cameras have rapidly gained acceptance as the main camera product that people now buy. The rise of the digital camera and the high quality home printers now available mean that we no longer need to rely on the traditional photo developer for our prints. It has become very much a shoot and print exercise for consumers without any delay or inconvenience that even a one hour developer means for us.

The ability to shoot our own pictures as many times as we like without having to worry about rolls of film together with the convenience that the home computer revolution has brought us has led to a huge surge in profits for ink manufacturers worldwide. These huge profits have in turn led to a massive range of genuine and substitute ink cartridge suppliers coming to the market while the quality varies enormously.

While home digital printing has lagged behind the sale and use of digital camera because of the concerns over print quality and the advent of easier digital print facilities at many outlets such as Wal-Mart, modern printers and particularly the printer ink that is used has improved enormously. Printer ink that is used for making prints needs to be of a higher quality than that used for straight text printing. This used to be monopolized by the printer manufacturers themselves with highly priced, high margin ink cartridges that had hard to replicate cartridge head mechanisms.

Canon, Epson, Lexmark and Hewlett-Packard are the top four brand name manufacturers who have used their position as printer manufacturers to make cartridge replication as difficult as possible in order to ensure tat consumers buy their ink. Many customers often wonder at the low price of a hi-tech printer but do not realize that the bulk of the revenue and profit that these manufacturers are going to make is not on the printer but on the ink that you have to keep buying again and again.

Third party printer cartridge manufacturers have started making a dent in this effective monopoly as the manufacturing technology becomes more widely available. Canon and Epson in particular have effectively contracted out manufacturing of a large range of their printer cartridges and have allowed clone copies to be manufactured under license. Hewlett-Packard has vigorously tried to restrict clone cartridge copying by legal restrictions and increasing the technical complexity of the ink cartridge and integrating the printer head with the cartridge body.

Despite the big four dominating the ink cartridge market at the moment their grip is slowly being released while the actual demand for photo quality ink cartridges is expected to continue to increase much as it has been over the last three years. The major consideration for consumers when buying clone ink cartridges is that the ink itself is good enough to produce the print finish and that they do not get short changed with a cheaper clone cartridge that does not in fact contain as much ink as the genuine cartridge.

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