Tag Archives: canon

Canon PowerShot S100 vs Ixus 80 IS

I am not a photographer but take lots of snaps. I’ve been conscious for a while that my four-year old Canon Ixus 80 IS is not getting quite the results I would like so I have upgraded to a PowerShot S100, still relatively compact though larger and more expensive than the Ixus.

I expected an improvement but I am surprised how much better the S100 is. Here are a couple of comparisons. They are not all that scientific; they are what I got taking a snap at the default settings. This is the Ixus:


and this is the PowerShot:


Even more striking is this snap of a bee. This is a detail from a much larger shot as I did not get all that close to the bee, but the distance was similar. Here is the Ixus:


and the S100:


I hope that one of the outcomes will be better illustrations for this blog so keep reading!


Fixing modern plastic junk that should be thrown away

I have a Canon MX700 all-in-one printer. I have written about it before. It went wrong and would do nothing but issue a sullen error 6a80. I discovered a way of clearing the error but still could not print; I remarked:

I now think that somehow cleaning up this part of the printer (which is hard to get at) could fix it.

This weekend the time came to prove it, or else to chuck it away. I should have thrown it away. Even though I pretty much fixed it, the time it took and the frustration it caused was really not worth it. Well, it could be worth it if you enjoy such things as a hobby; I am not sure if I do, but I do hate throwing stuff away that can be made to work with a bit of effort, so I guess I get some satisfaction from the process.

Technically of course the correct advice is to get a machine like this fixed by an authorised Canon service engineer, but this is not cost-effective for a three-year-old cheapish all-in-one inkjet printer. It might well have cost more than a new printer of better specification. A skilled engineer would have worked faster than I worked; but you have to get the machine to her and back again; it still takes a certain amount of time to strip a machine down, clean it up and re-assemble it; a professional engineer would probably have replaced parts that I was happy to clean up and re-use, so there would have been a parts cost; and there is an overhead of invoicing and so on; it is not surprising that the costs mount up.

My further observation is that machines like this which are mostly clipped together are not designed for extensive servicing. It is hard to take it apart without breaking a few delicate plastic clips or tabs. I guess once you learn exactly where to tug and how hard to press you get better at it; but clip on parts are not ideal if you plan to remove and re-assemble them with any frequency.

If we were serious about reducing waste we would address this. For example, if you require manufacturers to offer extended warranties as standard, then it is in their interests to make products that are more reliable and more fixable.

In the meantime, fools like me waste time fixing modern plastic junk that should be thrown away.

When the cartridges cost more than the printer: the Inkjet market is absurd and disgraceful

I would love to be in one of those meetings at HP or Canon or Epson where they discuss the size of the ink cartridges in their next range of inkjet printers.


“We got away with 10ml last time,” one might say. “Do you think we could try 8ml”?

“No, let’s do 6ml and call it lite. The 8ml can be XL for high capacity.”

The reason is this has come up for me is that my Canon MX700 all-in-one printer, which has until now performed well, has stopped working. The LCD display says Error 6A80, the lights on the print cartridges have gone out, and it will not do a thing.

While I am not sure what the problem is, it might possibly be the print head. This is a small piece of plastic which includes the actual print head with the microscopic holes through which the ink is squirted, and the cheapest I can find it is around £65.00.

On the other hand, I can get a new Epson BX305FW all-in-one printer for £72, less than that if I shop around.

When the cartridges cost more than the printer

Well, we are used to living in a throwaway society, but the situation with inkjet printers is beyond absurdity. The reason, you see, for the low prices of the hardware is that they are vehicles for selling ink cartridges, for which the prices are crazy high. Therefore there is a direct connection between the high prices of the cartridges, and their small capacity, and the likelihood of my taking a nice all-in-one printer with not very much wrong with it, and throwing it into landfill.

Since I needed to print some documents urgently, I got my old 2001 HP DeskJet 895cx down from the loft and went into town to see if I could still get cartridges for it. As I looked, I noticed that Tesco is selling the HP Deskjet 1050 all-in-one printer for £29.97. This takes HP 301 cartridges; colour is £16.97 and black is £13.97 (you need both): total £30.94. So yes, the cartridges cost more than the printer.

If the cartridges supplied with the Deskjet 1050 are the same size as the ones you buy, it would pay you just to buy a new printer whenever the cartridge runs out. This does not please me; it is a disgrace.

Now, curiously HP does not specify how much ink is in its 301 cartridges. Rather, it gives page yields. So we learn here that the HP 301 black ink cartridge  delivers 190 pages of average coverage. The high-capacity HP 301XL delivers 480 pages.

My old printer, as it happens, also has standard and high-capacity versions. The HP 45 standard (21ml) delivers 490 pages. The HP 45 high-capacity (42ml), which is the only one I have ever bought, delivers 930 pages.

In other words, mysteriously, what is now high-capacity is less than what used to be standard; what used to be high-capacity is no longer available, if you get the latest HP DeskJet.

You can pay a lot more than this for inkjet cartridges. Prices of £30 to £40 or more are common, for three-colour cartridges. Together with a black, it might cost you £60 or more to replenish.

This drives users towards the thriving alternative market in refurbished or compatible cartridges. This is unfortunate, because all inks are not equal, and a leaky or substandard cartridge can damage your printer. On the other hand, if you do the sums, the saving from just a couple of cartridge replacement cycles may be enough to buy a new printer. Buying the non-approved refills is the rational thing to do.

I am not picking on HP. Others vendors are equally bad.

Where do we go from here?

So where do we go from here? Logically, we should ignore the price sticker on the printers and look at the cost per page, which means mostly we won’t be buying these machines. We do though; in fact, I nearly bought the cheap Tesco printer this morning just to solve a problem, and so the cycle continues.

I would like to see the regulators take action on this. Instead of forcing Microsoft to produce pointless N editions of Windows, which nobody buys, maybe the EU could specify a minimum page yield for ink cartridges, to force change, or otherwise regulate this wasteful and damaging business practice.

Finally, if you are from HP or Canon or Epson or the like and want to tell me about the high quality and expensive research behind your ink technology, you are welcome, as long as you also tell me two things:

  • What is the ratio of manufacturing cost to retail price for your inkjet printers?
  • What is the ratio of manufacturing cost to retail price for your inkjet cartridges?

Thank you.

Update: I made some progress with Error 6A80. The print head is fine. Now, many people on the internet have reported this problem, though there are likely multiple reasons for it, but the only relevant article I’ve found is this one, which is in German. Note the helpful pictures. The print head should park at the right of the machine, where there are some pads and wipers that maintain the head. On my machine the wipers had got stuck in the forward position – see the first image in the thread. When I pushed them back – second image on page two – the error cleared. However it reappeared shortly after; but I now think that somehow cleaning up this part of the printer (which is hard to get at) could fix it.

Further update: I did eventually take the printer apart and pretty much fixed it.