Iīm afraid Iīm about to pose one of these infamous "unanswerable" questions here, but I have to get some more info and opinions.
First I have to describe my background: I am an old darkroom worker who has now completely defected to digital. The most difficult part of that was to get B/W prints that were the equal (or better) of my old silver prints. I bought an Epson 2100 when it was introduced, and with the regular driver I didnīt even come close; metamerism ruined the show unless I camouflaged it by toning the images to a ridiculous degree.
Then I discovered Roy Harringtonīs Quad Tone RIP, and the problem was instantly solved. Only, the ink waste through Epsonīs frequent cleaning cycles plus the arrogance ot those chipped cartridges bugged me no end. I should add that I donīt particularly like matte media; I use Epson Premium Semigloss and Ilford Galerie Smooth Gloss. There is bronzing, but that doesnīt bother me much: with glossy prints (both silver and inks) one automatically finds a looking angle that eliminates glare, and thus hides the bronzing as well.
I do print colour too, but I see it as far less demanding than B/W.
Now, with the Epson clogs getting more and more frequent, I feel itīs time to get another printer, and at present I see two possible candidates (the Canon ipf5000 is out due to its physical size): either the HP B9180 or (with extreme reluctance) the Epson SP 3800. Waiting for the smaller Canon expected in the spring is a possibility, of course, but Iīd much prefer to replace that aging 2100 sooner than that.
I would love to get the HP and turn my back on Epsonīs methods of maximizing ink waste, also to save a substantial sum on the printer itself, only I am uncertain if I will be able to get the B/W quality I get now from it. I understand the chances of a QTR version for non-Epson printers are slim, and while the HP does have a black-inks-only mode, it seems it cannot be used with glossy media (doh!), and B/W with all inks seems to be somewhat metameric.
So far, I havenīt been able to see this printer in the flesh, even less to see any carefully made B/W print from it. I have read most of the rewiews on the web (Iīve Googled extensively), but most of them arenīt specific enough about B/W quality. So I have to ask here:
1) Is there a workaround so black-inks-only can be used with glossy prints, and if so, will banding or other problems mar the results?
2) Would B/W with all inks be good enough to REALLY stand up to being exhibited beside a good silver print?
If I canīt trust the HP to deliver what Iīm after, Iīm afraid Iīll have to put up with Epson and get the 3800 after all (Iīve seen it and its output, and Iīm convinced it can deliver). Only, Iīd rather not, if thereīs another way...