Home Buyer's Guide Printers 2010
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Photo Printers

Make stunning prints that will last for generations with the newest photo inkjet technology

This Article Features Photo Zoom

It never has been easier to get prints at home that meet or exceed traditional lab prints. If you’re replacing an aging model, inkjet technology has made some big strides forward in the last few years, both in terms of ink formulations and the methods by which ink is placed on the page. These advancements have increased print longevity dramatically, expanded color gamut and enhanced the ability of inkjet printers to faithfully reproduce very subtle gradations of tone and color.

One of the first decisions to make is whether you’ll go with dye-based or pigment-based inks.

Traditionally, dye inks have been the most commonly used. Dye has the advantage of rich vibrant colors and works well with normal photo papers like gloss and satin surfaces, similar to the prints you’d get with film. Dye inks are more limited in the types of media on which they can print and generally have a shorter archival life, although both of these areas are constantly improving. Along with the ability to deliver more saturated colors, dye inks are typically less expensive than their pigment-based counterparts.

Pigment inks have been the choice for most pros and so are more common in the larger-format printers (17 inches and wider). Pigment inks can be used on a wider variety of media (if it feeds through the printer, you can probably print on it), and they have a greater archival life, with prints lasting as long as 200 years or more. That latter point is important when you’re selling prints of your photos.

Unless you’re churning out dozens of prints at a time, speed shouldn’t be the deciding factor in your purchase. All of the companies quote output speeds for their printers, but the measurement used differs. Some tout the print speed for a draft-quality print, while others use a more realistic number for a high-quality photo. You’ll normally be printing in the higher quality, and here you can plan about 10 minutes for the typical 8x10 print.

For the photographer who wants to make gallery-quality prints at home, the 13-inch printers featured in this guide are a great compromise between size and cost, letting you print a 13x19 image with ease. This size is quickly becoming the de-facto standard for consumer photo printers—as camera resolutions have increased, so has the desire for larger output.

However, if you’re an event photographer, or want the ability to quickly turn out a couple of prints wherever you are, one of the portable models covered here will be quick and inexpensive.


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