Buyer's Guide 2008: Papers & Inks
Printing your best images with the latest and greatest in inks and papers
Epson's Claria Hi-Definition Ink is a six-color, dye-based system that resists fading for generations and is used in the latest round of Ultra Hi-Definition printers. On the pigment-based side is DURABrite Ultra Ink, which resists fading for up to 100 years and is used in the Epson Stylus All-In-One printers. For the Epson Stylus Pro series printers, the UltraChrome K3 pigment-based, eight-color ink system uses advanced, built-in color management controls for an expanded color gamut.
Vivera inks by Hewlett-Packard come in dye- and pigment-based forms, delivering rich color and a long archival life. Using specifically designed colorants, the inks' fade resistance lasts longer while maintaining a wide color range. HP's Photosmart and All-In-One printers use both kinds of ink, depending on the model. The top-of-the-line Pro B9180 Photo Printer uses an eight-color, pigment-based inkset.
Despite differences in manufacturing formulas and types, what matters most in ink is how the printer disperses it. The smaller the droplet size, the better. Basic inkjet printers can use droplets as condensed as 1 picoliter, while large-format printers use 2- to 4-picoliter droplets.
If you're still in the dark about which papers and inks you should try, take a look at www.wilhelm-research.com for objective comparisons on print longevity and test results of various print-ink-paper combinations.
The big three of printing-Canon, Epson and HP-offer streamlined solutions from start to finish. Each manufacturer offers an extensive range of paper and inks optimized for their printers, including profiles and templates for easy printing.
For more options, third-party providers offer distinctive papers and inks, providing additional choices about texture and weight.