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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Toolbox: Printers For Pro B&W

Printers and ink sets for superior black-and-white prints that last a lifetime

This Article Features Photo Zoom

EPSON STYLUS PRO 4900
EPSON STYLUS PRO 4900
The Stylus Pro 4900 features Epson's UltraChrome HDR inkset with 11 colors and offers Photo Black, Light Black, Matte Black and Light Light Black inks for monochromatic work. There are only 10 channels, but 11 inks are installed simultaneously, and the printer will automatically switch between Photo Black and Matte Black inks to achieve the optimum black ink density by media. (An alert can be set to warn you of the change.)

Dmax, the deepest black tone possible, measures in at an outstanding 2.6, and Epson has designed the printer to use as little color as possible with monochromatic printing to eliminate metamerism. The Pro 4900 includes Epson's Advanced Black and White mode for performing monochromatic conversions through the printer, and UltraChrome HDR ink is rated up to 200 years for color and over 200 years with black-and-white.

Unlike the PIXMA PRO-1, the Stylus Pro 4900 is compatible with both roll and cut-sheet paper (with support of cut-sheet sizes from 8x10 inches up to 17x24 inches). There are four paper paths to choose from, and the printer and driver will identify and synchronize the system with media.

The 10-channel MicroPiezo TFP (Thin Film Piezo) print head offers 360 nozzles per channel for a total of 3,600 nozzles with variable-sized ink droplets—up to three different droplet sizes per line—as small as 3.5 picoliters. There's a maximum resolution of 2880x1440 dpi, and Epson claims no visible grain. Developed with X-Rite, there's also an optional 17-inch SpectroProofer spectrophotometer available for proofing prints right from the printer. List Price: $2,495 (Stylus Pro 4900); $1,195 (SpectroProofer 17").


HP DESIGNJET Z3200
HP DESIGNJET Z3200
For professional printing, the 24-inch HP Designjet Z3200, with a pigment-based, HP Vivera inkset, includes HP Quad-Black inks with Gray, Light Gray, Matte Black and Photo Black, as well as a Gloss Enhancer and Blue, Green, Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Magenta, Yellow and Chromatic Red. The Gloss Enhancer emphasizes rich, dark blacks while reducing bronzing on glossy papers. It also helps to minimize gloss differential—the visible difference between differently saturated areas of a print that's caused by varying levels of ink spray.

The Z3200 will accept 8.3- to 24-inch-wide paper sheets and 11- to 24-inch rolls, as well as a number of specialized substrates like matte, satin or glossy papers, canvas, backlit film and banners, as it will print up to 300 feet at 24 inches of width. Print resolutions of up to 2400x1200 dpi are offered, and maximum print life is an estimated 200-year performance on HP and HP Hahnemühle papers.

With six sets of print heads for two colors each, the unit offers 2,112 nozzles per head (1,056 per color) to produce a 4-picoliter spray on three of the heads (LG, LM, LG, pK, E, G) and a 6-picoliter spray on the other half (M, Y, mK, R, GN, B). Network connectivity on the Z3200 includes an installed 80 GB hard drive with an HP Embedded Web Server that's compatible with Windows, Macs and Citrix for working from anywhere that's connected to the Internet.

Other useful features include cost-per-print calculation software and an included spectrophotometer from X-Rite that will color calibrate the printer and allow you to create paper profiles through HP's Color Center control unit. List Price: $3,394.

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