The Epson Stylus Photo R2880 is popular with serious photographers who want to produce high-quality prints that match their vision, and it’s robust enough for high-volume installations. It has a number of less obvious virtues, as well, features that don’t leap out at first—for example, the permanent Advanced MicroPiezo AMC print head is treated with a special ink-repellent coating to ensure accurate dot placement and minimize nozzle clogging. Also, the Automatic Nozzle Check technology ensures consistent color and print quality, and Epson’s proprietary mist collection system keeps the inside of the printer clean—crucial if you’re a volume printer. The R2880 produces up to 13x19-inch prints and uses a pigment-based, eight-color ink set. Estimated Street Price: $799.
Step up to the new Epson Stylus Pro 3880 large-format printer to enjoy these features and several more. The 17-inch-wide printer design produces gallery-quality color and black-and-white output up to 17x22 inches. The UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta ink technology is pigment-based with nine-color ink technology, including new Vivid Magenta and Vivid Light Magenta inks that deliver dramatic blues and violets, expanding the color gamut. The advanced paper-handling mechanism can handle just about everything from 4x6 up to 17x22 inches. The 3880 also features one hi-speed USB 2.0 and one 10/100Base-T Ethernet port, and offers a 2.5-inch, backlit LCD control panel for easy, direct printer control and status monitoring. Estimated Street Price: $1,295.
The Epson Stylus Photo R1900 costs less, but offers a lot—like eight-color UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 pigment-based ink (Photo Black, Matte Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Red, Orange and Gloss Optimizer), 5760x1440 optimized dpi and 8x10s in about a minute. This combination of features is a great choice for many of us. PS: The 13x19-inch printer also will print directly from PictBridge-compatible digital cameras, which means it’s friendly to every family member. Estimated Street Price: $549.
The Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II produces professional, borderless, large-format photos on media up to 13 inches wide. It features a high-density, 6,144-nozzle FINE print head that deposits ink droplets as small as 2 picoliters, which translates to 11 million ink droplets per square inch. Canon’s 100-year, dye-based ChromaLife100 ink is delivered from eight separate tanks that can be individually replaced. The Pro9000 Mark II cranks out an 8x10 in 47 seconds—pretty speedy by today’s standards. Estimated Street Price: $499.
The Canon PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II also produces large-format photos up to 13 inches wide. Like the Pro9000, it offers two separate paper trays to allow you to switch media without interrupting your workflow. The Pro9500 Mark II improves upon the features of its Pro9000 sibling by offering a high-performance, high-density FINE print head with 25 percent more nozzles—7,680 instead of 6,144—for finer gradations. Print resolution is a maximum of 4800x2400. The Pro9500 Mark II also uses Canon’s Lucia branded pigment-based links, which are stored in 10 individual ink tanks, including Matte Black, Photo Black and Gray inks, to produce outstanding color as well as superior black-and-white prints. The addition of Gray ink means that the printer doesn’t have to try to reproduce gray tones by blending other colors. Estimated Street Price: $849.