|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
Your first task is to select the right printer for you. The most popular printers today are the 13x19-inch models (see the sidebar for some of the best choices). Small enough to fit on most desks, but large enough to print an 11x14 or larger print, these can be considered the “sweet spot” in inkjet printing.
Photo inkjet printers offer two kinds of ink systems: dye-based and pigment-based. Dye inks tend to print more vibrant and saturated colors, better than a pigment printer (although this gap is closing with the latest pigment inks), and lend themselves well to traditional RC (resin-coated) photo papers like gloss and satin. Pigment ink printers can print to almost anything you can feed through the printer, including fine-art papers like watercolor, canvas, backlit film and even cloth.
Pigment inks typically last longer, with most offering a life of well over 100 years and often more than 200 years. Given the much longer archival life and wider range of compatible media, why wouldn’t everyone choose a pigment printer? Dye ink still wins the contest for the most saturated colors. The bottom line is that before you buy a printer, ask your retailer for print samples and compare them to see which you prefer. There’s no substitute for making a firsthand comparison.