Whether in a home or in a gallery, the fine-art print may just be the antidote for digital overstimulation, and with black-and-white images making the perfect choice for long-lasting fine-art prints, there never has been a better time to look at what’s available for printing stunning black-and-whites.
While print heads have been refined to a point where modern printers are truly capable of realizing the full resolution of digital camera captures, prints also can be churned out at much faster speeds than previous models. Printing at home or in the studio also provides you with immediate results, far more control over the final print and a large selection of specialized papers to choose from.
But making sure that your printer is capable of realizing the advanced resolution of modern digital cameras will come down to the proper choice of all three aspects of the black-and-white printing chain: the printer, the inks and the paper. Inksets also are seeing tremendous varieties of monochromatic inks in single systems, like Canon’s new inkjet PIXMA PRO-1 printer, which includes five monochromatic inks and a Chroma Optimizer for improving black density. The more black-and-white inks you have in a set, the smoother the transition will be between hues and tones. This also translates to a printer that will use less color inks for black-and-white printing, which reduces metamerism, the color shift of a print that’s seen under alternate lighting conditions. Modern sophisticated inksets also are capable of longer life, more natural hues, better gradation and large color gamut—the range of colors possible to reproduce.
CANON PIXMA PRO-1
The LUCIA 12-pigment ink system of Canon’s new flagship PIXMA PRO-1 printer includes Photo Black, Matte Black, Dark Gray, Gray and Light Gray, as well as Cyan, Magenta, Photo Cyan, Photo Magenta, Yellow and Red. For the final step, the Chroma Optimizer layer evens the finish by flattening and smoothing ink on the paper, and as mentioned, it improves black density and reduces bronzing—the metallic sheen seen when viewing a print at an angle.
With five dedicated monochromatic inks including Light Gray—instrumental for reducing graininess—the printer is exceptionally well suited for black-and-white. For color portrait prints, the inkset produces a more natural skin tone by minimizing magenta casts, as well. The PRO-1 features ink tanks with 2.5 times more volume than previous models for more time spent printing and less time spent replacing inks. Black ink cartridges also are "auto swap," so you don’t have to switch out inks manually with differing papers.
For increasing printing efficiency and preventing paper mix-ups, there are dual paper slots for feeding semigloss and glossy media through the front and fine- art papers in the back. The printer accepts media from 4×6 inches to 13×19 inches in size, and full resolution measures in at a large 4800×2400 dpi. The inkset on the PRO-1 has been moved to the side of the printer, which helps to expedite printing times, claiming a large 13×19-inch print in approximately four minutes and 20 seconds.
The new FINE print heads feature 12,288 nozzles, nearly 5,000 more than the PRO-1’s predecessor, the PRO9500 Mark II. They introduce an ink spray as small as 4.0 picoliters. (Picoliters refer to the size of ink droplets. The smaller the number, the more refined the resolution will be for better detail. Larger-format printers like these range between 2.0 to 4.0 picoliters.) The printer is Canon’s first PIXMA PRO printer to feature Ethernet network compatibility for use with multiple computers, and the system currently offers downloadable ICC profiles for optimizing prints with popular papers from Hahnemühle, Ilford, Moab and others. Estimated Street Price: $999.