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Fine-Art Printers

Today’s world is filled with digital devices that will easily display and share your photos. People will love seeing your pictures on that iPad, iPhone, laptop or even your HD television set. Modern digital technology certainly is remarkable.

Still, there’s nothing like a good print. There’s something that really connects with people when they directly interact with a print. And as photographers, a fine print is the ultimate showcase of our efforts as photographers.

The latest inkjet printers are nothing short of amazing. They allow you to create prints that surpass the image quality of traditional photo prints. They’re perfect matches for the latest digital cameras that offer outstanding capabilities in their ability to capture detail, color and tonality. If you aren’t working with an up-to-date printer, you’re probably not getting everything your camera is capable of producing to make a photograph come to life in a big, beautiful print.

With the right printer, printing becomes a joy. You’ll want to make prints for more than just the wall. A portfolio of photographs that can be shared with friends and relatives can be a terrific addition to the coffee table in your living room. Or you even may find that many local facilities, from libraries to restaurants to visitor centers, would love to display your prints from the area.

One of our challenges is to convince those that today have 22-megapixel DSLRs that they are missing the boat by still using printers that launched about 10 years ago, like the [Epson Stylus Photo] 2200. While there is no scientific way of demonstrating this, I think those that are using 22-megapixel DSLRs with older printers like the 2200 are making prints that sorta look like 6-megapixel captures.
—Dan Steinhardt, Epson Professional Imaging

SORTING THROUGH THE TECHNOLOGY

Inkjet printers come in a great variety of sizes and prices. While you can get a very good printer for a low price, what do you get with the more expensive printers or even the pro printers? The higher-end printers give you faster speed, better color accuracy, richer color and tonality, far more capability for black-and-white printing and the ability to make larger prints.

A slow printer may give you good prints, but that may keep you from enjoying your prints. You simply won’t make as many. If your printer is slow, you may tend to accept prints as they come from the printer because you won’t want to reprint them. If your printer is fast, you’ll find it much easier to strive for the best possible print because it won’t take you forever to make improved versions.

Better color accuracy and richer color and tonality come from three factors: the number of colors (or inks) in the printer; the ink droplet size as ink is applied to the paper; and the algorithms that are used to apply the ink in a specific pattern. The more colors of inks that are in a printer, the easier it is for the printer to create accurate and full-range color in the print. Budget printers typically will have only four colors, which really can limit how well some colors can be printed. Higher-end printers will add specific ink colors to enhance the image.

Higher-end printers also will use a smaller ink-droplet size, which allows more precise placement of the inks to create colors and gradients. Printing algorithms are very specific to printer manufacturers and are tightly guarded secrets by them. However, with more inks and smaller ink droplets, any printing algorithm will work better.

Printer resolution refers to how densely the ink droplets are laid down on the paper. Unfortunately, the big numbers are more marketing hype than being especially useful. Once you get beyond about 1200 dpi, visual differences in the resulting print can be hard to see, although your printing times may increase dramatically. You can see a slight difference with glossy papers at about 2800 dpi, but beyond that, not so much. In addition, the really high resolutions typically don’t use the best photo-printing algorithms.

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