favorite photo printer?

livvyandbellaDecember 22, 2006

I would like to purchase a printer to print photos.
Does anyone have a favortie. Their are so many different ones out there.
Thank you.

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Hi Barb,

There are a couple different technologies in use for photo printers. Most consumer grade printers are inkjet printers. The secondary technology which you see particularly in some of the smaller format printers is dye-sublimation.

What you need to consider is:

1. Picture quality.
2. Qperating costs.
3. Image stability.

The image stability of some of these materials falls into the "don't blink" category -- in other words the prints fade really fast. There are printers out there that make prints that fade in less than a year. At any cost these are a waste of money. So let's start here. Henry Wilhelm is THE authority on the fade resistance of inks, dyes, etc. used in the art world. Avoid buying any printer from a manufacturer that does not cooperate with Wilhelm Research (see link below) in determining the durability of their materials.

Look over Henry's site for detailed info on this topic. When you buy a printer you should know what Henry has determined is the life expectancy of prints from that printer. If Henry hasn't determined it you should assume the worst.

I've paid attention to Henry's work for years and can give you this quick synopsis: Most of the smaller dye-sub printers available now do a poor job when it comes to image stability. A few years ago Canon was not fully cooperating with Henry, but they have been recently and their newest inks are getting good marks. Epson has taken this issue most seriously and done the most to create fade resistant materials. Many of the re-fill inks available out there fall into the "don't blink" category.

Among the inkjets Canon, Epson and HP are competitive in the quality category and lead the industry. All three make beautiful prints. I've been using Epson for years now -- my decision was made earlier on and fade resistance was the tipping point for me. A secondary quality issue is B&W. Most of these printers are designed for color and make gosh awful B&W prints. If you think you want to do any B&W you're going to want to look at the higher end Epson or Canon printers that are designed for B&W. One of my friends (professional photographer) just bought the new Canon printer and is very happy with both it's color and B&W results.

Given item 2 above the purchase cost of the printer can be a minor consideration. At $10-12 each for a photo printer that takes 8 ink cartridges we're talking about $90.00 to load it with small quantities of ink.

So once you get past quality and stability you want to look hard at the operating cost of the printer. The loser in this category is Epson with the edge to Canon and HP. They all cost too much to run and you need to look at this hard because there's no sense buying a printer you can't afford to buy ink for.

Good luck shopping.


Here is a link that might be useful: wilhelm research

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 1:18PM
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Also pcworld does a decent job of reviewing printers once you have narrowed it down. I have an Epson that does great color photos, but as Firwire pointed out the B&W are a different category. I go ahead and use a the pro printer here in town for those.

How much do you what to spend?


    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 3:41PM
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Thank you so much for all the information Joe. I do mostly color, I will look into the Epson.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 7:52PM
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Thanks for this post! I have been wanting to get on also. I have been waiting on that also until I pay off a few other 'Wants I could not live without!' LOL. I sure do like the wide varity of information here. YOu all do a great job for us kind of new into the photo world.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 10:06PM
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I am one of the few who does not want to mess with printing my own photos, would much rather spend the time on something else and not have another piece of equipment sitting around. I would rather put the money into a good scanner I read about. When you consider the calibration, ink, paper, extra work, you don't save much, if anything. There are so many reasonable places out there that use quality paper, do excellent work and have good turnaround time at really good prices. I use White House Custom Colour, am very happy with them, but a lot of people are recommending Costco (among others).

    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 12:41PM
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