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  • Now the printer

    I've got some more specific questions now. I have noticed that almost all photo printers are pretty inexpensive. At least the ones I am seeing on the major companies sites like Epson, HP, Canon, etc.

    I have yet to find a photo printer that is a laser printer. Is there an advantage to a laser photo printer and do they exist for a reasonable price? I like the idea of a laser but not sure if it's really necessary? Not having to wait for it to dry is nice.

    I have heard that some match photo lab quality. Is this true and which ones are they?

    Has anyone found a need for a 9 color over a, say, 6 color?

    I have looked through the ratings and stuff on these but I'd like to hear it from people here who are actually using them. People who I have gotten to know a bit by seeing them post. I feel a little more sure about your opinions than someone on Amazon or other places like that.

    If there is anything that is vital to have in a printer don't hesitate to let me know. I am really bad with this so a little help would be great.

  • #2
    Much depends on who you are outputting for. Commercial match proofs?, Personal photo collection? Etc.

    It's been my experience that Epson probably does the best job of reproducing photos for home or small office use. Love or hate the company and their customer support, their printers are good.

    I have an Epson 900N (old workhorse networkable printer) that has served me well. I also have an Epson 1280 wide format, that I only use on occasion. Keeping things calabrated and understanding the printer's best setup and options for a particular job along with using the right paper media goes a long way toward producing beautiful output.

    I have yet to see a laser printer that can beat a good photo ink-jet. Most that I have seen, even on the high end, produce what to me looks like waxy crayon printouts. The print/bureau service that I use for four color process printing uses an Epson and have provided me with their icc color profile. The color match between my lower end Epson is excellent!

    My dream is to win the Lotto and be able to buy a Fuji Match system! :-)


    • #3

      I agree with your laser printer observations. They tend to lay toner down thick and there is usually a distinct difference where there are white areas with no toner. It can look a little odd.

      There are also thermal dye printers specifically made to print photos. These are the ones that are supposed to match photo lab quality but they usually only take smaller 4x6 or 5x7 paper.


      • #4

        you might also want to lay down some limits on what you want to do here. my ideal printer costs about $450,000 and is the only true flatbed printer out there, but i doubt you want to spend quite that much.

        dee dee mentioned wide format (which is 13 x 17 inches, i think) and there are 'design jet' which will print over 24 inches wide, running around $1000. there are all sorts of printers out there. you also want to look at things like how many cartridges get used, 3, 4, 6, 9 and the costs those extra cartridges bring. and, is the printer native cmyk or rgb and what's that going to do when working with your graphic editor. and like others mentioned, can it accept profiles.

        if you're just buying an 'off the rack' type printer from Staples or Office Depot, take a cd with pictures on it into the store and get a salesperson to let you load and test your images on various printers. i know Staples will do this and even encourage it. you can even bring in one of those ram sticks and plug it in and do the same thing.

        but whatever you do, DONT listen to the advertising. they all lie and they're all 'the best' and all 'lab or photograpic' quality find an independent source if you want reviews. asking here is also a good idea, but you're not going to get as many responses here as you shld really have.

        HP and Epson are the two current leaders in 'photo quality' printers for the casual, home office use. most opinions i've read put Epson about a quarter step ahead of HP in quality. i own an HP and for my personal use it does fine, though you do have to watch the gamut pretty closely.

        and bear in mind that any printer you buy brings hooks with it...paper costs, ink costs, maintenance costs and that nagging addiction to print out copies of everything. printers are cheap for one reason alone, they get you on the cost of paper and ink, especially ink! so, you might want to look into printers that support 'continuous flow' inking, where the ink costs go down quite a bit due to buying in volume. you can pay for the printer in the savings in ink alone.

        also, your original post said you were thinking about a combo scanner and printer. i'd recommend NOT doing that. get them as separate units. almost any combo job i've ever owned does neither job as well as the equivalent separate unit. it's like buying a power tool that does 16 different things; they may all work,but none of the 16 will be as good as if you'd bought 16 different tools.



        • #5
          Thanks alot guys and gals. Last time I bought a printer, the laser printer was still much better than an inkjet. Or at least I thought. My OfficeJet does a pretty nice job. Better than I had expected when I bought it back in 2001. So, basically, you have sold me on not bothering with a laser printer.

          The one problem is that you all bring up a bunch of things that I never considered. Of course, that is both bad and good. Good cause it's stuff I will have to consider bad cause it loads up my list of things I don't know crap about to overflow level.

          I'll have to check out those design jets you talk about. I've got a guy who wants to have a picture of right about that size done. I'm going to ask this question on the restoration forum but anyhoo, what do you guys do with very large pictures? Get them done at a place that can do them in one piece or do them in pieces yourself. I read that you shouldn't do the photo in pieces by scanning each picture in different directions. That would make it difficult cause the door gets in the way on my scanner or scanner to be.

          Thanks alot for your help. I really wish I knew more about this stuff. I thought photoshop was confusing when I started it.



          • #6

            Within reason, I scan my own over sized pieces as long as they will fit comfortably in my scanner without getting light leak around the edges. I use PS stitcher to piece them back together or do it by hand. For the larger stuff, or framed pieces of art, I take them to a studio and have them digitized there. They have all the umbrella lights etc. and give me the files at 300 DPI on CD. Usually costs me $50 each, but the results are always excellent.


            • #7
              Swampy: Thanks again. I need to know what this stitcher is that you talk about. I have never seen nor heard of such a contraption and I own CS2. lol Of course, I have never put together a photo such as a panoramic before either. The price you gave was helpful. I actually have a friend who is a top photographer at a big photo studio and I could probably get him to do it for almost nothing if I feel it's worth bothering him for. The one thing is that he would be able to do it at a larger resolution than the 300 you talk of.

              He actually just told me of the latest camera that they purchased which carries a whopping 32mp! That's unreal! I look at my lowly Canon Rebel at 6.3 and feel insignificant. Of course, I don't have the 20 or 30k lying around that they spent on it. lol

              BTW, my name is Isaac for future reference. Do we know each other well enough to go on a first name basis? lol


              • #8

                I am willing to spend $1000 on a design jet if it is worth it which it may be. Maybe that will give you an idea on what I am willing to spend.

                I'm a bit confused as to what a profile is.

                I have seen printers that hold 6 or 9 cartridges but don't know how important the difference between the two is. I have heard that having a bona fide blue can be important in cmyk and I understand that. After that though, I am a bit confused as to the necessity of having those extra cartridges. That would make 6 great but 9 overkill.

                I would like to be able to print out retouched work to give to the client as a final but if that starts running into the thousands then it is not worth it at this point and I would also not want the design jet because that is the reason I would get one of those. If it is just for proofs then I can just get a simple color photo printer and call it quits I would think.

                The very reason I am here asking for opinions is because I don't listen to advertising. As I said in another post I think, I like to ask you guys cause I have a better idea of what you know. I have seen your guys work, heard your opinions on this subject and other topics, etc. That makes me more comfortable with your opinions than others that I don't know or the guy at best buy who doesn't know anything, or the guy who posts his opinion on amazon.


                • #9
                  The "stitcher" is a PhotoShop selection under File->Automate->Photomerge. Generally used to "stitch" together panonramas, but can be used to put scanned pieces back together as well.

                  Unless you need to print an extremely large piece, 300 DPI at print size is usually sufficient for magazine quality work. Much beyond that is overkill. It takes more than a few minutes to digitize even that size.

                  Nice to meet you Isaac. Unless you add Isaac to your signature line, I'll forget and call you imann08 though... LOL


                  • #10
                    here's a good place to find more about designjet printers:

                    profiles are the means used for a computer to talk to a color. printers evolved along the cmyk line. computers evolved along the rgb line. in other words, they 'think' in a different language. a profile is basically a way to translate all that so that they both are speaking the same language of color.

                    if you're using photoshop, you have the ability to check the 'gamut'. the gamut is basically, what colors are common to both your printer and your computer. and that says, oh, not all colors are common to both. so, a profile says, this is the choice of colors i'm going to use for both the printer and the computer. there are any number of these, icc, adobe rgb, sRGB and so on.

                    so, if your printer is rated in icc and you're using adobe rgb, there are going to be mismatches and sometimes, wrong colors when you print.

                    generally, you just change the profile in your computer. this is simple. both psp and ps can do this and you can even download other profiles off the net.

                    and here's where i get a little fuzzy on all this myself. if you're working in rgb colorspace, with an sRGB profile and your printer is based on cmyk, what's the best way to get all this matched up better? is cmyk itself considered a profile? i know it's a colorspace, but is it also a profile? and what if you cant work in cmyk and have no gamut checking ability, like psp. what then? what's the best way to get the best printing? dee!

                    i think i know the answers there, or some, but sometimes i get some odd results on my printer, so, i'm no expert here. dee dee (swampy) works with this stuff more closely than i do, so listen to her first.



                    • #11
                      Swampy: I have never really used the automate controls in the file menu. Never had to in the past or at least I have never thought I had to. Maybe I'm missing something I should have been using in the past. It took me forever to find out what apply image and calculations were all about and now I use them fairly regularly. I'm used to clicking print and that's it and I'm finding out that it is probably the most complicated part of the whole process. This PS stuff is easy compared to scanning and printing.

                      Craig: Thanks for that link. I know the basics of color. For instance I know what a gamut is. Once you get beyond that basic stuff I get confused. I understood all you said though and that was easy to understand. I hear of things all the time that one profile is better than another and that this person likes this profile and that person likes another. That one profile is has a wider gamut which is good for some things but might overrun your printers gamut. All this stuff starts to get a bit confusing.


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