Pro Printer Titans Clash in Vegas
After years of pro printer market dominance by Epson, Canon and HP have caught up. Pro and prosumer photographers are jumping up and down with glee. Click in to see why.
I would never say that reviewing printers is bad, but when it comes to cameras and other photographic types of devices you guys are ubsurdly late to the game.
I've been printing on my R2400 for months and on 9800 at school. The info that you will gather up has already been dealt with and looked at by other dedicated photographers.
Also, the huge segment of people who are making digital prints are art photographers - who made the switch from RA-4 prints to digital. Which you clearly left out of your article which baffles me at your understanding of the market for the printers.
While I agree this is a little late to the game, consider out-sourcing the printing. As a pro/am photographer I am torn between the instant gratification of printing myself and the professional results I can get by going somewhere to have prints made for less than I can print them at home.
Costco uses the same equipment, you can download the ICC profiles & embed them into the output, upload and print. 4x6 prints are cheap, like $0.19 each or less. But a 16x20 is around $3 11x14 is a little over $2. Same equipment that a pro print shop uses and I custom manage my profiles. Cost per print comes way down while results meet or beat expectations.
While I would love to have an HP designjet 130 with roll cutter and network adapter, spending $1500 or more on the printer, plus $100 for a roll of paper, and $60 each for ink, I'll stick with outsourcing my printing. So few of those 'pro' printers support 16x20 capability it isn't worth it to me.
For christmas I printed 60 4x6 prints for a local ice rinks "Skate with Santa". It was a lot of fun and I'll do it again. However I spent over $100 on paper and ink supplies for my low-end epson. I could have saved 1/2 that by printing at costco instead. The 'Pro' printers you list would have cost 2x as much for supplies.
As a pro/am Event photographer, I want a printer I can use 'on-site' since a lot of event photography is best sold 'on-site'. I am definitely in the market for a dye-sublimation printer I can use on-site with excellent results, capable of printing up to 8x10 size. The only one I've found is the Olympus P440 - no one carries them in stock on shelves around here.
But then you get into all sorts of testing for reliability since you have to haul it everywhere. It'll get banged up in the car, smudge marks from little fingers, etc. Which of those pro printers can handle life in the wild?
Late for some... new for others.
This material is new for me, venturing into the realm of semi-pro photography using my D30 digital SLR. I currently have an Epson R200 which has suited me well to this point for family photos but reading this article helps me see some of the other technologies, options, and models out there for large reproductions of art photos I take.
I appreciate the suggestions made by other readers to outsource, which I will likely do for larger prints. This article and others like it will help me know what those places are using so I can get the best for my money going to a center with the best large format printer.
I agree that some of the models listed would be priced out of reach or may be impractical for some, but they do serve a purpose. I think it does THG good to expand their reach to cover the broad range of printers out there and I encourage them to continue doing this as well as continue reviews of mainstream printers.
I remember back in 2003 I needed a new printer for work and picked up a HP Business Inkjet 2230 that was on sale at the time at Office Depot for just $200.
That was my first opportunity to work with a serious printer, and I can tell you it did one hell of a job. I would use it on everything from full-page photos to emails, business correspondence, reports, charts, tables, flyers, transparencies, stickers, marketing materials and sales kits. Not once did it hiccup, and I could have it running 24 hours flat out. The separate color cartridges/printheads saved us hundreds on supplies expenses, and the quality of the output again saved us money we would have sent to the print shop.
My only beef with the unit, and something HP still has not corrected with subsequent models to this day, is the ability to do 8.5"x11" borderless printing. Yes, there are many printers that can do it, but finding a heavy-duty machine that also prints in duplex, uses separate color ink cartridges, is fast, and can also print on heavyweight stock is pretty much yet to exist.
Still, I would not replace my 2230 for anything else, simply because it does such an amazing job. It has been 100% consistent and reliable, and has so-far delivered more than 50,000 printed pages.
What am I missing here?
You can get much better digital prints at almost any photo lab than blowing major $$$ on a "Pro printer" as described in this article; and the kicker is that you add up all of the costs, you are likely to come out ahead financially by outsourcing your photo prints as well.
Unless you have a special need to print photos quickly, your $1300 Epson is simply not competitive with the $50-500K+ machines at the photo lab, which by the way, are printing on real, light-sensitive, chemically-processed photo paper. Do you really think your printer is getting better results on printer paper than the lab machine on Fuji super gloss photo paper? Not! Even Wal-Mart, Costco and Target are using better equipment than that discussed in this article. They are able to replace these printers regularly as they become obsolete much quicker than any individual could hope to.
Having a color printer is one thing, but buying a "pro printer" for photographs is likely to cost you more money in the long run, and get you worse prints as well.