Top 5 printers for photographers

Technological advancements in the realm of digital photography are, to a degree, a double-edged sword for the professional photographer. For the keen amateur, they are all fully beneficial. There is no question that the quality of many images has increased, though for professional photographers, only up to a point. While around 10 megapixels may seem a good number for a camera to take great images, then you should see what a camera with double, or even greater resolution can produce, you realise what average quality your own images actually are. So when do you really see the difference? When those images are printed off, assuming you are using a printer suitable for printing photographs.

The major problem with digital photography is that so many of you are now content to leave images confined to a file on your PC or stored somewhere on a tablet or smartphone, never likely to see the light of day. Physical photographs are disappearing and everything now seems to be file-based digital images to look at.

This obviously needn’t be the case if you have access to a top quality printer, as there really is no substitute for the look and feel of real photographs. Unfortunately, your standard desktop printer just isn’t man enough for the job and it is this aspect of digital photography where the ‘amateur’ tends to lose out. There is little point in spending the sort of money necessary to get your hands on a printer that can do your photographs justice if you are more used to just taking random snaps and selfies on your smartphone.

At the opposite end of the scale, if you are a professional photographer, then you will need a printer that can produce images of the highest quality. The choice then lies between whether you prefer the finish you can achieve from an inkjet or laser printer. Additionally, because of the volume of colour printing you are going to be doing, the rate at which a printer consumes ink, and the quality of the ink used, will also have a great influence on your choice. While wireless printing is now pretty much the norm for many of today’s printers, where printing from digital photographs is concerned, many prefer to use SD memory cards to ensure no reduction in image quality.

The most crucial part of a printer though for photographers is the print resolution. There is little point in being able to take ultra-high quality digital images if the printer you subsequently use cannot faithfully reproduce the same quality. The dpi resolution will be appreciably higher than you would find on a standard desktop printer which, at best would be offering a resolution of 2400 x 1200 dpi. Through the use of multiple inject printer cartridges or toner cartridges for laser printers, instead of the usual three colour and one black ink cartridge, you will find that photo-quality printers will have up to 12 individual printer cartridges.

Below we have selected 5 printers that should be of interest to photographers:

  1. Epson SureColor SC-P600 $1299.00 or lower

A printer doesn’t need to be big to be powerful, SC-P600and the SureColor SC-P600 is a prime example of great things coming in small packages. Time was when a printer took up a whole section of a room and caused permanent problems with passing traffic – the people variety that is. Today Epson, a well-respected name in the field of printers, has produced some of the most ergonomic and space-saving printers on the market that pack one hell of a punch.

Of particular note, Epson UltraChrome® HD pigment ink, combined with Epson’s innovative MicroPiezo® print head, allows the SC-P600 to produce gallery-quality black-and-white images, with vivid colour prints demonstrating stunning blues and violets. Once you break the $1000.00 mark you expect superior quality, and Epson will impress with all the extras that come with this model.

Sample Review: 

With its extensive media-handling capability and high-end print quality, the P600 is an excellent companion to a high-end camera kit. If we must nit-pick about something, it’s the lack of a roll paper cutter that slices the print off the roll when finished and the 13-inch limitation of paper width. Other than these very minor complaints, Epson’s newest offering for the serious photographer is an excellent choice. If you need to make larger prints, the next step up in Epson’s photo line is the Stylus Pro 3880, which does not have roll paper or CD/DVD print capability but can print on 17-inch wide media.

Features:

A3+ size printing – Exhibition Quality prints up to A3+ size.

Unprecedented black density – Epson UltraChrome HD Ink, an industry-leading ink technology, delivers the highest black density never before seen from a pigment ink for the richest blacks and outstanding colour prints. The SC-P600 offers the highest D-max seen to date on a printer of this calibre.

Auto-switching black inks – A Intelligent linking technology enables the printer to automatically switch between Photo and Matte Black inks to optimize your output, based on the media type you choose. Photo Black Ink produces rich, deep blacks on traditional photographic papers; while Matte Black Ink produces exceptional results on matte surface media.

Individual High Capacity Ink Cartridges – The Epson SureColor SC-P600 includes new high capacity ink cartridges which provide you to print more and change ink cartridges less often.

Advanced, simple media handling – An improved design allows precise front feeding of fine art paper – a definite advantage that not only simplifies a delicate task, but reduces installation space.

CD/ DVD Printing – In keeping with Epson’s precision CD/DVD surface printing tradition, the Epson SureColor SC-P600 supports high quality printing directly on to the surface of compatible inkjet printable 8cm and 12cm CD-Rs and DVDs.

Wired networking – Built-in Ethernet makes sharing the printer on your network quick and easy.

Print and share from anywhere in the world – Print wirelessly from your iPad, iPhone, tablet or smartphone using Epson iPrint4. Easily print documents, photos, emails and web pages while in your office, on the road or across the globe.

Intuitive 2.7″ touchscreen with gesture – The SureColor SC-P600 has a built-in 2.7″ touchscreen with a keypad and gesture navigation that features an impressive touch sensitive LCD display panel which allows you to check the printer status, ink levels and perform routine maintenance tasks along with a variety of other tasks all with a swipe of the screen.

Consumables: C13T760100, C13T760200, C13T760300, C13T760400, C13T760500, C13T760600, C13T760700, C13T760800, C13T760900.

 

  1. Canon imagePROGRAF Pro-1000 $1299.00 or less

This is definitely a photographer’s printer with great Canon Pro-1000thought and detail incorporated within the printing process to produce the finest images. Equipped with the L-COA PRO Image Processing Engine, the PRO-1000 is able to swiftly and accurately determine printing paths and patterns making it as efficient as possible. You can print 17 x 22″ photos in only 4 minutes 10 seconds while a two-way vacuum feeder that keeps media flat. Additionally, to expand on the potential of the LUCIA PRO ink set, it uses four monochrome inks to reduce bronzing, increase black density, and expand dynamic range in the shadows for superior grayscale prints. The Chroma Optimizer cartridge also improves color consistency on coated papers and minimises the difference in ink droplet height to guarantee a smooth ink layer and nominal metamerism.

Where printed images need to reflect the true quality of your work, the PROGRAF Pro-1000 is certainly one of the best inkjet copiers in its class.

Sample Review: (verified purchase)

The PRO-1000 is a photo printer… and a great one! The quality of the images produced are second to none. Both color – – and B&W images are deep and rich, with amazing tonal range. If you need a serious photo printer that prints up to 17×22″ look no further.

Features:

FINE (Full-Photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering) printing technology works with 1,536 nozzles for each color to produce impressively detailed prints on a variety of fine-art papers with deep blacks, and accurate quality colors

Two-way vacuum feeder keeps media flat and even while accurately and quickly moving media through the printer

Prints a color bordered 17 x 22″ photo in 4 minutes 10 seconds or a color bordered 13 x 19″ photo in 2 minutes 30 seconds

The Chroma Optimizer improves color consistency on coated papers and reduces the difference in ink droplet height to ensure a smooth ink layer, reducing metamerism

Four monochrome inks work to create images with deep blacks for dramatic grayscale prints as well as reduce the effect of bronzing for photographs with a wide dynamic range, most notably in the dark or shadow areas of the image

Minimum droplet size of 4pl for finely detailed imagery

Pigment-based LUCIA PRO ink tanks hold 80ml

Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity enables use with the Canon PRINT app for wirelessly sending files from a mobile device as well as remote monitoring of ink levels and printer status

Wireless PictBridge, Apple AirPrint, and Canon PIXMA Cloud Link for accessing cameras, mobile devices, and cloud files directly

1GB of standard memory for handling large files with ease

Support for fine art media up to 27.6 mil using the manual feed slot

Rated EPEAT Silver, ENERGY STAR qualified, and RoHS Directive Certified to guarantee efficient power consumption

Print Studio Pro v2.0 is plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom with 16-bit processing will help you easily send high quality large-format files to the printer for making vivid, detailed photographic prints

Media Configuration Tool enables customization of the media settings in both the driver and printer and can make adjustments such as print head height and vacuum strength

Accounting Manager will help users track use and cost of consumables such as ink and media in order to determine print costs, and it can manage a number of users in a multi-unit environment

Consumables: PFI1000B, PFI1000C, PFI1000CO, PFI1000GY, PFI1000M, PFI1000MBK, PFI1000PBK, PFI1000PC, PFI1000PGY, PFI1000PM, PFI1000R, PFI1000Y.

 

  1. Epson Stylus Pro 3880 – A2+ $1495.00 or less

Printing on A2-size paper takes you into a different Epson Stylus Pro 3880league of printer. The Pro 3880 is a compact, 17″-wide printer which incorporates Epson UltraChrome K3® with Vivid Magenta Ink Technology, which is recognised worldwide. When used alongside an advanced MicroPiezo® AMC™ print head, the Pro 3880 can produce gallery-quality color and black-and-white images up to 17″ x 22″. There is little question from feedback from purchasers that this is an impressive piece of equipment which delivers on every aspect of high-quality photographic image reproduction. The price point may at first seem high, but this is not your everyday desktop printer. This is a printer used to create ‘hard copy’ of images at the necessary quality to sow clients and potential clients the quality of your work without any compromise.

Sample Review: (verified purchase)

I have been an Epson user for years. They have never let me down and the prints from them let me keep my work in house. I love how it prints on canvas and basically only want to print on canvas now. Setup is easy, printer driver is good, tank access is easy and the several options for loading media is good. I have no complaints from people on the ultra-chrome inks it uses. Images on matte paper are stunning. I have yet to find fault with it.

Features:

Industry-leading pigment ink technology — Epson UltraChrome K3® with Vivid Magenta Ink for intense blues and violets

Professional control — Advanced Black-and-White Photo Mode to easily create neutral or toned black-and-white prints from color or monochrome images

Precision print head technology — Advanced MicroPiezo® AMC™, one-inch wide print head with ink-repelling coating for accurate dot placement

Optimal black density — auto-switching Matte and Photo Black ink for a high Dmax and superior contrast on glossy, matte and fine art papers

Advanced image-quality architecture — smoother color transitions and outstanding highlight and shadow detail with AccuPhoto™ HD2 screening algorithms

Broad media support — create prints on media types including semimatte paper, fiber paper, fine art media or art boards up to 1.5 mm thick

Consistent output from printer to printer — Epson PreciseColor™ ensures no colorimetric calibration is required to normalize the print head

Specialized support — dedicated support for Epson Stylus Pro 3880 users from an expert team at Epson

Consumables: T5801, T5802, T5804, T5805, T5807, T5808, T5809, T580A, T580B.

 

  1. Epson Stylus Photo R3000 $1300 or less

When you put the word ‘photo’ in the name of a printer StylusPhotoR3000that retails at above $1000.00 then you get an instant idea that this is no run-of-the-mill desktop printer. Epson are world-renowned for their printers and as a ‘flagship’ type printer, this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. This printer sets a new benchmark for the quality of reproduced digital photographs, mainly thanks to Epson UltraChrome K3 ink, including vivid magenta.

Sample Review: (verified purchase)

The Epson R3000 lives up to my expectations as a teacher and a photographer. I have seen other printers and worked with them professionally and have generally been disappointed with the results. My concern has always been with consistency and the quality of the blacks, which I want neutral deep and black with no pixilation or colour casts. The Epson R3000 is my dream home business printer :)

Features:

A3+ size printing – Exhibition Quality prints up to A3+ size.

Superb colour photographic prints – Epson UltraChrome K3® Ink with Vivid Magenta expands the colour gamut in blues and purples, making it easier to reproduce the more difficult colours.

Outstanding black & white photographic prints – The Epson Stylus™ Photo R3000 includes three black cartridges, creating smooth tonal graduation, superior neutral grey tones and a high D-max for blacker blacks.

Auto-switching black inks – A new Intelligent linking technology enables the printer to automatically switch between Photo and Matte Black inks to optimize your output, based on the media type you choose. Photo Black Ink produces rich, deep blacks on traditional photographic papers; while Matte Black Ink produces exceptional results on matte surface media.

Individual High Capacity Ink Cartridges – The Epson Stylus™ Photo R3000 includes new high capacity ink cartridges which provide 2.3 times more ink than previous Epson models.

Advanced, simple media handling – An Improved design allows precise front feeding of the fine art paper – a definite advantage that not only simplifies a delicate task, but reduces installation space.

Roll paper Support – The Epson Stylus™ Photo R3000 has the ability to support roll paper handling as a standard feature, making continuous, high quality photograph printing absolutely straightforward. This feature makes the printer ideal for photographers looking for simple yet high quality panorama with edge-to-edge BorderFree photo printing on sizes up to A3+.

CD/ DVD Printing – In keeping with Epson’s precision CD/DVD surface printing tradition, the Epson Stylus Photo™ R3000 supports high quality printing directly on to the surface of compatible inkjet printable 8cm and 12cm CD-Rs and DVDs.

Wired and wireless connectivity – Out of the box compatibility with Ethernet and WiFi networks make the Epson Stylus™ Photo R3000 ideal for any photo studio, graphics house or SOHO environment, while support for USB further expands connectivity options. The Epson Stylus™ Photo R3000 also features USB connection and Pictbridge, meaning PictBridge-enabled cameras can be easily connected to the printer for direct-from-camera printing.

2.5 inch Colour LCD Display – The Epson Stylus™ Photo R3000 features an impressive LCD display panel which allows you to check the printer status, ink levels and perform routine maintenance tasks.

Consumables: C13T157190, C13T157290, C13T157390, C13T157490, C13T157590, C13T157690, C13T157790, C13T157890, C13T157990.

 

  1. Canon Pixma PRO-1 $1296.00 or less

If you want a printer that will capture every single detail Canon-Pro-1and print in ultra-high quality, then the Canon PRO-1 should be given serious consideration. The price point is extremely competitive when compared to other printers that are appropriate for the field of photography. This printer utilises FINE print-head technology and is capable of producing quicker print speeds with an impressive print resolution of 4800 x 2400 dpi. The Chroma Optimizer allows for a more accurate colour reproduction and the 12 LUCIA Pigment Ink System offers an exceptional colour range to capture all vibrant colours. The five monochrome inks deliver deeper blacks and smoother tonal gradations. This is an A3 photo printer which uses Canon’s Optimum Image Generating (OIG) System to analyses paper type and print mode for each print request and then intelligently and automatically calculates the optimum balance of inks to create the best possible results.

Sample Review: (verified purchase)

A whopping big piece of machinery but the print quality is excellent. Setup on Mac was easy and instructions easy to follow. Provided software is basic but easy to use. All up am very happy so far. Will be flogging the printer a but soon with some serious photo printing so we’ll see how she performs and then will submit a further review. Good product.

Features:

Printing Speed2

SG-201 A3+ bordered approx. 2 min 55 sec.

Printing Resolution – 4800 x 2400 dpi, 4 picolitre

Number of Nozzles – Total 12,288 nozzles (Y/M/C/R/PM/PC/MBK/PBK/DGY/GY/LGY/CO 1,024 nozzles each)

Borderless Printing – A3+, A3, A4, Letter, 5″ x 7″, 6″ x 4″, 8″ x 10″, 10″ x 12″, 14″ x 17″

Ink Tanks – PGI-29Y/M/C/R/PM/PC/MBK/PBK/DGY/GY/LGY/CO

Supported Paper Sizes – A3+, A3, A4, Letter, Legal, Ledger, A5, B5; Photo cards (4×6″,5×7″, 8×10″)

Supported Paper Weights – Plain Paper: 64-105 g/m2,

Windows: Solution Menu EX, M.Setup, Adobe RGB Profile for windows, Easy-WebPrint EX Downloader

General Features Bundled Software

Macintosh: Solution Menu EX, M.Setup, Easy-WebPrint EX Downloader, Mac OS EI X Capitan 10.11

Interface

PC: Hi-Speed USB (B Port) 7, Ethernet Camera Direct: Direct Print Port (PictBridge)6 (Connect your EOS or compatible camera directly to the PIXMA PRO-1)

Operating System

PC: Windows 7, Vista SP1/SP2, XP P2/SP3 Mac: OS.X (10.4.11 or later), Mac OS EI X Capitan 10.11

Consumables: PGI29C, PGI29CO, PGI29DGY, PGI29GY, PGI29LGY, PGI29M, PGI29MBK, PGI29PBK, PGI29PC, PGI29PM, PGI29R, PGI29Y.

What do you do with Empty Printer Cartridges?

After recently surveying 1,000 Australian men and women aged 18-65+, Ink Station found a staggering 45% throw their empty printer cartridges in the rubbish instead of having them refilled or recycling them correctly.

Why is this such a big issue?
Toner and ink cartridges are made up of fine plastic particles, carbon and toxic colouring agents, all of which are not something mother nature can easily degrade. It would take hundreds of years, at best, before the cartridges deteriorate. During that time, the ink or toner in the cartridge can seep into the surrounding soil or water, poisoning it for centuries long after the cartridge has degraded.

An article by Planet Green Recycle states that as much as 97% of an empty toner cartridge can be recycled and made again into a new cartridge.

Empty Print Cartridge Recycling Infographic

 

What about the other results?
We found, there are 39% who recycle but didn’t specify whether they throw the empty cartridge in a normal recycling bin, get their cartridge refilled or take them to a store or government official who can correctly recycle them.

It was surprising how low the results were for both refilling cartridges (7%) and recycling appropriately (7%).

Of the respondents, 2% throw their cartridges in a standard recycling bin. While they have the best intentions, the process required for recycling printer cartridges is different to that of plastic, paper or metal. Like mobile phones or batteries, printer cartridges need to be recycled in a particular way. You can use the Planet Ark website to find your local store that collects cartridge for proper recycling. Planet Ark are a not-for-profit environmental organisation.

Where do I take my empty print cartridges?
It was found that when asking people where they take their cartridges to recycle a majority, 46% to be exact, get their empty cartridges re-filled. Having your cartridge refilled is a great option, it helps the environment and is cost effective, but refilling is not something all printer companies support.

The next most popular option was Office works (18%). It’s no surprise since Officeworks are so well known for supplying and offering support with office stationery and devices. What you might not know is that Officeworks have collected over 5 million printer cartridges and have been a member of Planet Ark’s Recycling Program for 12 years. Other stores who participate in the program are Australia Post, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, and The Good Guys.

Local councils (1%) and libraries (3%) both have very low percentages. This may be due to a lack of knowledge that you can take your empty cartridges there or simply because going to a store is a lot easier to do.

The Conclusion
While people understand the importance of recycling paper, there is still a long way to go before they have the same mindset about recycling printer cartridges. With devices like mobiles and e-readers minimising the printing of newspapers and books, we are still far from having a purely digital lifestyle. Printing still has an important role in our lives and it is important that we raise awareness now and do what we can to minimise the damage that may exist in the future.