In this day and age where so much of what we do is Internet-oriented, it can be easy to forget that while such professions as graphic design use the most up-to-date software to assist with creating their designs, they don’t all end up getting sent to clients in a digital format. Yes, the likes of websites often never see ‘hard copy’ of their layout design, but we still use brochures, instruction leaflets, hard copy advertisements and other promotional materials, along with a whole raft of business-related documentation, such as letterheads, corporate logos, presentation documentation, etc.
Now for a skilled graphic designer, there can be nothing worse than creating the perfect image in high definition on your computer screens, only to find that a ‘printed’ version just doesn’t have the same crispness, clarity or definition of colour. Graphic design is a mixture of complex yet subtle design, together with the careful use and marriage of colours. If a printer doesn’t have the capability of faithfully reproducing the skills of good designer, then that defeats the whole object of the exercise. Clever and successful graphic design rests solely on visual impact, something a printer cannot reproduce if it does not have the power to.
Because quality counts and you only ever get one opportunity to make a good first impression, a reputable name with the capability of dealing with large files is essential. The capacity to deal with anything up to A3 paper is a must, while the greater the number of printer ink cartridges, the better. It is unlikely that a single ink cartridge printer will do anywhere near the job you will need it to. You should check the maximum resolution of the printer; the greater the resolution, the better the quality of the printed matter. Paper quality can also be critical as the better the paper, the better the quality of the print – especially if printing on photo-quality paper.
We have assembled a list of five printers that we consider well suited to the environment of graphic design.
- Epson Artisan 1430 $399.00 or less
With six individual printer ink cartridges immediately you know that the quality of image reproduction is going to be above average, with crisper and clearer colours. This is very much a colour inkjet printer for the technical and graphic-oriented environment. Of particular note is the ability of the printer to use ink droplets as small as 1.5 picolitres thanks to the MicroPiezo print head. Epson have used printer ink cartridges using Claria ultra-high definition photographic ink, you can be assured of bright, vivid images which are resistant to fading, have smooth tonal gradation and fine detail.
An added plus is the Wi-Fi connection which allows you to ‘print on the run’ by not having to connect your smartphone or tablet to the printer before reproducing photographs and images.
Have had an Epson stylus photo R1800 for almost 10 years and there was a need to replace it. Installation procedure for the Artisan 1430 was very easy and went without a glitch. Have started printing and find the quality of the prints excellent. Looking forward to many years of hassle free photo printing.
Brilliant large size photos – borderless photos up to A3
Ultra High Definition prints – Claria 6 colour ink for the ultimate photo quality and longevity (prints last up to four times longer than photo lab prints)
Connect to your wireless network in seconds – Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n makes it easy; up to 2.5 times faster transfer speeds than the previous 802.11g
Superior image enhancement tools – automatic colour and lighting correction for the best quality photos
Remarkable image quality – MicroPiezo print head technology, up to 5760 x 1440 dpi resolution and ink droplets as small as 1.5 picolitres provide the finest in colour and detail
Professional looking CDs/DVDs – print directly onto inkjet printable CDs and DVDs without labels
Individual ink cartridges – replace only the colour you need
Epson Connect – print and share via e-mail
PictBridgeTM – Connect your camera directly for simple photo printing
Achieve the results you want – choose from a variety of paper finishes; the Artisan 1430 supports a large range of media
Consumables: C13T111192, C13T111292, C13T111392, C13T111492, C13T111592, C13T111692, C13T111792
- Canon Pixma Pro-100 $729.00 or less
If you are looking for extra-sharp and vivid reproduction in an A3 printer, then you shouldn’t have to look much further than this Pixma Pro-100 with its ability to print at a resolution of 4800 x 2400dpi. Incorporating Canon’s 3PL FINE print-head technology together with an 8-ink dye system premium quality, borderless prints are packed with remarkable colour and glossiness. This Canon printer features three monochrome inks that produce smooth tonal gradations, along with an Optimum Image Generating System to create the perfect balance of inks with precise ink placement. Use the PRO Mode to ensure the colour you see on screen matches the colour in your prints, while an advanced software plug-in will further adjust settings and colour management. Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity means that you don’t have to physically connect any devices to start printing.
Sample Review: (expert)
Despite the competitive price, this is still an expensive printer, and it certainly doesn’t look or feel like a budget model. The thick plastic body encases a print engine that’s strengthened with metal for better precision, while the main paper input and output trays feel like they’d survive a small explosion. The single-sheet multipurpose feed at the rear can print different sizes or types of paper without unloading the main tray.
Printing resolution 4800 x 2400 dpi
3 picolitre FINE print-head technology
8 individual colour ink tanks giving supreme quality to photo prints
A3+ bordered colour print in 1 minutes and 30 sec
Apple Air Print and PIXMA Cloud Link available from smart or tablet
Access Point Mode
Quoted photo durability (source) 30 years (Canon)
Standard interfaces USB, Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Optional interfaces None
Dimensions (HxWxD) 215x689x385mm
Duty cycle (pages per month) Not stated
Standard paper trays (capacity) 2 (151)
Maximum paper trays (capacity) 2 (151)
Direct (PC-less) printing PictBridge USB
Memory card support None
Supported operating systems Windows XP or later, Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later, Android, iOS.
Consumables: CLI42BK, CLI42C, CLI42GY, CLI42LGY, CLI42M, CLI42PC, CLI42PM, CLI42Y
- Canon iP8760 $384.00 or less
This printer is ideal for graphic designers, students and photo enthusiasts who want to see vibrant results from A3+ printing. The iP8760 produces high quality A3+ prints, at speeds of ISO 14.5ipm for mono and 10.4ipm for colour, providing the most outstanding detail, thanks to a minimum of 1-pixel ink droplets and an exceptional 9600 x 2400dpi resolution that you would not expect to find at this price point. The Canon printer cartridge six-ink system which features an individual grey ink, produces beautiful photos and smooth graduations in mono prints. Wi-Fi operation allows you to print on the go from any mobile device, with iP8760’s connectivity features including Apple Airprint™, Google Cloud Print and PIXMA Printing Solutions App.
This printer represents one of the best solutions for those requiring exceptional quality images for graphic artwork or photographic images, at a very competitive price.
Sample Review: (expert)
Considering that the iP8760 focuses on photos, what matters most is the photo quality, which is precisely what the printer does well. Although its color photos aren’t a match for output from top-tier printers, like the Epson R3000, they are a clear step above typical drugstore prints. And unlike the Canon iX6820, the iP8720 also prints black-and-white photos at the same high level, with no obvious tint and with appropriately subtle shading.
Printer Category: Ink Jet
Type: Printer Only
Color or Monochrome: 1-pass color
Ink Jet Type: Photo All-Purpose
Connection Type: USB, Wireless
Maximum Standard Paper Size: Supertabloid
Number of Cartridges: 6
Number of Ink Colors: 6
Direct Printing from Cameras: Yes (via wireless)
LCD Preview Screen: No
Input Capacity (printer input only): 150 sheets
Print Duplexing: No
Uses Canon ink cartridges: PGI650BK, CLI651BK, CLI651C, CLI651M, CLI651Y, CLI651GY, PGI650XLBK, CLI651XLBK, CLI651XLC, CLI651XLM, CLI651XLY, CLI651XLGY, CLI651XLVP.
- Canon HL-L8350CDW $499.00 or less
For those who are fans of the quality of laser printing, you won’t be disappointed with this affordable brother colour laser printer which is very well suited to photographers and designers alike. The Brother’s HL-L8350CDW is an impressive high-speed, colour laser printer with 30ppm output in both colour and monochrome. Wi-Fi technology makes printing a breeze from any portable device, while direct cable connection via your PC is also possible. The HL-L8350CDW features automatic 2-sided (duplex) printing which certainly reduces hassle when double-sided printing. High page-yield replacement Brother toner cartridges help you to achieve maximum output at reduced costs. Added and more unusual benefits include Secure Function Lock 3.0, while BRAdmin also adds to confidentiality, convenience and efficiency.
This is definitely a printer that hits all the right marks and has the great name of Brother behind it.
Sample Review: (verified purchase)
I’ve been running my Brother printer for about a month now and am happy with it for many reasons: including 1. It’s an affordable colour printer with all the required functions – including Duplex printing which I’ve now come to love. 2. the consumables are reasonably priced and seem to be lasting a good length of time. 3. It connects to all sorts of devices, Window, Mac, IPhone and works seamlessly on my network using the IP address functions – there are so many other printer services that it supports that I’m not surprised it works so well.
Duplex Print: Built-in @ Up to 14 sides per minute (7 sheets per minute)
Interface: Hi-Speed USB2.0, 10Base-T/ 100Base-TX Ethernet and IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wireless
Standard Paper Capacity: Up to 250 Sheets
Wi-Fi Direct: Yes
Google Cloud Print: Yes
Warranty: 12 Months Return To Base
Up to 30ppm print speed colour & monochrome
Automatic 2-sided (duplex) Printing
Hi-Speed USB 2.0, Wired & Wireless Network
128MB Memory (expandable up to 384MB)
250 sheet lower paper tray & 50 sheet Manual Feed Slot + optional 500 sheet paper capacity
Apple AirPrint & Google Cloud Print
Standard & High-yield toners 2,500Bk, 1,500CMY / 4,000Bk, 3,500CM
Consumables: TN341BK, TN341C, TN341M, TN341Y, TN346BK, TN346C, TN346M, TN346Y, DR341CL, BU-320CL, WT-320CL
- HP Officejet Pro X576dw $899.00 or less
At this price you start entering the realms of a high-quality colour printer for individuals and businesses that are highly image oriented where printing requirements are concerned. The HP printing system is designed to minimise ink use while maximising quality thanks to top performance HP ink cartridges. Speed is also of the essence with this inkjet printer, producing up to 70 pages per minute. The printer is designed for medium print level demands, with a recommended 6000 pages per month usage, and with the paper tray over 1000 pages can be loaded at a time. Ink use should see you get approaching 9000 pages per ink cartridge.
Wireless technology allows you to print direct from smartphones and tablets without the need for any Internet connection or router either, making this very much a printing hub for a busy office environment.
Sample Review: (expert)
Fast 70-page per minute print speeds and economical print costs are enough to make this a top-rated printer, but the Officejet X576dw doesn’t skimp out on business-friendly features, including wireless and network connectivity, solid print quality and easy-to-use touchscreen controls.
Functions – Print, copy, scan, fax
Multitasking supported -Yes
Print speed black: ISO: Up to 42 ppm
Draft: Up to 70 ppm
ISO: Up to 42 ppm
Draft: Up to 70 ppm
First page out (ready) Black: As fast as 9.5 sec Color: As fast as 9.5 sec
(No heating or fusing warm up time required)
Duty cycle (monthly, A4) Up to 80,000 pages
(Duty cycle is defined as the maximum number of pages per month of imaged output. This value provides a comparison of product robustness in relation to other HP LaserJet or HP Color LaserJet devices, and enables appropriate deployment of printers and MFPs to satisfy the demands of connected individuals or groups.)
Recommended monthly page volume
1000 to 6000
(HP recommends that the number of printed pages per month be within the stated range for optimum device performance, based on factors including supplies replacement intervals and device life over an extended warranty period.)
HP PageWide Technology with pigmented inks
Print quality (best) Color: Up to 2400 x 1200 optimized dpi from 600 x 600 input dpi (on HP Advanced Photo Papers)
Black: Up to 1200 x 1200 optimized dpi from 600 x 600 input dpi (on Unspecified, Plain, HP Premium Presentation Matte, and HP Brochure Matte)
Display – 4.3″ CGD (color graphics), touchscreen
Processor speed – 792 MHz
Number of print cartridges – 4 (1 each black, cyan, magenta, yellow)
Consumables: CN621AA, CN622AA, CN623AA, CN624AA, CN625AA, CN626AA, CN627AA, CN628AA.