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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hi-Tech Studio: A Pair Of Printers For B&W

The Canon PIXMA PRO-1 and Epson Stylus Pro 3880 are well worth a look for any pro studio


This Article Features Photo Zoom
Canon PIXMA Pro-1


The fine art of printing a black-and-white photo
has been part of a professional photographer's repertoire for as long as photography has existed. Printmaking masters like W. Eugene Smith and Ansel Adams were known to spend days working in and out of a darkroom to perfect a single image. Printmaking is where the artists have their final chance to interpret the photograph. In the final analysis, the print—a finely crafted, carefully presented print—is all you have to show. This is where it all comes together.

We've written a lot about printers in DPP, and although the technology and capabilities of high-end, professional-oriented printers continue to evolve and improve, many pros haven't been motivated to upgrade. That's because printers have been very good for a while, and photographers have found other areas to spend their money. The companies who have been most active in the professional printer market are Canon and Epson. Hewlett-Packard makes some strong contenders, and several top professionals are especially attracted to their very large models, but over the past few years, HP seems to have chosen to put more efforts into other areas of its business.

Canon and Epson, on the other hand, have been quite active in what we'd call the "in-studio"-size printers, models that can print up to about 13 or 17 inches wide. Fine-art printmakers may have a need for much larger commercial units, but just about everyone needs a printer that can generate a solid 11x14 print. In this article, we're focusing on two particularly interesting models for pros who print black-and-white. The Epson Stylus Pro 3880 originally was introduced in late 2009, and in 2011 the company made it available in a new Signature Worthy bundle. The Canon PIXMA PRO-1 professional inkjet printer was unveiled in late 2011, and it marked a new dedication to professional printing from that company. We focus on these printers for their combination of price and performance. The PRO-1 has a $999 estimated street price; the Stylus Pro 3880 has a $1,199 estimated street price. Both models are optimized for making the highest-quality black-and-white images.

The Canon PIXMA PRO-1 features an ink system with 12 LUCIA pigment inks. This ink set is described as being able to expand the color gamut with improved color saturation and to print darker, deeper blacks. There are five monochrome inks for fine control over black-and-white images. The ink tanks are about 2.5 times larger than most other ink tanks, which is a convenient advancement. The PRO-1 has built-in Ethernet connectivity, making it a good option for your studio if you want to be able to print from many computers or if you just want to be able to keep the printer out of the way from your primary workspace. The printer has two-way paper feeding and, of course, it's compatible with a variety of Fine Art and Glossy Photo Papers.

The PRO-1 can print up to 13x19 inches, and the Canon FINE (Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering) technology print head lays down 4800x1200 ink dpi (this is printer dpi; the PRO-1 is optimized for images to print at 300 dpi). Turning to the five black inks, which are part of the 12-ink system, there's photo black, matte black, dark gray, gray and light gray. The inks have been optimized to reduce bronzing in the print.

One common issue with digital prints has been the uneven surface reflection that's a result of varying ink height on the paper surface. Silver-halide prints never had this problem as the emulsion was perfectly uniform across the entire surface. Digital inkjet prints, however, place ink droplets on the paper surface so there's varying height, and in areas where your image is paper-white, there's no ink at all. You'll notice this most when you look at a print from an angle to the light. Canon employs a Chroma Optimizer to minimize this effect considerably.

The PRO-1 can print to a variety of media, including DVDs and CDs. Be sure any third-party media is compatible to avoid damaging the print head. Contact: Canon, www.usa.canon.com.

 

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