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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hi-Tech Studio: Print In-House

New printer technology makes this the right time to think about an upgrade

This Article Features Photo Zoom

The Epson Stylus Photo R2880 inkjet printer is aimed at serious amateurs and professional photographers. In addition to technical features
like eight separate cartridges of UltraChrome K3 inks, each capable of producing 3 picoliter droplets, and 5760x1440 optimized dpi, the R2880 can deliver a full-color, photo-quality 8x10 print in just over two minutes. Additional features are targeted to please serious users—such as a specially treated print head to minimize clogging and a proprietary mist collection system to keep the printer clean and minimize paper jams. Estimated Street Price: $800.

For photographers who want to go larger than the R2880’s 13 inches, the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 is a large-format printer that shares many of the technical specs of the R2880, but in a 17-inch-wide size. Droplet size is 3.5 pL, the maximum resolution is 2880x1440 dpi, and a nine-color ink palette incorporates Auto-Sharing black ink technology—making the once cumbersome process of switching between matte and glossy surfaces a breeze. The 3880 isn’t designed solely for photographers who want to make big prints; in fact, the paper-handling system will feed virtually any cut-sheet paper up to 17 inches wide. Like the R2880, the 3880 uses UltraChrome K3 inks designed to last more than 200 years. Estimated Street Price: $1,300.

HP offers the Photosmart Pro B9180 printer, which uses HP’s Vivera ink system with third-generation gray ink to improve monochrome output for better neutral black-and-white and toned prints. Eight high-capacity ink cartridges enable high-volume, high-speed printing—4x6-inch prints in as little as 10 seconds and 13x19-inch prints in 90 seconds. The Pro B9180 accepts a variety of media (such as canvas, photo rag, watercolor, stiff pre-matte and film) for borderless printing at 4800 dpi optimized resolution all the way up to 13x19 inches. The included ProPrint Photoshop plug-in speeds processing time and accuracy, and Ethernet networking compatibility makes it an ideal centralized printer for everyone in the studio. Estimated Street Price: $600.

Much like the B9180, the HP Photosmart Pro B8850 inkjet produces outstanding photo-quality prints up to 13x19 inches, but its laser-caliber text capabilities make it an ideal all-around printer for office obligations as well. It can output mixed text and color graphics at up to 26 pages per minute. The B8850 shows similar speed to the B9180, in this instance with the addition of HP’s Real Life Technologies, which incorporates auto red-eye removal and adaptive lighting for automatic and streamlined color control. Estimated Street Price: $525.

dpi or ppi?

Does anybody really say ppi?
Sticklers do. Or at least they should because the term “ppi” would be much more accurate in many instances when the term “dpi” is used. They might be spoken interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. Here’s why:

  • The "d" in dpi stands for dots. Printers, using ink, create dots. So saying dpi when referring to printer resolutions makes sense.
  • The "p" in ppi stands for pixels. Digital cameras create digital images out of pixels. So saying ppi when referring to pixel resolutions makes sense.
  • The confusion comes when one term, "dpi," is used to refer to both measurements—often 2400 or 4800 for printers, but only 300 for image files.

Whatever you call it, the key to remember is that resolution in pixel terms (like 300 ppi) is an image resolution measurement completely separate from the printer. And the 2400 dpi of the printer is an ink droplet measurement completely independent from the image file.

Whatever you do, don’t confuse the two and think you need to set your image files to a 2400 dpi resolution or drop the printer resolution to just 300 dpi. A 300 ppi/dpi image will print very nicely on a 2400 dpi printer. It’s just that the interchangeably used terms make it sound like a mismatch.



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