Wide format printers for realistic quality

High quality digital printing has become extremely popular among both photographers and professionals in many fields. With the increased interest in digital photography it is necessary to have printers capable of demonstrating the superb quality of the photos. FLAAR provided the prints for a large museum exhibition in the Popol Vuh Museum in Guatemala. The prints had to be of the highest quality because the 400 guests and functionaries of the Museum and adjoining University were going to be examining the prints at ranges of 2 to 3 feet. This report discusses various printers that were considered for the job, and in the end the printer that was selected and why. The options we included were the Epson, Encad, ColorSpan, and HP DesignJet printers. In this report, it shows which of these offered the speed, ease of use, lack of excessive ink costs, and did not require a PhD to run the printer.

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    13

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    September 2002

Wide Format Inkjet Printers for Commercial Photography

Portrait photography, architectural photography, commercial photography, fine art photography, and taking pictures of paintings to reproduce as giclee prints all call for different cameras and slightly different kinds of wide format inkjet printers. Nicholas Hellmuth has 42 years experience in photography and every size and shape of wide format inkjet printer in his two university labs. This is the ideal place to get some facts, before you spend a lot of money on what may be the wrong printer.

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    9

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    February 2004

Black and white quadtone photography

This report discusses black and white printing with wide format. We get so many requests for this that we are initiating evaluations of various solutions. It will be another six months before our research is finished, but you are welcome to ask for the preliminary version that is ready now. Just keep in mind that this report is still in a rather unfinished state. Black and white prints from the most popular low-cost inkjet printers turn green, so you might want to avoid them and their problems with metamerism.

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    12

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    February 2003

Large format printers for museum and photo-realistic quality

Questions about digital printers for high quality photographs is the #1 request for help that comes in every day from artists and photographers who want exhibit-quality photos and/or fine art prints on canvas, watercolor paper and/or digital photo media. If you are a photographer, you can count on the experience of Professor Hellmuth to provide factual, actual, informative tips on photography related to wide format inkjet printing. FLAAR currently has seven wide format inkjet printers in its facilities, so again, you can count on experience from actual practice. Our university labs have Encad, Epson, ColorSpan, Mimaki and Hewlett-Packard. We know Roland, Mutoh, and other brands from visiting photo labs, countless tradeshows, and from incoming e-mails from thousands of readers who are photographers or photo lab personnel.

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    49

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    August 2003

Continuous tone RGB printers

Many of our readers ask if they should buy a LightJet or Lambda, or if Inkjet printers have caught up in continuous tone quality. This report is by Brent Cavanaugh, who writes from many years of experience in a pro photo lab in Dallas, Texas, before taking over as manager of the FLAAR print facility at Bowling Green State University. Comments have been added by Nicholas Hellmuth based on his inspection of a photo lab that had several Durst Lambda92s. It was an eye-opening experience.

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    5

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    September 2002

Print resolution for wide format printers

This report actually informs you the different requirements for thermal printheads (Canon, Encad, ColorSpan, and HP) vs piezo printheads (Epson, Mimaki, Mutoh, Roland). Professor Hellmuth also adds facts on what resolution is required for RGB laser light imagers such as Durst Lambda, LightJet. Dye sub dye transfer printers (wax or resin ribbons) are a different technology again, and require a resolution that is not the same as inkjet. Everything on resolution, for your scanner, digital camera, and printer are all contained here.

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    20

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    May 2003

Workflow in digital photography

This report provides a summary of of everything you need to think about in doing the original photography to sending the image through software to get it enlarged with an inkjet printer, Fuji Pictography, Durst Lambda, LightJet, or other kind of digital printer.

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    8

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    May 2003

Photo-Quality Printers: HP DesignJet 30 and HP DesignJet 130

The HP DesignJet 30 and HP DesignJet 130 were shown to the public for the first time at the PMA trade show. FLAAR was in the HP booth as well as gathering information from our extensive network of sources for learning more than is in the basic specs. It will be a while until production models are available to test. But common sense and a practiced eye allow us to dissect every word of the PR release, advertising, and specs. We have become adept at this kind of analysis of Epson printers and in fairness to all brands we need to apply the same scrutiny to HP printers as well.

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    16

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    March 2004

Scanning 35mm slide and negatives

Scanning medium format and large format chromes is a bit different than scanning 35mm negatives and slides, so, we have a separate report on each in this series. The entire FLAAR project on digital imaging is based on the Japanese ministry of education providing a grant for Professor Hellmuth to assist the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, on how to scan their photo archive (which was largely Dr Hellmuth92s own photos which the museum had purchased the year before). This Japanese project and a succeeding scanner project had a budget of about $250,000. You get all the results of all these years experience, for an economical $124 for the entire series (or discounted down still further to $100 if you have already become part of the FLAAR favored readers by filling out the inquiry form).

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    21

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    November 2002

Scanning medium format and 4x5" transparencies for photographers

Scanning medium format and large format chromes is a bit different than scanning 35mm negatives and slides, so, we have a separate report on each in this series. The entire FLAAR project on digital imaging is based on the Japanese ministry of education providing a grant for Professor Hellmuth to assist the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, on how to scan their photo archive (which was largely Dr Hellmuth92s own photos which the museum had purchased the year before). This Japanese project and a succeeding scanner project had a budget of about $250,000. You get all the results of all these years experience, for an economical $124 for the entire series (or discounted down still further to $100 if you have already become part of the FLAAR favored readers by filling out the inquiry form).

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    17

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    February 2005

Printing your photographs on silk

Professor Hellmuth explains how easy it is to print your own photos onto pure silk in your home or office. Nicholas lists which printers, what inks, and where to obtain the silk. Amaze your friends, relatives, and business associates when they jealously look at your photos printed onto silk.

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    7

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    January 2004

Wide Format Inkjet Printers: Exhibited at PMA 2004

Since more and more photographers are printing their images with inkjet instead of darkroom enlargers or RGB laser light or LED imagers, it is logical that a photography trade show such as PMA would feature lots of wide format inkjet printers. Canon, HP, and Encad revealed new wide format inkjet printers. Roland was absent, why? Lots of tips, help, information, and behind the scenes tidbits that Dr Hellmuth is infamous for. The FLAAR Report on PMA is divided into two halves, this one on printers, and another separate report on cameras and scanners.

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    16

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    March 2004

HP DesignJet 130: Evaluation, Comments, Samples of Printing Capabilities,

This FLAAR Report is a complete evaluation from day of arrival, what it is like to unpack and install, and then actually using the printer.

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    22

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    February 2005

Creo Eversmart Supreme Scanner

Scanner review at Bowling Green State University by Anne Behrnes

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    15

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    October 2004

Image Quality Analysis: Comparison between the HP 130 and Epson 7600

This is the first report that we know of to analyze image quality in a neutral objective manner. The printer manufacturers want you to buy the printer with the biggest number of dpi. So we decided to look at the individual dots with a microscope. What we found was horrifying. I am not sure I would want 720, 1440, or 2880 of these splotchy dots to create my posters, POP, signage, graphic design, or graphic design. If you are a commercial photographer, portrait photographer, fine art photographer, scientific photographer, or graphic designer, you might want to see what the university testing lab found out when they compared the HP 130nr and the Epson 7600 (an Epson 9600 and Epson 10600 would have been comparable). We at FLAAR were very surprised. We had no idea we could uncover this much information about image quality. In short, it makes little difference if there is a longevity rating for 100 or 200 imaginary years if the image itself is poor quality. Neither you, nor your client, will be present to worry about what the photo looks like in 100 years. Your client wants the photo to look nice, now.

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    11

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    September 2004

Continuous Tone RGB Printers compared with CMYK Inkjet Printers

The goal of every photographer is to find a low-cost inkjet printer that can recreate the continuous tone of a traditional darkroom print. We all want to get the quality and longevity of a Cibachrome print from our inkjet printers. Since Nicholas is a professional photographer who exhibits frequently, you get his infamous pithy comments on pros and cons of each system. Two inkjet printer manufacturers have been hyping their printers as offering continuous tone! They attempt to lure you into buying their printers instead of a Lambda or LightJet. Almost every week a photo lab or photographer asks FLAAR by e-mail: 93When will inkjet prints be truly continuous tone? Should I buy a Durst Lambda or Cymbolic Sciences LightJet for $150,000, or wait a year and hope for an inkjet at $3,200 that can do continuous tone?94 FLAAR can provide independent documentation since obviously we do not sell either system. But we feel it would be sad for you to make a purchase based on misrepresentation of the reality of inkjet printing, not to mention the true facts about what is involved if you own a LightJet or Lambda. Each system has its pros and cons. Neither is perfect yet each has many benefits. Before you purchase, you might want to learn from an outside source such as FLAAR. Nicholas has found the new Canon wide format printer has surprised everyone in the lab with its capability to match the Epson on quality and beat the Epson on speed and ink costs.

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    6

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    November 2004