Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

August 24, 2007

Thinking about wide format printers

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 7:36 pm

Canyon Tracks

 Canyon Tracks (from the series Bad Trip – Sad Trip)

As I start to think about the exhibiting of the series Bad Trip – Sad Trip, I am also contemplating much larger prints. Thus the need of a wider format printer, as I diffinately prefer doing my own printing. The interest in larger prints was further stimulated by the 32″ wide panoramic Tired Bones print that I created for OCMA.

Since I already have the Epson 4800 that provides 17″ wide images, I need to consider what I liked about it and what I did not in my printer evaluation. My largest dislike with the Epson 4800 is the either/or the use of Black and Matte Black pigment inks and the relatively expensive and time consuming switch between these two inks. When I bought this printer, I felt that the finest papers available were matte. Thus dedicating the printer to the Matte Black ink was a no brainer for my Black and White images. I still love the matte papers, but since I purchased this printer, some really, really nice papers are available for the gloss Black ink. I like options and I would really like the option of easily switching between the two inks.

Second, moving up in width to 24″ is not that great of an increase for me. So that what I am considering is the 44″ wide, but probably not going to a 60″ wide printers. Which means for the big three printer is either the Epson Stylus Pro 9800, the HP DesignJet Z3100ps GP 44 and the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF8000.

Epson 9800 is a printer similar to the Epson 4800 and I have a lot of familiarity with the K3 pigment inks and it should be easy to scale an image up from the 4800 to the 9800. But the Black the Matte Black ink changes are still a big problem, especially when comparing to the other two with both of these Black ink cartridges are both on the printer at the same time. I saw some info on the new generation 9800 printer, but this problem is not fixed. It may make all the difference in my final choice. Basic list price is $5000.

HP Z3100 is getting a lot of buzz for the quality of the printing, having both Black and Matte Black that easyily switch back and forth and includes a paper callobration system. I can also buy a printer version that includes the ColorByte Imageprint RIP, which becomes increasingly neccessary with the larger printers. Another learning curve, oh crap. Note that no Firewire, but the Ethernet can handle 10/100/1000 for computer connectivity. Fully loaded, the list price is $7500.

Canon iPF8000 is probably the dark horse in this race as I do not know much about it. Although it does have the Black and Matte Black, so I am assuming that it is easy to switch beteen the two inks depending on the medium to be printed. Like the other two, it also has pigment ink and three grays for printing (four grays on the machine if you count the Black and Matte Black). I also see that it comes with a Firewire port, but only 10/100 for Ethernet. List price is about $6400.

 Glad this is not a immediate purchase, but one that I get to mull over for a while, or at least until I get that gallery exhibit invitation ;- )

Best regards, Doug

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