Photo of Mark Sincevich

Mark Sincevich

Professional Photography Expert

Photo Printers

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With the latest photography printers on the market, you have the ability to create better high-quality archival images right in your home or small business compared to a traditional photo lab. It’s a very rewarding experience when you can make a digital image and then professionally reproduce it in minutes right before your or your client’s eyes. Also, having the correct printer with pigment-based inks will mean long-lasting prints that will resist fading.

The Best of the Best Photo Printers and even the Best of the Rest Photo Printers are dominated by the industry leader, Epson. Every printer reviewed in the Best of the Best uses pigment-based ink. When selecting the photo printer that is best for you, consider the type of ink, select the most individual ink cartridges and go for the highest image resolution.

Select the Best Type of Ink:
There are two types of inks available for ink jet printers, dye and pigment-based ink. Pigment-based inks are much more stable, the colors are more vibrant and most importantly, they are qualified as museum or archival quality lasting upwards of 200 years! In order for this to happen, you will always need to use the manufacturer’s professional paper with your printer (Epson printer + Epson professional paper). The Best of the Best Photo Printer is the Epson Stylus R3800. It has significant advancements in black and white printing with a three-layer gray technology and also reproduces stunning color prints up to seventeen inches wide.

Select the Most Individual Cartridges:
The main reason for selecting a printer with individual ink cartridges is you will only pay for the colors that you use. If you printed a few stunning images of the Greek Islands, cyan and light cyan will be supplying most of the ink. Not using more separate cartridges will add to the cost per print and is very wasteful for the environment. I would never recommend a printer with anything less than six individual cartridges and if you can, purchase a printer with at least eight individual cartridges. The Epson R1900 has a cartridge called a Photo Gloss Optimizer sprays a surface evening resin when needed.

Image Resolution:
Once you select your more color stable pigment-based printer and the maximum number of individual cartridges, the next item for your awareness is the nozzle size of the printer head. While the particle size of the pigment inks allows for sharper images, the smaller droplet size, measured in picoliters, gives the printers faster operation. In addition to the droplet size, you will be faced with the printer’s actual resolution. Resolution is measured in DPI or dots per inch. The more dots that a printer can fit in one inch, the higher the resolution and the sharper the image, so you should always opt for at least 1,440 dpi. Printers, like scanners, are listed with two numbers as in 5,760 x 1,440 dpi, so only the second number has any value. In this case, you will be purchasing a printer capable of reproducing an image with a minimum resolution of 1,440 dpi. You can certainly print at double the resolution, or 2,880 dpi, but this will also cost you double the ink cost.

When you select the best pigment-based inkjet printer with the highest number of individual ink cartridges, have a minimum resolution of 1,440 dpi, a small droplet size measured in picoliters, and use the printer manufacturer’s professional paper, you will be assured your beautiful photograph will provide a lifetime of appreciation and beyond. You will have furthered your fine art abilities and have an additional backup of your family memories.

Best Photo Printers by Mark Sincevich

The Best You Can Get

  • Epson Stylus Photo R3800

    Mark says: The Epson Stylus Photo R3800 is simply the Best of the Best photo printer period. It can reproduce super tabloid size prints up to 17 x 22 borderless in Epson’s Ultrachrome K3 pigment based ink for archival quality prints. This means you can print a large museum-quality print and then frame it immediately in your own lab! The 3800 is network compatible and incorporates automatic print head alignment and cleaning. In addition, it uses a unique three-level black to improve the gray tones. If you want a larger printer, up to 24 inches wide, try the Epson Stylus Pro 7880.

    • K3 Ultrachrome Pigment Ink with 9 separate ink tanks (8 different ones)
    • Maximum resolution is 2880 x 1440 dpi and a maximum print size of Super Tabloid (17x22)
    • Picoliter droplet size of 3.5
    • Approximate print speed for an 8x10 image is 4 minutes, 8 seconds
  • Epson Stylus Photo R2400

    Mark says: The Epson Stylus 2400 comes from the same Best of the Best stock as its cousin, the R3800, but has a maximum size of 13 x 19 or Super B. It is ideally suited for professional black and white printing using the three level black as well as vibrant color output. The 2400 is network capable through a wireless external print server that can be added for an extra $300. It has seven different inks as the eighth is for matte black. You can be confident that prints from this machine will be of high enough quality to hang in a museum.

    • K3 Ultrachrome Pigment Ink with 8 separate ink tanks (7 different)
    • Maximum resolution is 5760 x 1440 dpi and a maximum print size of Super B (13x19)
    • Picoliter droplet size of 3.5
    • Approximate print speed for an 8x10 image is 1 minute, 12 seconds
  • Epson Stylus Photo R1900

    Mark says: The Epson Stylus Photo R1900 is the best pigment-based ink color printer without the unique tri-level black in the Best of the Best category. It features red and orange inks for improved vibrancy an unbelievable 18,446,774 trillion color combinations!! While not being network capable, it uses a unique photo gloss optimizer to protect the output and it also prints directly to CDs/DVDs. The printer actually has seven different ink tanks with the eighth one being used for the photo gloss optimizer. This is a great printer if you want a good combination of size, longevity, and vibrant color.

    • Ultra High Gloss 2 Pigment Ink with 8 separate ink tanks (7 different ones)
    • Maximum resolution is 5760 x 1440 dpi and a maximum print size of Super B (13x19)
    • Variable size picoliter droplet technology down 1.5 picoliters for the smallest droplet
    • Approximate print speed for an 8x10 image is 58 seconds
  • Canon Pixma Pro 9500

    Mark says: The Pixma Pro 9500 is designed to work optimally with Canon’s line of professional quality digital cameras. If you are a Canon fan and want the best printer Canon has to offer, then consider the Pixma Pro 9500. The printer actually has nine different ink tanks with the tenth one being used for matte black. It also uses gray ink for optimal black and white printing. If you would like the dye-based ink version of this printer, try the Pixma Pro 9000.

    • Lucia Pigment Ink with 10 separate ink tanks (9 different ones)
    • Maximum resolution is 4800 x 1200 dpi and a maximum print size of Super B (13x19)
    • Picoliter droplet size of 3.5
    • Approximate print speed for an 8x10 image is 2 minutes
  • HP Photosmart B9180

    Mark says: The Photosmart B9180 from Hewlett Packard is a good photo printer for the serious amateur photographer up to the professional. The B9180 uses HP’s third generation of gray ink for a higher degree of neutrality allowing for smooth transitions and shadow detail. It prints images rapidly and is network capable. While it has seven different ink tanks, the eighth one is for matte black. If you prefer the dye-based ink version of this printer, try the HP Photosmart B9180.

    • HP Vivera Pigment Ink with 8 separate ink tanks (7 different ones)
    • Maximum resolution is 4800 x 1200 dpi and a maximum print size of Super B (13x19)
    • Picoliter droplet size is not given by the manufacturer
    • Approximate print speed for an 8x10 image was not specified by the manufacturer

You will be happy with any of these

  • Epson Stylus R800

    Mark says: The Epson Stylus R800 is the Best of the Rest photo printer and the only printer in the Best of the Rest category that uses the superior pigment based inks. While not being network capable, it uses a unique photo gloss optimizer to protect the output and it also prints directly to CDs/DVDs. The printer actually has six different ink tanks with the remaining two being used for matte black and the photo optimizer. This is a great printer for output up to 8 1/2 x 11 inches and it uses the same inks as the Best of the Best printer, the Epson Stylus R3800!

    • Ultra High Gloss 2 Pigment Ink with 8 separate ink tanks (6 different ones)
    • Maximum resolution is 5760 x 1440 dpi and a maximum print size of Letter Size (8.5x11)
    • Picoliter droplet size of 1.5
    • Approximate print speed for an 8x10 image is 1 minute, 12 seconds
  • Epson Stylus Photo 1400

    Mark says: If you are looking for a Best of the Rest Printer that reproduces highly accurate color images that are scratch, water, and fade resistant, then the Epson Stylus Photo 1400 is for you. It is high speed, and while not network capable, it prints directly to CDs and DVDs. This is the only Super B size recommended in the Best of the Rest category.

    • Claria High Definition Dye Ink with 6 separate ink tanks
    • Maximum resolution is 5760 x 1440 dpi and a maximum print size of Super B Size (13x19)
    • Picoliter droplet size of 1.5
    • Approximate print speed for an 8x10 image is 1 minute, 11 seconds
  • Epson Stylus Photo R380

    Mark says: The Epson Stylus Photo R380 can bypass your personal computer. You simply insert one of your memory cards will receive your output. This printer is almost the letter size version of the Epson R1400. It also offers direct printing to CDs and DVDs.

    • Claria High Definition Dye Ink with 6 separate ink tanks
    • Maximum resolution is 5760 x 1440 dpi and a maximum print size of Super B Size (13x19)
    • Picoliter droplet size of 1.5
    • Approximate print speed for an 8x10 image is than 45 seconds
  • Canon Pixma Pro iP-4500

    Mark says: The Canon Pixma Pro iP-4500 combines extremely fast printing, the ability to print to photos or text and some of the smallest ink droplet sizes on the market. It has four different ink tanks with the fifth one being used for matte black. The iP-4500 also supports two-sided printing.

    • Chromolife 100 Dye Ink with 5 separate ink tanks (4 different ones)
    • Maximum resolution is 9600 x 2400 dpi and a maximum print size of Letter Size (8.5x11)
    • Picoliter droplet size is 1.0
    • Approximate print speed for an 8x10 image is than 51 seconds
  • HP Photosmart D7460

    Mark says: The Hewlett Packard Photosmart D7460 features a unique 3.5-inch touch screen display that makes viewing, editing, and printing of your images quite simple. You can also bypass a personal computer. The D7460 accepts the three main types of memory cards, CFII (compact flash), SD (secure digital), and XD (extreme digital). It also prints text very quickly and has a built-in wireless Ethernet connection.

    • HP Vivera Dye Inks with 6 separate ink tanks
    • Maximum resolution is 4800 x 1200 dpi and a maximum print size of Letter Size (8.5x11)
    • Picoliter droplet size is not specified by the manufacturer
    • Approximate print speed for an 8x10 image was less than 35 seconds

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