Why Should I Use A Pro Photography Lab
Printing images is the last step in our creative process as photographers. We shoot a session, paying attention to details like light and framing. Then we painstakingly edit our images, pain being the operative word sometimes. After all that, shouldnt you use a professional photo lab that adheres to the same standards of quality and consistency that you do?
Professional photo labs deliver a more professional product than most home printers or box stores. You will find the work of a professional photo lab:
- More consistent with your digital images. Colors, tones, brightness and sharpness are more true to your digital image.
- More consistency from print to print and session to session. Your work will always look like your work!
- Delivering quality, lasting products. Professional labs use the best paper, ink and process available. These are prints designed to archival specifications.
Professional print labs have a standard they strive to meet with each and every print. Different printers in the lab are calibrated to the same standard. This ensures consistency and accuracy from your first print to your last in each order and from your first order to the 32nd order.
Drugstores, Box Store Printers and Online Discount Printers
The same often goes for online discount printers. These printers operate under a volume model and often use software that overrides the choices you so lovingly made for your images. I find these sites to generally have poor contrast, color, and clarity.
Enhance Your Photo Print Output With The Canon Ip8720
Not many printers are capable of making truly edge-to-edge borderless prints, so if thats something you need, a printer like the Canon IP8720 can be worth its weight in gold. This printer can make borderless prints up to 13 x 19 inches in size . It uses a six ink cartridge system with a printhead capable of droplets as small as one picoliter.
In addition to Wi-Fi and AirPrint, the IP7820 has some other handy features, like the ability to print directly on optical discs and Canons unique Full HD Movie Print, which can make prints from video clips captured with select Canon SLR and point-and-shoot cameras.
Why You Should Trust Us
Erin Lodi is a photojournalist, a writer, and a professional photographer with a wide range of experience in researching, testing, and writing about photography trends, techniques, and toolsincluding in her role as mobile-imaging editor at DPReview. Erin and fellow reviewer Amadou Diallo have spent many, many hours researching and testing dedicated photo printers since the first iteration of this review in 2013. In addition to drawing on the knowledge of the experts we spoke to for previous versions of this guide, Erin showed our most recent test prints to Taylor McAtee, printing expert and owner of Stretch and Staple, a print shop in Seattle, to get his take on the overall quality of each print.
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So Which Photo Printer Should You Buy
Whether you’re a casual photographer or a pro, one of the photo printers below is sure to fit your needs. Whichever you choose, you’re guaranteed to hold evidence of that great moment in your hand almost as soon as you capture it with a click. We’ve included our favorite near-dedicated photo printers and snapshot models, as well as a few inkjet all-in-ones across the price spectrum that do an especially good job with printing photos but can also service general printing needs in a home or small office.
For a wider view of printers, check out our guide to our favorite printers overall. And for photo hounds getting started in the photo-printing world, see our guide to fixing bad photos and our collection of advanced photo tips.
What To Keep In Mind When Buying A Photo Printer
Resolution. When you have already decided to buy a photo printer, do not just settle in for a low-resolution cheap one. A low-resolution photo printer will print inferior quality photographic prints so buying such a printer would be a waste of money. Instead, make an informed choice and buy a printer which provides a better resolution of at least 4,800 x 1,200 dpi. If your pockets allow, go for even more than that but dont settle for less.
Ink Quality. When you buy a photo printer, think about the big picture. Obviously, the ink is going to finish one day and would need a refill. So, a discussion about the refill requirement and the type is indispensable.
There are two types of sources for making inks for a color printer:
- Coloring agent based inks
- Pigment based inks
are a cheaper option if you can afford to compromise with the quality. By compromising on the quality, we mean that the coloring agent based ink is less resistant to light exposure whereas the pigment based inks are resistant to light exposure and produce the best results.
A coloring agent based ink has a few advantages but if you are looking for professional quality photos, you cannot rely on it as it doesnt support intensive colors and the colors vanish when exposed to light. The advantage is that if you use it for paper printing, it works like a laser printing, giving thin prints.
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Best Overall Photo Printer
Cost per printMaximum Resolution
The Epson SureColor P700 is a professional quality printer whose color prints are in a class of their own. In complement to the color output and demonstrating its remarkable range the P700’s grayscale renderings are superb as well. On the technical side of the equation, the set-up of this unit is relatively straightforward though it does require downloading software and following a multi-stepped process. Finally, at just $0.37 per 4″ x 6″ color photo, this model has a cost per print that is competitive with commercial printing labs. That’s quite a selling point if you ask us.
Given all the praises we’ve showered this marvel of modern home printing with, you may be wondering, what’s the catch? It’s the cost. The P700 is expensive and is made more so because the inks that come with the machine are “starter” cartridges that will quickly be exhausted. The unit is also physically large and will eat up a lot of desk or countertop space. Those are our only critiques for this machine it is truly a pleasure to use.
Read Full Review:Epson SureColor P700
Take Your Photo Print Needs On The Go With The Fujifilm Instax Sp
If the name Instax sounds familiar to you, its because its the brand name of popular instant film cameras that are the modern equivalent of old Polaroid and Kodak cameras. The Instax SP-3 is a printer that creates 2.4-inch-square prints from photos stored within your smartphone or other mobile device. Its also portable. You can take this rechargeable battery powered printerwhich weighs just 11 ouncesjust about anywhere.
This is not an inkjet printer. The Instax creates real photo prints using proprietary instant film. As digital images are sent from your mobile device via Wi-Fi, in about 13 seconds, the printer generates a print with a Polaroid-like border for a retro look. This is great for casual photo sharing and quickly displaying prints that would otherwise be trapped within your smartphone.
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The 3 Best Photo Printers For Professional Printing Up To 17 Inches Wide
Although all the printers that have made it to the final can print up to 17 inches wide, the output from the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 and Epson SC-P900 are slightly better than Epson SC-P5000 due to their advanced technology and ink systems. Also, the photo print speed is slightly faster. The Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 and Epson SC-P5000 have dedicated nozzles for matte and photo black ink tanks which makes switching automatic. The newly released model from Epson in October last year, the SC-P900 also now features this facility. Another feature to note with Epson devices that have been listed here is the roll feeder that lets the user print panoramas on rolls of paper.
Let’s look at the three main contenders in detail.
Color Vs Black & White
Next, youll want to know whether youll develop both color and black & white, or one or the other. Most devices are configured for color from the get-go. But, not every color printer can handle black & white or monochromatic images well. Many have flaws in developing images, leaving a colored tint across various shades of the greyscale. So if you particularly enjoy monochrome prints, youll want to investigate the printers black & white image quality separately.
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The Epson Surecolor P5000
The Epson SureColor P5000 is a printer aimed at professional imaging and comes as a wide format device that can print up to 17 wide with enhanced performance and reliability. The advanced PrecisionCore TFP printhead and Epsons precision dot screening technologies along with the 10 color gamut UltraChrome HDX pigment ink cartridges and high-density blacks delivers twice the print permeance compared with previous generation models, which means prints last twice as long.
The SureColor-P5000 also comes with a roll media feeder along with a paper cassette which means you are not limited to just the 17 x 22 inches wide prints but can print panoramas as well. Automatic switching is possible between front paper cassette and roll media feeder.
Black and white photos are done with three levels of black inks, photo black, light black and light light black, to create smooth tonal transitions and to bring out the subtlest details in the image. The switch between matte black and photo black is automatic which means you do not waste ink and time while switching media.
The printhead is designed to achieve high ink efficiency and printhead reliability, offers improved dust and static control and comes with ink-repellent surface coating for reduced nozzle maintenance. Matte black and photo black inks are delivered through a single channel which means the ink type is chosen automatically based on the chosen media.
The important features of SureColor-P5000 are:
How Do I Order Test Prints From A Professional Photo Lab
Ordering test prints, or color evaluation prints, is always a good idea before placing large orders with a new lab. Most professional photo labs will allow you to place an order for test prints. These prints are usually 8x10s. They come marked as Sample or For Evaluation Only, so dont think you can sneak in a client order as a test print!
Completing test prints allows you to see and hold an actual print sample in your hand. It also ensures that your color and the labs color match. Most labs recommend that you follow a monitor calibration process before ordering test prints.
Explore your pro photography labs website for details on ordering or contact their customer service department.
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What Is The Best Printer For Photographers
In this digital age, many photographers no longer need to print physical copies of their photos to give to clients. Instead, they submit digital copies of their work, usually by saving them in digital storage devices and physically handing them off to the client, or by sending them online through email or file sharing services. Nonetheless, there are some photography niches where most clients still expect physical printssuch as wedding photography or portraiture.
Many different types of photography require you to produce high-quality prints for your clients, and having a good photo printer at your disposal is essential to the continued success of your photography business.
There are many different types of printersportable, prosumer, or professionalthat are made specifically for each photographers unique requirements. Therefore, weve rounded up the top photo printers on the market with outstanding features designed to meet your personal and professional printing needs.
About The Canon Imageprograf Pro
The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 scores high on many of our selection criteria, including high scores on Unit Size, Available Interfaces and Max Resolution and Number of Inks. What sets the impagePROGRAF PRO-300 apart from competitors is its use of pigment ink in lieu of dye-ink, and in the number of ink cartridges it contains. However, one downside of this printer is thats its at the smallest range of wide-format printers on this list.
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How We Selected The Best Photo Printer Available Right Now
Who Are We Anyway?
If you’re new to Light Stalking, you might like to know a little about us first. The Light Stalking Team has been featured by leading organizations including Nat Geo, Adobe, and is one among the top 10 most followed photography blogs in the world. The writers at Light Stalking have years of experience in the field of photography and this has given them the opportunity to test and use many different photography tools and accessories. This experience allows us to understand your needs and evaluate the highest quality products in the market.
Moreover, being connected with the industry ensures that we keep ourselves up-to-date on the latest technologies available for the consumer and that we are continuously researching new product categories, reading user reviews, and trialing those products, which ensures that we can provide the right suggestions when you are looking for one.
Why You Want to Avoid Inferior Quality Printers as a Photographer
You may have spent hours scouting for locations and then more hours hiking to those spots with all your heavy camera gear, including your cumbersome tripod, further you were probably shooting in bad weather all in the name of capturing that epic image. Maybe youve even completed a portrait session , making sure that your photo represents the spirit of the person, friends or family.
What is the reason for these unexpected issues?
How This Analysis Was Conducted:
Epson Surecolor P800 Inkjet Printer
Able to produce exhibition-quality prints up to 17 x 22 inches or borderless prints up to 17 inches wide, this advanced printer delivers an impressive maximum resolution of 2880 x 1440 dpi and uses a set of 9 UltraChrome HD ink cartridges to yield prints of exceptional color fidelity, as well as excellent black-and-whites. An optional roll holder allows the use of paper rolls up to 17 inches wide, a built-in auto-switching system automatically selects either matte or photo black ink for greater ink-use efficiency, and it provides an Advanced Black & White Mode for superior monochrome printing. The P800 can turn out an 8 x 10 print in less than two minutes, employs an Epson MicroPiezo AMC Print Head that delivers droplets as small as 3.5 picoliters, and offers USB 2.0, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi connectivity for maximum flexibility.
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What You Pay For And Then Some
You may feel that $700 is a lot to pay for a well-made but still hobby-grade printer, but the low running costs more than balance it out. We wish the ET-8550 had an ADF for passing multipage documents to the scanner if you regularly scan multipage documents, you’ll probably want to spring for an inexpensive document scanner. Otherwise, there’s very little to complain about here. The Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550 makes beautiful prints, doesn’t keep you waiting for them, and saves you a bundle on consumables. That makes it our latest Editors Choice among consumer-grade wide-format photo printers that also scan and copy.
What To Consider When Shopping For A Photo Printer
To find the ideal photo printer thatll meet your needs, do not just focus on the brand name of the printer and its purchase price. A printers price can be deceiving. You also need to consider the ongoing cost of ink and supplies to keep that printer functional over time. So while a printer may seem inexpensive upfront, the ink costs could get really expensive over time, especially if the printer relies on traditional ink cartridges.
Many of the latest photo printers have done away with replaceable ink cartridges altogether, and now use ink tanks. These tanks can typically hold as much ink as 30 or so ink cartridges, so you’ll be able to generate thousands of photo prints before you need to replenish the ink.
Speaking of ink, make sure the printer you choose supports ink designed for photo prints. You want that ink to be fade and smudge resistant, yet display vivid and sharp colors. At the same time, regardless of which photo printer you choose, the type and grade of photo paper you use with the printer will go a long way toward determining the print quality you wind up with. For the best results, use five-star rated photo paper with the finish that you desire.
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Shooting Techniques For A Fine Finished Product
All of this is good, but what if your digital files have problems from the beginning? What if its out of focus, or way underexposed? If you have those problems or others, it will be hard to make a quality print.
There are several things you can do while shooting to make sure you have the best digital file for print.
Do You Print In Black And White
When shopping in most categories of printer, you need to consider whether you really need color printing. Photo printers turn the question on its head, making you consider whether you need black-and-white printing of images, which many printers can’t handle particularly well.
The most common flaw in black-and-white image printing is a color tint, or multiple tints, that show up in different shades of gray. If you intend to print lots of black-and-white photos, you’ll need to check out black-and-white photo quality separately from the printer’s color photo quality. This is more often a problem for dedicated, rather than near-dedicated, photo printers, but you need to consider it in either case.
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