Canon & Epson
Over the years, two companies have taken the reins of the home printer industry and have created printers that meet the size specifications of 17-inch large format: Canon and Epson.
Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5100
The Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5100 uses the L-COA processor, but with a more highly accurate PF-03 Dual Print Head System with twin nozzle heads for additional speed. The iPF5100 combines the RGB and CMY color gamuts, using a 12-color LUCIA pigment ink system with RGBCM colors in addition to black, matte black, gray and photo gray. This wide range of black dilutions is used particularly well in Monochrome Mode to make black-and-white images stand out. A print plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and Digital Photo Professional allows you to print 16-bit RGB RAW files directly from your software without going through the printer driver and includes a full-screen preview; additional options including quality selections and paper type. The printer also includes built-in calibration with sensors to measure ink density and variation, and can return to factory settings, when needed. The iPF5100 provides a front-load cassette for precut pages, a rear manual feed, a front straight path manual feed for thick paper up to 1.5mm and a roller feed for long lengths, which includes a built-in media cutter. Estimated Street Price: $1,579. www.usa.canon.com
Epson Stylus Pro 3880
The Epson Stylus Pro 3880 uses Epson UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta Ink Technology. This pigment ink technology yields a wide color gamut and prints will have the longevity that was common with black-and-white silver-halide prints. The printer automatically changes between photo black and matte black, as needed, when printing black-and-white images. The 8-color inkset has three-level black technology to create rich, deep blacks and the kind of snap silver-halide images were famous for. An Advanced Black and White Photo Mode can be selected in the printer driver. This mode gives you gray profiles, and lets you personalize color toning, density and other adjustments. The Stylus Pro 3880 prints at 2880x1440 dpi resolution with smooth color transitions. The Stylus Pro 3880 prints on cut sheets up to 17x22 with two top-load options (one for thicker fine-art paper) and one front-load for paper 16 inches wide and thicknesses up to 1.5mm. Estimated Street Price: $1,129. www.epson.com
Epson Stylus Pro 4900
The Epson Stylus Pro 4900 utilizes Epson's UltraChrome HDR inkset, MicroPiezo TFP print head and AccuPhoto HDR screening technology. The system also uses three levels of blacks (black, light black and light light black) to create smooth monochromatic tones. The 10-channel MicroPiezo TFP print head combines with AccuPhoto HDR screening technology to generate 2880x1440 dpi resolution with increased color balance and reduced grain. The MicroPiezo TFP print head uses electric impulses to lay down the ink for maximum accuracy. The droplets are perfectly spherical for top-quality reproduction and sharpness. The Stylus Pro 4900 provides a front tray, front top manual feed for 17-inch-wide papers and a front manual feed for papers with a 1.5mm thickness. The printer also has a roller feed with automatic tagging for tracking remaining paper on the roll, as well as a built-in rotary cutter. The Stylus Pro 4900 incorporates the Epson Advanced Black and White Mode to create prints with photographic tonal transitions. Estimated Street Price: $1,895.