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Monday, November 16, 2009

Next-Gen Photo Printers

Despite the proliferation of photo-sharing sites online, the print remains the ultimate expression of a photograph. New printer technology and models will have your prints looking better than ever.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Hewlett-Packard inkjet photo-printing systems combine durable, innovative hardware with advanced HP Vivera pigment ink technology and superlative papers and media. The Photosmart Pro B9180 photo printer leverages HP’s third-generation gray ink to maximize monochrome and black-and-white output. Eight individual high-capacity ink cartridges enable high-volume printing that’s quite speedy—4x6-inch photos in as little as 10 seconds and 13x19-inch prints as fast as 1.5 minutes. The Pro B9180 accepts a variety of media, including canvas, photo rag, watercolor, stiff pre-matte and film up to 13x19 inches. HP includes an Adobe Photoshop plug-in to facilitate output and offers an upgrade to professional color management with its optional HP raster image
processor (RIP).

Similar to the B9180, the HP Photosmart Pro B8850 inkjet printer produces outstanding photo-quality prints up to 13x19 inches and also shows off its versatility by delivering sharp text equal to a high-end laser printer. It will produce a 13x19-inch print in less than 90 seconds and can print mixed-color text and graphics as fast as 26 ppm. The Pro B8850 features a built-in color-calibration system for reliable and predictable results using HP’s legendary Vivera inks. It offers support for Adobe RGB, sRGB and ICC profiles, plus full compatibility with Adobe Photoshop. A monitoring system alerts you when one of the individually replaceable ink cartridges is running low, and a built-in self-cleaning system reduces waste and keeps things tidy.

dpi vs. ppi

A note about dpi and ppi: You might see these terms used interchangeably, and when we’re talking about image resolution, we do tend to get careless with them. A printer’s “dpi” rating is frequently over 4000 these days. That means that the printer is capable of laying down more than 4000 distinct dots in a square inch. Each dot is a single color corresponding to the individual colors in the printer’s ink tanks. By laying down those dots of ink in a specific pattern, the printer generates millions of individual colors.

When you set your image file to print, you choose a resolution. In Photoshop, the dialog box asks you for a dpi setting (we usually recommend 300). This is where it can become confusing. If you have a 4800 dpi printer, don’t set the Photoshop dialog box to 4800. The Photoshop dialog box should really say “ppi,” meaning “pixels per inch.” Photo printers are optimized for 300 ppi, and they use their 4800 dpi to lay down the right colors to create a continuous-tone image. Each pixel in your image file is a single distinct color. By having millions of possible colors (thanks to the printer’s 4000+ dpi capability), the printer can generate the exact color for each pixel, and you get a beautiful print without the annoying pixilation that was common in the early days of photo printers.

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