Gadget Bag: Make Your Best Fall Prints

You can create rich, vivid prints of fall color when you have the right printer for the job
This Article Features Photo Zoom

The shadows have grown longer, the air is cooler, and there’s crispness in the air. Yes, warm summer days have made way for fall, and with fall comes the event so many landscape photographers look forward to every year. The spectacular color change of the season in many parts of North America is always a highly anticipated time, as outdoor photographers, from hobbyists to professionals, head to the hills, lakes, forests and streams to capture the brilliant color as Mother Earth dons her overcoat of reds, yellows, greens and gold.


Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II

Armed with the technology that affords today’s shooters with every advantage to capture that color in vibrant hues and tones, the outcome is sure to be spectacular images. Yet, nothing compares to seeing these fall scenes, in all their colorful glory, as a print, carefully crafted by the artist/photographer. While there are several reputable and reliable online printing services, there’s a great deal of satisfaction and control that comes from printing your own masterpieces right at your desktop.

Desktop photo printer technology has made significant strides in quality color reproduction. Capable of producing large, archival prints, these printers can accurately reproduce the brilliance and broad range of color in the autumn landscape. A number of desktop printers meet the demands of professional and enthusiast photographers alike. Let’s have a look at some of today’s top-end photo printers that are sure to turn the color output from your fall images into stunning prints.


Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mark II

Canon has long been a leader in digital imaging, and its current line of pro photo printers continues the tradition. The Pixma Pro series includes the Pixma Pro9000 Mark II and the Pixma Pro9500 Mark II. These printers both feature the capability to handle up to 19-inch paper and Canon’s unique FINE (Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering) printer-head technology, which ensures superior ink coverage, resulting in sharp, dense color prints. Both printers output sharp, realistic color prints with beautiful red, yellows, oranges and greens, perfect for those landscapes that capture the warm, bright colors of your autumn images.

The Pixma Pro9000 Mark II features 6,144 nozzles on the print head that distributes its dye-based colors from eight individual cartridges, resulting in breathtaking color prints that will render fall landscapes with dramatic detail. Print time for a borderless 8x10 is quick—just under one minute. Estimated Street Price: $499.


Epson Stylus Pro 4880

With 10 individual pigment-based ink tanks, the Pixma Pro9500 Mark II adds gray, matte and black inks that can produce dramatic black-and-white prints. For displaying high-resolution prints, whether they’re black-and-white or color, the Pro9500 Mark II features a print head with 7,800 nozzles. Print time for this high-res output is about four minutes for a borderless 8x10. Estimated Street Price: $849.

A favorite among many photographers, both pro and high-end enthusiast, is the Epson line of desktop image printers. While there are many models of printers from which to choose, outdoor shooters are most likely to be interested in three models—the Stylus Photo R2880, the Stylus Pro 3880 and the Stylus Pro 4880. Well known for its prowess in producing spectacular black-and-white prints, Epson’s Stylus xx80 series of printers also are known to produce consistent, accurate color prints with no color crossover or colorcast.


This Article Features Photo Zoom

Epson Stylus Pro 2880

The Epson Stylus R2880 model is a moderately priced printer that’s capable of brilliant reproduction in print sizes up to 13x19 inches. The nine individual UltraChrome K3 ink cartridges (with Vivid Magenta) are laid down with 1,440 nozzles. Print speed for a high-quality 8x10 print is a fast one minute and 36 seconds. The color quality, especially in the warm tones, is impressive, thanks in part to the light color inks that the R2880 utilizes. You’re sure to appreciate this as you print those multihued autumn landscapes. And your prints will be around for many years for people to admire. Epson states that, with its archival papers, fading won’t occur for over 100 years. While not designated in Epson’s Pro series, the results are excellent with this printer. Estimated Street Price: $599.


Epson Stylus Pro 3880

With the Stylus Pro 3880, Epson advances its printer-head technology. Its MicroPiezo® AMC™ print head produces print resolutions up to 2880x1140 dpi with incredible color quality and detail, even at high speeds. An eight-ink cartridge printer, with a maximum paper width of 17 inches, the Stylus Pro 3880 also can produce stunning black-and-whites with software-driven, user-selectable black inks (versus manually changing cartridges as you do with the R2880). As does the R2880 model, the Stylus Pro 3880 employs Epson’s UltraChrome ink with Vivid Magenta technology to produce its seemingly unending array of color. In addition to USB 2.0, the 3880 also features a built-in 10/100 Base-T Ethernet port for easy networking. Estimated Street Price: $1,495.

The Stylus Pro 4880 kicks things up a notch. In addition to the specifications of the 3880, the 4880 adds border-free roll printing and a 2.5-inch LCD control panel for printer control and monitoring. Ink cartridges can be replaced in the midst of a print job, so you never have to slow down the workflow. Like its 3880 sibling, the printer uses a unique driver technology that allows the user to maximize the three levels of black to print truly stunning black-and-white and grayscale prints. For Mac users, Epson includes 16-bit print drivers to take full advantage of the 16-bit data files, which can produce more accurate color prints, a real bonus for printing vivid, striking fall colors. Estimated Street Price: $1,995.


HP Designjet 111

Hewlett-Packard has a legacy of producing superior printers for all types of uses and at various levels. The HP Designjet desktop image printers are no exception. Do you want to make large, poster-sized prints of your “turning leaves reflected on the water’s surface” images? Then the large-format HP Designjet series deserve your consideration.

The HP Designjet 111 can produce prints up to 24 inches wide, and using the manual feeder, you can load sheets up to 64 inches long. You also can use a roll feeder to print 24 inches wide by the length of the roll paper (a built-in auto cutter automatically trims the paper when the print is done). The printer features a four-ink system that seems like it would hamper print quality compared to some other modern printers, but the image quality is actually quite good. HP claims print life of 80-plus years given proper display parameters. Estimated Street Price: $895.


HP Designjet 130

The HP Designjet 130 features a six-pigment ink system to produce prints that yield good details in shadows and excellent color. A unique feature of the Designjet 130 is the built-in color-calibration feature. Using the provided HP driver software, the printer prints a test pattern, sucks it back into the printer and scans it. When calibration is completed, it prints a check mark on the page to indicate successful calibration. Like the Designjet 111, the Designjet 130 can print up to 24 inches wide, and it can print on sheets up to 64 inches or you can make prints on roll paper that are limited only by the length of the roll. Estimated Street Price: $2,315.

Resources
Canon
www.usa.canon.com

Epson
www.epson.com

HP
www.hp.com

Budd Riker is a nature and underwater photography with over 30 years of experience. To see more of his work, visit www.buddriker.com. Follow Riker on Twitter at www.twitter.com/buddslight.

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