Designed for professionals, enthusiasts, schools, and clubs, the OpticFilm 120 scanner from Plustek ($1999) can handle negative and positive film, including 35mm filmstrips, individual 35mm slides, and medium format film up to 6x12cm format. The scanner contains an eight-element glass lens and can deliver up to 10,600dpi optical resolution, with a claimed 4.01 dynamic range using the supplied SilverFast software’s Multi-Exposure function. The tabletop scanner is about the size of a six-slice restaurant toaster (about 8x14.5x7.5”) and is supplied with a complete set of very well-constructed film holders, an IT8 calibration target, and a full version (not a trial) of SilverFast Ai Studio 8 software.
Canon’s 13x19”-sized printers, the PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II and PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II, have had a longer life than most, but have been replaced with two new models that are similar to the PIXMA PRO-1, introduced over a year ago. New features on both the pigment-ink PRO-10 and dye-ink PRO-100 include Wi-Fi and AirPrint compatibility, a new plug-in to make printing easier, and a refined inkset.
There are those who make prints often, and there are those who make prints occasionally. The split, you might think, is between amateur and pro, but that’s not always the case. Some “amateurs” print as much if not more than some pros, and some pros make their own prints only when they have time, usually for their personal portfolio, but certainly not on every job. That’s why pigeonholing the Epson R3000 in terms of intended audience, amateur or pro, is not so easy. It certainly delivers the quality you might expect from a higher-end Epson model, given its attributes, ink set, fine nozzles, and highly evolved print head, etc., but it’s by no means a volume/production printer, given its single sheet feed for “art” paper, albeit with larger capacity ink carts than some past 13x19” printers, and roll feed capability.
There are two general types of inkjet printers available—dye ink and pigment ink. While pigments have the reputation of delivering longer print life, dye inks have the advantage of producing more vibrant colors. The longevity differences are not as much of an issue as they once were, however, with dyes making strides in that direction; in fact, in the case of the Artisan 1430, Epson is claiming up to 200 years in storage, and 98 years on display, and that certainly rivals pigment durability.
The new Canon PIXMA PRO-1 is a 13x19” pigment-ink printer that makes fine quality prints in a price range that could be considered quite fair for what you get ($999). Aimed at avid photographers and enthusiast printmakers, as well as pros choosing to do their own mid-size prints, the PIXMA PRO-1 fills a void left by HP’s abandonment of the category and directly challenges Epson. The printer offers ease of use, solid performance, 12 ink cartridges, and all in all seems to improve upon 13” printers of the past. Our tests were aimed at determining if the PIXMA PRO-1 could be a solid contender in its class and if there were upgrades or new workflow techniques that would differentiate it from the competition.
Pigment inks, CD disc printing, and moderate cost have kept me a loyal user of Epson Stylus Photo printers. I attribute this to the different set of ink colors compared to what’s found in Epson’s professional pigment-ink printers. With the R1900, and now the new R2000, besides the standard cyan, magenta, and yellow, there is red, blue, and orange ink in the set. I find this is favorable to reproducing all my favorite photography subjects, including people, flowers, and landscapes. But, you might ask, without support for black-and-white grayscale printing, how do I get by? Well, I actually use my R1900 to print black-and-white images and a good part of my testing with the R2000 involved printing black-and-white photographs as well.
I took on this review assignment because I’ve had considerable history with printing, both silver and digital, and printing with Epson printers. Over the past few years this interest has led me on an odyssey through various printers, profiling, and a considerable amount of (early) frustration. My emphasis has been on monochrome printing and those who share in this interest and who have attempted black-and-white printing in the past understand the numerous obstacles it can present. Those include, but are not limited to, unwanted color casts, gloss differential in deep black areas and some tonal borders, poor deep black reproduction (accompanied by equally poor highlight repro), a lot of poor paper surfaces, and the hassle and waste of switching from matte black to photo glossy inks. Color printers face these as well, plus the challenges of color balance, casts, skin tone reproduction, highlight bias, green shadows, and more. Of late I have printed with the Epson Stylus Pro 3800, 3880, and 4800 models, the 3800 being my studio workhorse for years and the 3880 the model that many photo schools and workshops at which I’ve taught use as a mainstay student and production printer.
A new CanoScan flat-bed photo scanner, the 9000F, has an exceptionally high 9600x9600 optical resolution. It’s priced right, with a list of $249, but how well does it work and what quality of scans does it reproduce from 35mm film?
One of the most popular and beloved inventions of the 20th century was the Polaroid camera. Press the shutter, wait a few seconds or a minute, and voila! an instant black-and-white or color photograph miraculously appears.
Canon’s latest entrants in the 24” segment are the iPF6350/iPF6300 imagePROGRAF printers, essentially the same except for the addition of an 80GB hard drive on the iPF6350 that can store information on jobs and images themselves.
Among digital photographers who are looking for quality prints with a good archival life, odds are that you’ll hear the Epson name mentioned, including the 13” R2880 and 17” and larger Stylus Pro printers. The Epson line is known for excellent quality output on a variety of media types, as well as a long archival life through their pigment inks. Recently, Epson added two new...