As the price of D SLR's, high-end digicams and film scanners has declined
substantially, an increasing number of photo enthusiasts are able to make high
resolution images. At some point, most will recognize that their current printers
are due for replacement. Frankly, many existing machines cannot provide the
optimal quality -- or the large output sizes -- that high resolution image files
can support. Consequently, we're seeing a trend to superior photo printers
in letter size and especially in larger formats.
With more photographers doing more of their own printing the issue of print
permanence was certainly a hot topic, encouraged especially by Hewlett-Packard
who, at the recent PMA show, featured Henry Wilhelm as a speaker. President
of Wilhelm Imaging Resource, an independent stability testing lab, Wilhelm is
certainly an expert in all issues relating to archival issues. He recently made
news with the announcement of a new standard for print life, the WIR Display
Permanence Rating. Many existing photo printers and papers should qualify for
this Certification program, which requires a minimum on-display life of 25 years.
Do note, however, that some manufacturers may prefer to wait for standards to
be published by the international ISO or the American ANSI organization. This
could be a long wait, according to some insiders.
New Printers We've Seen
Employing the UltraChrome Hi Gloss pigmented inkset originally designed for
the (letter size) R800, the new Epson Stylus Photo R1800 uses the Gloss Optimizer
coating to produce beautiful 13x19" (or longer) prints on glossy papers.
Another fast machine, this one can also make an 11"x14" color image
in less than two minutes thanks to Advanced Micro Piezo ink jet technology with
180 nozzles per ink. The Stylus Photo R1800 offers resolution up to 5760 x 1440
optimized dpi and it can print on sheet and roll paper or onto inkjet printable
CDs and DVDs. (Street price $549.)