Digital Printers And Papers
Creative Tools For The Digital Darkroom

Tired of wimpy 13x19" prints? Find that 16x20" output is nice but just doesn't have the impact of say, 18x24"? HP's Designjet 130 printer produces larger sizes (up to 24") without unloading the standard tray, and the rear path accommodates thick media, too. Using dye-based inks, the Designjet 130 produces 2400dpi output with a wide gamut of vivid colors, continuous tones, and smooth color transitions at up to 11 pages per minute (ppm) for letter size in Fast mode and 90 seconds per page for 2x3 ft drawing in Fast mode.

With USB 2.0 connectivity and a price tag under $1000, I can't wait to try printing posters that are as big as "real" posters. If you have slightly smaller ambitions, size-wise, its little brother, the Designjet 30, has a six-ink system, 2400dpi maximum resolution, and a four-picoliter ink droplet size for less bread. Both awesome printers support Mac OS or Windows computers but prices were not yet set at show time.

Kodak Thermal Dye Transfer
One printer I instantly fell in love with was Kodak's thermal dye transfer (don't call it dye sub) Photo Printer 6800 that delivers a high-quality 5x7" photo in just 20 seconds and as many as 375 5x7" prints before an operator has to wake up. The printer supports Microsoft 2000 and XP operating systems, only because that's the only computers that the "yellow box" company thinks you guys use. (Please let them know if you disagree.) It connects to your computer via a USB 2.0 or 1.1 interface, and comes with a power cable, dust covers, ribbon carrier, print drivers, user documentation, and calibration utility for less than $3000.

Epson R200
Epson America, Inc.'s latest printer, the Stylus Photo R200, has an estimated street price of $99, uses six individual ink cartridges, and not only prints on paper but offers direct CD/DVD printing. It achieves resolutions up to 5760x1440 optimized dpi with three-picoliter ink droplets and photo output as fast as 37 seconds for a 4x6" photo and 78 seconds for an 8x10". The Stylus Photo R200 can print photos on Epson's Borderless 4x6", 5x7", 8x10", and letter-size photo papers with no borders to trim and no perforations to tear.

The Epson PictureMate looks a lot like a boombox; at least they used to look like that until they got big. By just inserting a memory card, it happily churns out 4x6" prints all day long without a computer. PictureMate supports Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, CompactFlash (Types I and II), Microdrive, and even the mostly useless xD card. It supports direct printing from PictBridge-equipped cameras. Resolution of the output is 5760x1440dpi and uses $29 Print Packs that contain ink and paper for 100 prints. The printer is expected to sell for less than $200 when it ships this summer.

Laser Printers, Too
Say what you want about color laser printers but they are fast and will print on anything, including Glad Wrap--maybe they'll do that, too. Konica Minolta's magicolor 2300W is small (just 14" wide) and delivers 1200x600dpi resolution as fast as a Ferrari Enzo can spin its wheels.

The four (count 'em) toner cartridges are pre-installed--that's good, because I'm probably not smart enough to do it--and can print up to 16 pages per minute in black and white and four pages per minute in color. It has USB and one of those quaint little parallel interfaces, but it lets you output on envelopes, transparencies, labels, card stock, and even plain paper. If I have the choice between waiting for an ink jet printer to make contact sheets from Photoshop CS or the magicolor 2300W, I'll pick the Konica Minolta because I've got better things to do with my time.

Hi-Touch Line-Up
Hi-Touch builds a family of dye sublimation printers that clearly march to the beat of a different drummer. The HiTi 730PL delivers 6x8" borderless prints at 300dpi in approximately 70 seconds; a 5x7" in 60 seconds; and a 4x6" in 40 seconds. The machine uses variable media that can be interchanged.

Their 730PS delivers 4x6", 5x7", and 6x8" borderless prints and is equippe0d with a color LCD handheld controller and memory card slots that accept CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MultiMedia Card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, and Microdrive. The Photo Printer 640GALA is a special edition of the 640PS and is designed to create images with a customized template without a computer connection.

Lyson's New Papers
Lyson Inc.'s new line of ink jet paper has the look and feel of traditional photographic prints. Their Darkroom Archival Gloss is a semigloss paper that resembles fiber-based papers, like Kodak's Kodabromide, and has a coating that encapsulates dyes to give a long display life, tested at 50 years indoors without appreciable fade when used with Lyson's Fotonic dye-based inks. Lyson's Darkroom Archival Textured Matte is a semimatte paper with a slightly textured finish and sheen that mimics traditional fiber-based matte photographic papers. Darkroom Archival Textured Matte uses Lyson's proprietary coating and is designed for both pigment-based and dye-based inks.

Kodak Ultima
Kodak's Ultima Picture Paper uses their ColorLast technology that the company claims should last 100 years in typical home display conditions, whether unprotected on a table, in a frame under glass, or parked away in a family album. Kodak's Ultima Picture Paper is available in both high gloss and satin finish in 4x6", 5x7", and letter sizes.

Luminos/Hahnemühle Alliance
Luminos has formed an alliance with Hahnemühle and I expect lots of interesting products to result. In the meantime there are new Preservation Series Enhanced fine art media that is optimized for pigmented inks including Gallery Gloss, Soft Suede, Classic Velour, Flaxen Weave, Museum Parchment, Radiant White, Woven Fibre, and Master's Canvas.

Strathmore Options
Strathmore Artist Paper, a division of International Paper, added three new papers to their existing Satin Board, Matte, Ultra Gloss, Texture, and Canvas ink jet paper line. The new papers are Fiber, Velour, and Weave and are designed to accept dye-based or pigmented inks.

The Hasselblad/Media Street Connection
Everybody knows Hasselblad USA as a name synonymous with image quality, so now the company is offering a range of 10 different photographic RC and fine art papers from Media Street. These papers complement the new Generations G-Chrome pigmented inks and Plug-N-Play dye-based inks and create good-looking, long-lasting prints. All papers are available in letter, 11x17", 13x19", and 17x22" (think Epson 4000) papers as well as all roll paper sizes. Media Street has an extensive library of color profiles and will provide free custom profiles for specific ink, media, and printer combinations.

Ink Carts
Ferrania Imaging Technologies' family of OptiJet ink jet ink cartridges are compatible with a variety of Epson, Canon, Hewlett-Packard, and Lexmark printers. They are designed to deliver bright colors, sharp images, and smooth coverage. All with a claimed fraction of the cost of OEM cartridges. Ferrania also offers new ink jet papers including professional glossy and satin papers, double-sided glossy and matte papers, photo quality paper, and business card stock, as well as CD labels and covers. Ferrania's new ink jet photo papers feature PerDura anti-aging technology to stop gas-fading and ensure long-term image permanence. Oh yeah, don't miss Ferrania's Garfield OTU film cameras.

Moab Paper
Moab Paper Company's Kayenta Photo Matte paper is designed for everyday jobs and is available at affordable prices. The dual-sided, acid-free, lignin-free paper is perfect for portfolios, scrapbooks, and general print jobs. Kayenta Photo Matte has a brightness of "94," opacity of "98," and a weight of 230gsm. The paper is available in Bright White. A one-sided version will be available by summer. A low-price point makes Kayenta Photo Matte a perfect proofing paper for Moab's Entrada line of fine art papers, developed to please both the discerning professional and the serious artist/photographer.

Paper From Rocks? And More
Why not? ViaStone ink jet paper is made from natural stone products and is tear-resistant, fade-resistant up to 50 years, and dries instantly. ViaStone paper is also capable of producing up to 2880dpi resolution.

InteliCoat Technologies produces media for large format ink jet printers. They now offer the Magiclée line of 15 specialty-coated substrates for water-based thermal and piezo ink jet printers. In addition to 24-60"rolls, sheets are available in letter, 11x17", 13x19", and 17x22" sizes. Some of the choices include Presentation grade matte paper, Fine art paper, Photo art paper, Photobase, and Canvas.

Ilford Imaging USA added three new products to its GALERIE Professional Inkjet Photo paper line, including Smooth Fine Art, a 100 percent rag, acid-free paper with a textured matte surface. Smooth Fine Art is available in 8.5x11", 11x17", and 13x19" sizes, in 10-sheet boxes.

Smooth High Gloss is an ultrahigh glossy paper not unlike the company's Ilfochrome darkroom paper, only it's for your ink jet printer! (Pssst, Ilford, we've been waiting for this for a long time.) This fast-drying media is available in 8.5x11" in 25-sheet boxes. Smooth Heavyweight Matte is a double-sided paper with smooth matte surfaces on both sides and is useful for fine art prints, flyers, presentations, or portfolios. Smooth Heavyweight Matte is available in 8.5x11" size, in 50-sheet boxes. All papers in the GALERIE Smooth range are compatible with dye- and pigment-based printers.