HP’s Photosmart 8750; 13x19” Nine-Ink Printer Page 2

On the monochrome side you have two choices--working with the full set of inks or grayscale (the Photo Gray cartridge) only. I worked monochrome images in RGB, trying for a neutral tone on screen and hopefully on the print. Here the color inks delivered an image that was pleasing, but a bit more on the brown side than I like, sort of a light "brown toner" look. I then switched the inkset in the printer driver to "print in grayscale." This gave me very neutral black and white, sort of like the old Brovira in Dektol 1:1. Neutral blacks, bright whites, and a nice gray value spectrum--what I had hoped for. However, printing in grayscale, especially on the matte paper from Inkpress that I later used, literally sucked the ink from the Photo Gray cartridge. After only a half dozen 11x17 prints the cartridge was half full. I do use a lot of "negative space" (read lots of black areas) in some prints, so to be fair I paid the price in ink used. In addition, if I worked with grayscale only, at least vs. RGB, I found that density was off about 20 percent and I had to manually adjust the image on the screen to make it darker than it would print. My best results were monochrome from RGB, with the application (Photoshop) as the color manager.

The first monochrome print I made showed how well the 8750 handles black and white without shifting, and there was no green drydown! This image shows a very wide range of tonal values with good texture in the highlights. It's from a medium format scan and a 48MB file.

There are three driver color mode settings available: Colorsmart/sRGB, Adobe RGB, and Application managed. If you don't use ICC profiles when you print, or print from a default set sRGB digicam, use Colorsmart/sRGB. If you shoot using Adobe RGB then use the Adobe RGB setting, but note that you should not use this if you are using ICC profiles. Lastly, for the most control, let the application manage the color and use ICC profiles. This requires that you use a calibration device/software, choose Perceptual as the Intent and check Black Point Compensation. As to printer resolution, I worked with 240dpi on the image and maximum dpi on the output. This might take a minute or so more to print than the 8750's "Best" setting but the results are worth the small amount of extra time this takes.

In all, I found the HP Photosmart 8750 to be a worthy competitor to any 13x19 printer I have worked with thus far. After playing extensively with various paper surfaces, driver settings, and resolution settings, I found that 240dpi was just fine, as with other printers, and that the unit was responsive to very subtle changes in color and tone I had adjusted on screen. It is important that you avoid loading thicker papers in the tray and work them sheet by sheet from the back, as thick stock will jam the unit from the tray side. But even heavy stock printed in very satisfactory fashion. Color controls via the various driver settings are sufficient, and experimenting with the different setups is key to getting just the look you desire.

I wanted to see how working with the black (three ink) cartridge only would differ from working in RGB on monochrome images. After printing both ways I found that the black only print came up lighter by about 20 percent from what I had on screen, which the RGB print matched exactly. Image color on RGB is only slightly warmer than the black ink only print, and no color shift occurred during drydown, or even the morning after under a different light source. I'm very happy with monochrome results from this printer.

Most pleasing were the results from the black and white inksets, which to my eye completely eliminated the bothersome shifts and casts pigment ink printers deliver, even with "dry down." HP should work to get more papers available in different surfaces and weights, although working with "third-party" papers was no problem. As mentioned, inks, especially in tonally deep monochrome prints, do go fairly quickly, at least in my work, so be prepared with extra Photo Gray cartridges for an extensive print run.

Like all printers, the 8750 requires that you spend some initial time testing out various scenarios and settings. No one can tell you exactly how to do this as each of us has a different "look" we want to attain. But after a few hours of work you should be well on the road to nailing prints that match what you see on your screen. The 8750 gives you the tools you need for a very satisfying printing experience, and the 13x19" size at maximum dpi yields prints that rival and often exceed anything I've seen in this class.

For more information, contact Hewlett-Packard Company, 3000 Hanover St., Palo Alto, CA 94304; (800) 752-0900, (650) 857-1501; www.hp.com.