Printers, Scanners, and All-in-One Round-Up
Sliding a new printer out of its box, hooking it up, and knocking out that very first print juices the souls of pro and amateur shooters alike. The following are a selection of printers, scanners, and 'all-in-one's that are guaranteed to impress those you love. And chances are you'll get a hearty 'Thank you' in return as well as a handful of photos to cherish.
Epson's Stylus Photo R2880 is hands-down one of the finest Super A3 desktop printers currently available. The Epson R2880 utilizes Epson's 8-color (PK/MK, Kk, Kkk, C, Cc, Y, M, Mm), pigment-based UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta inkset for museum-quality color and monochrome prints up to 13 x 19" on matte or glossy media. Prints produced on the Epson R2880 can last up to 200 years, depending on your choice of media and storage/viewing conditions.
The R2880 can be programmed to print continuous panoramic images up to 13 x 44". For further details about the Epson R2880, read our hands-on product review.
If you're partial to bold, glossy prints up to 13 x 19" that can stand the test of time (up to 200 years under optimum viewing and storage conditions), have a look-see at Epson's Stylus Photo R1900. Making good use of Epson's 8-color UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 Ink Set (PK/MK, C, M, Y, Red, Orange, Gloss Optimizer), the Epson R1900 produces exceptional vivid glossy prints in standard as well as panorama (13 x44") sizes.
Canon's contributions to the 13 x 19 desktop sweepstakes are the Canon PIXMA Pro9000 and PIXMA Pro9500. The PIXMA Pro9000 uses Canon's 8-color ((PK, C, M, Y, PC, PM, R, G) dye-based ChromaLife 100 inkset, which is optimized primarily for glossy media. Sporting over 6100, 2-picoliter nozzles (768 per-head x 8) the PIXMA Pro9000 produces bright, well-detailed color prints at up to 4800 x 2400 dpi, with a print-speed of about 1-minute, 23-seconds for a photo-quality 11 x 14" image on Super A3 paper.
If your needs are more archival in nature, the Canon PIXMA Pro9500 uses Canon's 10-color (MK, PK, C, M, Y, PC, PM, R, G, GY), pigment-based LUCIA inkset, which produce rich color and monochrome museum-quality prints engineered to last 100-plus years under proper display conditions. While compatible with matte and glossy media, is optimized for use with fine-art media.
The HP Photosmart Pro B8850 is Hewlett-Packard's entry to the 13 x 19" club. Equally comfortable printing on matte or glossy surfaces, the PhotoSmart B8850 uses HP, 8-color (MK, PK, Kk C, Cc, Y, M, Mm ) Vivera inkset, which has an estimated life of 108 years when printed on HP Premium Plus Photo papers.
Epson's PictureMate Zoom (PM 290) compact photo printer does an excellent job of turning digital picture files into vivid, long-lasting 4x6" prints in as little as 37-seconds. The Epson PictureMate Zoom can also burn your image files onto CDs or DVDs for long-term storage and back-up.
The PictureMate Zoom can print images directly from PictBridge-enabled digicams, as well as images stored on memory cards, CD/DVDs, and USB flash drives. You can edit, crop, remove red-eye, and enhance your images using the PictureMate's 3.6" LCD display. (Inexpensive edit, print, and burn machine anybody?)
How large can you go within the confines of a desktop? How about 17 x 22"? Both Canon and Epson offer a choice of tabloid-size desktops capable of producing exhibition-quality prints without having give up valuable real estate. They also utilize larger individual ink cartridges, which while more expensive to replace, are far more economical to use on a cost-per-print basis compared to the cartridges used by smaller desktops.
Canon's imagePROGRAF iPF5100, with a footprint of 39.3 x 31.9 x 13.5" uses Canon's 12-color LUCIA inkset (C, Cc, M, Mm, PK, Y, K, MB, Kk, Red, Green, Blue), an archival, pigment-based inkset that produces detailed, wide-gamut color and monotone prints on matte, glossy, or semi-gloss surfaces.
Epson offers a choice of 17 x 22" desktops in the form of the Epson Stylus Pro 3800, a competitively-priced (sheet-feed only, no roll-paper) printer that features Epson UltraChrome K3 inks (PK/MK, C, Lc, M, Lm, Y, Lk, LLk), which are certified for up to 100-plus years for color images, and 200-plus years for monochrome images. The Epson Stylus Pro 4880 is a beefier machine that uses Epson's UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta pigmented inks (PK/MK, C, LC, VM, VLM, Y, LK, LLK), which are delivered to the print surface by an 8-Channel MicroPiezo AMC Print Head.
If you yearn to print images even larger (and you have the space for one) serious, museum-quality large-format inkjet printers are available from Epson (24", 44", and 64"), Canon (24", 44", and 60"), and HP (24" and 44").
The Wolverine 35mm Film-to-Digital Image Converter is actually a very cool scanning device. You know all those 35mm slides and negatives you have stashed away in boxes and sleeves? Well, now you turn them into 5Mp digital image files in a matter of seconds. And while the files aren't huge, they're hefty enough for screen viewing and large enough to produce photo quality 8x10 prints.
Using the converter's color LCD screen you can preview, crop, darken, or lighten your images before pressing the 'scan' button. Scanned image files are saved onto an SD card for easy transfer to your computer.
It's pretty awesome how much scanning power you can buy for under $100. Epson's Perfection V300 flatbed scanner features 4800 x 9600 dpi optical resolution. Designed to scan prints as well as 35mm slides and negatives, the Perfection V300 features advanced dust-removal technologies, One-Touch Photo Restoration, a 'high-rise' (180°) lid for scanning from books and other thicker originals, and an energy-efficient ReadyScan LED light source.
In the same price range you can also get an HP ScanJet G3110 photo scanner, which also boasts 4800 x 9600 dpi scans at 48-bit color. Image enhancing tools allow you to restore faded colors, remove dust, and red-eyes from portraits. A built-in transparency holder can contain up to 4 transparencies or 5 uncut negatives. Documents can be scanned and saved as PDFs in a single click. For organizing all of your new image files, HP includes a copy of HP Photosmart Essential software.
Designed for daily workouts, the HP ScanJet N6310 scanner can turn 35mm slides or negatives, or print documents into high-resolution (2400 dpi @ 48-bit color) JPEG, TIFF, or PDF image files. Advanced imaging technologies allow for a variety of editing tricks and image enhancements, many of which can be achieved in a few simple menu clicks.
If scanning is your life – or you simply want the highest quality scans - take a look at the Microtek ScanMaker 1000XL MFA flatbed scanner, which uses a 41,300-pixel CCD to produce optical scans at up to 6400 x 3200 dpi (48-bit color).
To enable the broadest range of detail the 1000XL MFA can sample-scan the original at up to 16 levels and combine the results into a single, maximum detail/minimal noise composite image.
A 12 x 16" transparent Media Adapter is included along with templates designed to hold 35mm slides and filmstrips, medium-format, 4x5, and 6 x 17cm panoramic transparencies. For rapid data transfer there's a choice of USB 2.0 or FireWire connectivity. DIGITAL ICE and ColoRescue software are also included for enhancing, 'dusting', and restoring your image files.
Just as all the new phones do everything but squeeze oranges, many of the newest 'all-in-ones' - ostensibly designed for office duty - are equally impressive as 'artistic' tools. With starting prices well under $100, they can scan or copy original prints, documents, or slides, color correct them, restore faded color and details, and output photo-quality prints with the click of a button or two. And, yes, they're equally good at banging out text, charts, and spreadsheets.
From Canon we carry the PIXMA MP480, MP620, and MP980, each of which can output borderless color prints from 4x6" through letter-size in as little as 20-seconds (4x6"), and text in as little as 2.9-seconds per page. Easy-PhotoPrint EX software (included) enables you to enhance and restore faded original prints and transparencies.
The Canon PIXMA MP480 uses a 4-color ink system to output color prints at up to 4800 x 1200 dpi resolution and can scan original artwork at an optical resolution of up to 2400 x 4800 dpi. A built-in color LCD and multi-format memory card reader eliminate the need for a computer when printing photos. The top-of-the line Canon PIXMA MP980 features 7-color printing at up to 9600x2400dpi resolution, optical scans at up to 4800 x 9600 dpi, and includes Easy-PhotoPrint Pro and ArcSoft PhotoStudio.
Epson Stylus NX-series All-in-One scanner/printers enable you to produce 1-touch standalone color or B&W prints at up to 5760 x 1440 dpi from copied or scanned originals. Dark, backlit, or washed-out photos can be easily enhanced. Advanced Face Detection technologies take care of skin tone corrections as well as red-eye removal from portraits.
The Epson Stylus NX300 All-in-One scanner/printer, at 31 ppm, is reportedly the fastest in its class for black & white printing. Color prints, from 4 x 6" to letter-size can be banged out in as little as 15 ppm. The NX300 can store up to 100 pages of memory, and features a 5-button speed dial (up to 60 numbers) for faxing color or B&W images using a 33.6 Kbps modem.
The NX300 can scan originals at 1200x2400 dpi as well as reduce or enlarge them from 25 to 400% from the original size. Images can be previewed on the NX300's 2.5" color LCD. You can also restore faded photos and documents as well as convert printed documents into text using A BBYY FineReader software (included).
The Epson Stylus NX400 All-in-One scanner/printer features a 2.5" color LCD and a multi-format card reader for PC-free editing and printing of digital picture files from 4 x 6" to 8.5 x 11". Optical scanning resolution is 1200 x 2400 dpi (9600 x 9600 interpolated) at 48-bits. Individual cartridges of Epson 4-color DURABrite inks can be applied onto the print media in dots as small as 3-picoliters in size, in as little as 26-seconds for a 4 x 6" color print.
Other features found on the Epson Stylus NX400 include 1-touch copying and 1-touch photo restoration.
Epson's Artisan-series All-in-One scanner/printers are a step up from Epson's NX-series All-in-One scanner/printers. Among the advanced features found in the Artisan-series printers are 6-color Ultra Hi-Definition Claria inks, built-in WiFi and Ethernet networking (Bluetooth connectivity possible with optional adapter), compatibility with all memory card formats, dual-sided printing, ink droplets down to 1.5 picoliters, CD/DVD printing, and dual paper trays for producing prints from 4 x 6" to letter-size.
The Epson Artisan 700 comes with a 2.5" color LCD, which allows you to make basic editing selections for photo-quality prints without need of a computer. Original print photos and documents can be scanned in 48-bit color at resolutions up to 2400 dpi.
The Epson Artisan 800 contains all of the features found in the Artisan 700 along with a larger, 3.5" color LCD, a smart 7.8" touch panel for fast and easy operation, high-speed faxing with a speed dial memory for up to 60 numbers, and the ability to view and print still frames from digital video capture.