Pros and Cons of a Basic Fine Art Photography Printer

Info media photography : Most photographers consider the printing of their work secondary to the art of shooting the image. Printing in a digital world may mean outsourcing the work one of the ubiquitous online printing services such as Shutterfly and Snapfish. Those services are cheap with prices starting at a few pennies per print.

When it comes to printing yourself, one of the best options for someone starting out is to buy an Epson printer. I bought an Epson 2200 years ago for about $600 and certainly has been well worth it. It’s dependable and makes really great prints filled with detail and color.

That particular printer was a big innovation in printing, and there hasn’t been as big an advance in printing technology since then; however, there are newer, faster models that are similar to the 2200—a series of printers, the 2880/3880/4880, each able to print at various selected sizes.
The biggest caveat to printing a professional art photo is the tedious workflow that comes with it. It begins with monitor calibration. In order to do that, I use HueyPRO, a monitor calibration tool that you attach to your monitor with a suction cup so that what you see after it’s calibrated is what you get in your print. After that you have to deal with Photoshop options (you could use printer options, but that will give you an inferior print) to match the monitor with the type of paper you are printing on. Also, you have to use Epson paper. I’ve tried Office Depot paper and ended up having unwelcome streaks in my printed image.

If you want to go the cheap route, you’ll have to be satisfied with prints that are only 13 inch wide, using the Epson 2880, which is a few generations newer than the 2200. The price has remained stable at about $600, which is good news for those photographers who are just beginning to make their own prints.

One factor that has improved over the years is the print quality. The “880” designation means that the printer is equipped with the latest in ink technology, a vivid magenta ink formulation that has a better color gamut than the earlier models. Also, improved is this model are the print heads, which are now more resistant to clogging. This is a good thing as I’ve spent hours revamping my heads after they’ve dried out when I had a long hiatus from printing.

One thing is for sure, if you make the investment, you’ll know you’ve got a tough machine that will last for years. My 2200 did.

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