Whether you work as a freelancer or run a small photography business, getting perfect prints is essential to pleasing your customers and making profits. Getting the best image quality begins with the printer, and in this article, we look at how to choose the right one for your photography business and which models deliver the best results.
How To Choose A Photo Printer
While many photographers prefer to use a lab or print shop to print hard copies of their photos, more and more choose to print photos themselves thanks to the high quality of studio printers available today.
If you’re in the market for a photo printer, there are three basic types from which to choose: Dye Sublimation, Inkjet, and Laser.
Laser printers don’t produce the professional results you’ll want, so let’s look at dye sublimation and inkjet.
Inkjet is the most popular technology professionals use to print photos because it works with a variety of paper types, and most mid to high-end printers are very reliable.
However, inkjet printers do clog if you don’t use them for a while, and ink is expensive. Depending on how many photos you print, you can spend a fortune in ink.
While dye-sublimation printers have taken a back seat to inkjet, they’re worth consideration because they offer some unique advantages over other printers.
Many dye-sublimation printers are easy to transport, which makes them perfect to use on location, and dye-sublimation produces acceptable image quality, although not as good as inkjet.
It’s safe to say that for the best results and the sharpest, most accurate image quality, inkjet is the go-to choice for most pros.
Another thing to consider when choosing a photo printer is the print size because whichever model you choose, you’ll be stuck with the size until you upgrade. Most photographers will be happy with a printer that prints 13″ wide or the standard 4×6 and 8×10 photo sizes.
If you think you’ll want larger prints, consider a printer that goes up to 17″ wide, which produces up to 17×22 prints.
The next step up from that is a large format printer that goes up to 24″ and beyond, which produces stunning images; however, these printers require special stands and paper trays, and some clog easily if not used regularly.
Which Printer To Choose
Now that you have an idea about which printer technology to choose and some sizes let’s look at some of the best options for your photography business.
Epson SureColor P9570
This printer is a 44-inch wide-format printer, and Epson designed it specifically for photo proofing and photo printing, which means it excels in color accuracy provided you calibrate your display.
Epson designed a new print engine for this printer, which allows for printing up to 2.4 times faster than the older P9000 model.
Since color accuracy is critical with high-end photo printers, the P9570 is capable of 99% of PANTONE coverage for proofing.
Another feature that makes this printer an excellent choice for the photographer is the variety of media it handles with both cut sheets and rolls, plain paper, and 1.5 mm thick poster boards.
Lastly, Epson says their P-Series printers resist fading for up to 200 years and black and white up to 400.
Epson SureColor P7570
Next on our list is another wide format printer, the Epson SureColor P7570, which prints up to 24″. Like the P9570, Epson designed this printer for accurate color proofing and photo printing with its latest imaging technologies.
Also like the P9570, this printer prints up to 2.4 times faster than the previous model, and is capable of 99% of PANTONE coverage.
Media types are just as varied as the P9570 with cut sheets, rolls, plain paper, and poster board.
Another feature designed to make life easier for the photographer is the printer’s onboard maintenance, which means the user can clean the print head from a door in the back of the machine.
The printer runs automatic checks of the nozzles to prevent clogs.
Epson SureColor P20000 Printer
For those who need ultra-wide prints, Epson released the SureColor P20000 64″ wide format printer. This printer is geared toward those with high production needs and who need the best image quality.
The P20000 boasts many of the same features as the previous printers, including higher speed printing and outstanding color accuracy for proofing.
Best Way To Print Professional Looking Photos
To get the best image quality from your printer, the first thing to consider is the quality of the photo, which usually means the file type.
If you have the option between shooting in RAW format versus JPEG, use RAW because these images contain more information, which allows you more control during editing.
Think of RAW as a digital negative that you must edit to bring out the quality whereas your camera does some processing on JPEG images, and you may not like the results.
Another consideration when printing is the PPI of the final image you send to the printer. Most pros recommend 300 PPI.
Many pro editing applications give you the option of RGB versus CMYK. RGB is perfect for sharing the photos digitally; however, when using a high-end professional printer, use CMYK for the most accurate colors.
Also essential for getting the best image quality and most accurate colors is a color-calibrated monitor.
Every monitor displays colors differently, and investing in a calibration tool ensures you have consistently accurate colors that transfer from screen to print.
Next, let’s talk about the paper. The paper you choose can make or break your photos, and there are three main kinds of paper from which to choose: Lustre, Fine Art Smooth, Pro Platinum, all available from Canon; however, other manufactures offer similar products.
Luster features a semi-gloss finish and is ideal for a variety of applications and image types. Expect sharp images with deep blacks when printing on this paper.
Fine Art Smooth features a smooth matte surface and allows for a wide dynamic color range. This paper is ideal for those prints where you don’t want glare or reflections because it has a matte surface.
Pro Platinum is a high gloss paper that offers deep, vibrant colors that pop with tons of contrast. However, because it is a glossy paper, be careful if you hang it because you may get some glare.
Whether you’re a freelancer or own a small photography business, you can get stunning images out of your printer to please your clients and boost your profits.