HP's first pigment based inkjet printer gets high marks for ease of use and impressive results
No other technology has helped digital photography and imaging achieve its meteoric rise in popularity more than the ability of hobbyists, serious amateurs, and professionals to take printing into their own hands. The introduction of inkjet printers has forever changed how we acquire the end product of all our efforts - the tangible and tactile output we produce in the form of photographic prints.
Not too long ago if you were interested in creating prints using inkjet technology you had to settle for dye based printers. Dye ink printers offered a wide gamut and produced luscious, saturated prints but they were plagued by fading and color shifting, usually within very short periods of time. For the professional photographer selling prints or the serious amateur, inkjet was just not a viable option. Then in the year 2000 Epson introduced the first printer that used archival inks made from pigments. Pigment based inks use microscopic particles in suspension to produce color. These particles are much more resistant to environmental elements that cause fading. Although the first pigment ink printer had its share of problems the revolution had started. Over the years Epson, to their credit, improved pigment printer technology and today it has become a common method for producing long lasting archival prints.
The benefit of all of this technological development is that we now have a multitude of choices when we want to make prints. There are now hundreds of options at our hands from a myriad of paper types, to an exhaustive combination of print sizes and formats. We no longer have to settle for the standard 8x10 print. And who would have ever thought that we can now create four foot panoramic prints on fine art matte papers that are rated to last 200 years using a desktop printer?
DESCRIPTION & SET-UP
The Photosmart Pro B9180 inkjet photo printer is HP's first pigment based inkjet. Since its introduction in 2006 HP has now released several printers in different carriage lengths that use the Vivera inkset. This inkset consists of eight colors: Photo Black, Matte Black, Light Gray, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Light Magenta and Light Cyan. There is also a second model, the Z2100 that uses these 8 inks. HP has also introduced a 12 color printer in the Z3100 in both 24 inch and 44 inch lengths geared for the professional imaging market.
The B9180 is a consumer/prosumer level desktop printer capable of printing up to 13 inches wide. It is a well made and designed unit with an impressive feel of quality and rugged construction. This is no flimsy printer and when I unpacked it in my kitchen I had a difficult time carrying it upstairs to my digital darkroom.