It depends on your needs. If you plan on only printing 4x6 I would have to reccomend with out a doubt the HITI PL Dye Sublimation printer. Steves Digicams reviewed the PS version which is identical in function and performance except the PS version can act as a stand alone unit: http://www.steves-digicams.com/2002_reviews/hiti_630ps.html
I don't know if $699 is a "fair price" but I have an Epson 2200 and the prints are really good. Absurdly good. Both for black and white and color. Prints I've made from D100 images as well as from scanned negs are outstanding.
(I'm not an experienced digital guy, and the Epson 2200 is my first inkjet photo printer, so I can't compare it to others. I can say, though that the color prints from it are better than traditional processes (because I have control over the color) and the B&W output, with moderate work and the right paper, rivals the best prints I (note that I said "I", not everyone) ever got from the wet darkroom.
For a trult economical photo printer the Epson 785EPX is a best buy. Going up the line for greater speed is the 890. The 1280 is the same as the 890 but handles up to super A3 (13X19). The king of the hill is the 2200. This is probably the best prosumer grade printer on the market. It prints 2880X1440 and it is archival and uses separate ink tanks for all colors and has two black carts for superb B&W printing.
I guess it shows that I am biased toward Epson. Their photo printers are quite simply the best. The Canon S9000 would be worth a look if speed is an important criteria. Gene
Why would you invest $2K in a high res DSLR and settle for 4x6" prints? Rhetorical question. Dye sub prints are typically projected to have a 50 year lifespan, but affordable dye-sub printers don't make very large prints.
I'd suggest at least an 11" carriage model printer. Any of the 6-color photo inkjet printers will generate great prints, but you should be aware of the potential for fading. The lifespan of dye inks is between 5-15 years for lightfastness, better than drugstore silver-based print paper. The prints are not gasfast however, meaning oxidation can rapidly fade the prints. You can avoid this by displaying prints under glass and storing them in protective sleeves.
The 13" carriage Epson 2200 offers pigment based inks that can produce prints with an estimated 75-100 year lifespan before fading. The 2200 handles roll paper very well and comes with a paper cutter attachment. Print quality is very high although the colors aren't quite as rich overall as from a 6-color dye-based printer.
I chose the epson 785EPX cause I can stick my card in punch some buttons and come back in 15min, pull out the contact sheet and show the client. Its easy, prints quality prints as large as I need them for my carry in portfolio and cost me $300 for the printer, extra warranty, extra ink and supplies for a month.
Easy to use, easy on your pocket book. Its much more economical and hassle free to send my fine prints and large prints to the lab.
thanks for all the input. I have my eye on the epson 2200 or the cannon s9000. from the reviews, both are great printers. maybe I will wait till after christmas to se if there is a price drop. Thanks Tom
go with the epson 2200. i am in japan and have the japanese version which is the colorio 4000px. epson has more functions (roll paper, cd attachment, direct input for thick paper). epson papers seem to offer more luster and choice. i also like the 7 inks and it kicks ass on Sepia and B + W ! my ex-girlfriend has the canon s9000. it is fast but quality is not as good as the epson.
While waiting for an Epson 2200 to become avialable, I talked to a friend at PopPhoto who talked me out of it and into a 1280. According to him the 2200 they tested crapped out right after his review ran -- and the 1280 has better color saturation and darker blacks. So if you don't plan on being arround in 65 years 1280 seems like a good bet.
I just ordered one at J&R and with the rebate it will be $340!
I just received my 2200 yesterday and I would have to disagree strongly with the Pop photo person. This printer is a significant improvement from the 1270 which I have happily used for the best part of three years.
The 2200 is faster, has much better color saturation, and the profiles are spot on right out of the box. All I can say is that this reinforces my unwillingness to trust anything from Pop Photo.
I have only run about 12 8X10s through it so my testing is far from complete but I would categorize it as a real winner so far.
Well I didn't have long to worry about it. The printer came this afternoon. I've had some good results and some not so good. I can't print edge-to-edge on OS X, but some of the prints came out great.
I went though all the glossy paper that came with the unit and then switched to some Kodak paper I had. BIG difference! The Epson paper makes MUCH nicer prints. Wonder why that is?
I'm also getting some odd purple tones to many of the prints. I suppose I just have to tweek this in Photoshop, but I've never had this problem before, either with my old Z52 or with stuff I've done that has gone to press of this monitor.
although no one's askin, i'm an hp man. all the colors came out just the way it was in the photos. still, i'm in the market for another (newer i should say) good printer. why isn't anyone posting their pictures either taken or printed with their messages? what we really neeed is a website that actually tests all brands and models of printers with proof of the same picture printed on every printer. wouldn't you agree? something like dpreview.com