searching for the perfect printer...
May 25, 2010 5:30 PM   Subscribe

In search of a printer with fantastic photo-printing capability... for not so much money...

i've read all the threads i can find here at MeFi, and they've been mostly very helpful, but where i get stuck is that i need a printer that can be dedicated to printing images - on all sorts of papers/materials: photo paper, watercolor paper, weird papers, transparencies....

i've had bad luck with run-of-the-mill ink jets in the past (i hate the lines they leave and generally weak color, even with photoshop tweaking) -- and thought surely the collective would have potential solutions for me?

difficulty: i can't spend more than $200. (i know. ouch.)
posted by unlucky.lisp to Technology (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's usually not the printer - it's the printer *paper* Photo paper is the key. It's expensive and the same printer, printing a transparency isn't going to do a very good job, so what you're asking for, may not really be possible.

It's way, way cheaper if you can get it printed somewhere else. Like, the grocery store near me offers this service - upload the images to their site, they're done the next day for pickup. Something like .10 a 4"x6" print. No delivery costs. Saves tons.

If you're set on your own printer, learn about your printer, gamut and Photoshop. You usually work in RGB in Photoshop, right? Well, that's for monitors, not for print, so you'll almost never, ever ever ever ever get printed, what you see on your monitor, unless you work in CMYK and know the right printer profile - all that jazz. It's a headache and more so on some cheap shit printer. There's also grounds you can get to be on weird paper, so they'll be printed on better - look in your art store for things that say, "inkjet ground" or, whatever from Golden Acrylics, for example. It's expensive.

I usually buy that cheap shit printer, do my best, print on photo paper, transparencies, watercolor - weird found shit and when it breaks, it breaks.
posted by alex_skazat at 9:16 PM on May 25, 2010

Whatever you spend on the actual printer, you're going to blow past that $200 mark on supplies in no time at all. Inkjets, as you rightly observe, are brutal for that and strictly for suckers, but even a competent color laserjet will set you back a lot more than $200, I think.

Your A move there, by a wide margin, is to find a print shop in your area that you can either email or drop off a USB key with and pay them to do the job.
posted by mhoye at 10:13 PM on May 25, 2010

I use my Epson 710 Artison for great quality 4x6 and 5x7 prints. I've used it to print on cardstock (but not transparencies or any other weird paper) and have gotten excellent results. When i need an 8x10 or larger, I use whcc. Excellent quality. Kind of pricey, but worth it for framable-quality photographs.
posted by djuna at 10:51 PM on May 25, 2010

Response by poster: i'm totally fine with getting my actual photo-paper prints done by someone else - but i do a lot of multimedia art using images printed onto non-standard papers (interestingly, they DO make transparencies that will hold inkjet ink) - so i'm basically just looking for something that will print decently on a variety of papers/materials.

sounds like it might actually be my best bet to go with a cheapo one or even thrifted one in case i screw it up with all the materials??
posted by unlucky.lisp at 5:34 PM on May 26, 2010

Generally, the high end printers that allow for printing on art papers have a few different paper paths, one of which is flat. You also need a driver that allows you adjust print head height for thicker papers and depending on the paper you'll need to be able to control the amount of ink laid down (and a profile for each paper if you want to color manage it). This pretty much rules out most, if not all, sub $500 printer.

If you by a used printer, make sure drivers are available for your OS. Mac 10.4 drivers don't work on 10.5/6 and XP drivers may not work on Vista or Win7.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:25 PM on June 15, 2010

« Older Help me show them who I was   |   Can anyone identify this character or symbol? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.