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Photographers and artists comment favorably on improved image quality and long-life dye ink color gamut from HP DesignJet 30 and HP DesignJet 130 Print E-mail

Thousands of photographers attending PMA were pleasantly surprised to see two totally new printer concepts with a long lasting dye ink. The rational for dye is to achieve better color gamut. Industry insiders reveal that it is easier to make dye ink last longer than it is to make pigments give the needed brightness and color gamut.

A special FLAAR Report, "Quick Peek," discusses the two HP printers along with other new wide format printers being introduced this year, both what have been announced in January and February, and surprises that are expected at DRUPA, SGIA, and Photokina trade shows later this year.

In "Quick Peek" Nicholas Hellmuth comments on the HP DesignJet 30, HP DesignJet 130, Epson 4000, Epson R800 (with red, blue, and gloss enhancer), and the new 24" pigmented ink printer from Canon (imagePROGRAF W6200).

Dr Hellmuth, the head of FLAAR evaluation programs, interviewed a cross-section of key industry people on the pros and cons of the new printers introduced at PMA. The results are blended into the commentary in this recent FLAAR Report, "Quick Peek."

During May and June the FLAAR offices have been flooded with requests for our benchmarking and evaluations of the HP 30 and 130. The report on the HP 130 should be finished by next week (late June). Although the HP 30 uses the same inks we are doing a separate evaluation which should be finished by late July.

HP DesignJet 30n and HP DesignJet 130nr both arrived at FLAAR test labs the same day. We will evaluate for use by commercial photographers, and for exhibits by fine art photographers. The first comments by the two reviewers who are working on these printers were (when I asked about the quality), "fabulous" and "extraordinary."

The HP 30 and 130, on the special HP photo media, is the highest quality of any HP DesignJet printer, and rivals both Epson and the best quality of recent Canon printers. In other words, the quality of all three is at par. Do not be mislead by dpi claims. The workflow, ease of use, ink usage, and other factors are today more important than dpi (since you would never use 5760 on an Epson printer anyway; these numbers are fictional; the actual true dpi is probably 360 dpi for most Epson printheads).

Here are results printed on the HP 130 in evaluations by FLAAR at Bowling Green State University. As you can see, the printer does an excellent job with these brilliant reds of bromeliads that are blooming outside Nicholas's other office, in Guatemala. The other shot is a portrait, shot with the 8-megapixel Sony F828. FLAAR also reviews digital cameras.
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Breaking news: the first precise test of image quality between the HP 130 and the Epson 7600 produces unexpected results. The university lab manager used a $10,000 QEA image analysis instrumentation system to compare the two printers. The results are now available in the FLAAR Reports.

Every several years there is either a new Canon iPF printer or a new Epson or a new HP water-based printer that is made for giclee, decor, or fine art photography. It is hard to keep track of the advances in improved inks and color management features. FLAAR is keeping track by visiting giclee ateliers around the world that have these various brands. Each brand has its good points and a few issues and an occasional deficiency. 

Since FLAAR itself does not sell printers, for you to find out information on prices and availability of each model that can print fine art giclee well, we suggest you contact a company that offers all three brands: Canon, HP, and Epson. This way they are not going to push just one brand because they offer all three. Plus you need a company that has plenty of experience with fine art photographs, photo labs, and giclee atelier. 

If you are looking for a place that is not a box-pusher (meaning you want a place that provides service after the sale), then one place we know for many years is Parrot Digigraphic. Their telephone is 978.670.7766.


Most recently updated March 3, 2005
Last updated: August 31, 2004 ,June 15, 2004. First posted Feb. 18, 2004 after PMA trade show.

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