Inkjet printers have been outputting our images for several years. Inkjets cover just about every price point the photographer needs. But not all inkjet printers are created equal. While small, portable inkjet printers or multi-function printers can output your photo, are they really best suited for your purposes of adding your images to the annals of history?
Your printer has to be able to create depth and image quality within your archival inkjet print. And a printer that has only four or five inks in its ink set will not be able to do the image justice. Look for a photo-quality printer that has at least six, if not eight or more inks. These additional inks will complement the primary inks in such a way that varying the dot size or spacing cannot do with a printer that has fewer inks.
These photo-quality printers are still considered inkjet printers. They can be found at most consumer electronic stores, including Best Buy. Even though we will discuss using higher-end paper for long-lasting photographic prints, these printers can also print on regular bond paper and print text.
Color inkjet printers make use of four primary colors, cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y), and black (K), also called the subtractive primaries. To these, a photo inkjet printer may add light cyan, light magenta, a photo black and a photo gray. Some printers also include a UV-coating cartridge to provide an additional protection to the print.
The additional colors let the printer fill in the nuances of shading and help create the depth you want for your historic print. These photo printers generate very small droplet sizes of three picoliters for the Epson Stylus Photo R2880, for example. This Epson model, along with the Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II, which we used for our tests for this article, can generate a Super B-sized print (13" X 19").