Digital Photography Now Printer Reviews
Printer previews: HP P7350 and Lexmark Z65
Both Lexmark and Hewlett-Packard have now introduced ink-jet printers with an unprecedented 4800dpi maximum printing resolution. Witness the fact that Epson and Canon have Ďonlyí reached 2880 and 2400 maximum resolutions, respectively and you can see that HP and Lexmark have a handy asset in marketing terms.
How important is resolution?
But how important is such high resolution? In fact we must consider several factors that determine print quality, not just resolution. First of all, resolution is a two dimensional value and both HP and Lexmark sport a true maximum resolution of 1200x4800ppi, or just under 5.8 million dots per square inch (mdpsi). Canonís S-series photo printers can deliver 2.9mdpsi and Epsonís new 950 Photo model can print at up to just over 4.1mdpsi.
For photo printing, itís an established fact that ultimate print resolution is not a top determining factor for print quality. Few photo printers actually use their maximum resolution when printing in normal and even high quality modes. Although using maximum resolution can improve sharpness, the benefit is small and is usually at the expense of doubled print times.
Our findings underline another generally agreed fact; that having additional intermediate colour ink densities, or so-called photo inks, is of critical benefit when printing photos.
Whatís interesting here is that Lexmarkís new 4800dpi printer technology does not offer intermediate photo inks. Printing depends entirely on 3 primary colours - cyan, magenta and yellow. Meanwhile, HP has moved up from just three colours with its previous generation of printers to a photo-ink set up that includes intermediate cyan and magenta, plus a dye-based photo black. When the standard HP black cartridge is used, the black ink is pigment-based for optimal text printing on plain paper.
So how do they compare?
This article previews the HP Photosmart 7350 and the Lexmark Z65. We have reproduced scanned magnifications of sections of one of our standard test prints produced by the 7350 and Z65. To provide a more comprehensive comparison, we have also included print samples from HPís previous photo ink-jet range-topper, the Photosmart 1315 and also Canonís S820D.
Please note: the HP 7350 test print was produced using a pre-production sample printer and was printed directly from a compact flash card rather than using a host PC. Printing from a card directly means the printer is not printing at its highest possible resolution. As there is less control available over print dimensions, the test print was slightly larger than the other 7.5 inch wide test prints featured here. This preview is just that, a preview and we reserve the right to modify our conclusions once we have a production sample to test more comprehensively.
You can select each page in this preview feature using the drop down menus at the top and bottom of each page.
A full page view of the test print was carried out to to compare colour rendition:
The HP Photosmart 7350, produces an excellent result, only being beaten by the Canon S820D which is able to coax more detail out of the shadows. Colour is neutral, with no excessive saturation compared to its previous generation sibling, the HP Photosmart 1315.
By contrast, the HP Photosmart 1315, with its older generation three colour photo printing, has typically over-saturated colours and skin tone bordering on red. Shadow detail is on the blue side.
Lexmark Z65 print colours are noticeably muted and the skin tone has an almost stone-like quality about it. The result is slightly better than HP managed with its 3 colour inks system, but the result canít compete with photo-ink endowed results. The print simply lacks sparkle. Lexmark does not have an own-brand photo paper range so we used Kodak Ultima glossy paper, which is also used by Lexmark for demonstration purposes.
The Canon S820D produces a very fine print, revealing the most shadow detail without sacrificing highlights. Colour is rich, yet neutral.