Digital Photography Now Printer Reviews
3-part series: Photo ink-jets laid bare
By Ian Burley
Part 2: Photo ink-jet print quality
A fundamental policy of Digital Photography Now is NOT to impose its Ďopinioní on the reader. We can tell you what we think is good about a particular product and we can indicate what we feel isnít good, but in the end the choice is yours and yours alone. Your priorities and expectations may well differ from ours, which we certainly want to respect.
Another thing we want to point out is that although all four printers produced prints of noticeably different quality, all the members of of our panel of third party public who were shown test results felt all the results were genuinely of impressive photographic quality.
HP psc-950 - Itís easy to write off the HP as it was clearly beaten by the other three in the quality comparisons. But that shouldnít mask the fact that the prints were genuinely photographic. The noticeable grain annoyed me, personally, but didnít bother some of our test panel at all. The prints were too dark by default and tended to be reddish, but these faults can be cured to a degree. More concerning is the poor finish and durability of HPís glossy photo paper. One thing the HP could do uniquely was to print crisp-looking photos on plain paper, a trick that some might consider invaluable.
Lexmark Z43 - Considering the low purchase price and some negative experiences with Lexmark photo printing in the past, the Z43 was better than we had expected. Prints tended to be on the light side, but the Lexmark was only beaten by outstanding results from the Canon S800 and Epson 895 rather than any inherently bad quality in its own right. One thing Lexmark will need to fix is the dottiness of highlight areas.
Canon S800 - You really have to see a Pro glossy print from an S800 to really appreciate how glossy it is. This asset helps the overall quality of the print by bringing out colour depth and preserving detail. Our panel agreed the S800 produced the most natural looking prints, too. So far we havenít had a great deal of success in using non-Canon paper.
Epson Stylus 895 - The 895 is in the same league as the Canon S800 and so one apart from the HP and Lexmark. Only absolute examination of the print quality separates the Epson from the Canon. Personally and the view of the panel is that the Canon just has it, but the Stylus 895 produces great photo prints in its own right.