Now is a really good time to be in the market for a large format inkjet. Having just returned from Alaska, where I shot a number of panoramic images, I’m starting to consider printers that can print at 17″ wide and larger.
Time was, that epson made the only viable large format inkjets. Well that’s all about to change. Canon, a heavy hitter in photography has made its first serious effort in the ipf5000 a 17 inch wide printer to compete with the epson 4800, which apparently it does admirably.
So what does epson do? Removes the roll feeder, makes the thing smaller, makes the prints much better, and cuts $700 off the price to produce the 3800. Despite the lack of roll printing (which would be a big minus for people who shoot panos) and the smaller ink carts which cost the same as the larger 110ml carts of the 4800, this is an impressive offering at a very cheap price for people who want to print up to 16×20 on 17×22 cut sheets. For most prosumer photographers, this is pretty much all they would ever need.
So then in rolls HP with the biggest balls in the room, challenging Epson’s big beasts the 7800 and 9800 with their z2100 and z3100 which not only use 8 and 12 inks respectively to offer a pretty large gamut, but have a built in spectrophotometer and can build profiles for any paper in an easy 2 step process. That’s freakin impressive. HP hasn’t had the greatest track record in this space, but they’re coming on strong. Whoo.
I’m currently leaning toward the Epson 3800 for printing 16x20s while I save up for the 24″ version of the HP z3100 for printing really large format work that will come from stitching multi row panoramas.
Update: Canon also has the 44″ ipf8000