A3+ photo printers group test

Introduction

Digital art is easy to share – whether you’re talking photographs, making computer generated images or scanning in traditional work. For prestige and lasting value though, you need professionally produced prints. While photography and reprographics shops can do it for you, costs can be high. We’re at a tipping point though; a place in technological time where it’s now easier than ever to find a high-quality A3+ inkjet printer that can handle everything from photographs on glossy paper to artwork on watercolour stock.

With 10 megapixels now the entry level for digital photography, stunning results are possible with a printer that’ll fit comfortably in your home office. As for creative prints, selling your work in limited edition sets could pay off your investment in a week.

The printers we look at here are designed for high-quality production at home or in a small office. Don’t expect to be knocking out thousands of photos a week – think quality over quantity here. Some of the models featured have been on the market for a year or two – notably the HP B9180. That doesn’t detract from their quality, but it does mean there are bargains to be found if you’re prepared to comparison shop.

The printers we’re featuring are industry big hitters – innovative machines that bring new features to market. Released in 2007, the Pixma Pro 9500 was the first 10-ink A3+ photo printer, for example. We look at the Mark II version here. We also examine a printer with as few as five cartridges, the HP Photosmart B8550 – so there are machines for varying budgets.

Quality isn’t the only issue that drives the number of ink colours in a printer. There are two main types of inkjet printer; dye and pigment. There are pluses and minuses with both. Dye based inkjets produce a wider spectrum of colours. Pigments are hardier, last longer and are resistant to the ravages of the elements.

Inkjet printers aren’t well known for speed. If you’re used to laser printing documents a wait of a minute or more for a high-quality A4 print might seem like a long time. We compared speeds when testing machines in this round-up, and that factors into our final decision alongside quality and price. We’ve included the results of all our tests so you can make your own informed choice – but we think that any of the machines featured here would be a great addition to your home office or studio.

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