Give paper and printing top priority

As a photographer, you’ve invested your skill, your time and your money in creating the perfect image - so it surely makes sense to put just as much effort into investing in the best ink and choosing the perfect paper when the time comes to printing the fruits of your labours!

Give paper and printing top priority

As a photographer, you’ve invested your skill, your time and your money in creating the perfect image - so it surely makes sense to put just as much effort into investing in the best ink and choosing the perfect paper when the time comes to printing the fruits of your labours!

Insight into inks

Printer manufacturers invest most of their research and development in creating inks that will offer clear, vibrant, long lasting and smudge-proof images – gone are the days when their only priority was the electronic heart of the device.

Most inks can be loosely grouped into either dye-based inks or pigment based inks, with each type being suited to different printing applications.

Historically, most photo printers used dye-based inks, which offered a wide colour palette with vivid colours. Dye-based inks are great for printing on glossy photo media, but they are vulnerable to environmental conditions such as humidity and sunlight. If you prefer dye-based inks, look for those that offer permanence and resistance to light and oxidation. One such ink is Epson’s Claria range, which although a dye-based ink range, will keep your prints bright and lively for up to 200 years*.

Pigment-based inks are becoming increasingly popular as they are much more stable, and are expected to last for more than 200 years*. Pigment based inks contain droplets that don’t dissolve in water, and the ink doesn’t penetrate the paper it’s printed on – rather, it rests on the medium’s surface, making the image appear brighter.

Epson has taken this technology a step further with its unique microencapsulated technology, in which each pigment particle is encapsulated in resin, yielding a far wider colour palette that offers excellent longevity. Epson’s UltraChrome K3  has become the de-facto standard for the most discerning professional photographers, while Epson’s DuraBrite Ultra ink offers similar micro-encapsulated pigment ink results for consumers.

Genuine vs generic – who wins?

All inks are certainly not created equal – the amount of research and development that each manufacturer invests in creating the best possible printing solution takes significant time and resources – it’s this investment that makes proprietary inks more expensive than the cheap generics that are marketed as being compatible with top-end printers

However, compatible does not mean comparable. Epson researches, designs and develops its own ecosystem of paper and ink for its printers, creating the best possible image. If a consumable from outside that ecosystem is used, the manufacturer can no longer make or keep promises about the quality of the images that are produced using remanufactured and ‘compatible’ consumables.

Yet, the higher cost of well-researched, meticulously manufactured inks often makes consumers choose the cheaper, generic inks over the inks that are produced by the printer manufacturer, which inevitably leads to disappointing results.

This disappointment is then further entrenched when the consumer has no recourse, because they have chosen inferior products not recommended by the experts, who have used their knowledge to create a superior product. .

Select the perfect paper

Your choice of photo paper is as important as your choice of ink technology when it comes to creating a hard copy of your image that will hold its colour and quality for years to come. The two most common types of paper are swellable paper and porous paper.

Swellable paper absorbs the moisture in the ink, allowing colourants to penetrate the top layers of the paper. Swellable papers typically have three layers: a protective top layer; a layer that fixes the ink droplets in place; and below that, a layer that absorbs additional ink components.

The coating on swellable papers stabilises the inks by keeping the dyes from spreading, and it also helps protect the image from the fading caused by light and atmospheric pollutants.

Swellable papers are generally only suitable for dye-based inks. Contrary to one-size-

fits-all marketing claims made by some paper manufacturers, the use of a swellable paper produces poor image quality with pigment-based inks because the pigment-based inks are specifically designed not to be absorbed into paper.. The surface of porous paper is coated with inert microscopic particles that create cavities in which ink is deposited. This means that the ink will not spread once it comes into contact with the paper, avoiding unsightly ‘bleeding’ on the printed page. 

Porous paper has a higher resistance to moisture and humidity and is often referred to as “instant dry paper”.  As a result, minimal drying time is required, so the print can usually be handled immediately with little concern about smudging.

Porous paper is the best paper to use with pigment-based inks, which are less affected by atmospheric contaminants than dye-based inks. In addition, pigment-based inks are more light fast and ozone resistant on porous papers than dye-based inks.

Ink meets paper

Traditionally, colour printers have used a combination of four inks, namely cyan (light blue), magenta (pinkish red), yellow and black to achieve the correct colour mix. In fact, many printers today, still use these four ink colours to produce top quality printed images.

However, mid-to-high-end printers use up to eight inks, which make pictures appear richer and crisper, with the colours closely matching the original colours of the photographed subject.

The size of the droplets being fired onto the photo paper also makes quite a difference to the end result.  Simply put - the smaller the droplets, the more detail you can fit into a single print and the better it looks.

For beginners and even amateurs, traditional four-ink printers are sufficient.  But if producing photographs is how you make your living, it is surely worth setting yourself apart from the competition by investing in a six- or eight-colour ink printer such as the Epson Stylus Photo R3000.This easy-to-use printer allows professionals and advanced amateurs alike achieve outstanding A3+ prints using Epson’s UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta inkset.

In a competitive marketplace where commercial relationships are differentiated and maintained through service delivery and superior quality products, there are simply no grey areas on the matter of colour: understand the technology, and buy the real deal.

It’s what you, your customers, and the art of printing deserve

* Print permanence ratings are based on accelerated testing of prints on specialty media, displayed indoors under glass or UV filter or stored in archival sleeves in album storage. Actual print stability will vary according to media, printed image, display conditions, light intensity, humidity, and atmospheric conditions. Epson does not guarantee longevity of prints. For maximum print life, display all prints under glass or UV filter or properly store them. Visit for the latest information.

About Epson

Epson is a global imaging and innovation leader that is dedicated to exceeding the vision of customers worldwide through its compact, energy-saving, high-precisiontechnologies, with a product line-up ranging from printers and 3LCD projectors for business and the home, to electronic and crystal devices.

Led by the Japan-based Seiko Epson Corporation,the Epson Group comprises over 70,000 employees in 106 companies around the world, and is proud of its ongoing contributions to the global environment and the communities in which it operates.

About Epson Europe

Epson Europe B.V., based in Amsterdam, is the Group’s regional headquarters for Europe,

Middle-East, Russia, and Africa. With a workforce of 2,400 employees, Epson Europe’s sales for fiscal year 2009 were 1,875million Euros.

About Epson sub-Saharan Africa

Epson’s operations in sub-Saharan Africa were established in 1997 with headquarters based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since then, Epson has established a panel of distributors and resellers throughout sub-Saharan Africa who are dedicated to serving Epson’s end-consumers with the highest quality products and levels of support. Epson now manages sales and support in 21 sub-Saharan African countries including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia, Malawi, Angola, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, Eritrea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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