Printing is more important than ever. We can now make great photos and print them professionally at home, impressing everyone. And we should! Printing is the way to really enjoy your photography.
But it is, or can seem like, a kind of black magic – an art almost as much as a science. Perhaps because of that, I was asked recently to talk about my print workflow. And since I just spent the entire last two days printing 13×19 prints, this seems a good time to start.
“Start” is the word: this will be several posts – not one.
And what I want to start with is the distinction of pigment inkjet printers (such as the Canon 9500) versus the more common dye inkjet prints (like the Canon 9000).
- Are common and affordable.
- Can print to any paper.
- Have ink that bonds with the paper.
- Produce very bright colours.
- Are more costly.
- Can only use certain papers.
- Deposit their ink on the paper instead of bonding with it.
- Produce prints that dry a bit more quickly.
- Most importantly, tend to produce prints that last. 200-300 years is common, while dye prints often last just 20-30 years.
I use a Pigment printer (the Canon 9500). This means I am restricted with regard to the paper I can use. I use Canon papers and other Hahnemülle papers (the ones that say “Pigment” on the box). These are not as bright as other papers (off-white), but for a good reason: they last and stay the same way. I would rather have a slightly yellowish paper that will be the same for centuries than a bright white print whose ink and paper will both fade in more decades.
This is not a law. Some dyes wortk very well and are long-lasting. So do your research. But you will find that today, pigment printers are a great option if you want prints that last, while dye printers offer affordable impressiveness for today.
I know – I am simplifying. So do your research and decide what to do. Google is your friend.