I have been a traditional black & white photographer for many years. I usually use 4X5 or 6X7, and I do all my own darkroom work. I bought an Epson Perfection 3200 Scanner and Photoshop 7. I plan to buy a good film scanner. Now I want to make digital prints. Which would give me the best 8X10 B&W print: Olympus P-440 Dye Sub Printer, HP 7960 Inkjet(recently reviewed in Pop Photo...has 8 colors with better grays), or Epson Inkjet high end with ultrachrome inks. Print quality is the only consideration. Could someone give me advice on which to purchase?
Thanks for the extensive reviews. How does print quality from the OlympusP-440 dye sub compare with the best inkjet print in black & white? The people at the stores say the dye sub is always better, but they are not photographers. Thanks, Sam
I have both the Epson 2200 and Kodak 8500 here at home and I print B&W with both printers. The Kodak prints a max of 8X10 and the Epson will go to 13" wide by up to 44" long.
The Kodak is my primary color printer for sizes up to 8X10, and really beats the Epson hands-down for color. It also has a bit smoother gray-scale reproduction, although the Epson is excellent and is the best B&W inkjet printer I've ever used. For glossy photos, though, the Kodak just destroys the Epson, especially with B&W. The samples I've seen from the Olympus were very similar to the Kodak but I didn't feel the Olympus was built well enough to take professional use. If you want to reproduce that old "8X10 Glossy" look you'll be hard-pressed to find anything that can do better than the 8500. I do bigger prints on the Epson with the enhanced matte paper and matte ink cartridge.
There is a new version of the Olympus dye-sub that will print a true 8X10, but make sure you look at media cost and compare before buying. Print speed is also an issue with dye-sub printers. The Kodak is very fast and costs about $1.60 per 8X10. Both the velvet and glossy Kodak print finishes are extremely attractive and professional looking and really beat the overall appearance of any ink jet media that I've seen, and of course you can handle them as they come out of the printer. I gave up using media like Epson "duralife" with the ink jet printer because I found they had to dry for 48 hours or more before giving them to a customer. You can stack and sleeve prints right out of the dye sub without worrying about sticking or ink transfer.
For B&W the HP's better than the Epson 2200 on glossy paper, and about matched for matte paper (Given Epson's Matte inks).
Personally, I cheaped out and went with the 7660, which is a 6 colour version of the 7960. It's got the same performance for B&W as the 7960, but the colour prints aren't as good (Because you can have either the photo colour or photo black cartridge, not both).