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Type of Color Printer a Graphic Designer should have in their freelance home office

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  • Type of Color Printer a Graphic Designer should have in their freelance home office

    Color Laserjet with Toner or Color Inkjet with Pigment or Dye inks?

    If I could buy both I would, because I need both for different purposes. If I had to choose one, which is recommended for a graphic design workflow? The main reason I need one is to be able to print proofs of my freelance graphic design work (color testing, text placement etc) with wide format options but also be able to have the option to print photos for personal use.

    Want to have a versatile printer that is cost effective. Budget $300-$500

    I've been on sites like dpreview, but still can not determine which one to get. Any advice from other graphic designers experience would be much appreciated!

  • #2
    1. testing colors... as compared to what? synching a desktop printer with the pantone matching system will cause you nothing but headaches. Almost impossible to do on a home laser printer anyway. And with inkjet the colors change depending on the paper you are using.

    2. what do you mean by wide format?

    That said, we use an Epson 1400 for print checks. It is not a proofing machine though and only just barely accurate with matched Epson papers and onboard profile selection without doing actual spectro profiling. Some colors are still way off.
    It also does great photos out to 13" x 19" and does borderless as well as having a CD printing tray.

    If you want accurate color, you have to get a press proof.

    I don't work for Epson. Haven't had any trouble with this machine though.
    Note, not network capable. USB direct only or shared via USB.


    • #3
      Thanks for your response!

      Let me ask you, I could be wrong (and please correct me if I am) but i feel like Color Inkjets are more of photo printers and Color Laserjets are more for proofing purposes for graphic designers' work?

      To clarify... Testing colors as in, I want to see a fairly accurate print proof of what my designs will look like when printed. Instead of going to a print shop every day for a proof. (since the online print vendors I use don't send printed proofs).

      Wide format, meaning I would like the option on printing larger than 8.5X11. (Tabloid 11x17 printing for example)

      PS: I originally wanted to buy an epson similar to yours, but read horrible reviews about the ink cartridges suddenly not working and much more... What are your thoughts on that?


      • #4
        We have an Epson Stylus Pro 7600 for proofing. You could pick one up second hand within budget.

        It does up to 24" wide and as long as you like. I think the longest I've printed was about 3 metres. But you can go longer if you need to.

        It's for proofing and posters only. It doesn't do duplexing. I can print on a range of stocks, but has difficulty with some (not all) coated stocks.

        It's a big machine so you need a little space for it.

        You can pay it off by short run posters for clients. We charge $20-$50 per poster print.

        I wouldn't use it to print 6x4" prints though. Too fiddly. Unless you enjoy cutting down big sheets.
        It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh


        • #5
          Never had a problem with ink cartridges not working. We stick with OEM though.
          I certainly wouldn't trust it though to print out anything remotely resembling what a print vendor might send me. My print vendors take meticulous care with their media profiles and will do custom swaps to get PMS colors perfect. That and skin tones can be a biotch in any print media. The Epson does fairly well, if you care to spend the money on matched Epson paper and learn how to use the profiles, which aren't labelled at all intuitively. But to rely on it for what you might get from an online printer? Nope. Wouldn't do it. For one thing, the Epson has 6 inks (CMYKcm) where the online will probably only have 4 (CMYK). And I don't have time to futz with getting spot on color by doing swaps.

          Proofing is the only safe way to be sure nothing is going to go wrong on press. Printers have you sign a waiver on no proof for a very good reason.

          I've never once had a desktop laser printer that I could get calibrated to be anything near a profile. They tend to wander all over the place. Industrial lasers are far more controllable, but probably 100x out of your price range.

          Saleable posters from a 7600? Dye inks? or the UltraChrome inks? Still...aqueous...would need an overlam in my book.


          • #6
            Proofing is the only safe way to be sure nothing is going to go wrong on press.

            What are you referring to? Proofing with a printer at home or with a print vendor? Because my online print vendors don't supply printed proofs and I'd like to avoid running out to a local copy shop everytime I need a proof printed.

            That's what I'd like to find out. A way to proof my work before blindly submitting to my online print vendors and crossing my fingers that the online pdf proof they send me will print okay...

            Any suggestions? Or a color printer I can do this with? Thanks


            • #7
              Originally posted by Tyranous View Post
              What are you referring to? Proofing with a printer at home or with a print vendor?
              PD's referring to the fact that your home printer will most likely not match the colors that will be coming off press. If something needs to be color proofed you should get a hardcopy proof from your printer. Like he said, printers make you sign a waiver for a reason.

              As far as your own office printer, whatever suits your needs should be fine. Proofing layouts at your home is fine, but you can't gauge color without getting an actual proof from your printer.

              Look into one of epson's wide format consumer printers if you want something you can proof a layout on and print photos for your self. I think some of them sell for under $500. (Like an artisan 1430 or something like that.) Save color proofing for your print vendor.
              Last edited by joe23st; 04-20-2012, 01:48 PM.


              • #8
                Without getting a hardcopy from a printer, can I assume a spyder color calibrated screen is going to give me a fairly close representation of what I'll get from an online printer?


                • #9
                  providing their reasonably competent?


                  • #10
                    What online printer are you talking about?

                    Many of them gang-run their jobs, which means your job is being run with a "gang" of other jobs, too. This might be more economical, but usually color accuracy suffers, and color shifts in longer runs are common.

                    I won 250 free die cut business cards in one of uPrinting's give aways. White knocked out of a 4 color black build, and even in such a small run I can notice a fairly visible shift in the black between different stacks.

                    Again, remember that printing is CMYK (I'm assuming it is in this case) and screen is RGB - while there is some overlap between color spaces and variance in gamut size, there will always be certain colors that are achievable in one and not the other. Depending on the importance of the printed piece I would most definitely want a printed proof.

                    That being said, it has a good chance of being "passable". But don't expect miracles.

                    *Edit - I should say "passable" is largely determined by importance of the job. If it's a one off personal project and color accuracy isn't 100% important, then I'm sure it'll be suitable for your needs. Client job? No no...
                    Last edited by joe23st; 04-22-2012, 06:11 PM.


                    • #11
                      I use Partner - they're good, the best I found, and have used them for client work for 3 years. They do gang runs. (And I am very picky around color). For a client where the color is essential I get a hard copy proof.
                      But lately my stuff was coming back from them all sorts of whatever - it was pretty bad. It got to the point where I don't know what I'm gonna get back, a total crap shoot.
                      So I'll calibrate my monitor and printer as best as possible, and hopefully that will help, I may have to go local.


                      • #12
                        I have one of these:


                        It works like a champ.
                        "Go ahead, make your logos in PS. We charge extra money to redraw your logo into vector art so it can be printed on promotional product. Cha CHING! " - CCericola


                        • #13
                          Rachel, if it's become a crapshoot you can't afford not to get a proof.
                          It sounds like your go-to place lost their best tech. I've had that happen lately to a couple of my vendors. The long-time guy left, got lured away by another printer, or retired, and the kids remaining don't know profile from pudding.


                          • #14
                            PD, on things where a 5% variation in color matter I will. But in the meanwhile will the spyder calibrated monitor at least get me in the ballpark? I never had this issue before, and of all the online vendors these guys were far and away the best on color.
                            When I lived in Italy (and before) I would stand with the press guy and color correct on the press, I am that picky on color. So yes, a hard copy on this next job I'm doing for sure. When it's someone's business card...


                            • #15
                              PrintDriver is right, matching Pantone colors on a home or LaserJet printer, etc. is quite a pain. By wide format, I assume you are referring to large format printing projects, which is much different than that of home photo printing. I've heard that there are printers that are 'large' without being large format, and are able to match Pantone colors, but I can't confirm nor deny this.

                              Proofing with a printer at home is possible, but from what I can discern, the colors will never match perfectly. It all depends on how close your colors need to match, I know there are a variety of freelance graphic designers or ones that want to be able to proof their work at home, but I haven't heard of one that can proof 100% to the Pantone scale.

                              if you use CMYK, then there should be either InkJet or Lasers that come pretty close, but usually a perfect match will need to be done with the massive industrial sized offset printing machines.

                              I hope I'm wrong about this.

                              Good luck!






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