For the vast majority of photographers, a high quality inkjet printer is the main choice when it comes to outputting their digital image files. Image quality from today's inkjet printers rival prints made from photo labs and prints made in the darkroom from paper and chemicals.
Most inkjet printers are capable of printing upto A4 in size and many now also cover A3 with a few high end machines going above this size. For the professional photographer, a high end A3 or A2 inkjet printer is a valuable part of today's modern digital darkroom in addition to a powerful desktop PC or laptop, digital imaging software and a high end scanner.
At first glance the cost of a high quality inkjet printer from one of the main manufacturers such as Epson, Canon or HP seems too good to be true as many printers are very low in price. Unfortunately the catch comes when you add in the costs of printing with expensive manufacturers ink cartridges & photographic or art paper. Inkjet printer inks are still very costly and just a few months of prints could very easily cost more in ink and paper than the full cost of the printer.
Fortunately many compatible inks are now just as good as original inks from the big inkjet manufacturers and cost much less. It is always worth shopping around and reading reviews before purchasing compatible inks.
For most photographers, one of the mid range photo inkjet printers will be more than good enough for most printing jobs in terms of speed, quality and availability of photographic glossy or art paper. For professionals or advanced photographers, one of the higher end models from Epson (HP and Canon are also worth considering) will meet their needs for high quality images through the use of UltraChrome inks.
Color and Mono lasers are also capable of outputting high quality images but they still lack the true photographic quality of traditional photographic and inkjet prints. For most everyday tasks at work or home where photographs or graphics are required for projects or homework, laser prints can be the best choice as the laser toner printing costs are far lower than inkjets & dye sublimation printers and the quality is extremely high. Laser printers come in a variety of sizes from small desktop printers to large multi-function all in one devices.
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In recent years the cost of both color & mono laser printers have dropped substantially & are now highly affordable for the home as well as the small office.
The final printer available on the market is the dye sublimation printer which is mostly used to produce small 6" x 4" or similar sized prints for home users. Inkjet printers however are replacing dye sublimation printers as inkjets can produce high quality prints on photographic paper as well as text and diagrams on a variety of different plain and coated papers covering all sizes from mini prints to A4 and above.