For art studios and artists themselves, the importance of archival prints and giclee prints cannot be stressed enough. These ensure that the quality of prints do not deteriorate after a certain time.
Further, the quality of prints these printers give are echelons ahead of what can be expected out of a regular office inkjet printer. However, as it is with most printers on sale, the marketplace has become infinitely crowded.
Hence, we take away the headache of scouring the marketplace to present to you ten of the best printers which can handle archival prints and giclee prints.
Read on to learn more about which kinds of printers suit you best, and which factors you should have in mind in order to get the best archival and giclee printer.
Without further wait, let’s get on with the reviews!
Best Printers for Archival Prints and Giclee Prints
- Best Printers for Archival Prints and Giclee Prints
- Epson Stylus Pro 11880
- Epson Stylus Pro 3880
- Epson Stylus Pro 4900 Photo Proof Inkjet Printer
- Epson Stylus Pro 9890
- EPSON SureColor SC-P800
- Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000
- Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000
- CANON imagePROGRAF PRO-2000
- CANON imagePROGRAF iPF6450
- Canon imagePROGRAF iPF9400
- How to Buy the Top Printers for Giclee Prints and Archival Prints
This is Epson’s magnum opus. What this implies is that Epson has pulled out all the stops, and added as much functionality to it as is available to date on any printer in the world. The result is what Epson claims is the “world’s most advanced 64 inch wide printer”.
The nine-cartridge, drop-on-demand inkjet system is truly one of the best of its kind that we’ve tested. The quality of prints that came out was nothing short of incredible. You also don’t need to worry about cleaning the heads, because the printer automatically detects whether any nozzle needs cleaning and deals with it accordingly.
Then, we come to the automatic cutting system. The printer detects most kinds of media rolls, and cuts the sheets accordingly. You do not have to fumble around – the media are all front loaded. The maximum resolution it supports is an impressive 2880 x 1440 dpi. The new Vivid Magenta color gives you uber-realistic extreme blues and purples.
Further, it comes with automatic switching between Matte black and Photo black which makes the finish of the print absolutely impeccable.
This is a slightly newer addition to Epson’s stable of high performance printers. This 17” wide compact printer is best for those who deal with smaller print sizes or often require copies for client satisfaction. It has the same footprint as many 13” printers – a serious achievement by any means.
- Industry-leading pigment ink technology
- Professional control
The AccuPhoto HD2 technology used by this printer for photo prints is nothing short of astounding. It maximises the color gamut better than most other printers that we tested. The detail produces better fine image quality than a lot of other photo-realistic printers. Further, there is a three-level black technology which allows you to get wonderful finishes with blacks.
It doesn’t matter which resolution you operate at – the printer always gives a photo-quality finish. The MicroPiezo print head leads to incredibly sharp and ultra realistic images even from a desktop printer. You can choose from four preset color settings (as on a camera) – neutral, warm, sepia or cool. Overall, it makes for a must-have for all creative professionals.
The Epson Stylus Pro 4900 is one of the most tried-and-tested desktop archival printers on the market today. It has been around for a while, but it can effectively be called one of the filial modern archival printers today. It was the first printer on offer which had a number of then-new features, but continues to perform great even today.
With 10 different inks, automatic media detection and roll cutting, as well as the SpectroProofer remote printing and color management technology, the 4900 brought a wide variety of features to the table back when it was launched. The market hasn’t changed much since then, and hence the 4900 still delivers and manages to stay relevant even among fierce competition.
The color coverage is immense, covering about 98% of the Pantone+ solid colors, which ensures industry-best levels of color matching. The variable sized droplets ensure that dots come with no satellites or smudges no matter how thin. You can alternate between cutsheet media and roll media easily, with no need for manual readjustment.
This printer is for those who are not quite willing to invest as much as the 11880 demands, but at the same time require larger prints which the 3880 or the 4900 cannot deliver. This is Epson’s best in the mid-tier of giclee and archival prints, and delivers much of the same experience as the rest of Epson’s Stylus Pro range.
- MicroPiezo� TFP� print head
- Holds both Photo Black and Matte Black Cartridges
The Epson Stylus Pro 9890 is rightly suited for the small number of professional photographers who get their prints done by their own selves, but also for color labs which provide professional proofing and archival printing solutions for the market. The same high quality colors, pico-litre level fine printing and multiple blacks entail class-beating image quality.
A small caveat is that the SpectroProofer™ technology comes optional with this particular unit. If your requirements entail proofing, you should go in – it drastically improves the quality of proofs. The printer inks reduce metamerism by a large extent, and hence no bronzing occurs. It prints at a very high speed of 40m2 per hour at maximum.
While the Stylus Pro range may have been the basis of all modern Epson archival printers, the SC-P800 is the latest in the range. As such, it comes with a variety of features which the old brigade can’t keep up with, while delivering much of the same experience. It is Epson’s latest desktop archival printer.
This is the first model which comes with Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print as standard. It supports printing over Wifi and you can directly send prints from cameras over Wifi to the printer. To handle the vast number of printing operations, it comes with a 2.7 inch touchscreen. This 17 inch printer comes with a large cartridge size as well.
It’s the smallest printer on the market which offers upto A2 size printing, and can get your printing done from anywhere in the world, provided you have access to your smartphone. As for the printing quality, it offers largely the same feature set of the 3880 reviewed above, with a newer set of inks which promise the same high depth prints.
All in all, this device is best for those who prefer to stay on the move and aren’t afraid to use the latest and greatest in printer tech.
This one comes with an 11 pigment color ink, and the L-COA PRO image processing engine with 3 chips controlling ink flow and image data. Further, you have automatic roll input which feeds by itself. It comes with a 3.5 inch LCD touchscreen panel for control and can deliver prints up to 44” and rolls up to 59”.
- Canon's latest and greatest in large format...
- 44" wide 12-color professional photographic...
The resolution for this device is up to 2400 x 1200 dpi. It has won multiple awards over time, and has a wonderful feature set to show for it. Matte black and photo black inks have their own separate nozzles, which means there’s no switching time required in the middle. You can print from a thumb drive if so desired as well.
This unit comes with a 320 GB hard drive, which is incredibly useful for saving a digital copy of the archival prints should you desire one at any time, or need to take copies in the future. The basket is adjustable and can be used in a variety of methods. You can remotely calibrate your printer from over 50 locations worldwide, which is an industry first.
This printer is the best compromise between an archival printer and a generic desktop printer, coming in at a very desirable price point and offering a number of features which make it suitable for both the jobs. It comes with the same 11 color Chroma Optimiser ink system which allows for the wonderful print quality of the imagePROGRAF series.
- Anti-Clogging Technology: The Fine print head...
- Air Feeding System: The Canon Air Feeding System...
This printer comes with the best photography and print specifications suitable for a desktop archival printer. It can deliver a print of maximum size up to 17” x 22”, making it suitable for all kinds of desktop prints. It comes with a novel anti clogging technology as well. It can print at incredibly high speeds with no loss of quality.
Further, it can guarantee that your ink placement is perfect with the air feeding system. You further don’t have to keep switching between photo black and matte black, since there are different nozzles for each black. It has a wonderfully wide color gamut and a near realistic color reproduction. Further, it comes with all the latest connectivity features.
This printer is a slightly larger, middle of the range high-end version of the PRO-1000. It differs from the 1000 in a few pertinent ways – the first is the Canon-to-Canon workflow which allows a Canon EOS DSLR camera can directly be used to get the prints from this printer. The next is the size – this is definitely a larger printer and won’t fit on a study table, for example.
- Printer Type : 11-Color plus Chroma Optimizer...
- Print Resolution : (Up to) 2400×1200dpi (Max)
Much has been said already about the imagePROGRAF series’ wonderful image quality as well as the accurate color reproduction and the wideness of the color gamut. The PRO-2000 is definitely gunning for the big leagues, since it also comes with the same 320 GB hard drive, the Wifi connectivity and the ability to swap ink tanks on the fly.
This also comes with a 3.5” LCD colour touchscreen panel which allows the printer to be used independently of any other devices, and the hard drive improves this overall experience. The ink injection is checked by 27 sensors, and if a clog is detected, it is compensated for by another working nozzle and later on is automatically cleaned.
CANON imagePROGRAF iPF6450
For those of you who are especially looking for a printer that can do proofing as the first order of business, you’re in the right place. This one comes with over 30,000 nozzles for the 12 cartridges, which makes for a trouble free experience. It also comes with support for direct programming via the GARO printer language.
While the two printers covered above are more bent towards coverage of all markets, the iPF6450 is built with professional printing in mind. It comes as standard with a color profiling system and can be specified with a spectrophotometer for maximum accuracy if desired. This can also be optioned with a highly accurate switchable UV filter.
It comes with 250GB of hard drive storage, and can be connected to either a Mac or a PC without much effort. It comes with a whole host of plugins and software support, including that for the Adobe ® Photoshop, and the Microsoft Office ® products. It delivers a faultless printing experience, besides for the lack of wireless connectivity.
Canon imagePROGRAF iPF9400
Canon does not make printers any larger and any better than the iPF9400. It’s a member of the iPF series, which means these printers are your go-to for all large printing needs. It comes with the same set of LUCIA EX 12-ink cartridges and the inbuilt color sensor which allows for accurate color reproduction.
The LCD on this printer is very easy to use and intuitive in operation. Canon guarantees lightfastness of over 100 years – such is the faith Canon has in these printers. The 12 inks used include grey, black grey, black and matte black inks – which makes for an incredibly high quality of reproduction of blacks and unbeatable greyscale proofs and images.
The iPF9400 also comes with cost management software as standard, which allows you to calculate the return on your investment while printing. Also deserving a mention are the hot swap 330mL or 700mL ink tanks, which truly are the largest on the market today. It can also print up to 18m of a roll paper, which is no small feat.
How to Buy the Top Printers for Giclee Prints and Archival Prints
This wraps up our reviews of the ten best archival and giclee printers on sale this year. However, do make sure to keep the following specifications and features in mind before you head off to buy an archival printer:
The ink quality is by far the biggest differentiator between a good giclee print and a great giclee print. More crucial is the delineation between what constitutes a giclee print and what doesn’t – a giclee print always uses pigment-based inks instead of the dye-based inks you see in your typical deskjet printers.
Further, support for photo black and matte black inks is a must, since they both perform very different functions. A better option would be to go for a printer which does not allow for
Types of media supported by the printer
The types of media a printer can support are also varied in nature. Many printers offer you the capability of printing cut sheets, while others offer support for rolled media which are then cut by the printer itself. For those who require frequent use of the printer, support for a media roll is essential, since it saves you the costs of buying cut sheets.
Your desired size of prints
This is another crucial difference between a number of printers. If you do not require prints beyond a certain size, there is absolutely no reason to beyond a certain width, since it would mean locating space for the printer itself. A 64 inch wide print capability comes with a more than four fold increase in weight over a 17 inch capable printer, and requires much more space.
Document resolution supported by the printer
The document resolution is yet another important factor which can radically change your decision for going against or with a certain printer. This is because archival prints are meant to reproduce something of incredibly high quality and high detail, and hence higher the DPI of the printer, the better your prints will come out.
Your own usage
If you do not require the use of a printer more than a few times a month, it’s best to stick to your local color lab. The cost to benefit ratio of these printers only comes to show it you very frequently use these printers and manage to extract a decent amount of income from the prints.
Also, for people who own these printers in their color labs, do make sure to always go in for the higher ink capacity cartridges. Also have a spectrophotometer handy, they can make a radical difference to the quality of prints that result finally.
There are many more factors which may influence your choice of archival printer, but the points listed above are the most crucial points you should keep in mind before making the decision and laying out all that cash.
Further, many of these printers come with the requisite printing capabilities but not the requisite technological capability. This is because at the essence of it, they will satisfy your need for an archival printer, and continue to work for long. Screens and wireless printing are all good, but have been known to be the weak points of many printers.
We hope this guide has fully informed you of the factors you need to consider while purchasing an archival printer. Happy shopping!