When you have decided you want to take full creative control over your image making process, including printing your own images you then need to consider exactly what your requirements are to help you choose a large format photo printer that is perfectly suited for you. The range to choose from is huge and it can quite simply be an overwhelming experience. Couple this with the expense of the exercise and often the thought can be to run back to the lab again. However, fear not, hopefully with this short guide we can have you confidently stepping into your printer purchase and printing happily for years to come!

The type of printer

choosing a large format printer guideThink about the size of the images you plan to produce. Do you plan to print images in colour or monochrome, or both? Finding a printer that can produce good neutral monochrome prints can often be more difficult than finding one that produces stunning colour.  This is generally down to the ink colours in the printer, which we will look at next.

Do you plan to print images of A1 size, or much larger? Think about what your print requirements will be for the next few years and this may influence your decision greatly. You want to be looking for a printer that will fulfil your up and coming requirements. Bear in mind that with increased print size requirements, so the requirements for increased floor space increases too. Do you have the room required to install the printer?

Printers that can accommodate large media rolls are also able to use smaller media rolls too.  This allows for much more flexibility of choice for the size of prints you are able to produce. This saves excessive trimming of media rolls and the waste and unnecessary expense, when printing smaller images- just swap for a smaller sized media roll. Another thing to consider is if you will require borderless printing. Not all printers are capable of producing borderless prints, so if this is a necessity for you, then you will need to factor this into your choice.

Inks

hp inks - a consideration when choosing a large format printerIf you primarily create monochrome prints, then you might want to consider looking for a printer that has more than one black ink. Some printers now carry grey ink too. It can be incredibly difficult to achieve a truly neutral black and white print, without any tint, by using primarily colour inks. Ideally you want to be looking for a printer that carries at least three black and grey inks to get true tones in your image. Some printers now come with 2 types of black and 2 types of grey for the ultimate monochrome photo production.  

For colour photography you will want to consider printers with a range of ink colours to enable a larger colour gamut to be output onto media. You will also want to consider the type of black used in the printer and the media you use, as Photo Black ink on matt paper will create washed out shadow areas and Matt Black ink does not adhere properly to gloss papers. Printers often now will carry a matt and a photo black as standard and use it only as necessary, according to the profile of the media you are using. So, consider this, a printer with a matt and a photo black does not count as two blacks, as only one will generally be used onto any given media.

 Print and running costs

When choosing a photo printer, it’s also important to consider your printing and running costs. You might want to calculate the cost per print if you print and sell your photographs, although this can be a tricky exercise depending on the printer and the media you are printing on. Some manufacturers now, such as Canon, offer free software in their printer package, which is capable of working this information out for you. Here at GDS we can supply estimated ink costs to help you choose the correct printer for you. The estimates are pretty accurate to the inbuilt accounting tool software with some of the printers.  Some manufacturers will specify the cost per square meter for ink usage, and obviously there will be a cost for media, which very much depends upon the media you choose to use.  A Large Format Printer, like any printer, will need to be regularly used to avoid clogs and if not, it is advisable to run a quick test print off at regular intervals to keep it in tip top condition.

Here at GDS we are passionate about ensuring all our customers are delighted with their printer purchase. If you require any help in deciding which large format photo printer is correct for your requirements, please do not hesitate to contact the sales team at sales@gds.org.uk or on 01625 613548.

Below are some suggestions of large format photo printers here at GDS, based on the amount of inks used in the printers. Although the machines print at the same resolution, the colour gamut is widened by choosing from 6 colours, 8 colours or 12 colours, with 12 colours offering the widest gamut possible. 

As a guide we suggest the following number of available colours in a particular machine for these applications-

6 colour - posters and banners

8 colour - posters, banners, canvases

12 colour - limited edition repro, portrait and landscape photography and fine art

 Recommended 12 colour large format photo printers Canon Pro1000, Canon Pro2000, Canon Pro4000, HP Z3200PS   Recommended 8 colour large format photo printers Canon PRO4000s, Canon PRO6000s, HP Z2100, HP Z5200                                                                

A point to note is that the type of paper you use will make a difference in the finished image, so as always; feel free to ask our helpful sales team at GDS as to what papers are available for your printer. Most manufacturers offer an assortment of media for their printers and you can also get paper-specific colour profiles for a given printer, so that you can use third-party papers as well.