What you need to know about photocopier and printer graphics

When selecting a photocopier to lease or a printer to rent you should always consider what you will be using it for and ensure that the photocopier you are leasing meets those requirements, here we look at graphics printing.

Any printer demonstration that you receive when shopping around for your photocopier or printer, should include the printing of several geometric shapes, of different sizes and shading.  Any outlines should be crisp with smooth curves, whilst the inside areas of solid colours should appear dense and evenly shaded.

Also keep an eye open for gradients, meaning areas where a colour goes from dark to light. Check whether it is a smooth transition, or can you see colour banding, which are distinct bands progressing from darker to lighter? Large areas of flat colour should appear solid and even, rather than looking 'muddy'.  Some printers have overly saturated colours which try to dazzle the eye, whilst others skimp on the ink, thus leaving images that appear rather washed-out.  Ensure that there is a natural-looking balance between the two.

Print head banding
This means visible horizontal stripes across a page.  If you see this during any demo it could mean there is a clogged nozzle, the gradients aren't rendered smoothly or a poorly aligned print head.

Knocked-out text
Any light text on a dark background should appear sharp, without stray colour ink dots around the edges.

Look for colour accuracy and quality:  The importance of this is largely dependent on what your aesthetic demands are. Accurate colour costs a lot more than simply pleasing colour.  It also takes more work, and it's likely that you'll be unable to tell before buying how really accurate a printer is.

Although this is the case, you should still be able to tell if the colours appear well balanced and pleasing.  They should also be vivid but not oversaturated. Look particularly at skin tones, are they too cool (bluish), or warm (reddish)? Is there a general colour in the print that gives the photo an overall wrong look?  If so, walk away!  Another way to check a good print is to look at a monochrome photo under fluorescent light, daylight and incandescent light. How badly does the colour impression change from one light to another?

If your intention is to print a lot of black and white photos, you may need to find a printer that has dedicated black ink tanks. Even with these printers, you may still see inconsistencies across different print resolutions and paper types, although they shouldn't be too much to worry about.

Before trying to evaluate the level of detail in a print, ensure that the original image you have used actually has the level of detail you think it does. For instance, with many digital cameras, features like leaves and grass at a distance can become mushy and soft, so don't always assume that it is always the printer's fault.

Focus on more concrete aspects, like fine lines that you know are in focus. Try to make out any fine details in the image.  Are the ink dots small enough to become invisible when you hold the page at a reasonable distance, or are they too large?

Dynamic contrast and range
Again, to be able to judge the printer's quality here, you need to have an original image with truly bright whites, dark blacks and various areas of highlight, shadow and mid tone.

Are you able to see detail in highlight and shadow areas, or do they appear clipped, (rendered as solid blacks or whites)? Does the print look as though it has a lot of dense blacks and clipped highlights (high contrast)? Or haze over it (low contrast)?

  • Paragon Comment

There are a good many tips here to enable you to judge the quality of the prints that you will get from the printer or photocopier you are thinking of leasing or buying.  It is always sensible to have a little 'insider knowledge' to do your initial checking.

However, if you put your trust in Paragon Document Solutions, we can not only advise you on the pros and cons of the printers & photocopiers we lease, but also give you the deal that is within your price range, and best for you!

We pride ourselves on offering a very competitive price that can't be beaten, along with service that is second to none.

So count on us to provide you with the best of the best…

Best make's, best service, best advice, and best prices!

For more information contact us.

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