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Archive 2022 · Laserjet printer recomendations?

  
 
Nightdiver13
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


This is probably a long shot to get traction here, but hoping some folks have experiences (positive or negative) with using laser printers for color photos. I'm a middle school teacher and would like to convince my district to purchase a color laserjet capable of tabloid (11x17") prints. Bonus for duplex (dual sided) ability.

I've looked around a little online but hard to gauge the level of quality of the prints and hoping to get opinions from a proper group of photographers. I know the quality will never be near inkjet levels, but the cost per print outweighs the quality question.

Any thoughts on specific models that are able to print above average color photos?



Dec 29, 2022 at 09:26 PM
JimboCin
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


I have an HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dw
https://www.hp.com/us-en/shop/pdp/hp-color-laserjet-pro-m454dw

I am totally happy with it for general color printing. Of course it is 8.5 x 11 (or legal) but that should not impact my answer to your question.

I think it comes down to what you are looking for.

I have never used my printer to print photos, so I just tried it - on regular printer paper. To me the quality was OK - I guess I would be happy to use it for middle school color photos.

Here is what I suggest you do. Get some images you are interested in and put them on a thumb drive. Get some paper of the type you would intend to use for the photos (regular copy paper or whatever). Find a store that sells printers (Best Buy, Office Depot, MicroCenter, etc.) and that will help you print them - and make your decision for yourself.

Don't worry about your 11x17, just use a regular letter sized printer - as the results should be similar.

That way you will made your decision from your own personal experience and perspective.



Dec 31, 2022 at 11:42 AM
sbay
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


I have a HP color laser jet. While the price of the printer is not bad, it's like $500 for a full set of toner cartridges. There are cheaper knockoffs available but they don't work as well. Looking online it seems like the cost is 10c-15c/per page which seems about right for business documents (mixed text & graphics). I bet if you print full color images, the cost will skyrocket.

I would take a look at epson's ecotank line of printers. Probably far better image quality than a laser and should be cheaper (nytimes wire cutter says less than 1c per page).



Edited on Dec 31, 2022 at 12:46 PM · View previous versions



Dec 31, 2022 at 12:45 PM
ilkka_nissila
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


Is the printer to be used mostly for photos, or mostly for other things such as printing essays, school papers, notices, teaching materials, etc. ? If it is mostly used for photos, I don't think laser printing is the best option even factoring in costs. Laser printing mostly white pages with some text and line graphics can be fast and inexpensive, but as the density of the content grows (more ink is used) such as in large photos that may have deep blacks, you might find that the cost difference to inkjet is not that significant and the print quality on inkjet far superior.

For printing text and line graphics, absolutely, use a laser printer. If this is the clear majority of the printer use then indeed it makes sense to get it for the purpose which is the most important. However if it is genuinely used to mostly print documents where the photographs are the main content then get an inkjet like Epson P900 or similar. The smallest Epson inkjets contain very small ink canisters and can be costly, but a larger unit typically has larger ink containers with lower print cost. The consumer units are more prone to clogging as well. I know Canon makes nice photo inkjets as well, but I have not personally used them.

Laser printers typically do not come with any support for colour management judging from how bad the colour reproduction is. The prints with graphics look totally different in some colours than the image looks on screen. You might be able to colour manage it by investing in equipment that can calibrate both the screen and printer but this is more work. With an inkjet even with basic out of the box settings you get much better colour.

Of course, I can't speak for ALL laser printers, but this has been the case with the ones that we've had at my workplace.



Dec 31, 2022 at 12:45 PM
jeffbuzz
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


I've used many different color lasers and none were good at photo quality output. The least worst results came from extremely high gloss papers on very high end HP machines. For graphics and pie charts, color laser is great. For real photos, even a super cheap inkjet is going to win every time.

Duplex is a no go as the only decent color laser papers I've found are too heavy and require manual single pass feeding.

To really achieve photo quality color gradation in high speed duplex you need to look at commercial digital presses like HP Indigo. That is a whole different level of beast from a consumer grade laser jet.



Dec 31, 2022 at 04:10 PM
Nightdiver13
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


JimboCin wrote:
I have an HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dw
https://www.hp.com/us-en/shop/pdp/hp-color-laserjet-pro-m454dw

I am totally happy with it for general color printing. Of course it is 8.5 x 11 (or legal) but that should not impact my answer to your question.

I think it comes down to what you are looking for.

I have never used my printer to print photos, so I just tried it - on regular printer paper. To me the quality was OK - I guess I would be happy to use it for middle school color photos.

Here is what I suggest you do. Get some images you are interested in and
...Show more

Thanks for the feedback. Your printer looks pretty similar to the one I'm currently using (HP M451dn). My perspective is similar, in that the images look okay, but not great. But more importantly, it is limited to legal size and having the ability to print tabloid would be really nice.

The idea of going to stores is interesting, but I'm not sure I agree fully with the interpolation from the models carried in the store to a totally different model. Unless I'm misunderstanding... There are a few other color lasers in my building, and I've tested all of them, and even between other HP models the results were a bit different. But still a good idea. Do the big box stores let you do test prints on their display models?



Jan 01, 2023 at 12:20 PM
Nightdiver13
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


sbay wrote:
I have a HP color laser jet. While the price of the printer is not bad, it's like $500 for a full set of toner cartridges. There are cheaper knockoffs available but they don't work as well. Looking online it seems like the cost is 10c-15c/per page which seems about right for business documents (mixed text & graphics). I bet if you print full color images, the cost will skyrocket.

I would take a look at epson's ecotank line of printers. Probably far better image quality than a laser and should be cheaper (nytimes wire cutter says less than 1c per
...Show more

Huh, interesting. I had pretty much written off inkjet options. The tech from my district sounded pretty confident that long term costs (cost per page, maintenance, etc) would be significantly lower for the laser. I'll need to have a deeper conversation with them about that, and guess I need to reconsider inkjets again. Thanks for some new food for thought.



Jan 01, 2023 at 12:30 PM
Nightdiver13
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


ilkka_nissila wrote:
Is the printer to be used mostly for photos, or mostly for other things such as printing essays, school papers, notices, teaching materials, etc. ? If it is mostly used for photos, I don't think laser printing is the best option even factoring in costs. Laser printing mostly white pages with some text and line graphics can be fast and inexpensive, but as the density of the content grows (more ink is used) such as in large photos that may have deep blacks, you might find that the cost difference to inkjet is not that significant and the print quality
...Show more

I should have added some more details in my post... The printer would be used for a combination of printing projects for photography and graphic design. The graphic design projects would sometimes involve photos (raster), but often would be vector based, so handling of crisp lines and text is still important.

Potentially a couple other classes/teachers would take advantage of it. For simple B&W or basically any other time that full-color, high-ish quality isn't needed, my school has plenty of standard office laserjet printers already. So no need to fulfill basic printing with whatever printer I end up with in my room.

Another poster suggested reconsidering inkjets, particularly the tank style ones. My memory of the time I spent with inkjets in a digital class environment was that there was a constant struggle against clogged jets, and this was with larger format printers which I assumed meant they were higher quality. But maybe (hopefully) there have been big strides since then.

Honestly, color management is the least of my concerns. Maybe if I was teaching high school I'd care more about that sort of thing. My biggest criteria are overall long term operating costs, minimum of tabloid size duplex printing, and ideally relatively fast printing speeds and ease of use.



Jan 01, 2023 at 12:42 PM
Nightdiver13
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


jeffbuzz wrote:
I've used many different color lasers and none were good at photo quality output. The least worst results came from extremely high gloss papers on very high end HP machines. For graphics and pie charts, color laser is great. For real photos, even a super cheap inkjet is going to win every time.

Duplex is a no go as the only decent color laser papers I've found are too heavy and require manual single pass feeding.

To really achieve photo quality color gradation in high speed duplex you need to look at commercial digital presses like HP Indigo. That is a whole
...Show more

What types of papers are you finding that limitation with duplex? Is it a technical limitation, meaning that the printer will not allow duplex with manual feed? Or is it a quality limitation because of smearing when choosing duplex? I've been using 60-80lb stock, and having decent results with duplex via the manual feed tray in my HP laser.

I would say that quality of the print is less important than long-term overall operating costs, but I also assumed that there would have been advancements in laser quality compared to my somewhat old HP model. It sounds like you'd recommend inkjets as well then? Any thoughts on the cost per page with the tank style models vs. color toner?



Jan 01, 2023 at 12:50 PM
jeffbuzz
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


The heavier gloss papers have looked better to my eyes. You can certainly get low weight gloss papers. Those tend to be more heat sensitive and prone to curling and jamming. Paper weight feed limitations vary machine to machine so you have to try each paper to see if it works. Generally the more expensive printers feed heavier stock. Also, some gloss papers are only one side gloss so be careful what you use.

Long term operating costs are always lower on laser vs ink for any significant volume. Inkjet per page cost estimates are a myth at best. Inkjet printers incur a cost even when sitting idle. You have to run them regularly to keep the heads clean. Then the heads need to be replaced regardless. Plus you're using ink just for daily/weekly purging even if you're not printing anything.

I've had good luck using cheaper third party color laser cartridges like ezink123 instead of OEM. For office type output those work fine. Inkjet photo printers and papers are fussier about ink quality. Usually the OEM ink works best. Saving a few pennies per print with cheap ink can backfire if you have to replace your print head prematurely.



Jan 01, 2023 at 01:43 PM
sbay
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


Nightdiver13 wrote:
The tech from my district sounded pretty confident that long term costs (cost per page, maintenance, etc) would be significantly lower for the laser. I'll need to have a deeper conversation with them about that, and guess I need to reconsider inkjets again. Thanks for some new food for thought.


That's certainly true for most inkjet printers, especially those geared to high end photo reproduction. Typically those printers would use around 1ml of ink per sq ft which would cost about $1. However, tank based printers & ink is much cheaper, maybe by a factor of 5-10 (assuming similar paper cover per ml).

With inkjets you also want a consumer printer for maintenance. Typically pro models assume constant daily printing and can run into clogs without regular activity. Consumer models typically don't clog very much if it all, e.g. my epson P800 can go months without printing and have no clogs.

Finally if you look at price per page for laser jets, make sure the numbers are quoting for a full image which uses way more toner than they typically assumed.



Jan 01, 2023 at 03:18 PM
kdphotography
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


Laser printers are great for business documents and flyers (with color images)---but not for photo quality work. I have a Xerox Phaser that works great---fast B&W and color. But not even close to acceptable quality for photos.

Inkjet is the way to go for photo quality printing.

The current generation of professional wide format printers (24" and 44" carriages) are very reliable and dependable---even without daily printing that was required of previous generations. I've had every model of Epson wide format printer 44" printer since the old 9800, with each generation getting more reliable (and higher quality!) and distancing itself further from its clogging reputation of years past.

Laser easily wins cost per print.



Jan 02, 2023 at 09:39 AM
JimboCin
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


Nightdiver13

I have not asked if I could print test prints at any of the stores I mentioned - I never had a need to do that.

If you send me some images I will be happy to print them out on my printer for you and mail them to you for your evaluation. (HP M454dn). Would do duplex too if you like, including on thick paper (card stock). But as you said, you have a printer that is similar to mine.

---

I have had inkjet printers in the past. The reason I went to a color laser (in addition to my B&W laser) was one thing - print speed. I got tired of waiting for my inkjet to finish printing longer color documents. For printing "regular" color documents there is no comparison in my opinion - color laser is better in all aspects. Photo printing? A different issue.

---

I looked at the 11x17 inch color laser printers on the B&H web site - there are 12 of them. If I consider you are a school and the price you most likely want to pay, there are only three:
- HP CP5225dn, 20 pages per minute, duplex printing, $1868, 32 reviews
- HP CP5225n (not duplex), 20 ppm, $1649, 26 reviews
- Xerox C7000DN (duplex), 35 ppm, $1799, 1 review

Based on the number of reviews I bet the HP's well outsell the Xerox, but that certainly does not rule out the Xerox. I have owned a number of HP printers, never a Xerox. One thing I would look into would be cost and availability of cartridges.

---

My HP M454dw and the HP CP5225's both say "HP image RET 3600 calibrated" - whatever that means. You might want to contact HP and ask them how the color of the two would compare for photo prints.

---

I read your comment about testing various color laser printers in the school and getting different results. I wonder if they were using OEM color cartridges or after-market (as is common in schools).

You might want to open up the printers to take a look, or short of that look into the supply cabinet and see what is stocked for the printer.

---

Duplex Printing
My HP M454dn is a duplex printer. I have never had any problem doing duplex printing, and I do this often. It automatically does this all by itself, I do not have to manually feed.

---

Not trying to steer you in one direction or another - just trying to give you information for you to make the best decision from.






Jan 02, 2023 at 09:40 AM
Nightdiver13
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


jeffbuzz wrote:
Long term operating costs are always lower on laser vs ink for any significant volume. Inkjet per page cost estimates are a myth at best. Inkjet printers incur a cost even when sitting idle. You have to run them regularly to keep the heads clean. Then the heads need to be replaced regardless. Plus you're using ink just for daily/weekly purging even if you're not printing anything.

I've had good luck using cheaper third party color laser cartridges like ezink123 instead of OEM. For office type output those work fine. Inkjet photo printers and papers are fussier about ink quality. Usually
...Show more

Thanks for the info. Sounds pretty much like my previous experiences which involved a lot of clogged jets and dried out supplies. My district generally only orders OEM toners, but if there is a significant cost savings which would help my case, knowing that there are decent third party options is great info.

---------------------------------------------

sbay wrote:
That's certainly true for most inkjet printers, especially those geared to high end photo reproduction. Typically those printers would use around 1ml of ink per sq ft which would cost about $1. However, tank based printers & ink is much cheaper, maybe by a factor of 5-10 (assuming similar paper cover per ml).

With inkjets you also want a consumer printer for maintenance. Typically pro models assume constant daily printing and can run into clogs without regular activity. Consumer models typically don't clog very much if it all, e.g. my epson P800 can go months without printing and have no clogs.

Finally
...Show more

Thanks, really interesting about the consumer grade being less maintenance. The printers I had experience with were all higher-end large format printers and were a constant battle. If consumer printers don't have the same issues (or at least to the same degree), then that is good info to have. I'll have to do a bit more research.

---------------------------------------------

kdphotography wrote:
Laser printers are great for business documents and flyers (with color images)---but not for photo quality work. I have a Xerox Phaser that works great---fast B&W and color. But not even close to acceptable quality for photos.

Inkjet is the way to go for photo quality printing.

The current generation of professional wide format printers (24" and 44" carriages) are very reliable and dependable---even without daily printing that was required of previous generations. I've had every model of Epson wide format printer 44" printer since the old 9800, with each generation getting more reliable (and higher quality!) and distancing itself further from
...Show more

Yeah, I know that inkjet will always result in higher quality, but quality expectations are fairly low in my case. The results I'm currently getting are acceptable, even though I'd really like a bump in quality. Ultimately if long-term operating costs are about equal (all other things being equal as well) then I'd go with inkjet, but if the laser will mean lower costs and less maintenance, then that trumps quality in this case.

Good feedback on the newer professional printers though. Runs a bit counter to what another poster thought, but good to know you've seen a big improvement in those areas. My last experience with large format inkjets was 20 years ago.



Jan 06, 2023 at 07:43 PM
Nightdiver13
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Laserjet printer recomendations?


JimboCin wrote:
Nightdiver13

I have not asked if I could print test prints at any of the stores I mentioned - I never had a need to do that.

If you send me some images I will be happy to print them out on my printer for you and mail them to you for your evaluation. (HP M454dn). Would do duplex too if you like, including on thick paper (card stock). But as you said, you have a printer that is similar to mine.

---

I have had inkjet printers in the past. The reason I went to a color laser (in addition to my B&W
...Show more

That's a very generous offer, and I certainly appreciate it. Thanks! But yeah, as you said, I expect my printer is close enough in this case.

The speed issue is of huge importance to me, and I'm glad you mentioned it. I am generally trying to print batches of 30 or 60 full page prints, and the laser jet can knock those out pretty fast which is important when I'm trying to fit that into a short window between classes.

All of the printers in my district are managed by a third party local company who only resupplies using OEM inks, so that should be pretty consistent across the board. Thanks for sharing all your thoughts on the B&H selection and I appreciate your help.



Jan 06, 2023 at 07:48 PM





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