Printing photos on color laser printer

Started May 23, 2015 | Discussions
ibiza123 Regular Member • Posts: 280
Printing photos on color laser printer

I tried to print photographs on my color laser HP m476dw, but the output was not satisfactory enough.
The printer has 24bit depth of color and 600 dpi resolution, better than a typical photolab (300dpi).
Some pictures, for example resolution diagram, come out better than from photolab (because of better resolution?), some color images are of similar quality.
Many color pictures come out worse though, showing a sort of grainy areas, not visible on the same copies from photolab.
I tried aligning cartriges, different setups including recommended settings for printing photograps I found in the manual.
The output got a little bit better but still not so good as I expected.
Anybody here tried to print photos on laser printer? could you share your experience?

 ibiza123's gear list:ibiza123's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix HS10 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 O.I.S Panasonic 20mm F1.7 II
Zone8 Forum Pro • Posts: 17,276
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer
1

ibiza123 wrote: Anybody here tried to print photos on laser printer? could you share your experience?

The top quality lasers (The OKI comes to mind) can make a fair attempt at producing some sort of acceptable colour print quality but whilst suitable for such as decent quality brochures and suchlike - I'm afraid the simple truth is that even the cheapest inkjets can easily out-perform (quality wise) the best colour lasers on the market. Lasers are great for multiple copies as they are "Page Printers" - the information is sent once to the printer's memory, so from then on, prints can fly out, compared to inkjets where the information is sent individually for each print.

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Zone8: Although I am a handsome genius, when I stand in front of a mirror, I vaguely recognise the ugly idjit standing on the other side!
LINK: For B+W with Epson 1400 (and other models) using black ink only PLUS other useful tips:
http://www.photosnowdonia.co.uk/ZPS/epson1400-B&W.htm
Cleaning DSLR Sensors, including Kodak DSLR Factory Cleaning method:
http://www.photosnowdonia.co.uk/ZPS/KodakDCS-sensorcleaning.htm (Includes links to "bassotto's" images)
Solving back/front focus problems on Sigma and most other DSLRs
http://www.photosnowdonia.co.uk/ZPS/backfocus.htm
PDF format list of lenses you can print or download - covers Italian Flag YES/NO for DCS 14n but applies to others. http://www.photosnowdonia.co.uk/ZPS/ItiFlagLensList.pdf

OP ibiza123 Regular Member • Posts: 280
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

Zone8 wrote:

...............I'm afraid the simple truth is that even the cheapest inkjets can easily out-perform (quality wise) the best colour lasers on the market...

This is not true today, better update your knowledge. It was true a few years ago, but not now. I have a cheap (not the cheapest one) inkjet and my laser printer beats it hands down, also in quality aspects

With the single problem I described in my original post, showing in some printouts (still, most of people would not spot it at all).

 ibiza123's gear list:ibiza123's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix HS10 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 O.I.S Panasonic 20mm F1.7 II
Zone8 Forum Pro • Posts: 17,276
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

ibiza123 wrote: This is not true today, better update your knowledge. It was true a few years ago, but not now. I have a cheap (not the cheapest one) inkjet and my laser printer beats it hands down, also in quality aspects. With the single problem I described in my original post, showing in some printouts (still, most of people would not spot it at all).

I gave you an honest opinion, based on practical up-to-date knowledge. If your inkjet is not greatly exceeding the laser output - then you need to query why not. 600dpi laser compared to even the basic 1440dpi inkjet make a huge difference alone but perhaps your image files need checking for the inkjet work? Certainly to my practical knowledge even the cheaper Epson inkjets can well exceed any laser output in terms of photo quality. Perhaps you could expand the information a bit - like what inkjet make/model, what settings and paper/inks/profiles being used, etc. Especially the PPI of the image file - as one example, for Epson inkjets, use 180ppi, 360ppi or for the very best, 720ppi (check QImage recommendations and samples) as so many use 300PPI and that does not equate to getting the best quality output.  That alone could explain why your inkjet does not get the best photo quality - i.e. if you are using the PPI setting you also use for the laser.

It is possible, bearing in mind your first comments, that in a similar way, the image file PPI might be "incorrect" to suit the laser DPI output that shows on some (if not all) output prints? Worth checking and comparing any printed output that looks good with any that don't and then checking the file details - as mentioned, especially the PPI for the image file as 300PPI or 600DPI is more suited to the laser output as different sequence of DPI (hence best output you mentioned of 600DPI). Hope that helps.

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Zone8: Although I am a handsome genius, when I stand in front of a mirror, I vaguely recognise the ugly idjit standing on the other side!
LINK: For B+W with Epson 1400 (and other models) using black ink only PLUS other useful tips:
http://www.photosnowdonia.co.uk/ZPS/epson1400-B&W.htm
Cleaning DSLR Sensors, including Kodak DSLR Factory Cleaning method:
http://www.photosnowdonia.co.uk/ZPS/KodakDCS-sensorcleaning.htm (Includes links to "bassotto's" images)
Solving back/front focus problems on Sigma and most other DSLRs
http://www.photosnowdonia.co.uk/ZPS/backfocus.htm
PDF format list of lenses you can print or download - covers Italian Flag YES/NO for DCS 14n but applies to others. http://www.photosnowdonia.co.uk/ZPS/ItiFlagLensList.pdf

Bob P London New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

I think your expectations are waaaay too high, and totally agree with Zone 8. It sounds like you got lucky with a couple of images from a laser that costs a few hundred bucks, or the photo lab did a bad job. Resolution 300-600 has little or nothing to do with it.

Are your expectations based on manufacturer description? Their claims of quality are usually wildly optimistic, borderline criminal!

As part of my job, I print high quality portfolios for photo, art, graphics and illustration students from the local university. I run a Xerox Phaser 7760 laser (about £3,500 when new 4 years ago), which is billed as a graphic arts printer. I also run 2 x Canon Pixma Pro 9000 A3 inkjets and an HP Z2100 large format inkjet. I would never .. never use the laser for decent photos. The laser will always produce minor streaks and a rather hard finish, the inkjet no streaks whatsoever with fantastic subtlety of tone.

If you bettered the photolab even on 2 images, then I would either change to a different lab, or buy a decent photo-quality inkjet (making sure you print onto decent photo-quality inkjet paper :-).

OP ibiza123 Regular Member • Posts: 280
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

Thank you guys, you both cannot be wrong. I asked on this forum because the laser printer  has a few options to improve color quality (as vivid colors, photo colors, etc), in the manual there are some advices (as change the printer driver, calibrate/align colors etc) to improve quality. I was also mislead by a few succesful printouts, but judging from your mails there is no hope to improve in photo prints.

Of course I bought the laser not for photo printing but as replacement for my previous inkjets, which always made troubles with drying ink.

Thanks for your comments.

 ibiza123's gear list:ibiza123's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix HS10 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 O.I.S Panasonic 20mm F1.7 II
mike earussi Veteran Member • Posts: 8,365
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

I've tried printing photos on some of the most expensive laser printers around and the output is always inferior to my inkjets. It's just the nature of the "beast" since laser printer dots have no dot spread making continuous tones difficult for them to duplicate. They're great for pie charts and solid colors but not for smooth finely graduated tones. If your ink jet looks inferior then it's either of incredibly low quality or you're doing something wrong.

MOD xrdbear Veteran Member • Posts: 3,941
Just my experience

I print with my epson 3800 and 4800 and naturally they produce lovely output but I have printed some experimental A4 photographic prints on my Kyocera FS-C5100DN laser. Out of the box the output was not great but after profiling with my i1 photo the output was very smooth with excellent detail and no sign of graininess, streaks or other artifacts. Colour reproduction was almost identical to the Epsons after profiling with shadow density being the only significant let down (mind you this is 80gsm copier paper we are talking about). At a normal viewing distance the Kyocera's output would make many people perfectly happy.

I also left the prints in bright light, though not direct sunlight, and after several years they were little changed. I would not hesitate to use it for short runs of photo quality brochures and it made me some very good looking, photo based business cards.

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Brian
Fine Art Print sales of the Isle of Skye at:
http://www.eyeofskye.co.uk/

David Clarke29 Contributing Member • Posts: 787
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer
1

I've just purchased a Samsung 'Express' laser printer - not for the quality of the graphics but because it is small and neat and tidy.  It replaced an old Epson 1520 - a beast of a thing but when used with the correct media and calibrated would turn out some amazingly good prints - certainly good enough for a 7 x 5 desktop frame and put under glass as, for example, a shot of the company's annual outing.  Hardly the type of photo' that people would put their nose against in order to observe the quality of the print.  Always people wanting a copy for their office and never any complaints.  We're not talking fine art, just a facsimile with fairly faithful colours that people appreciated.

Dave. (UK)

Bob P London New Member • Posts: 7
Re: Just my experience
1

That sounds hopeful for the OP ... and teaches me not to use the word 'never' ...!  

Marty Megapixel Contributing Member • Posts: 689
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer
2

I responded to a color laser printer post last week, so I will chime in on this one.

First off, I have been a professional photographer for more than 35 years. No big deal in these forums. But, I ran a business that used a Ricoh SP C820dn color laser printer for more than 3 years, so I have a solid hands-on experience with what and what not a color laser printer can do. I averaged between 15,000 and 20,000 sheets of paper a month, 2,000 was duplex and another 2,000 of that was tabloid (11x17) paper.

It is crucial that you color calibrate the printer, which is a different process than what I do with my monitors and inkjet printers. I only used Ricoh ink and even though the printer weighed 225 pounds, I treated it like a baby.

In all the time I used it, not one client thought it was a laser printer. I would see large format printers in their offices and think "if they only knew." It is important to find the right paper. I am sure I tested close to 75 different types. The good thing being it uses regular paper, not inkjet or photo paper.

I have seen streaks, but they were quickly remedied by cleaning the rollers. These streaks were nothing compared to the ones I am experiencing with an $800 HP all-in-one inkjet printer.

If you are not prepared to research the correct laser for your needs and don't need a high output then an inkjet is your answer. But, to say the worst inkjet is better than a fine color laser is short-sighted and a very untrue statement.

M.

Harborseal New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

Marty Megapixel wrote:

I responded to a color laser printer post last week, so I will chime in on this one.

<snip>

It is crucial that you color calibrate the printer, which is a different process than what I do with my monitors and inkjet printers. I only used Ricoh ink and even though the printer weighed 225 pounds, I treated it like a baby.

<snip>

M.

Hi!  It's been a year.  If you're still around would you tell me how to profile a color laser?  Thanks.

Harborseal New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

I meant calibrate, not profile.  Sorry.

David Clarke29 Contributing Member • Posts: 787
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

Why not?  Go ahead.

Dave. (UK)

Howard Moftich Veteran Member • Posts: 9,302
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

When I got a color laser, I simply did the 'standard' type of color profiling for it.  I have no insight as to what the other poster meant when he said it was 'different'

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Online civility: Before you press 'Post', ask yourself if you'd say that to someone face to face.

David Clarke29 Contributing Member • Posts: 787
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

Same here - standard profiling as done on my 3880, although with a narrower gamut I was pleased with the results (for a laser). Can't see any other way of doing it??

Dave. (UK)

Howard Moftich Veteran Member • Posts: 9,302
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer
1

Harborseal wrote:

I meant calibrate, not profile. Sorry.

no, you did really mean profile.  I strongly doubt there is any easy end-user method to 'calibrate' it as is generally accepted definition with regard to color management.

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Online civility: Before you press 'Post', ask yourself if you'd say that to someone face to face.

Harborseal New Member • Posts: 8
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

OK, what's the standard way to calibrate it?  I will be new to color lasers in a few weeks.  

David Clarke29 Contributing Member • Posts: 787
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer

I use ColorMunki (sic) First I make a profile for my monitor using the ColorMunki so that what I am seeing agrees with internationally recognised lookup tables and my monitors ability to reproduce them.  I then use the CM programme to print out A4 target sheets from the  printer. Following that, using CM, and following instructions , I scan the sheets as required and end up with a profile that is then used to make prints that I can relate to what I see on my monitor.  There are other methods, but this works for me and the kit is not too expensive. The instructions are easy to follow but do not forget to factor in the type of paper that you are using - more applicable to inkjet rather than laser than laser .  but works equally as well. Obviously just using the laser to do copying is different if using the printers built in scanner. If however you copy/export to your p.c. you can print from whatever photo programme you are using and produce a colour correct result.

Dave. (UK)

technoid Senior Member • Posts: 2,245
Re: Printing photos on color laser printer
1

David Clarke29 wrote:

I use ColorMunki (sic) First I make a profile for my monitor using the ColorMunki so that what I am seeing agrees with internationally recognised lookup tables and my monitors ability to reproduce them. I then use the CM programme to print out A4 target sheets from the printer. Following that, using CM, and following instructions , I scan the sheets as required and end up with a profile that is then used to make prints that I can relate to what I see on my monitor. There are other methods, but this works for me and the kit is not too expensive. The instructions are easy to follow but do not forget to factor in the type of paper that you are using - more applicable to inkjet rather than laser than laser . but works equally as well. Obviously just using the laser to do copying is different if using the printers built in scanner. If however you copy/export to your p.c. you can print from whatever photo programme you are using and produce a colour correct result.

Dave. (UK)

I've also seen good results profiling cheap laserjets. A friend puts together an ikebana (Japanese flower arrangements)  newsletter and they work quite well for that.

There remain a few problematic areas. Generally the gamut is more limited than inkjets and LJs show some banding during gradual hue transitions.  The latter can be greatly ameliorated by adding about 3% noise to the pictures. The images are slightly more grainy appearing but the more objectionable banding is greatly reduced.

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