Pigment printers, as their name suggests, run on pigment- rather than dye-based inks. Formulated with solid pigment powder, these inks are more vibrant, more stable, and more archival (albeit also more expensive). Their professional finish makes them an ideal option for artists who often display or sell their works. Pigment inks must be used with pigment printers, which tend to be much larger and, aptly, pricier than run-of-the-mill dye-ink printers usually found in home offices. They can be smart investments if you find yourself frequenting print shops more than you’d like and are ready to take control of your own printing process. Below, browse the best ones in our book.
1. Epson SureColor P800 Inkjet Printer
This printer can accommodate a wide range of paper sizes and doesn’t take up as much space as other machines. It is engineered to fit cut sheets as small as 3 ½ inches by 5 inches and as large as 17 inches by 22 inches, but it can also be fitted with a roll (purchased separately) should you wish to print larger media up to 129 inches long. It comes with pigment inks to provide impressive color richness and fidelity, and it has a super-small 3.5 picoliter droplet size, allowing for ultra-fine, über-precise detail work. Weighing just 43 pounds, it’s easy for one person to move and assemble.
2. Canon imagePROGRAF Pro-1000
Canon’s 17-inch Pro-1000 is a close competitor to the Epson P800, but it comes in second for several reasons. Firstly, it’s larger and heavier, weighing 70 ½ pounds; secondly, it cannot accommodate a roll for larger media. This means you’re restricted to printing papers between 4×6 and 17×22 inches—still a pretty fantastic range that will satisfy a lot of artists. What makes the Pro-1000 truly stand out is its 12-ink system, comprising 11 premium inks plus Canon’s Chroma Optimizer coating, which makes the ink deposits denser to increase gloss and clarity. Can’t pick between our top two? Here’s a good rule of thumb: Where the Epson excels in black-and-white prints and fine detail work, the Canon soars with hyper-colorful, vivid prints.
3. HP DesignJet Z9+ Large Format Postscript Photo Printer
If you’re a photographer who does a lot of wide-format printing, consider picking up this machine, which can achieve ultra-crisp graphics at an impressive size. You’ll need to set aside a lot of space for it, and get a friend to help you assemble and transport its parts, which in total weigh 160 pounds. The four-foot-long device can be fed with sheets or rolls (max 24” wide) of not only photo paper but poster paper, fine art paper, and more. It also features an automatic cutter to trim your roll media. The thermal inkjet system has nine inks at its disposal, producing bright, bold color as well as the precision required of big prints.
4. Epson SureColor P5000
This printer is developed with print industry users in mind. Its 11-ink system delivers superior color expression, and it comes with a paper cassette as well as a feed for rolled media. The latter is mechanized to seamlessly draw up paper (at least 8×10” and up to 17” wide) and has a dual auto–manual cutter to simplify jobs. Notably, it can be set up with an LLK inkset, which is ideal for professional artists, or a violet inkset, which advertisers and designers will appreciate for proofing purposes, which demand color consistency. This particular color gamut can almost exactly replicate colors in Pantone’s formula guide, the industry standard for process printing.
5. Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000
This fine arts graphic printer is a monster. Weighing over 220 pounds with the included stand, it will require its own corner in your studio—and you’ll need at least two friends to help with assembly. Like Canon’s Pro-1000, it runs on the brand’s impressive 12-ink system that includes the Chroma Optimizer, guaranteeing that prints look crisp and vivid no matter their size. This can handle a wide range of paper dimensions up to 24” wide, accepting sheet media as small as eight inches square and up to a whopping 5.2 feet long. You can also load it with rolls up to 59 feet long. The 18,432 nozzles on its printhead are equipped with anticlogging technology, bolstered by additional sensor monitoring: If the printer detects a clog, it will automatically deploy another nozzle to get the job done.