Printing Type


I wonder if this is the right forum for these questions, but I plan to buy a printer soon and I would like to know what your opinions are on this subject. Budget is sadly constricted to 75-125 euros. Could I find something decent and able to print Didots, Bodonis and other hairlines at that cost?


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    Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,765
    I assume black and white is OK?
    Although “edge enhancement” is nice in general, for this you just need resolution. 
    So, look for a TRUE 1200 dpi b&w laser printer in that range. (not one that reaches 1200 through “enhancement” techniques)

    That said, given your strict budget, the printer will likely have compromises in one or more other areas.

    If you are on Windows and not Mac, the Xerox B210 looks good

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    Thanks for all the information! Being a complete novice, I guess that I have learned that laser is definitely better than inkjet.

    I am actually on Mac and I have printing black and white texts on a HP ENVY Photo that is actually made for printing on photographic paper during the last months. I used quality art paper instead (non-photo) and I've been surprised by the quality of it - crisp letters, perfectly rendered hairlines, a general impression of cleanliness. 

    Do you think that doubling the dots per inch parameter actually makes a big difference in terms of visual quality and sharpness?

    Thank you for your patience and help.
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    John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 1,091
    Do you think that doubling the dots per inch parameter actually makes a big difference in terms of visual quality and sharpness?
    Of course, it is really Thomas Phinney himself, at whom this question is directed, who will have to answer it in order that it will be truly answered.
    You noted, though, that you want to be able to print typefaces that include hairlines. That almost directly implies a need for resolution.
    Back when laser printers first came out, though, they had a 300 dpi resolution - and people were amazed at the quality of the printing they produced. They could produce printed pages in Letter Gothic, Courier, or Prestige Elite that looked as good as the real thing - and they could even produce printed pages in Times Roman or Century Schoolbook as well that seemed to leave nothing to be desired.
    So your question is very legitimate. If there is a reason to use more than 300 dpi, the reason needs to be given to justify going to extra effort and expense.
    I remember that text printed on electrostatic printers at a 200 dpi resolution... was clearly and visibly made out of dots. A 300 dpi resolution is not that far from that, and so the dots are just barely too small to be noticeable.
    Digital printing presses tend to have a 2400 dpi resolution, but one reason a very high resolution can be needed in the graphics arts is because for photographs to be printed on printing presses, where lithography or letterpress printing, and not gravure, is used, they have to be printed by means of ink being present or absent at a given point.
    The way to do this is, of course, by printing them as halftone images. If the little dots in a halftone have to come in a large number of finely-differentiated sizes, the dots that they're made out of, when a laser printer is making them, have to be much smaller still.
    300 dpi looks better than a mimeograph copy of typed text; it's still fuzzy in a subtle way. 600 dpi seems perfect when used for office printing, and so going to 1200 dpi just provides a modest margin of safety.

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    Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,765
    Do you think that doubling the dots per inch parameter actually makes a big difference in terms of visual quality and sharpness?

    It depends on what you are doubling to and from!

    Going from 300 to 600 dpi is huge. A difference that even the average user should be able to notice, if they are paying attention.

    Going from 600 to 1200 dpi? Well, seeing as the 600 dpi generally has edge enhancement technology as well, for smoother curves, there are two main places it is noticeable:

    - halftones
    - hairlines

    So, if your Didot and Bodoni typefaces have seriously thin hairlines, it may be noticeable.

    Perhaps I am overly concerned here. Honestly, even a Didot or Bodoni, if genuinely designed for text sizes, will have sturdy enough thin parts at text sizes. Only if you took a display version and printed it small would you really need the 1200 dpi for the hairlines, I suspect. Or if it were a more exaggerated modern interpretation.

    As a more general practical matter, you might look at the ratings and reviews of the very few 1200 dpi printers in your price range, against 600 dpi devices, and make a decision taking other variables into account such as paper handling, reliability, interface and front panel features. Getting 1200 dpi is great, but if you have to compromise on too much else, you might be better getting a more broadly-useful printer and going with 600 dpi.
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