Wide Format Digital Photo Print

This is top-of-the-line, continuous-tone photo output, and you'll only find the pricey devices for doing this in photo labs, repro shops, service bureaus, and "imaging centers." (See Chapter 10 for more about how to work with outside print providers.) I like the term "digital photo print;" others use words like "digital C-print" or "laser photo printing," although not all devices use lasers.

How Does It Work?

Either using three-color lasers (red, green, blue) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs), these wide-format printers produce extremely high-resolution prints on conventional, light-sensitive, color photo paper that's processed in the normal wet-chemistry photographic manner (although other processing "back ends" can be used). There is no screening, halftoning, or dithering of the image.

Italy-based Durst popularized this category of digital printers, and it now has several models of the Lambda digital laser imager plus other variations including the Theta and the Zeta printers, each with its own market niche. Using continuous roll feeding, the smallest (Lambda 76) can print a single image up to 31 inches by 164 feet, and the largest (Lambda 130/131, used at National Geographic Magazine's headquarters) prints up to 50 inches by 164 feet in one shot. Even larger sizes can be printed in sections or tiles. Two resolution options (200 or 400 dpi) yield an apparent resolution of 4000 dpi. (see the "Apparent Resolution" explanation earlier in this chapter.) For color depth, the input is at 24-bit, output is interpolated to 36-bit using RGB lasers to expose the photographic paper. There are approximately 800 Lambdas installed around the world.

Imageur Durst Lambda

Top: Durst Lambda 130 digital laser imager. Bottom: 30x magnification from a Durst Lambda 76 print. This use of the human eye, which includes a full range of tones from highlights to shadows, as a visual reference for making image-quality comparisons comes from photography conservator Martin C. Juergens.

Courtesy ofDurst U.S. (top) and Martin Juergens (bottom)

The Oce LightJet 430 has a maximum output size of 50 X 120 inches, and the newer 500XL model can go up to 76 inches wide (the older 5000 model prints to a maximum of 49 X 97 inches). The spatial/addressable resolution is either 200 dpi or 300 dpi with an apparent resolution of4000 dpi. As with the Lambda, the input is 24-bit, interpolated to 36-bit output color space (12-bit per RGB color). The LightJet uses three RGB lasers for exposure, and a unique 270-degree internal drum platen for media handling (the media is held stationary within the drum while a spinning mirror directs laser light to the photographic material).

Lightjet 430

The Oce LightJet 500XL (top) and 430

photo laser printers.

Courtesy ofOce Display Graphics Systems

The Oce LightJet 500XL (top) and 430

photo laser printers.

Courtesy ofOce Display Graphics Systems

Another high-end, large-format printer is the ZBE Chromira, which uses LED lights instead of lasers. The print is processed in normal RA-4 chemistry through a separate processor. There are two models and two sizes, 30 or 50 inches wide, with no limit on length. Yielding 300 ppi resolution (425 ppi "visual resolution" with ZBE's proprietary Resolution Enhancement Technology), this is another expensive piece of hardware (but less costly than a LightJet or Lambda), so you'll find one only at a photo lab or service bureau.

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  • faizan
    How to load paper in a oce lightjet printer?
    8 years ago

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