Canon imagePROGRAF W6400 for printing digital photographs.

A lot of ink has been spilled over the supposed differences between piezo printheads and thermal printheads. If you use a Lexmark printhead, yes, that is typical of the deficiencies of thermal printheads. But Encad finally went out of business, totally, when their factory was closed by Kodak during February and March.

The Canon Bubblejet (thermal) printhead for the Canon imagePROGRAF W6400 is the difference between night and day when compared with the lackluster printheads used by Encad and Kodak. Their heads for their venerable NovaJet printers came from Lexmark. In distinction, the thermal printhead for the HP Designjet 30, 90, and 130 allows you to read text in font sizes down to 6 pts. On a piezo printhed, such as an Epson printout, text this size is splattered and slightly fuzzy (our university lab has testing instruments to record and measure the splatter; this is what a university professor does, tests and compares reality). The HP Designjet images were judged better than images from the Epson 7600.

Of course now Epson has their model 7800, so we will have to redo the tests. And now Canon is coming out with their Canon imagePROGRAF iPF_5000, so again, we will need to go back to the lab. But since we do not have any recent model Canon printer, we will concentrate on the HP and Epsons, which we do have. An Epson 7800 is arriving next week and an Epson 4800 is already on campus.

The nice thing about a university lab is that the staff are sort of oblivious to the hype about one kind of printhead technology and the smoke and mirrors about imaginary dpi. What counts with us is, which photo looks best to viewers.

So it is an exciting time in wide format inkjet printing. Lots of improvements to technology.

 You can obtain our reports on the Epson 7600 (its great for giclee and photos; it is only with text that it is a tad, splattery). Our reports on the HP 130 are readily available too ( has them all). And as soon as an Epson 7800 lands in our lab we will be glad to see how much it has improved over earlier models.

Same with the Canon. We liked the imagePROGRAF W8200, and the W8400 and W6400 seem to have improved beyond that. But we recently spoke to a company that needed to buy a new proofing inkjet printer. We asked them why they did not consider a Canon imagePROGRAF W6400, and were told that the print samples they received back were inadequate color gamut and not enough resolution for what they needed.

But since we do not have the Canon image PROGRAF W6400 or the W8400 and thus it is not appropriate to provide any recommendation either way. We currently like and use the HP Designjet 30 and 130 for fine art photography and graphic design Designjet 90. We have had the HP 30 and 130 for about a year and find their quality is excellent for professional photo studios.

Canon Image PROGRAF W6400
Canon imagePROGRAF 6400, Istanbul 2006.


Most recently updated May 12, 2006
First posted June 14, 2005. Prevously updated August 3, 2005.