Laser printer for digital photography.

To get the best results printing photographs or graphics with a laser printer you need to chose a brand of laser printer which is capable of printing photographs. Then you need to learn a few secrets of laser printer software. It is essential that you know how to handle Adobe Photoshop, version 5 or above (versions 4 and below are inadequate to produce the improved results pictured here).

A good laser printer will make your photographs look good. A traditional office laser will hardly be much better than an old copier machine, which systematically ruined all your photographs for so many years with streaks. Make the effort to select a laser printer which can handle the grayscale, this way you can print photographs quite nicely.

We first tried to print photographs with several Hewlett Packard laser printers, both letter size and 11x17. This was in 1996 and HP laser printers at that time could not yet handle photographs or the gray scale. Then we tried the Lexmark Optra N and the Lexmark Optra R+. Both Lexmark printers were better than the Hewlett Packard laser printers (HP printers are for printing simple correspondence, not for graphics design).

Then we tried a QMS 2060 monochrome laser printer, provided courtesy of QMS. The QMS laser printer reproduced the photographs at a better quality than the HP and better than both Lexmarks.

Next we tried a GCC laser printer. Even at 800 dpi it was slightly better than the QMS in the sense that you could set the line frequency much higher. The QMS blacked out at about 95 lpi whereas we were able to get the GCC up to 150 lpi (and even 175 lpi). Of course at the higher lines per inch you have to prepare your image in Photoshop to keep down the blacks. 150 lpi is about as high as you really want to take most images in today's monochrome laser printer technology.

GCC laser printers

At the left, the GCC printer in default mode with AccuGray turned on.

The purpose of AccuGray is to keep an inexperienced person from printing the photographs too dark. But if your photograph is of professional quality, the AccuGray reduces it to the lowest common denominator (it politely presumes you do not know how to handle Adobe Photoshop).

But if someone explains to you how to prepare your picture from the beginning, then you can achieve the results on the right.

In this case you can turn AccuGray off, since you can obtain a more accurate gray on your own.


But more is involved than merely turning AccuGray off. Here are subtle differences. The page on the left is the same in both pictures. The page on the right is at a weaker setting in the software. If you teach yourself the software, you can learn quickly to improve the quality of all the photographs in your reports.

None of the laser printer manuals explain how to do any of this. This is why FLAAR. Tackles this challenge, how to tweak great quality out of digital hardware and software.

The same image is used in all the tests on these pages, a rollout to the right next to the pot on the left.

Subject is a late Tzakol 3 Maya vessel (with no supports).

GCC ELite XL Laser printers reviews

If you need help in deciding what professional black-and-white laser printer to select, send an e-mail to Nicholas Hellmuth at Specify what kind of originals you have, what kind of shop or business (or hobby) you need this printer for, what state or country you are located in, and we will do our best to provide informative assistance. No, we do not sell printers (our institute is nonprofit) but we know plenty of people in the laser printer business and can give you tips how and where to get precisely what you need.


Design updated June 26, 2008.