21 Replies Latest reply on Dec 15, 2011 6:07 AM by John Hawkinson

    Choosing color laser printer for proofs

    kulstäde

      Hello!

       

      I need to buy a new small color laser printer to print proofs from InDesign. I have had bad experience with HP and Canon printers when transparent areas have been printed. However, Xerox smaller office printers as 6280 with true Adobe Postscript have always printed as expected but a little too dark and too much red in photos. When looking around I can only find Xerox with true Adobe Postscript. My questions are:

      - which of the postscript emulations from other manufacturers do you know works perfectly with InDesign?

      - which small color laser printers can you recommend for proofs?

       

      The smaller the better. Print speed is not especially important as long as print quality from InDesign is good and toner cost isn't too expensive.

       

      I'm looking forward your recommendations!

       

      Johan

      PS. I use Creative Suite 4 at the moment, not 5.5. DS.

        • 1. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
          Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

          I don't think you're going to find a "small color laser" that really does good proofs, but that's my personal opinion. You should make some sample PDF files and get sample prints from devices you are considering.

           

          I just repalced my Xerox Phaser 790 last week. It was neither small nor very fast. I got samples of my files from a Phaser 7760, which is now in closeout and discounted slightly (but still not cheap) and they looked pretty good, until I looked at the prints from the newer model, the Phaser 7800, that was just introduced. Those prints blew me away, and that's what I bought. This is a tabloid size printer, commercial duty, very fast, and the base model is a little over $5000, so probably not what you had in mind. Toner is not cheap, either.

           

          How often do you need to proof? Commercial printers tend to proof on Epson inkjets (not the cheapies you buy at the office supply, though). The big problem with inkjets, though, is they need to be used all the time to keep the print heads from drying out or clogging, and ink and paper for proofing are more expensive than for lasers.

          • 2. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
            kulstäde Level 1

            Thanks for your answer. I'm not interested in an inkjet because of the problems with drying and clogging heads, as you write, and because I need the possibility to now and then print water proof prints that won't flow away if used outdoors as small building construction drawings. And when choosing a small color laser I know the output quality is not the best I can get. However, I think it's the type of printer that fits my total needs best. Maybe a solid ink printer could be an alternative as well, but I dont like the fact that they use about 50W in sleep mode. At least not when it's sold as environment friendly... The question is which small color laser that will produce the best (not the perfect!) proofs and how well the "pirate" postscripts are working with InDesign.

            • 3. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
              Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

              I would avoid HP -- they have the worst reputation around here for compatibility problems. None of the emulations is likely to be 100% error free.

               

              I've been considering a small Samsung color laser for less critical work, but haven't gone as far as getting sample prints yet. The price and cost to run them are much lower than most other brands,  and my instinct is that many of the lower-cost color lasers are actually Samsung engines in other brand covers.

              • 4. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                kulstäde Level 1

                Yes, HP and Canon (almost same laser printers) have a lot of compatibility problems. I have experienced a lot of them myself...

                 

                Is the Samsung postscript emulation a rather good one because you have been considering to buy one?

                • 5. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                  Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                  They actually don't have a Postscript emulator (but for the kind of work I would put on it I don't think that's an issue). Why, exactly, do you think you need to have Postscript?

                  • 6. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                    kulstäde Level 1

                    Peter Spier wrote:

                     

                    Why, exactly, do you think you need to have Postscript?

                     

                    Well, I don't have a scientific correct answer. It's only based on my experiences with strange background colors on areas where text with drop shadows are placed on background color/photo, or similar transparency related problems. I have got that kind of problems on HP and Canon, both laser and inkjet, but never on a printer with true Postscript like Xerox 6280 and up. That's why I'm looking for a postscript printer. But if I'm wrong, please tell me the truth - it's far more easy to find a good printer if I don't have to look only for postscript in the printer specifications...

                    • 7. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                      Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                      Transparency problems may actually be related to a bi-level rendering system (different resolutions for continous tone rasters and raster content) rather than postscript interpretation. Take a look at InDesignSecrets » Blog Archive » Eliminating YDB (Yucky Discolored Box) Syndrome and see if that describes what you were experiencing.

                      • 8. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                        kulstäde Level 1

                        Thanks for all your responses today! I have now read the page you sent a link to. I hadn't read that page before, but I had earlier read another page on indesignsecrets about the problem. An interesting thing is that some comment mention that the problem accours with Xerox Phaser printers as well. I have never got the problem with those printers. Maybe the answer is to buy the first printer I find in the shop. Hopefully it will work fine, if not I have to spend more money to buy another one too... Expensive method, but it seems harder to avoid the problem than just looking for true postscript printers...

                        • 9. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                          Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                          As I said earlier, you shoudl be able to make a sample PDF (don't flatten the transparency) and get a sample print from any printer you are considering.

                          • 10. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                            mpc999 Level 2

                            "When looking around I can only find Xerox with true Adobe Postscript."

                             

                            For the record, some Dells have true Adobe Postscript 3. For example the 3130cn. I have an earlier version and am very happy with it, although I do not require color critical proofs. Dell, of course, don't actually make the laser engine; I forget who does. Upside is it comes with full toner cartridges (a lot of printers don't, so you run out of toner, the real money maker, quickly). Downsides are it's not exactly small, and when you do eventually use up the toner, it is cheaper to buy a new printer than replace the cartridges. If you check it out, select the Dell small business site, not the home user site.

                             

                            I have always been a believer in having true Adobe Postscript, not an emulation. I have been around for a while, and remember all sorts of issues people had with emulation, although I must admit I have seen very few complaints in the last while. Maybe it has become an urban myth. However, I believe in eliminating as many sources of error as possible so I can get on with my work.

                            • 11. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                              BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                              Older ones were made by Fuji Xerox. They may still be but I don’t know for sure.

                               

                               

                               

                              Bob

                              • 12. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                                Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                I'm also a believer in genuine postscript, if you're going to buy postscript.

                                • 13. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                                  kulstäde Level 1

                                  Thanks for your answers, I'll take a look at Dells web site.

                                  • 14. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                                    kulstäde Level 1

                                    I have now read on Dells site. Dell 3130cn is  expensive to buy in Sweden. If Dell is a rebranded Xerox I prefer a Xerox with  lower price. However, the Dell have slightly cheaper toner if buying the 9000pages toners...

                                     

                                    I have looked around on other web pages as well and have found the following possible printers:

                                     

                                    True Adobe Postscript:

                                    - Xerox Phaser 6280

                                    - Xerox Phaser 6500

                                    - Dell 3130 (expensive compared to Xerox if they are the same inside)

                                    - Epson AcuLaser C2900

                                     

                                    Postscript emulations:

                                    - OKI C330

                                    - Lexmark C543

                                    - Brother HL-4150

                                     

                                    Do you have any suggestions on which of these are good/bad?

                                    • 15. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                                      mpc999 Level 2

                                      I have used the bigger Xerox Phasers (not those you are looking at) in agency settings and they have performed very well, (except for paper feed problems when hot that repeated visits from Xerox techs could never fix -- probably irrelevant to your situation). So I would happily try another Phaser.

                                       

                                      Unless the emulation printers have other killer features or huge price savings I would not even consider them, since you have identified four true PS printers that could meet your needs. That's just my personal preference; I have no experience with the clones. But I remember that printers can sense when you are on a deadline, and that's when they start to act up.

                                      • 16. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                                        Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

                                        I have a few Xerox Phaser printers (6180, 6360, 7400) with Adobe PostScript (obviously) and have had no problems whatsoever printing output from InDesign.

                                         

                                        I would recommend that you absolutely not print directly from InDesign. That is not its forté. Rather, export PDF/X-4 directly from InDesign and print from Acrobat 9 (or later) to the printer for best results.

                                         

                                                  - Dov

                                        • 17. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                                          kulstäde Level 1

                                          Dov Isaacs wrote:

                                           

                                          I have a few Xerox Phaser printers (6180, 6360, 7400) with Adobe PostScript (obviously) and have had no problems whatsoever printing output from InDesign.

                                           

                                          I would recommend that you absolutely not print directly from InDesign. That is not its forté. Rather, export PDF/X-4 directly from InDesign and print from Acrobat 9 (or later) to the printer for best results.

                                           

                                                    - Dov

                                           

                                          Thanks for your comment. I think I will go for the Phaser 6280. The toners are cheaper than the toners to the new 6500 and it's well known for good build quality. Exporting to pdf is probably a good idea, but I'm a bit too lazy doing that for all prints and prefer the possibility to print directly from InDesign which saves some time.Of course I print the pdf as well as a last check before sending the file to a printing company.

                                          • 18. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                                            Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                            I haven't had my new printer long enough to really know, but in the past I almost always found it faster to export the PDF and print that than to print direct from ID -- the export time is usually negligible, and the PDFs seem to process much faster in the printer.

                                            • 19. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                                              kulstäde Level 1

                                              I see - it's a question of printing time, not a question of print quality?!

                                              • 20. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                                                Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                                By default, ID is set to send image data as "optimized subsampling" when printing, which tends to yield pretty poor prints. You can change this to "all," which I do, to improve the print quality, but it slows things down, especially if you are scaling down large images. The downsampling algorithm in the PDF export does a much better job than the "optimized subsampling" in the print dialog so you pick up both speed and quality.

                                                • 21. Re: Choosing color laser printer for proofs
                                                  John Hawkinson Level 5

                                                  Argh, I have to bring up the torch for this one again.

                                                  The optimized subsampling code sometimes gets the wrong idea of the printer's resolution, and downsamples too far. You can fix this by editing the PPD file.

                                                  I've had a several months-long dialogue with Adobe Support about getting this fixed, and finally got to the point where we could cut out the middleman, but I haven't really engaged in meaningful dialogue with Engineering about this yet. I will try to pick it up again soon.

                                                   

                                                  For our Xerox printers, we have to set the resolution in the PPD file by hand for OS to work right, but it's still measurably faster than Send All Data.

                                                   

                                                  As for exporting to PDF and printing that, well, I guess we haven't been willing to give up the alleged convenience of printing from ID. Though the spectre of background printing does indeed lurk (requires some automation!).