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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The HP is Coming

I'm pleased (no, really, actually pleased, which is not an easy feeling to elicit from a jaded equipment reviewer) to report that the HP B9180 is on the way—I just received confirmation this morning.

I'll be writing a two-part review of the $699 pigment-ink printer for the English Black & White Photography magazine. The first part will cover the development and features of the printer, a general user report, and color printmaking; the second article will focus exclusively on the unit's black-and-white printing capabilities.

The B9180 has the potential to be a minor milestone in photography. One of the new generation of wide-gamut pigment-ink printers, it's the so-called "wide-format" or "wide-carriage" prosumer version of HP's new Z-Series (say it the European way, "zed series") professional printers, which are the culmination of an historically huge R&D investment. According to Henry Wilhelm of Wilhelm Imaging Research, the leading independent laboratory for color print permanence, it provides print permanence as good as, or better than, any other print medium in the history of color photography. And it's an accessibly-priced product, shrewdly judged to fit into an optimal slot in the market. Just based on the specs, it's going to be suitable for anybody from well-heeled casual photo-buffs all the way up to semi-pros and serious artists and even the odd pro or three. Clearly, HP intends it to be better than any cheaper printer and cheaper than any better printer. To me it just seems to have promise as a serious printmaker's tool. On both counts, we'll see.

Having high expectations is, of course, a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's true, I'm predisposed to like it; on the other hand, I'm far more susceptible to being disappointed than if I were to come to it with no particular hopes in mind. I think I have the experience as a reviewer to balance my appraisal anyway. As ever, my strategy is just to be honest with you, so you can see for yourself where I'm coming from and adjust your judgment accordingly.

Although I won't be posting the complete reviews here, I'll post a series of informal updates as I go along, to keep you apprised of my investigations. This is gonna be fun.



Blogger Carsten Bockermann said...

After all I've read so far about the HP B9180 I'm REALLY curious if it lives up to your expectations...and yes, I'm planning to buy a new printer soon :-)


1:06 PM  
Blogger plabby said...

I hear media plays a huge role in output from this printer. My problem is that my local CompUSA stocks the printer, but not the HP branded Hahnemuhle papers that work best with it.

My evaluation is this. K3 inkset printers still rule the roost for B&W printed onto glossy-type surfaces. For everything else, the 9180 blows away my epson 2400 (provided its using the special hahnemuhle media)

1:25 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

Mike, this is one piece of equipment to get excited about. I've had mine for six weeks and am impressed everytime a B/W print shoots out the front. It's not without it's glitches but once you get to know it you'll be happy. The hardest part is sorting the many paper/profile combinations you'll suddenly be faced with!


1:41 PM  
Blogger Richard Sintchak said...

I'm REALLY curious to how this printer will perform for B&W printing, especially on lustre or gloss papers AND it's ability to do both neutral B&W and subtle sepia and/or warming effects, all without metamerism or bronzing. I'm fairly happy with my Epson 2200 but really only for matte papers and sure would like to see deeper blacks than I get now. I'm highly considering the new Epson 3800 but would love to be talked out of that particularly based on the price difference.

Will you share some of your review here Mike or will we have to wait for the B&W Photography article?

2:15 PM  
Blogger juze said...

I'm quite sure you'll love it. I currently have neither the space nor the budget for a new printer, but the test prints I got out of this baby are fantastic.
Also, I always thought that Wilhelm's ratings were a bunch of bovine excrement, but after having a long talk with him, I realised he's an honest guy with a sound testing methodology.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Player said...

Mike, your reviews are always enlightening. I look forward to it.

2:26 PM  
Blogger MJFerron said...

As a side note anyone wanting better B&W prints from their Epson (mine's a 2200)without using 3rd party black inks would do well to purchase Quad Tone RIP software. I couldn't get a neutral B&W print from mine no matter how I profiled until upon suggestion I downloaded a version. I'm quite pleased with the results I get now.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Gary Filkins said...

So, given print publication lead times, should we expect to see this in print sometime late winter, early spring?

4:01 PM  
Blogger Richard Sintchak said...

Just a reply to MJFerron who seemed to be addressing my post: When I'm not doing BO printing (which I really like on matte) I use QTR with my 2200 when I want some warmth, and have for a while. Very nice results and I love it. Does nothing though for my desire of deeper blacks and lack of bronzing on lustre/gloss papers.

6:12 PM  
Blogger chas3stix said...

I saw a video review on the HP B9180 on a photo web site from Great Britain. The review was nothing but glowing akin to the second coming...:)

9:11 PM  
Blogger quattro98 said...

I've looked at 3 different Borders for the November issue of B&W Mag & I can't find it. I was able to get the October one. Any suggestions?

12:32 AM  
Blogger Olaf Ulrich said...

Wonder how the HP B9180 compares to the Epson Stylus Photo R2400 ...

-- Olaf

7:44 AM  
Blogger Mark Goldstein said...

We have one of the first reviews of this printer here:

and there are some extensive user comments here:

8:56 AM  
Blogger Roy Feldman said...

Please look carefully for wheel marks on different papers.

6:09 AM  

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