This is a printer that merits serious consideration by serious art photographers, although other printer manufacturers have either launched, or are launching, similar high quality large format inkjet printers.
HP 8750 is the world's first 9-ink printer – with three black inks – designed for professional and serious amateur photographers. It produces gallery-ready prints of up to 13-inch by 19-inch, and the prints are guaranteed to last at least 108 years without fading, another world's first for HP.
The nine inks of the HP 8750 photo printer come in three cartridges, each with three inks:
The result is crisp, clean, stunning black and white photographs, without any hint of magenta or sepia (or some other color) that was common with other printers in the past.
The black and gray inks in the HP 8750, however, are not just for black and white photographs. They also improve the quality of color prints with smoother transition from one color to another.
Also significant is the new blue ink in the HP 101 ink cartridge. Yes, this will give you more vibrant blue skys (or blue anything else) but again, there is more to it. With the new blue ink, other colors appear more accurate as well.
The bottom line of the HP 8750 is not just better quality prints, but easier printing as well. The prints come out right – in fact, they come out brilliant – the first time round.
HP's ICC profiles seem to be extremely accurate – there is no need to spend endless amounts of time or money on profiling to obtain accurate prints with the HP Photosmart 8750 (at least on HP's own range of papers).
The new 9th colour, blue, does make a noticeable difference when you compare prints made on the Photosmart 8750 and the 8-colour Photosmart 8450 side-by-side. Blues are more vibrant and other colours appear more accurate.
If you have always struggled with black and white printing in particular, then the HP Photosmart 8750 will be a breath of fresh air. This is the one of the first inkjet printers to produce truly neutral black and white prints using the supplied inkset - most other inkjets introduce some kind of unwanted colour cast, or require you to make further investment in a RIP or dedicated 3rd-party inkset.
With the HP Photosmart 8750 you can get truly neutral black and white prints straight out of the box, although the printer driver software won't allow them to be bordlerless or colour managed from Photoshop.
Photography Blog awarded the HP 8750 photo printer 4.5 stars out of 5. It noted that the HP Photosmart 8750 does not score too highly in only three aspects: speed, running costs and the lack of a color LCD screen.
These drawbacks may be of some concern to general consumers who wish to save costs, or print directly from memory cards (where an LCD screen to preview images would be useful). However, they are not likely to bother professional and serious amateur photographers who wish to sell or exhibit their prints.
The Singapore (printed) edition of PHOTOi also sings high praises of the HP Photosmart 8750 printer. In its June 2005 issue, PHOTOi writes:
HP 102 Grey Photo Inkjet Print Cartridge contains Dark Grat, Light Gray and Photo Black inks. This is where all the magic happens. The extra grays help smooth out the transition of colours to each other and deals a card full of black and white printing solutions. They fill in the gaps, increasing the colour gamut of the printer and give us better B&W's with deep rich black and neutral grays.
The HP Photosmart 8750 is a clear contender to lead the transition to the dark side as B&W photographers everywhere will find what they seek with digital inkjet printers – clean, crisp, wide tonal range images that reflect their talent in stunning Black and White.
The UK online edition of PHOTOi also raves about the HP 8750's performance on Black and White photographs, but is less enthusiastic about its color prints, commenting that it is too brash and fails on subtlety. Editor Vincent Oliver writes:
As far as monochrome printing (B/W to you photographers) goes, HP still packs a good punch. The prints I produced didn't display any colour cast whatsoever.
I tried sending a file to the printer which was greyscale but in RGB and printed it as if it were a colour file. There was a very slight shift towards cyan but nothing when compared to the competition. Printing the same file but with the Greyscale box checked in the HP print dialogue panel produced a totally neutral grey print. I can't fault this printer for monochrome printing…
The colours are louder than loud, it almost seems like this printer is trying to give you more colours than there are in your photographs. Now if I were producing a colour print to show off a sunny resort with a lush blue sky, then this printer would be just the job.
However, it fails on subtlety, the colours are a too brash for my taste.
Having said the above, the reviewer adds an extra page at the end of the HP 8750 review to mention that a customised color profile produced a marked improvement in color prints.
… one of our visitors to photo-i – Neil Snape (www.neilsnape.com) kindly sent me some profiles that he created for the HP 8750 and after trying these out I was more than impressed with the quality difference. Neil's profiles were created for a prototype 8750 and they may not correspond to colours on a shipping model, having said that the review model I have here is a full shipping unit and they look very good.
To create a custom profile you will need profiling software and hardware, the cost of this will vary depending on which combination you use, but expect to pay anything from £500 upwards.
The difference between the HP prints using our test chart are a marked improvement.
In conclusion, I think HP could and should come up with a better profile for this printer. It is certainly a very capable unit and has just proved that it will deliver excellent results, with a good profile of course.
I don't think it would be an overcomplicated matter to include a small "Variations" style application whereby the user could select the type of print they want and the result could be saved as a User profile.
PHOTOi awarded the HP 8750 photo printer 18 points out of 20 for image quality, and overall 88 points out of 100 and "Recommended".