Introduction to a Digiograph Studio.

Digital fine art printing can be done in your home, studio, or office. Just be sure you do basic research on inkjet printers, scanners, and accessories before you buy. It is very easy to spend lots of money yet not really end up with a printer that is appropriate for your personal needs.

To be safe, stick with mainstream equipment. If a printer is displayed publicly at the major international trade shows (and hence open to public scrutiny) you can at least trust that the company is good enough that they feel their equipment will hold up to public inspection.

FLAAR does list unusual and innovative printing systems, but is unable to recommend any of these until we get adequate feedback from our own evaluation studios or at least from actual end users who have tested the equipment independently of the manufacturer or reseller.

Several people have written us asking how they can reproduce fine art prints from a CD. If someone offers you a CD full of old master paintings and says you can reproduce them as fine art prints, ponder the following reality:

You need anywhere from 40 to 200 MB or more to actually print a single image. A Kodak CD can hold only 650 MB. This means a CD can hold only about 18 individual images. So if you are offered a CD with "thousands of images" that means each individual image is too small (two few pixels; dpi is too low).

Scanning the original image at a high enough dpi is a key part of fine art giclee printing. More information on fine art scanning is contained in the FLAAR report based on a quarter of millions of dollars in feasibility studies conducted by the FLAAR Photo Archive between 1996 and today . This report lists what scanning systems are the most appropriate for subsequently reproducing fine art giclee prints.

If you attempt to do this with a cheap scanner, the resulting images may be so inadequate that no one will buy them. Besides, virtually all famous images are copyright and you can't simply print and sell them from a CD.

Occasionally we get inquiries asking about the Digitograph Studio. This is a difficult system to review. First, it is interesting that nowhere is there any picture or specs of an actual printer, scanner, or the software that is offered for sale. There is no such thing as a digitiographic subligraphic printer of course. The terms subligraph, Digitograph are completely made-up words because that is the only way they can become a trademark (as is of course the word "giclee," giclee is a pseudo French word that means "squirted ink."). There are only about four fine art inkjet printing technologies currently available. All are based on either Epson piezo printheads, HP thermal printheads, the Iris Herz system or the more unusual wire-jet system. This means that any printer which can actually print a fine art image is one of these four printer technologies under the hood, however re-labeled it may be. OEMed under a private label is a perfectly acceptable practice but we feel people deserve to know what printheads are involved. In car manufacturing it is required by Federal law to reveal who actually manufactured the engine, for example.

We look forward to reviewing the capabilities of the Digitograf system as soon as we can establish precisely what printers, what scanners, what inks, and what practices are incorporated. So far none of the people who have e-mailed us actually had one. As far as I can tell none had seen one either. We noticed that one of the offers on their web site stated very honestly and ethically that one of their investment levels was "not available in US"

Every system, no matter how unique, has some favorable aspect. Thus surely the Digitograf can accomplish something quite nicely. The purpose of a review is to ascertain what is the actual production basis. Is this something a first-time user can handle? Is this plug-and-play or does it require color management tools? Who is available to repair and service the system if it breaks down, wears out, or simply does not function as you anticipated from the advertisements? Professional fine art printers may prefer to use only equipment that has a 4 hour response time (that means you need a service technician within 4 hours from your location).

You can buy a traditional name-brand printer to do either dye sublimation or fine art printing on canvas starting at $9,000 (just ask for the FLAAR reports listed in the table below). Don't get talked into spending more than you need to. Sublimation just means the ink is heated, turns into a gas, and in this gaseous state goes deep into the fibers or pores of the material on which you sublimate (you use a heat press for this; they are very expensive at any size over 24 inches).

Most importantly of all, before you buy any system, be sure to find several people who already have the same printer. Try to do this totally independently of the manufacturer. The best place to learn about these printers is to go to a trade show (or at least subscribe to the trade show reports issued by FLAAR). We list each and every printer that is at the major international trade shows. If a printer can really do fine art giclee prints, then it will be exhibited at a trade show so that the public can inspect it in detail.

Never buy any printer, scanner, software, or "system" that is dependent on one lone individual or one sole company for support. This is why ColorSpan, Roland, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, Mutoh and other printers are the safest investment. You can buy from nationally known dealers. If you don't like one dealer you can easily switch to another.

For additional information and for help making your decision, to get the "FLAAR report fine art giclee printers," "FLAAR Report on which printers are best for printing exhibit-quality photographs on canvas," or for the FLAAR report on "Piezo vs Thermal printheads, fact vs fiction, pros and cons of each kind of inkjet printhead." You can also ask for the report on "Media and Inks for Photo-Realistic and Fine Art Giclee." visit our website

If this will be your first printer, then we have a special report that holds your hand and leads you through all the basic questions that will assist a first-time buyer of a large format printer. Purchase the FLAAR report on "RIP + Help." This explains what RIP software is, why this is useful, and includes tips, warnings, information, and help for a wide range of matters for a newbie. Here you will really appreciate that FLAAR is based at a university; Professor Hellmuth has plenty of experience writing in a manner that explains what you need, and why.


Most recently updated August 02, 2001.