Up until about 10 years ago, color printers didn’t exactly print black and white images all too well. There were a few inherent issues with the technology printer manufacturers used that caused the black ink on the paper to portray tints and hues and all sorts of things we as photographers don’t want to see. Even today, not all ink jet printers print black and whites exceptionally well. It’s important to read the specs on any printer type to make sure you’re buying what will serve you best.
While I can’t offer you the “best” brand or printer model to purchase because these things are always changing, what I can do is offer you some information that will help you discern what’s best at your moment of purchase. Simply put, I’ll tell you what to look for.
Okay, so what are some of the problems you might come across when you buy a printer that’s not set up for true black and white prints? Well, grays may not appear to be true gray. Under different types of lighting, the black ink that’s put on the paper can look green. I’m sure you’ve seen this type of thing out there. I sure have. So what you want to check for when purchasing a color ink jet printer is whether or not it can handle true neutral gray. Not an offshoot of gray, such as a strange shade of green. Read all the reviews for the printer and check the specs.
It really all depends on what types of black ink the printer uses for these types of prints. Some of the better models come with three different blacks that can handle the neutral colors as I mentioned above. Others don’t. The ones that don’t, have a tendency to change colors as you hold your print under different types of lighting and at different angles. As I mentioned, the black can appear green under certain types of light and it can even appear bronze under certain circumstances.
There’s a thing out there called gloss differential. This is when you view a printed image at a certain angle and the printed areas of the paper appear to be glossier than the paper itself. This is something to avoid. You want consistency with your prints from any angle, for both texture and color.
As I said above, these things are always changing, so be sure to read reviews on any printer you’re interested in. Serious reviewers should mention all this.