What Is Laser Printing?

Lambda and Lightjet are both brands of laser printer companies (Durst and Océ, respectively) that developed innovative digital replacements for traditional darkroom printing. Rather than using a bulb to expose light on photographic paper, these printers use three lasers (red, green and blue) to expose light onto photographic silver halide paper, advancing through the Lambda and in the Lightjet, rolled inside a large drum. The exposed paper is then processed in photographic chemistry to create a perfectly archival, digital but traditional C Type print. Hence the term, “Digital C Type“.

The Durst Lambda was one of the first ever laser printers to produce C Type photographic prints. The technology uses a continuous roll-to-roll single beam, 3-laser (RGB) exposure system which means that you can make prints up to any length, with a width of up to 50”. How does it work? Digital information is exposed directly onto conventional photographic media. Linear writing speed is superfast with a choice of 200 and 400 ppi (equal to an apparent resolution of 4000 dpi)resolution. The Lambda produces images with the highest possible resolution (68 billion colours!!!)

Laser systems rely on elaborate combinations of rotating mirrors and lenses that must remain in alignment through use. ‘Uniform spot size and shape’ means that even the edges and corners of a Lightjet print are as razor sharp as the centre. This uniformity is better than any other optical printing technique. This technology results in better image sharpness, uniform density and colour and the highest geometric accuracy over the whole print.

But at Metro Imaging we know that the needs of photographers, are quite specific and based more around the quality of the image, rather than the speed or efficiency of the machine. For artists and photographers the key issue is resolution and image quality. Here laser printers win hands down.

Compare, for example the Durst Lambda (laser) printer with two commonly used LED printers: the Durst (LED) Theta printer and ZBE’s Chromira:

Printer PPI DPI equivalent
Durst Theta LED 254ppi 1,200 dpi
ZBE Chromira 300ppi 1500 dpi
Durst Lambda Laser 400ppi 4000dpi
Océ Lightjet Laser 300ppi 4000dpi
Lambda and Lightjet are both brands of laser printer companies (Durst and Océ, respectively) that developed innovative digital replacements for traditional darkroom printing. Rather than using a bulb to expose light on photographic paper, these printers use three lasers (red, green and blue) to expose light onto photographic silver halide paper, advancing through the Lambda […]