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Do HP Inkjet Printers use Different Types of Ink for Photos and Documents?

Posted by Bret Bottger, HP Inkjet Systems Marketing

I received a comment with a few questions from “WithFries2” on a recent posting about HP’s new Officejet Printing System. I thought the answer to these questions would be interesting for other readers.

Here’s the comment from “WithFries2”:

Is Officejet ink different than the ink you use in the photo-centric line of printers and AIOs? What's the effect on photo printing quality? What would you recommend for a home office that prints 80% photos and 20% office documents?

So, on the first part of the question “Is Officejet ink different from HP Vivera ink for a Photosmart printer?”, the answer is yes, it is different.

Officejet ink is an ink system designed for typical business printing on plain office papers or special papers used to print brochures, presentations and other marketing materials.

The black ink is pigment-based which provides laser-quality text that dries quickly and resists smudging and the effects of water. Officejet ink cartridges are designed for the high print volumes that are often required for business – this means the cartridges don’t need to be changed very often and provide low cost per page.

Photosmart printers use HP Vivera inks. While both inks produce excellent photos on photo paper, the ink used in Photosmart printers is optimized to create lab-quality photos on photo paper. While these printers also create high-quality documents, they are designed for the versatility that home users require.

Vivera black inks can either be pigment or dye based. Generally speaking, dye-based black inks are ideal for printing photos on photo paper. Pigment-based black inks do a good job on some photo papers, but not others. We’ll do a future blog on the different types of photo papers and how they interact with different types of ink.

On the second part of the question “What’s the effect on photo printing quality of the Officejet Printing System?”, here’s the answer:

The Officejet ink cartridges are optimized for printing photos which are embedded in documents, which is primarily how business customers use photos -- for example photos are often include in printed newsletters, brochures or presentations. With HP Officejet printing systems, you get professional color and laser quality black on plain paper. The Officejet Printing System is capable of printing great photos, but it is really designed for high-volume printing of text and business graphics, not photography.

And on the final part of the question ”What would I recommend for your home office that prints 80% photos and 20% office documents?”, here’s the answer:

I’m guessing you are printing mostly photos on special photo paper and printing your office documents on plain paper. HP Photosmart printers are focused more on photography and versatile home document printing. I’d suggest an HP Photosmart printer or all-in-one depending on if you’d also like to be able to copy, scan and even fax at home. Photosmart printers and all-in-ones for the home start at $99.

You might want to try the HP Photosmart D7460 Printer . This is a great single function printer that you can add to a wireless network. It prints lab-quality photos in six-ink color or high-quality documents on plain paper—all using vivid and long-lasting HP Vivera inks; it has digital camera card slots, and a touchscreen color graphics display so you can easily print photos without a PC.

If you’d prefer an all-in-one, consider the HP Photosmart C7280 Printer, Fax, Scanner, Copier. This product can be considered an all-in-one version of the D7460 printer with many of the same features including six-ink color with HP Vivera inks, but of course adds the greater versatility of an all-in-one. It also has a 50-page automatic document feeder to help with your office documents for hands free copying, scanning and faxing.

If you do buy a new Photosmart printer or all-in-one, here’s a tip that can help save you money. Consider purchasing Original HP inks in a combo pack which combines more than one ink cartridge in a package, or in a special photo value pack which combines ink cartridges with specialty paper. Purchasing HP ink and paper this way will cost less that buying single ink cartridges or packs of photo paper.

Good luck with your printer decision!

Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of HP and may not have been reviewed in advance by HP.

withfries2 | ‎04-18-2008 08:59 AM

Thanks for the oustanding, detailed reply. I had a hard time finding the answers to my questions on the public-facing Web pages about the HP inks, and your thoughtful reply is exactly what I needed to help me make a buying decision.
rrealrose | ‎06-13-2008 06:32 AM

Decisions, decisions:

Anyone have an idea what to do with a cute, adept Photosmart C7280 All-in-one that uses, hands down, nondrying ink: damp hands from the kitchen, sweaty hands from outdoors, this ink smears on 5 different types of ink-jet specific paper...and easily smears days after the priint job. And imagine - this printer won PC Editors 2007 Best Choice Award?

Can I refill the small Viviera cartridges with officejet ink, as described above? Or is there an Hp Officejet printer that works this well and is bluetooth enabled?

Anonymous(anon) | ‎08-10-2008 03:32 AM

I am using an HP Officejetpro L7680.  I am trying to use inkjet transfer paper from Lazertran to transpose an image from any printable source on to the transfer paper which,when dry, becomes a water slide decal.  The print out is excellent, but the ink (black or color)  won't dry.  I've tried clear acrylic spray to coat the printed image, that helps a little.  I've contacted Lazerjet via telephone and they are supposed to get back to me.  I'm using the ink that came with the printer.



Anonymous(anon) | ‎08-25-2008 04:41 PM


Anonymous(anon) | ‎11-03-2008 04:39 AM

I have a Hp Officejet L7680. just started using it last week. origional cartridges. printed mostly black documents. the black and yellow cartridges are now empty. just a comment in the cartr shop caught my attention. the lady mentioned that they had the same thing happen to them. can anyone shed light on this problem?

Anonymous(anon) | ‎11-17-2008 05:01 PM

I have HP printer officejet 5510 all-in-one - yes, I know it's old...but I would like to know if the printers in this model has the same problems with the color tunes?

Anonymous(anon) | ‎12-04-2008 10:39 PM


In response to the above, the printers are surely excellent, but if you think about the cost of printing photo's at home vs the cheap photo printing sites like photobox, or snapfish, etc Its hard to justify the additional expense unless you need photos printed immediately.

Just my honest opinion.

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