T.O.P. Photography Accessory of the Year 2006

Joint Award—Epson, Canon, and HP for ULTRACHROME K3 (Epson), LUCIA (Canon), and VIVERA (HP) pigment inks (not all introduced this year, but all available at the same time for the first time this year). Although photographs can now be used in many purely electronic forms, the highest expression of photographs as fine art has always been the fine print—and prints with poor longevity have little integrity. Epson gets credit for the earliest use of pigmented inks. Now, it has two such inksets, and these have been joined by Canon's professional 12-ink Lucia set and HP's 8-ink Vivera set. In general, I think these inks are more attractive than dye inksets—they're a bit more subdued, seem to have more body, and don't as easily run to unnatural dayglo brightness—but the work these companies have done in creating inks with such good life expectancy is as admirable as it was needed. Of course, the applause the ink makers care about is whether the products are profitable, but then, if you're using a pigment inkjet printer, I bet you feel like you're doing your part where that's concerned, eh?

The Upstrap—When I blogged about these, a few people actually wrote in to say they didn't care for them, which only goes to show that on this planet there are people from another planet. The Upstraps are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They're the proverbial better mousetrap. I couldn't be more amazed than if someone invented a perfect camera bag or the ideal tripod (two other categories of accessory that will never be perfect, most likely because they're imperfectible). I have Upstraps on all of my cameras. They are one accessory that I appreciate every single time I use one.



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