For many people, spending £500 on a printer is not an option, but some photographers do like to 'go large' so we hauled in an A3+ printer from HP to give you an idea of what you can expect from a printer of this type.

The HP Photosmart Pro B9180 uses eight pigment-based inks, three of which are black, or at least various shades of grey. This not only extends the colour space of the printer but also makes for excellent mono printing. In our tests, colour prints weren't quite as punchy as some of the dye-based A4 printers, while mono output was exceptional.

The long and winding road

Initial set up of the B9180 is a long-winded process that takes the best part of an hour to complete. Ongoing use is rather more hassle-free with high-capacity ink cartridges that last much longer than average. This is just as well, considering that a full set of replacement cartridges costs a whopping £144 to buy. On the plus side, running costs work out cheaper with the HP than most other printers.

As with most A3+ printers, there's no media card reader or onboard controls for direct photo printing but the HP does at least feature an LCD status panel that keeps you updated on what's going on. Another bonus is that HP sells a particularly impressive range of fine-art photo papers in larger sizes.