#1 Guide for Buying Printers

There are many different types of printers, namely: thermal inkjet, piezoelectric inkjet, sublimation and laser. With the advent of printing technology, high quality colour printers are now becoming more affordable.

Inkjet Printers

Amongst the different types of printers, Inkjet printers are still by far the most popular output devices for digital photographers.

So, what should you consider when buying a printers? Let’s us name a few:

  • Does the printer give photographic-quality output?
  • Can you use a wide variety of papers?
  • What is the cost of replacing the ink cartridges?
  • What is your usual print size? A4 size only? Do you need to print A3 size?
  • what is the resolution of the printer?
  • Can it produce crisp black text as well?
    #1 Guide for Buying Printers

Resolution of Printers

A common confusion about resolution – “Is the resolution of printers the same as that for digital cameras?” The answer is no.

Let’s say if you have a high resolution printer with 1400 dpi (dots per inch) printer, the typical output quality should be around 240 dpi.

The dpi count of printer is not the total number of dots placed side by side in an inch. It is the total number of dots placed one on top of another.

I have tried printing with that 240 dpi setting, and found the result quite good.


  • In the above case, you may also set the image resolution in your photo editing software to 240 dpi.
  • While the basic inket printers are ranges around $150, the better photo-quality for serious photographer are priced from $500 – $1000.
  • There is no harm in using a higher resolution, although the printing time will be longer and ink usage is higer.

Not all the inks used in inkjet printers are stable. The images can sometimes fade if placed in daylight. Therefore, for prints which you would like to keep for a longer time, it’s worth to invest in special inks that are garantee to last for 75 years.

Broadly speaking, inkjet printers can be grouped into 3 main types:

  • Home Inkjet
  • Photo-realistic Inkjet
  • Professional Inkjet

Home Inkjet

Home inkjet is the basic 4-color printer. It give adequate results for graphics and text, but could not match the subtle tones found in a photographic image. Visible dots will occur in blank highlight areas despite using high-resolution files.

Photo-Realistics Inkjet

This printer type has 2 extra colors – light cyan and light magenta. This help to mix the subtleties of skin tone.

Professional Inkjet

The professinal printer is targeted for the professional photographer. It uses pigment ink to minimise color fading. Pigment ink has greater stability but the color would be less vibrant. The printer software will link with professional imaging applications and provide useful color profiles to ensure a tight conrol over color-management.

Ink Cartridges

The early inkjet printers have only 2 ink tanks: a black ink tank and a integrated color ink tank (comprises of cyan, magenta and yellow). These printers, nevertheless, still produces good prints.

Now, printer with individual ink tanks (some even offers 7 ink tanks) is available and has become the norm for graphics arts industry.

The advantages of individual ink tanks is that you don’t have to replace and entire ink tank, wasting all the unused ink.

Not so for single-integrated ink tank! Let’s say you print a lot of blue sky, you would have to change the cartridge when the cyan ink has run out even though there is still plenty of magenta and yellow left.

Portable Printers with Card Readers

Some photographers may like to travel with a printer. For this, the portable printers which are small enough to fit into your cameras bag are available from companies like Canon, Olympus and Polaroid. Some of these printers are battery powered, while others need AC power supply.

These portable printers allow you to do some simple photos editing, and use the sublimation process for making high quality prints up to 4″x6″.

Some Canon printers allows you to print without connecting to a computer.