Choosing a printer for printing digital photos

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Nothing is more exciting than to see your photos being printed out. What’s more, printers are now getting better and cheaper.

The two most common types of printers for non-commercial users are inkjet printers and laser printers.

Should I look for a inkjet printer or laser printer? For around $150, you can get a basic photo-quality printer. Prints from a $150 printer may be acceptable to home printing, especially if photo-quality glossy paper is used.

Color laser printers are more expensive. However, it boosts a faster printing speed, and sharper image.

Choosing a printer for printing digital photos

Is more DPI better? When you go shopping for printers, you will hear a lot about DPI (dots per inch) – the printer rating.

Printers with higher DPI rating print sharper and more detailed photos. But, printing at higher DPI will take longer time and use more ink to print, and the improvement in photo quality is only marginal.

Some professional photographers use 240 – 300 dpi setting when making inkjet prints and are very pleased with their results. For example, when I make an 11×14 inch print, I set the image resolution in my imaging software to 240 dpi.

Why some printers have lesser ink cartridges? Early inkjet printers produce millions of colors using black, yellow, cyan and magenta ink cartridges. They do this by placing cyan, magenta and yellow dots very close to one another. As the eye can’t make out the individual dots, so it sees the overall color produced by the dots.

Smaller droplets allow for more precise colors. Newer high end printers use more than Six-colors. They use black, cyan, magenta, yellow, lighter shades of cyan and magenta. The lighter inks make up for the printer’s inability to print very small amounts of ink. The result is smoother, more accurate color reproduction.

Usually, as the number of ink cartridges increases, so does the cost of printer.

Types of Ink There are 2 types of ink for inkjet printers: dye and pigment. Images printed using dye-based inks have more vivid colors. However, dye-based images are more unstable and may fade over time. Images printed using pigment inks will last longer, but the usually don’t have the same vivid color quality.

In addition to the inks provided by the printer manufacturers, third party inks and ink-cartridge refills are available. The prices are usually lower than the original inks, and some may even achieve a good quality print. However, do note that some printer manufacturers will void their warranty if off-brand ink or refill are used.

Portable Printers The companies Canon, Olympus and Polaroid offer portable printers. These mini-printers have some image controls and use the dye-sublimation process for making high quality prints up to approximately 4×6 inches.

These portable printers are small enough to fit inside a camera bag. They also allow you to print dirctly from some digital camer without even using a computer.

What types of papers to use? Just like inks, the type of paper on which you make a print greatly affects how a picture will look. Most printer manufacturers don;t recommend printing on other than inkjet papers. That’s because some papers may be too rough and may clog or damage the heads or the printer.