Hundreds of thousands of digital cameras are sold each year. Part of the allure of a digital camera for most buyers is the ability to take control of editing and to produce their own images at home. For anyone who plans to print their photographs, a new printer will probably be necessary. The quality of the printed images will be dependent upon the printer, the ink, the paper and finish, as well as the print settings that are selected.
Popular Types of Printers
Several decisions will guide the type of printer selected: the speed of printing that is desired, the cost, and the end quality of the printed image. Inkjet printers are common, affordable, and can produce nice images. Laser printers are faster and can produce an even higher quality print but they are certainly more expensive. Dye Sublimation Printers do not use ink or toner but instead use dyes to produce prints that are photo lab quality; but again they carry a higher price tag. Images produced from dye sublimation printers are less susceptible to fading and distortion over time.
Regardless of the type of printer selected, there are other characteristics about the printer which digital camera owners need to consider when making a selection.
Just as the resolution on a digital camera is important in determining image quality, so is the resolution for the printer. Printer resolution is basically the number of dots printed in a square inch. Image quality improves as the dpi increases. For instance, a dpi of 1200×600 and up would be very good for photographs.
A printer with separate cartridges for black and other colors produces better color prints. Some of the best images come from high quality photo printers with 6 colors. Simply put, if only 4 shades are available, the colors within the printed image will have less range and won’t be as “true” or life-like. If printing black and white images, it is also advisable to use a printer with a separate cartridge for black ink so that the blacks are truer.
Faster printers are generally more expensive. Speed is indicated in the literature for a printer as ppm or pages per minute. Speed is a merely matter of personal choice.
There are numerous other features that might be of interest for the digital camera owner. For instance, a borderless printing feature allows users to print the image to the edge of the paper which eliminates the need to trim photographs after printing. Some users need a printer that is mobile, one that they can take with them. Many printers have an LCD screen that allows users to preview their prints; others have multiple functions such as scanning, faxing, and copying in addition to their printing capabilities.
Connections and compatibility
It is important to check how a new printer will connect to the computer that will be used. Obviously the printer must be compatible with the operating system. In some instances, the computer can be by-passed by using a memory card slot that allows editing and printing from the camera’s memory card directly.
Paper and ink
Better paper can play a significant role in producing great images and in determining how time, moisture, and bright light will affect the print. Paper brightness, weight, and finish vary. In general, paper that is designed for the specific printer being used, and for the purpose of printing photos is the best choice. Manufacturers make recommendations as to the best paper to use in photo printing. Likewise, ink from the printer manufacturer also tends to be a safe bet as cheaper/non-manufacturer labeled ink is sometimes of lesser quality. In addition, manufacturers often produce paper and inks that are developed specifically to work well together. Paper finish can be variations from matte to high gloss. Most color photographs are printed with a glossy finish while many black and white images make use of a matte finish.
A Final Consideration
Once a printer is selected, the paper and finish determined, novices need to be sure to select print settings that will create quality images also. Selecting the highest resolution settings and making sure print settings match the paper to be used is the final step in assuring high quality prints.