Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Buying a Photo Printer

As more and more of us have turned to digital photography there has been a huge surge in demand for printers that can deliver photo print quality reproduction that we have been used to with a developer shop. With the development of improved technology delivering a wider range of printing options you will find a bedazzling array of photo quality printers to choose from so here we shall give you some sound advice as to what you should be looking for in a new photo printer.

Compact Photo Printers

These are portable and will connect directly to your digital camera or PC as well as having a slot for the memory card to be directly inserted into them and allow download and printing of the photos directly.

A drawback is that they are limited in what they can produce. The size of the photo print created is usually a lot smaller than that of a desktop printer but they do print photo quality prints faster.

Check the compatibility between the photo printer and your camera to ensure they will operate together properly.

Desktop Photo Printers

These printers are capable of stand alone operation or work in conjunction with your computer. They tend to provide a wider range of print size options as well as they are larger and tend to offer more paper handling options than their compact brothers. You'll find that they are more expensive but for the extra you get higher printing resolution and a faster operation speed than a regular desktop printer. Indeed, it is not unusual to find that they have all the functional capabilities of a regular desktop printer.

What is DPI?

DPI or dots-per-inch is the measure of a printers resolution capability with a higher dpi meaning that there are more dots, smaller in size and giving an image that is sharper as it is more difficult to distinguish between the individual dots than with a printer that has a lower dpi. For photo print quality you will be looking for a dpi of 600 while typically a printer will offer a dpi of anything between 300 and 3500 dpi. Aside from dpi, the other factor you need to consider in producing good quality reproduction prints is the quality of the paper that you use and the number of colors the printer is using.

Color Management

Usually you will see a photo printer using three to six color combinations to reproduce color prints. The more colors that the printer is using the better the finished article as you tend to get a blurring or fogging of darker colors if you use three colors only. More color cartridges however means more expense as a rule, so keep an eye on the cost of these consumables when you are looking at buying a photo printer.

Printer Type

You have a general choice from two types of printer that are differentiated by how they apply the printer ink to the paper. Laser printers use heat to force the ink through the print head and onto the paper but they produce dots of differing sizes which in turn leads to a less sharp image being reproduced. An ink jet printer will spray the ink onto the paper in a gradual series of layers that results in a uniform dot size and a much sharper image being reproduced. You will tend to find that the better quality photo printers use ink jet technology though laser printers are improving a great deal.

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