No matter how focused you might be on online image viewing and sharing, it’s difficult to downplay the attraction of prints. For most of us, prints represent ø¢â‚¬Ëœreal photos’ – and it doesn’t matter whether they are snapshot-sized or larger (although larger prints have more impact).


No matter how focused you might be on online image viewing and sharing, it’s difficult to downplay the attraction of prints. For most of us, prints represent ‘real photos’ – and it doesn’t matter whether they are snapshot-sized or larger (although larger prints have more impact).

Today’s digital photographers have a huge advantage because making larger prints is so much easier and more affordable than it was for our parents and grandparents. Furthermore, the prints you make on modern inkjet printers can keep their colours and vibrancy for many years longer.

But, choosing the right printer for your needs can be fraught with pitfalls. We’ll address the main issues you should consider in this chapter and look at the benefits and disadvantages of the different printer types.

Snapshot Printers
Printers designed for making snapshot-sized prints have several advantages. They’re relatively cheap to buy (typically less than $200), simple enough for a child to operate and use affordable media that usually come in a single package that combines ink and paper. The two main technologies offered in this category are inkjet and dye-sublimation, with inkjet printers providing much greater print longevity.


A typical snapshot printer with a memory card slot, viewing screen, carrying handle and simple control buttons.

Setting up these printers is straightforward. With most models you simply connect the printer to the mains power point, insert the ink cartridge, load the paper and you’re ready to print. Many models have slots for printing from memory cards and most models can be connected to a camera for direct printing.


Snapshot printers are simple enough for children to operate.

A4 Printers
Printers designed for A4-sized paper usually also print on smaller papers, such as 15 x 10 cm, 17.8 x 12.7 cm and 20.3 x 15.2 cm. Recently, most models in this output size are multi-function printer/ copier/scanner devices, although you can still buy single-purpose inkjet printers to suit the needs of everyday photographers and photo enthusiasts.

The advantage of a single printer is that it has been purpose-designed to perform only one function: making prints. No compromises have been made that might down-grade output quality; essentially the price of the printer should reflect its performance.

When you buy a multi-function printer (MFP), you are buying a device that combines three or more functions. Some compromises are always required to accommodate each capability offered. On the positive side, multi-function printers represent great value for money and take up much less desk space than a separate printer, scanner and copier/fax would occupy. Some are also capable of producing very good photo prints.


Combining high-definition printing with copying and scanning, Epson’s Stylus Photo TX650 costs the same as a standard snapshot printer bit offers better picture quality and far greater versatility.

People who run small businesses and those who work from home will require greater productivity and more versatility from their desktop printer, although the ability to produce high-quality photo prints remains a key consideration. For less than $400 you can buy a multi-function printer/ copier/scanner with integrated Ethernet support that enables it to be used in home or small office networks. It can also double as a fax and print labels on coated CDs and DVDs.


The versatile Epson Stylus Photo TX810FW multifunction printer combines high-resolution printing and scanning with support for duplex (double-sided) printing, faxing and wireless Ethernet to provide an affordable all-in-one solution for small business and home office users.

A3+ Printers
Printers that use larger paper sizes are generally designed for professional photographers, with entry-level units offering good value to serious photo and scrapbooking enthusiasts. These printers are designed to produce high-quality enlargements from digital photos. Most models will also print on papers smaller than A3+ size, although a few won’t go smaller than A4. (You can usually work around this problem by printing two or more pictures on a single sheet of paper.)


Epson’s Epson Stylus Photo 1410 A3+ printer is suitable for a wide range of applications. Its Claria Ultra High Definition Photographic ink set produces vivid colour prints that are resistant to fading and reproduce smooth tonal gradation andvfine details.
Prices for A3+ printers range from just under $700 to around $1500, depending on the number and type of inks they use and the range of media they support. Most models in this category support printing on coated CDs and DVDs while a few have roll paper holders for making panorama prints.


The top-of-the-range Epson Stylus Photo R2880 has been designed for professional photographers and serious enthusiasts. Using Epson’s eight-cartridge UltraChrome K3 Ink with Vivid Magenta ink set, it can deliver top quality colour and black-and-white prints on both regular and fine art media.

Direct Printing
Direct printing systems are common on consumer printers today, where they simplify the printing process for novice users. The most common is the PictBridge interface that allows a digital camera to be connected via a USB cable. Images can be selected on the camera’s LCD monitor and ‘sent’ to the printer for printing. Most printers also recognise images that have been DPOF tagged for automatic printing.

An alternative is to print directly from a memory card and many printers – particularly entry-level and general-purpose models – come with slots that accept popular memory cards. Printing from a memory card is very easy. You simply remove the memory card from the camera and plug it into the appropriate card slot on the printer. Most printers with card slots provide an LCD screen to help users select images for printing and control the printing process.

Some printers include wireless compatibility that enabled them to print directly from Bluetooth or IrDA (infrared) equipped devices like cameraphones. As with other direct printing systems, printing is usually driven from the camera’s LCD.

Some cameras and printers provide little in the way of printing controls. However, others allow users to:
. Print part of an image by specifying a crop area;
. Produce multiple copies of a single image;
. Print index sheets of all images on the memory card;
. Add a date stamp, frame or text bubble to a print;
. Correct exposure faults and red eyes in flash shots.

The main problem with all direct printing systems is the lack of control they provide over critical image parameters like brightness, contrast, colour balance and dynamic range. However, all direct printing systems provide the advantage of convenience for point-and-shoot photographers who are not interested in editing their digital pictures.

Visit the following websites for free software downloads and/or additional information on the topic covered in this chapter: for details of the PictBridge direct printing system. for information on image permanence and the results of lightfastness tests on printers and printing media for an overview of inkjet printing.overview of inkjet printing.
This is an excerpt from Post Capture Pocket Guide.
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