Here are some tips to help you get the best quality prints from digital images when you use a desktop inkjet printer:


Here are some tips to help you get the best quality prints from digital images when you use a desktop inkjet printer:

1. Shoot at your camera’s highest resolution and quality settings. Most digital labs will be able to print your images directly from your camera’s memory card. Note: if you decide to capture images with the RAW file format, you will have to convert them into JPEG or TIFF files before they can be printed. This can be done with the software supplied with your camera.

2. Use appropriate image editing software to set up the resolution of your image before attempting to print it. Where adjustments are provided, you should always set the output resolution to at least 300 dpi/ppi (this should be easy if you start with a large image file).

3. Match the dimensions of your image to the desired print output dimensions, using the Image>Size menu (or equivalent) in your image editing software. If you uncheck the Resample check box in the Photoshop Image>Size dialog box you can change the height or width to the desired size, the resolution will change accordingly. This is handy if you want to preserve the pre-set resolution associated with the file – and can be useful if your printer supports a higher resolution than 300 dpi. (Don’t worry if the dpi numbers include fractions: most printers can cope!)

4. Although most printer manufacturers also provide colour, quality, orientation and output size adjustments in their printer driver software, these adjustments are generally best made in image editing applications (which provide a wider range of options). However, some printer manufacturers make print sizing and page layouts easy by providing pre-designed templates that are supplied as part of the printer’s software suite.

5. Maintain a standardised colour space, otherwise the colours you see on your screen may not match the colours produced by your printer. (This advice is particularly relevant for images that have been manipulated.) Adobe RGB (1998) is the most commonly used RGB set-up in Australia.

6. Always keep an unedited copy of your original file so you can return to it if you make mistakes when editing your image. Make any adjustments you need on copies of this original.

7. Use a dedicated six-colour photo printer that will better reproduce the colour and tonal subtleties in images so they look just like they appear in a photo. Four-colour printers will not produce equivalent photo-like quality.

8. Use the inks sold by the manufacturer of your printer. There are several different types of inkjet technology; some use heat to create the tiny dots of ink that make up the image, while others use the digital equivalent of a micro-pump. Printer manufacturers develop inks with the right viscosity and density for the technology they use. Putting other types of inks in your printer can cause damage to the printer heads. You also risk getting poor colour reproduction and reduced print lifetimes if sub-standard inks are used.

9. Use the manufacturer’s paper – or a special, high-quality paper that has been designed for photo inkjet printing. Best quality results and longest image stability come from certain ink/paper combinations – usually those recommended by your printer’s manufacturer because the paper characteristics are usually programmed into the driver software that came with your printer.

10. Always pre-view the image you want to print before starting the printing process. That way you can check all the parameters before going ahead. This simple practice will save you time and money in the long term as it will significantly reduce paper wastage.

11. Allow the paper to dry for a minute or so before removing it from the tray and avoid touching the print surface (to minimise the risk of smearing). Let the prints dry for about an hour before stacking them and stack them with sheets of plain paper interleaved between the printed sheets.

12. As with photos, your prints will last longest when they’re protected from direct sunlight and airborne contaminants. Have all prints that will go on display encapsulated in plastic (‘laminated’) before you put them up.

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