Selecting a Photo Printer

Photo Printers

It does not matter if you started photographing in the digital age or come from the darkroom chemical days, there are are not too many things more gratifying than making your image come to life on paper. The technology of today allows exhibition-quality prints to be created from the confines of your very own home simpler than ever before.

The number one step towards attaining high quality prints begins with selecting the items pertinent for your requirements and, of course, your budget. I'm going to be discussing basic printer technology to allow you to make better informed choices as you wander through the many options available.

Black Canon Selphy CP800 Photo Printer - Main

Types of Photo Printers
In the quest for realistic photo prints that exceed or match what you can get from an online service or your local drugstore. You have two general printer technologies to select from; inkjet and dye-sublimation or (dye-sub). The vast majority of photo printers dedicated to photo printing available today are inkjet printers. Inkjets spray discrete, although minute ink droplets onto distinctive coated papers using a print head that generates numerous passes over the print surface.

Even though these ink dots are not mixed together prior to being ejected onto the surface being printed, they are extremely tiny; so tiny that they are measured in picoliters, that's trillionths of a liter. Intricate algorithms of dot placement known as dithering, together with paper coatings created to preserve image vibrancy and sharpness, have the capability to create colors literally in the millions using tonal gradations that look smooth to the bare eye. Inkjets also come in a wide variety of forms.

Compact photo inkjet printers have the capacity be operated without being connected to computer. Images (usually 4 x6in) may be printed straight from a camera with a USB connection, a mobile Bluetooth enabled device or memory card.

Desktop models most often feature input trays allowing you to print directly onto CDs and DVDs Several 13- inch or wider printers also include attachments that allow for printing on rolls, for photo lengths extending past the standard photo sheet sizes.

Ink applied to paper
At the center of inkjet printer engineering are print heads, which specifically expel the ink while they sweep left to right on the print surface width. Print heads hold rows of small openings, entitled nozzles. As the print head does a complete pass along the printing surface, a printer motor moves the paper forward line by line, rendering not yet inked areas to an ink-projecting nozzle.

Piezoelectric print heads create an electrical charge activated by a mechanical element forcing an ink drop via the nozzle. A thermal inkjet print head, allows for a thermal element to quickly heat the ink, creating air bubbles with the resulting pressure forcing droplets of ink out of the print nozzle.

Piezoelectric print heads can eject droplets of various sizes from one single nozzle location, allowing for sharp, finely resolved photo detail. Thermal print heads normally provide a high density ratio of nozzles per print head, providing increased print speed. Although there are variations in regards to production cost and serviceable life, both thermal and piezoelectric print heads have the capacity to produce very high-quality photo prints.

Making the dots invisible to the bare eye
Inkjet printers can create an illusion of silky, realistic photo tonal gradations by employing extremely tiny ink droplets and manipulating the size and interval to create darker or less intense areas within a photo. To put it simply, a sequence of dots tightly packed together on a page will produce a darker appearing hue than dots of the same density which are further spaced apart. Naturally a problem results when too much area is between dots, then our eyes will select them as individual characters. In the early era of photo printer technology, a telling sign that a photo had been printed employing an inkjet photo printer was the manifestation of perceptible dots in the highlighted tones of a photo, where wider ink dot spacing applied to the paper was necessary to accomplish light tone densities.

Although inkjet prints provide the look of a smooth yield to the bare eye, a magnification of 13x displays a dither pattern of small dots with close spacing. This is the reason in prosumer-type photo printers of today you often not only see the traditional magenta, cyan, yellow and black colors but watered down versions, like light cyan, light magenta along with light black (also called gray). These derived inks work in harmony with the CMYK primary inks to allow for seamless transitions from dark to light tones. As their density values are lighter, these derived inks can be placed closer to mask individual dots from being seen by the bare eye and yet still produce the print densities needed to create delicate detailed highlights.

In todays world, inkjet printers engineered for high quality photo output employ individual cartridges for each color of ink. Separate color cartridges run out at varying rates, which means you'll be replacing colors individually, instead of all at one time. For print colors, 'K' stands for black. For the typical printer, PK means 'photo black', LK 'light black' and LLK 'light lighter black'.

Prosumer Photo Printers
Printer manufactures offer an array of models, separated by price. Going up from a starter-version inkjet printer to a 'professional' versions can bring many benefits. The most evident is the power to create larger prints. Instead of the 8.5 inch-wide/A4 paper limitation, bigger desktop versions can accept from 13 inches up to 17 inches in width photo paper. The most prevalent inkjet paper sizes in addition to letter-size are 11 x 17/A3, 13 x 19/Super A3, and 17 x 22/A2 paler.

Another advantage of the bigger pro-level desktop printers is that they have been engineered to manage heavier, thicker, fine art photo papers that are next to impossible to reliably load into letter-size photo printers. Purchase cost aside, bigger printers can actually yield less expense per-print over letter-size/A4 printers allowing them ro be less costly to carry out over the long-range as they use larger size ink cartridges.

The larger size ink cartridges included in17-inch wide photo printers provide a much better cost to value, with ink expense normally half as the cost per ml as cartridges installed on smaller printers. Think of it like acquiring your printer ink in bulk quantities. Even if you seldom need to create a larger print, if you intend to print on an ongoing basis, you might quickly pick up the difference in cost of getting a bigger printer in printer ink savings alone.

Black and White Prints
Because of the inherent impurities of inks, one of the most challenging things to accomplish is neutral monochrome output by blending color inks. Consequently, printers most useable for black and white prints will feature additional black ink cartridges.

A printer using multiple intensities of black inks has numerous benefits when creating black and white prints. Similar to secondary cyan and magenta inks, these lighter black/gray inks have the ability to create detail much more authentically in the highlight areas. These dilutions also cut down or in a few situations eliminate the need for color inks, accomplishing more neutral prints and decreasing the amount of color shifting, (technically labeled as metameric failure), which can happen as you look at the the identical print under varying lighting.

Pigments and Dyes A very important difference you'll find in printer specifications is the type of ink that is used. Dye inks are employed in a great majority of inkjet photo printers. They can create extremely saturated colors while being somewhat inexpensive to make. However dye inks, have poor light fastness properties, so they are prone to conspicuous fading over somewhat short periods of time. For photographers whose main concerns are image permanence and long life, printer manufactures provide models that employ pigment inks.

Pigments have more fade resistance plus a larger range of display natures over dyes. Although the array of hues and color saturation (called color gamut) pigments are able to produce have grown greatly in the last several years, they normally display a lesser color array than their ink dye foundation counterparts. If photo permanence is of concern, remember that printer inks are only a portion of the story. The photo paper on which you print your inks is just as important, as are are the environmental situations in which the photo print is exhibited.

Types of Black ink

Selecting a Photo Printer

It does not matter if you started photographing in the digital age or come from the darkroom chemical days, there are are too many things more gratifying than making your image come to life on paper. The technology of today allows exhibition-quality prints to be created from the confines of your very own home simpler than ever before.

The number one step towards attaining high quality prints begins with selecting the items pertinent for your requirements and, of course, your budget. I'm going to be discussing basic printer technology to allow you to make better informed choices as you wander through the many options available.

Types of Photo Printers
In the quest for realistic photo prints that exceed or match what you can get from an online service or your local drugstore. You have two general printer technologies to select from; inkjet and dye-sublimation or (dye-sub). The vast majority of photo printers dedicated to photo printing available today are inkjet printers. Inkjets spray discrete, although minute ink droplets onto distinctive coated papers using a print head that generates numerous passes over the print surface.

Even though these ink dots are not mixed together prior to being ejected onto the surface being printed, they are extremely tiny; so tiny that they are measured in picoliters, that's trillionths of a liter. Intricate algorithms of dot placement known as dithering, together with paper coatings created to preserve image vibrancy and sharpness, have the capability to create colors literally in the millions using tonal gradations that look smooth to the bare eye. Inkjets also come in a wide variety of forms.

Compact photo inkjet printers have the capacity be operated without being connected to computer. Images (usually 4 x6in) may be printed straight from a camera with a USB connection, a mobile Bluetooth enabled device or memory card.

Desktop models most often feature input trays allowing you to print directly onto CDs and DVDs Several 13- inch or wider printers also include attachments that allow for printing on rolls, for photo lengths extending past the standard photo sheet sizes.

Ink applied to paper
At the center of inkjet printer engineering are print heads, which specifically expel the ink while they sweep left to right on the print surface width. Print heads hold rows of small openings, entitled nozzles. As the print head does a complete pass along the printing surface, a printer motor moves the paper forward line by line, rendering not yet inked areas to an ink-projecting nozzle.

Piezoelectric print heads create an electrical charge activated by a mechanical element forcing an ink drop via the nozzle. A thermal inkjet print head, allows for a thermal element to quickly heat the ink, creating air bubbles with the resulting pressure forcing droplets of ink out of the print nozzle.

Piezoelectric print heads can eject droplets of various sizes from one single nozzle location, allowing for sharp, finely resolved photo detail. Thermal print heads normally provide a high density ratio of nozzles per print head, providing increased print speed. Although there are variations in regards to production cost and serviceable life, both thermal and piezoelectric print heads have the capacity to produce very high-quality photo prints.

Making the dots invisible to the bare eye
Inkjet printers can create an illusion of silky, realistic photo tonal gradations by employing extremely tiny ink droplets and manipulating the size and interval to create darker or less intense areas within a photo. To put it simply, a sequence of dots tightly packed together on a page will produce a darker appearing hue than dots of the same density which are further spaced apart. Naturally a problem results when too much area is between dots, then our eyes will select them as individual characters. In the early era of photo printer technology, a telling sign that a photo had been printed employing an inkjet photo printer was the manifestation of perceptible dots in the highlighted tones of a photo, where wider ink dot spacing applied to the paper was necessary to accomplish light tone densities.

Although inkjet prints provide the look of a smooth yield to the bare eye, a magnification of 13x displays a dither pattern of small dots with close spacing. This is the reason in prosumer-type photo printers of today you often not only see the traditional magenta, cyan, yellow and black colors but watered down versions, like light cyan, light magenta along with light black (also called gray). These derived inks work in harmony with the CMYK primary inks to allow for seamless transitions from dark to light tones. As their density values are lighter, these derived inks can be placed closer to mask individual dots from being seen by the bare eye and yet still produce the print densities needed to create delicate detailed highlights.

In today's world, inkjet printers engineered for high quality photo output employ individual cartridges for each color of ink. Separate color cartridges run out at varying rates, which means you'll be replacing colors individually, instead of all at one time. For print colors, 'K' stands for black. For the typical printer, PK means 'photo black', LK 'light black' and LLK 'light lighter black'.

Prosumer Photo Printers
Printer manufactures offer an array of models, separated by price. Going up from a starter-version inkjet printer to a 'professional' versions can bring many benefits. The most evident is the power to create larger prints. Instead of the 8.5 inch-wide/A4 paper limitation, bigger desktop versions can accept from 13 inches up to 17 inches in width photo paper. The most prevalent inkjet paper sizes in addition to letter-size are 11 x 17/A3, 13 x 19/Super A3, and 17 x 22/A2 paler.

Another advantage of the bigger pro-level desktop printers is that they have been engineered to manage heavier, thicker, fine art photo papers that are next to impossible to reliably load into letter-size photo printers. Purchase cost aside, bigger printers can actually yield less expense per-print over letter-size/A4 printers allowing them ro be less costly to carry out over the long-range as they use larger size ink cartridges.

The larger size ink cartridges included in17-inch wide photo printers provide a much better cost to value, with ink expense normally half as the cost per ml as cartridges installed on smaller printers. Think of it like acquiring your printer ink in bulk quantities. Even if you seldom need to create a larger print, if you intend to print on an ongoing basis, you might quickly pick up the difference in cost of getting a bigger printer in printer ink savings alone.

Black and White Prints
Because of the inherent impurities of inks, one of the most challenging things to accomplish is neutral monochrome output by blending color inks. Consequently, printers most useable for black and white prints will feature additional black ink cartridges.

A printer using multiple intensities of black inks has numerous benefits when creating black and white prints. Similar to secondary cyan and magenta inks, these lighter black/gray inks have the ability to create detail much more authentically in the highlight areas. These dilutions also cut down or in a few situations eliminate the need for color inks, accomplishing more neutral prints and decreasing the amount of color shifting, (technically labeled as metameric failure), which can happen as you look at the the identical print under varying lighting.

Pigments and Dyes
A very important difference you'll find in printer specifications is the type of ink that is used. Dye inks are employed in a great majority of inkjet photo printers. They can create extremely saturated colors while being somewhat inexpensive to make. However dye inks, have poor light fastness properties, so they are prone to conspicuous fading over somewhat short periods of time. For photographers whose main concerns are image permanence and long life, printer manufactures provide models that employ pigment inks.

Pigments have more fade resistance plus a larger range of display natures over dyes. Although the array of hues and color saturation (called color gamut) pigments are able to produce have grown greatly in the last several years, they normally display a lesser color array than their ink dye foundation counterparts. If photo permanence is of concern, remember that printer inks are only a portion of the story. The photo paper on which you print your inks is just as important, as are are the environmental situations in which the photo print is exhibited.

Types of Black ink
Pigment-based inkjet photo printers come with two distinct full-density black ink. One is devised for glossy papers (normally labeled Photo Black) and the other one (Matte Black) is created for using with matte printer papers. A few printers will need to empty ink lines every time you switch from matte black to photo black, a waist of precious ink. If your inkjet printer functions in this fashion, the simplest way to cut down on ink waste is to set aside your printing modes to your choice of matte or glossy photo paper and avoiding changing to and fro after every print.

Although most photo printer drivers can automatically change between the two predicated upon the type of photo paper you have inserted into the printer, it's worthwhile stating that using photo black ink with a matte paper consequently will end up with muddy, faded out shadow sections, While matte back photo ink will just not properly stick to a glossy photo paper; and it can easily be rubbed it off using your finger.

Dye-sub printers depend upon a process of heating to blend the dyes onto paper that's specially coated, creating an uninterrupted tone print. A protective clear layer is added on top of the dyes, giving them less vulnerability to scuffing and smearing as the print becomes handled.

Printing output of consumer type dye-sub printers has a typical limitation of a 4x 6 inch size or less.

Dye-sublimation engineering is employed only on a relatively small array of consumer-type compact photo printers like the Canon Selphy printers and the Polaroid POGO printers. The particular media necessary for these dye printers is specific to brand, and usually comes as an combined paper/ink package which is inserted into the printer.

Standard Paper Selection
Printer manufactures provide an array of house-brand photo papers of which to print your photos, and feature a range of brightness intensities and surface grain. The broadest selection, however, is choosing between matte or glossy papers. Glossy papers range from smooth very reflective type papers to more subdued finishes with a just hint of grain. The illustrative designations of'semi-gloss', 'luster', photo', 'satin', and 'film', naming just a few, all discuss glossy photo papers. As a general rule, glossy papers feature a wide color range, providing the greatest array of hue and saturation. These papers generate very rich prints featuring a high contrast degree.

By comparison, Matte papers feature a relatively muted range and create weaker blacks. Their main attraction lies, in big part, on the wide gamut of surface textures they come in. Papers featuring a prominent 'tooth' have the ability to provide a fine-art flourish to appropriate types of subjects, more closely looking like a traditional ink to paper print instead of a typical photo. Of course the choice here becomes one of personal fondness. Coming up in a subsequent article, however, printer company papers are only the point of beginning, as robust, exhibition quality papers exist from outside vendors.

Pigment-based inkjet photo printers come with two distinct full-density black ink. One is devised for glossy papers (normally labeled Photo Black) and the other one (Matte Black) is created for using with matte printer papers. A few printers will need to empty ink lines every time you switch from matte black to photo black, a waist of precious ink. If your inkjet printer functions in this fashion, the simplest way to cut down on ink waste is to set aside your printing modes to your choice of matte or glossy photo paper and avoiding changing to and fro after every print.

Although most photo printer drivers can automatically change between the two predicated upon the type of photo paper you have inserted into the printer, it's worthwhile stating that using photo black ink with a matte paper consequently will end up with muddy, faded out shadow sections, While matte back photo ink will just not properly stick to a glossy photo paper; and it can easily be rubbed it off using your finger.

Dye-sub printers depend upon a process of heating to blend the dyes onto paper that's specially coated, creating an uninterrupted tone print. A protective clear layer is added on top of the dyes, giving them less vulnerability to scuffing and smearing as the print becomes handled.

Printing output of consumer type dye-sub printers has a typical limitation of a 4x 6 inch size or less.

Dye-sublimation engineering is employed only on a relatively small array of consumer-type compact photo printers like the Canon Selphy printers and the Polaroid POGO printers. The particular media necessary for these dye printers is specific to brand, and usually comes as an combined paper/ink package which is inserted into the printer.  New Review Jul 27, 2010

Related Articles

External Links

Facebook Comments