In a world of Instagram, Flickr and Facebook, physical photographs are becoming a rarity. But for those who haven’t abandoned the photo album just yet, advances in printer technology mean you can now achieve professional quality photographic printing from the comfort of your home.
To help you get the best results from your printer, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to print high quality photographs.
Choose the right machine for the job
If you’re in the market for a new printer and plan to produce lots of coloured photographs and images, choosing the right machine can help you achieve better results.
For photographic printing, inkjet printers are widely considered to be the best machine for the job. Inkjet printers spray ink onto the page through a series of microscopic nozzles, and it’s this technique that helps inkjet printers blend colours more smoothly than laser or LED printers, thus producing richer, more true-to-life images.
Although LED and Laser printers are gaining ground on the inkjet; expect to pay through the nose for one capable of printing photographs to the same standard as an inkjet machine.
Select the correct printing option
On modern machines it’s possible to print photographs from a range of different devices – not just your PC. Different input devices yield better results, so it pays to experiment.
If your printer accepts SD or other memory cards, this can be a great way to print high quality photographs. Memory card sand USB drives offer high output quality, so you’re guaranteed better results compared to printing images direct from your home computer. Plus, as you don’t need your computer, printing directly from a memory card or USB drive can be much quicker, too.
Understand your printer’s auto fix function
Purchase a dedicated photo printer and you’ll benefit from its automatic fix feature. Most modern photo printers – as well as some standard printers – offer a function that automatically scans the file to make adjustments to contrast, brightness and gamma - ensuring high quality photographs each time you print.
Most of the time, photographs will be improved by your printer’s auto fix function, but beware: some images –particularly those you’ve edited yourself – can suffer as a result of your printer’s automatic fix functionality. When printing photographs, it’s a good idea to produce a few tests before committing to large-scale printing.
Don’t fix photographs before you’ve seen how they look
How photographs appear on screen differs from how they look when they’re printed. So, before you make any major changes to the on-screen version, print a copy to see how it looks in the “flesh”. Not only could this save you time, it could also prevent you ruining the original image with unnecessary adjustments.
If you’re printing direct from a camera (as some printers now allow) or memory device, use your printer’s interface to make any necessary adjustments. Most modern printers allow you to make basic changes- such as cropping and red-reduction - to images via a small LED-screen. This can be helpful if your computer doesn’t have the required editing software.
Choose the perfect paper
Choosing the appropriate paper is perhaps the most important aspect of printing quality photographs at home. Whilst many reach for the glossy paper found in most shops, it pays to look around to find the paper best suited to your print job.
From luxury matt to high-quality gloss, there are lots of different printer papers to choose from. Photographers and professional printers often avoid standard glossy papers in favour of thick matt or satin paper, but it depends on your personal preference. Whichever you choose, be sure to set your printer to the paper you’re using.
At Printhead, our range of high-quality compatible ink and toner cartridges can help you achieve high-quality photographic printing for less. We offer affordable third party ink cartridges for a range of standard and photo printers – use the search function above to find the compatible cartridge for your machine.