One of the greatest joys for any photographer is to hold their finest photograph in their hands, or better still hang it on the family room wall. But when it comes to photo printers, you have almost as many choices as when you picked out your camera. Here are some features to consider when buying a photo quality printer:
- Size of print. Printers are categorized by the maximum size of the print they can produce. Common choices are a) 4x6 "snapshot," b) up to 8 1/2 x11, or c) up to 13x19 inches. The bigger you go, the more you pay.
- Number of ink colors. The best photo-quality inkjet printers use six or more ink colors.
- Ink type. Dye-based inks offer slightly brighter, more saturated colors compared to pigment inks.
- Longevity of prints. Pigment inks last longer than dye-based inks, though life is influenced by the paper used, too. Most of today’s printers will produce prints that will last as long or longer than standard photo prints.
- Price range. As with all things electronic, we get what we pay for. Printers get faster, handle larger paper and have more inks as price goes up.
- Print speed. Don’t be fooled by the hyped speed usually displayed with photo printers at the store. This is usually for draft, non-photo quality. Look for specific photo-quality speeds.
- Direct printing. Many printers offer the possibility of printing directly from your camera (look for the term PictBridge) or a memory card, so you can print without going through a computer.
- Resolution. This is measured in dpi (dots per inch) and is a minor factor, as all photo-quality printers today have enough resolution to create beautiful prints.