How to Choose the Best Photo Printer

If you are looking for a photo printer, you are literally spoilt for choice. Finding out which one is the best can however be very hard, with such a variety of extras, prices and brands. If you are trying to find the best photo printer, the tips below may be of some assistance to you.

Photo Printer Technology: Inkjet or Dye-sublimation?

Inkjet

Inkjet technology is the most commonly used type of technology for printers on the market today. It is perfect for everyday printing. In essence, it spreads very small dots of ink onto the paper and can be used for both photo printing and document printing.

Dye-sublimation

Dye-sublimation technology is popular mainly amongst those who focus on printing photographs only. Using dye-sublimation for document printing is a very expensive way of printing documents, as the technology comes at a great cost. Dye-sublimation transfers the dye to the paper by using heat and is specifically adapted to be used on photo paper and other specialized papers.

Photo Printer Type

Home Photo Printer

For everyday home photo and general printing needs, inkjet printers are best to use. There are many choices when it comes to home photo printers available on the market today, but they can in essence be divided into two categories:

  • Printers that do not have any other capabilities other than printing
  • All in one printers that are able to not only print but also scan or copy (3 in 1) as well as fax and email (5 in 1)

Compact/Portable Photo Printer

Compact portable photo printers have become increasingly popular in people’s homes. It is possible to have a portable photo printer with either dye-sublimation or inkjet technology. Many of the newer models come with a range of technologies making them perfect for people on the go. Some, for example, have batteries or Bluetooth technology, meaning you can print any pictures or documents straight from another Bluetooth enabled device.

Professional Photo Printer

Professional photo printers are very expensive pieces of equipment and generally only invested in by those who work in the photography or graphic design business. Of course, you have a bigger range of possibilities with these types of printers, but both the machine and the ink is generally far more expensive.

Professional printers are different from home models in numerous ways. They have the highest possible dpi enabling them to print pictures with amazing color and clarity. They can also handle a greater print capacity and print onto various different papers and surfaces. Professional printers can also print photos in a variety of sizes with the general being 13 x 19 inches.

Photo Printer Features

When choosing a new photo printer, it is important that you understand all the different features that are available and what they are for. Of course, what you want is to print the best looking picture, and one way to achieve that is by checking the speed. Generally, printers will tell you their output per minute. The quality of the printer is expressed in the DPI – dots per inch. The best printers have higher DPI. Another feature that may be of use to you is to have a networkable printer, meaning you can attach more than one machine to it. If this is what you are looking for, you will need to check the connection: is it possible to check your devices remotely or through a network, or will you need to attach each device via a cable?

Print Resolution

A good inkjet photo printer has a resolution of 4,800 DPI as a minimum. It is possible to find printers, particularly inkjet printers, that have a lower DPI, but these are not advisable for photographic printing. In order for a photograph to look crisp and crystal clear, you need to have a high resolution in order to show all the details that are available on the image, as well as being able to reproduce the colors of your photograph as closely to real life as possible. The best inkjet photo printers have a DPI between 4,800 and 9,600.

Dye sublimation printers need a much lower DPI, with 300 being more than sufficient for excellent photo printing quality. It is possible to find a dye sublimation printer with 330 DPI.

Paper Size & Type

Of course, the size of the photographs you want printing also plays a role, as your printer will need to be able to accept that size of paper. Particularly if you are also going to use the printer for document printing, on standard A4 size, you may want to look at a printer that takes a variety of paper sizes. The most standard photo paper size is 4″ by 6″, but many people prefer 8″ by 10″.

Paper also comes in a variety of thicknesses and some printers are known for jamming when they are asked to print on thicker paper. If you are going to use your photo printer mainly for photographs, you should always check that your printer can comfortably accept higher quality paper of varying levels of thickness.

Connectivity

Some of the more interesting parts of new photo printers include connectivity options. Some will be able to read straight from a memory card, others will have networking capabilities (Wireless and Ethernet) or Bluetooth connections and there are even some printers to which you can send photographs via email, even from across town. It can be very useful to have a photo printer with a PictBridge feature, which means it will be able to read straight from your camera, rather than you having to import your photographs onto a PC first. Lastly, most photo printers come with a useful color LCD screen, which sometimes also gives you the option to change and edit your photographs.

Extra Costs: Ink and Paper

One last thing to take into consideration when purchasing a new photo printer is the cost of paper and ink. Certain printers will only accept a certain type or quality of paper, which can be very expensive. Ink is always an expensive part of printing too. Most people would advise that the best idea is to purchase a printer in which the individual colors can be replaced, rather than needing to replace the full cartridge as soon as a single color has run out.

Conclusion

Finding out which photo printer is best for you clearly depends on your own needs and requirements, but the above information should help you in finding it.