Guide to Printing Digital Images at OneCall

You can make beautiful prints from your digital images if you keep a few basics in mind. While any color inkjet printer can print photos, there are many models designed with specialized printing and color technology to deliver the best photo prints.

Terms to Know

    DPI
  • Stands for dots per inch, and is the number of points of color a printer can transfer to a printed page. Most of today's inkjet photo printers are all capable of printing all sizes of prints at very high resolutions of at least 4800 x 1200 dpi. Meanwhile, due to technology differences, dye sublimation (also known as thermal dye) printers can create equally sharp pictures at lower dpi ratings, usually around 300 dpi.
  • PictBridge
  • USB-based technology integrated into many digital cameras and photo printers that allows direct printing from camera to printer, without the need for a computer.
  • Nozzle
  • Tiny elements in an inkjet printer color cartridge that deliver ink to the paper. Typically, printers that contain a higher nozzle count have a larger printing surface, meaning the printer requires fewer passes to fully print the image. The result is increased printing speed.
  • Picoliter
  • A measure of the volume of each droplet of ink applied to the paper. Printers with a lower picoliter rating can typically produce more clarity and sharpness, as each point of color is more defined.

Features to Look for

Printer Technology

    Inkjet
  • Printing technology in basic photo and text printers, uses ink cartridges to apply color droplets to paper. Usually lower resolution and fewer color options than a dedicated photo inkjet printer.
  • Photo Inkjet
  • Specifically designed to print photos at high resolution. Usually contains dedicated photo ink cartridges for increased color clarity and separation, as well as higher nozzle counts for increased speed. Large prints, up to 11x17 and sometimes even larger, are possible with some units. Compact, portable printers are available in this category, too.
  • Dye Sublimation
  • Uses ribbons and heat to apply color and a protective clear coating to photo paper. Because they apply color more evenly to photo paper, they can offer better results than a photo inkjet. However, dye sublimation printers are expensive in formats any larger than 4x6. As a result, most printers in this category are compact, portable units, and many feature rechargeable batteries.
  • Color Options
  • Basic inkjet photo printers usually feature a single four-color cartridge, plus a separate black cartridge for text printing. More advanced printers may offer up to nine colors in separate cartridges, including a separate a gray cartridge for black-and-white photography, as well as an additional blue cartridge for better color separation. Some even feature a cartridge that applies a protective coating to prints.
  • Print Quality
  • Photo printers typically offer a range of quality settings. At the highest setting, the printer will output its maximum available resolution.
  • Print Size
  • Choose a printer that is designed to handle the maximum print size you expect to output. Keep in mind that you can also print smaller photo sizes on a printer designed to handle large prints. Additionally, many printers have an option that will print a proof sheet of all your project's photos at once.
  • Paper
  • Because they are designed with special coatings to enhance and preserve colors and tones, photo-quality paper is crucial for producing good prints. Today's papers are designed for significant longevity, usually far exceeding traditional film prints. To save money, you can use lower-quality papers for draft prints, while saving the highest quality paper for your final output. While glossy papers can make colors more vivid, they tend to show fingerprints more than matte paper. Photo paper is available in all standard print sizes. Also, note that papers are specifically designed for dye sublimation and photo inkjet printers.

Interface

    USB
  • Available on all photo printers, may include support for PictBridge technology
  • Memory Card
  • Some photo-specific models provide a slot for printing directly from camera memory cards.
  • Integrated Screen
  • Many photo printers feature a built-in LCD screen that offers direct viewing of images on your memory card before you print them. Image editing controls, such as red-eye reduction and resizing, may also be available.