Photo printers have saturated the market since digital photography exploded ten years ago, when affordable, highly-functional digital SLRs broke onto the scene. Unfortunately, most of these printers don’t really come with any useable instructions on how to get the very best results, and those looking to display their photos professionally can waste a lot of time and money on getting the best results.
With this in mind, here’s a handy printing check list for you to follow to help you get the most out of your printer and achieve the best results every time.
1. Check your image quality
Depending on the make and model of you digital camera, you’ll be able to take photos in a variety of quality settings. If you’re looking for the sharpest print results always make sure that you have the highest photo resolution selected, this will help you avoid printing disappointing, blurred and unfocussed holiday snaps.
It doesn’t take a digital SLR to get good results – most digital cameras today are capable of at least 10 megapixels, so even large print-outs should look good
2. File format
What file format are you saving your pictures as? This is something a lot of people overlook or underestimate when uploading their snaps to their computer. To retain photo quality, you’ll need to save in a format that provides the least amount of data compression.
As a rule of thumb: the larger the file size (TIFF files, for example) the better the image, the smaller the file (standard JPEG) the worse it’ll be.
For that perfect photo finish, photographic paper should be your number one choice. Normal, every-day printer paper tends to provide you with dull, lifeless results – no matter how colourful the image.
Photo paper comes in a number of varieties however, so it’s not a case of ‘one size fits all’. Matte finish paper is ideal for black and white images, while images with a lot of colour will look their best on gloss.
You’ve sent your photo to the printer and it’s come out looking faded and streaky. Sound familiar? It seems like an obvious point to make but you’d be surprised at the amount of times a file is printed before ink levels have been properly checked.
Ink cartridges can be extremely costly, so it’s important that you waste as little as possible. When testing your printer’s performance don’t ask it to print multi-coloured, high-resolution images – a simple one will do just fine, and won’t use as much ink.
5. Printer settings
Are you printing to the correct size? Is your printer configured to the highest print resolution setting? Your printer wants to provide you with the best results possible, and to do that it needs as much information from you as possible. Always make sure before you hit print that you’ve gone through the printer settings so it knows exactly what’s expected of it.
Don’t forget. Be sure to tell you printer which type of paper you’re using, so it can adjust its settings accordingly.