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Put Images On Paper

Before digital photography really took off, you probably had to use whichever printer was hooked up to your PC to get hard copies of the photographs. This is no longer the case, as dedicated photo printers are becoming commonplace. Liquid ink jet printers spray fine droplets of liquid ink onto a paper surface.

This technology is a low-cost entry point for personal printing and low-volume color printing. Although these printers can use ordinary paper, the inks soak through the paper; washed-out colors are the result. Colors stay truer on coated, less absorbent paper meant specifically for photos.

Thermal-dye (dye-sublimation) printers move dye from a transfer roll or ribbon onto special paper. This paper is designed to absorb the dye. The transfer rolls typically consist of sections of cyan, yellow, magenta and black. A thermal print head comes into contact with the paper and vaporises the solid dyes. The resulting gas is then diffused onto the surface of the paper.

The printer moves the paper back and forth to lay down each color separately. The best way to compare photo printers is to print the same image on various models and evaluate the results with your own eyes. Unfortunately, this method means getting hold of all the printers you want to test, which is not always feasible.

But You Can Shop Sensibly For A Photo Printer By Bearing A Few Things In Mind:

  • You shouldn't use specialised photo printers for general printing. Even if they can do the job, the cost per page will be higher, and the time taken, longer.
  • High resolution doesn't necessarily equate to richer colours or better quality. A resolution or 1,400 dpi from an ink-jet printer won't prod "a print as good as a thermal-dye printer even at 300 dpi.
  • Not all photo printers need to be connected to a computer to be fed image files. Some have built-in slots for digital camera memory cards to be inserted so that you can print directly off them; others connect to the camera via a cable to access the memory card.
  • Printers that print from memory cards usually have the option of printing an index sheet. Same models also have an LCD panel for you to view the photos and functions that let you crop photos.
  • Some printers are portable and come with a rechargeable battery so that you can print photos wherever you take them.

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