|MICRO CENTER: COMPUTERS AND ELECTRONICS|
Photo Printing 101
With dozens of holiday pictures to print, choosing the right printer and paper can be a daunting task. Laser or inkjet? Matte or glossy? Full bleed or borders? There are hundreds of options to choose from. Understanding some features can help you find the perfect printer and paper to handle all of your pictures.
The Right Printer
Unlike laser printing, inkjet printers use a liquid dye to transfer images onto paper. There are two types of inkjet printers - impact and non-impact. These terms describe the method in which the ink is applied to the paper. For impact printers, the ink is applied directly to the paper, but the non-impact printers spray the ink onto the page. Laser printers fall into the non-impact category too, because they use static to attract the toner to the paper and heat to bond the toner to the page. There are also other types of non-impact printers such as thermal wax, but for the purposes of photo printing, basic toner or inkjet printing is sufficient. An advantage of the inkjet printer is that it is less expensive than laser. Some disadvantages include lower resolution images, lower ppm, and use permeable ink.
Another variation of the inkjet is the specialty photo printer. These printers are exclusively designed to output photos directly from your digital camera or computer. The pictures don't require resizing or cutting, because they are printed full-bleed (no borders) using pre-cut photo paper. Photo printers usually support most types of digital media like CompactFlash®, SD, and Memory Stick® that can be plugged right into the printer. There, you can format and edit your images instantaneously. The advantage of a photo printer is the convenience, but these printers lack the versatility to print other types of documents.
The Right Paper
Choosing the right photo paper depends on what purpose it going to be used for. Are your pictures going into a frame or used for scrapbooking? For framed photos and scrapbooking, heavier photo paper would be better to use for preservation. Light-weight photo paper would be well-suited for greeting cards or business photos. There is also the paper texture to consider. Glossy paper with a high brightness can make colors appear brighter, more saturated with high contrast. A matte paper texture can subdue colors and reduce glare. For more information on selecting the right paper, try Hewlett Packard's paper guide.
© Micro Center