The advance in inkjet printing technology, cartridges and photo paper coatings over the last few years has allowed home users to print high quality pictures directly from their inkjet printer instead of using more expensive high street type services.
The standard of the final print will often exceed that of professional printing services and you can also edit the picture prior to printing. If you are looking to print pictures at home, you will do well to follow these simple guidelines to get the most out of your inkjet printer.
Printer DPI support – Printers will often carry an upper ceiling in terms of DPI resolution support. Make sure that your particular choice of photo paper supports your choice of DPI resolution. 1440 is the highest resolution for most printers and most photo paper nowadays will support this unless otherwise stated.
Compatibility – The fact that you use a particular brand of printer does not limit you to use this particular brand’s photo paper range. A large number of photo paper media in the market will support all the major manufacturers and will often excel in quality compared to the branded products. Your options vary between using a branded paper for example HP photo paper to match your HP printer or a universal compatible paper, both will make sensible choices.
Editing your pictures – Editing should be done before the first print is sent on its way to avoid wasting expensive media (both ink and paper). There are plenty of free tools that will allow you to resize, crop, remove red eye and so forth so there is really no excuse not to fix your images.
Editing is important not only to avoid waste, but it could also mean that a different size paper will be required due to a smaller image, for example down to an A5 from an A4. Your choice of tools vary from:
- Free Online Option – Google Picasa is not only useful for organising and sharing your images, it also supports a wide range of editing options.
- Free PC Desktop Option – Irfanview is a handy little desktop software that supports a wide range of editing options including ability to covert files.
- Free Mac Desktop Option – Built in iPhoto will pretty much do whatever editing you have in mind. Other tools are available including using an online option.
Paper size – There are plenty of photo paper sizes however not all printers support all sizes. Most will support sizes of cards (4×6”/10x15cm and 5×7”/13x18cm) to the larger A5 and A4 sheets. If you are considering printing an A3 photo you will need to ensure that your printer can accommodate this size to avoid a costly mistake.
Paperweight support – The weight in GSM (grammes per square meter) of photo papers will vary immensely from 180g to 300g and even more. Before you decide to purchase one over the other it is handy to check if your printer can take that weight. Otherwise you may run the risk of causing damage to the device in terms of paper jam and feeding problems.
Paper finish – Photo papers come in various finishes from matt to glossy to satin and even pearl (very similar to satin, just with a bit more sheen). Your choice of one over the other is completely down to your desired taste, as there is no right or wrong decision here simple a personal choice.
The three most popular finishes are:
- Gloss – A highly shiny glossy finish which is very reflective
- Satin – (Also referred to as lustre, Semi Gloss or Pearl) – A soft sheen paper which is half way between Gloss and Matt.
- Matt – A totally flat finish with no sheen or reflective properties
Print on the coated side – Once you are ready to print you will need to feed the paper in such a way that the coated side will get the ink otherwise the outcome will produce a blurry image and you will be puzzled as to why. We have put together a handy to guide to check which side to print on.
Printer options – It is essential to check and right type of paper media under the printer options prior to printing. It will help ensure that the end result produces the highest quality print for your brand of printer. Check your printer setting for Photo Printing and don’t get tempted to use highest resolution straight away, as it may not suit the particular choice of paper.