No announcement yet.

Tool's guide to printing photos

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Tool's guide to printing photos

    So you've bought yourself a nice digital camera, took it to a powwow and snapped off several gigabytes worth of photos till your battery finally ran out, or you ran out of memory, but now you have to figure out what to do with all of them. Most people will just simply copy them to their computer, maybe upload some to Facebook and the gallery and then forget about them till someone comments on them, but undoubtedly you have a few keepers among the hundreds of bunny ears and overloaded Indian tacos (if there is such a thing), but the question is what to do with the keepers. The best answer is to print, and frame them, or you could go all out and put them in a nice photo matte and custom frame. Below I have outlined a simple guide to different printing technologies and the pros and cons to each.

    First a brief explanation of how color printing works. The basic colors that all color printers use are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, or "CMYK", where "K" or "Key" is the black. Some printers will give you light variations of Cyan and Magenta, some will also give you a Grey, Red, Green, Orange... The basic color scheme of CMYK is called the “Subtractive color model”, basically because paper does not give off its own light source; a full range of colors are only possible by using colored inks to filter the light reflected off of the page. Red, Green and Blue or the “Additive color model” is used when the display is generating its own light, such as a television screen. The range of colors a display or printer is capable of creating is known as the “Gamut”. See images below for what additive and subtractive colors look like, and notice how they both create the same colors.

    Quick Glossary:
    Carriage: The device that hold the cartridges in the printer, it’s the thing the slides back and forth.
    Gamut: The range of colors that a display or printer is capable of creating.
    Print Head: The device in the printer or built onto certain cartridges that contains the nozzles that the ink is sprayed from.
    Toner: The resin powder that laser printers and copiers use rather than a liquid ink.

    A note on printer and ink pricing, and generic cartridges: Printer manufacturers utilize what’s called a “Razor and Blades” pricing system, in that either the machine will be cheap and the refills will be expensive or it will be the opposite. So don’t get suckered into buying a $60 printer because you might end up paying through the teeth later on. A lot of companies in recent years have been making brand compatible refills for almost every printer brand and selling them at a reduced price compared to the OEM versions. These things usually don’t offer the same quality ink as the real thing and some may even damage your printer over time.

    When it comes to Photo printers you have 3 main options. The first and most common are "Inkjet" printers, the second are "Laser Printers" (digital copiers are in the same category), and thirdly you have "Dye Sublimation" printers.

    When it comes to printers by far the most common are "Inkjet" systems. Inkjet printers use a cartridge filled with a liquid ink and use either a pump or heat to eject the ink from the cartridge and onto the paper. The great thing about this type of printer is that the machines are usually very affordable and offer a wide variety of options when it comes to the materials that you can print onto because no heat is applied to the surface of the material. There are essentially two types of cartridges, the first and the one people are most familiar with are the block type, typically a printer using these will have one cartridge for the black and a one with all the colors, also these have the print head attached to them. The second type, which is becoming the industry standard, are the separated ink tanks. Printers that use separated tanks will general have a cartridge for each color plus the black. This is the best option because in the older block style when you run out of one color you are essentially throwing away good ink, but in a separated system you only have to replace the color that is out. Separated ink printers typically cost more at first but will save you money in the long run. The big plus is that inkjet printers can create very high quality graphics and color. One of the downsides to inkjet is the fact that the ink can and will dry up if you don’t print every now and then.

    Laser Printers are the second most common type of printer, mainly found in office environments. Laser printers rely on a powder toner and high heat to fuse the toner to the paper, whereas an inkjet pretty much just stains the paper. Laser printers are not ideal for photos or graphics because most can’t deliver a resolution of more than 1200 X 600 DPI, there are however some that can. The other thing to note is that laser printers tend to over saturate the colors which will create a darker image when printed. Laser printers are best suited for printing text and other office documents.

    Finally there are “Dye Sublimation” printers. This system is more commonly found in those small printers that you can usually dock a camera onto. This system works by using applying heat to a dye coated cellophane roll to directly transfer the dye onto the paper. The thing about these printers is that they are only designed for one size and typically one type of paper. The good thing is that when you buy the paper and ink packs you will know exactly how many photos you are going to get out of it because when the cartridges are built they will give you one of each color per page in the pack. The prints that come from these are of a decent quality.

    Or you could just go down to your local drug store or Walmart and use their photo kiosks.

    Tomorrow I will give my thoughts on a few different printer brands and models.

    Subtractive color:

    Additive Color:
    CERN may have discovered the Higgs Boson but...

    Help provide better webcasts with wireless cameras by purchasing a decal for your car! We all know you love car decals, don't deny that you don't have them. This is you with a car decal ->

  • #2
    Cool thread! I always wondered why the black toner was labeled K.

    One big difference between ink jet vs. Laser printer colors is that ink jet ink will fade over time. And it doesn't take very long when exposed to light, like hanging on a wall.

    My daughter got a digital camera for Christmas, so I got her a laserjet printer/copier/scanner. I'm sorry to hear that they won't print pics good.

    At work we had some Xerox color printers that used chunks of wax like crayons. They printed Beautiful photos that has a nice feeling texture to them, and didn't fade much. I have a photo printed many years ago and it still looks good. is what it is...


    • #3
      You are right there, some inkjet ink will fade over time. Most of the ink they use is formulated to dry when UV light hits it, they also will air dry, but UV speeds the process. If you hang a printed photo on a wall and light, especially from the sun, hits it the UV from the light source will react with the ink. Canon "Chromalife" inks and Epson "Durabright" inks are a bit more resistant, HP and Kodak fall slightly behind.

      I do remember those Xerox ink block printers, basically an over glorified crayon, lol. I think the pohots on them were a bit better than the laser printers, altough the Okidata printer I just sold did a decent job. The trick is to edit the photos before you print them with a laser, the 2 settings to play with are the brightness and if the program has it the "gamma". If you have Photoshop you can play with the color curves to brighten each color individually. Or you can try desaturating them which will give it a dull appearance on the screen but the printer will saturate them to a more normal color. Laser printers have certainly gotten better over the years when it comes to color graphics.
      CERN may have discovered the Higgs Boson but...

      Help provide better webcasts with wireless cameras by purchasing a decal for your car! We all know you love car decals, don't deny that you don't have them. This is you with a car decal ->


      • #4
        Oh yeah, DO NOT use certain photo papaer or transparencies in laser printers, the heat from the printer will melt the polymer coating off of the paper and screw up the printer. When buying specialty paper for laser machines look at the packaging to see if it is compatible with laser printers, same goes for ink block, digital copiers, and LED printers (all the same thing really).
        CERN may have discovered the Higgs Boson but...

        Help provide better webcasts with wireless cameras by purchasing a decal for your car! We all know you love car decals, don't deny that you don't have them. This is you with a car decal ->


        • #5
          YES definitely!! There are a few types of paper made for printing photos on the laser printers, and they will be labeled LASER PRINTER paper. We have some that isn't real glossy, but makes nice pics.

          We did have a printer RUINED by glossy ink jet printer a few years ago.

          PS. We still have a lot of leftover Xerox "crayons", if anybody has one of those printers and needs more toner.
 is what it is...


          • #6
            The last time I used one of those Xerox Phasers with the wax blocks was when I worked at a big box electronic store (they don't deserve to be named) while I was in college, we used to print all of the sinage out with them. You could get relly funny colors if you put the paper in the laminator because the heat would melt the wax again.
            CERN may have discovered the Higgs Boson but...

            Help provide better webcasts with wireless cameras by purchasing a decal for your car! We all know you love car decals, don't deny that you don't have them. This is you with a car decal ->


            • #7
              As I stated above in the first post, inkjet printers are the best for printing photos, and now I will make a few suggestions for good photo printers from HP, Epson, and Canon. There are other manufacturers, however some, like Brother, are more office printers rather than photo printers, they will still give you a decent photo print but not necessarily to the level that the other brands do. Most of the suggestions are "All-In-One" (AIO) printers, because they have scanner/copier functions built in.

              Almost all of these printers, mainly the AIOs, will have built in memory card readers to do prints directly from the printer without the need to use a computer, and now most will have a Wifi card built in so as you can connect it to your own wireless network and print from any computer in the house, without having to go and plug your computer into it.

              Photosmart Plus e-All-In-One:
              Relatively inexpensive AIO that uses a 4 cartridge separated ink system, and has a dedicated photo paper bay for 4x6s and 5x7s. This is really the start of the good "Photosmart" series printers and offers a slight improvement, image wise, over the models below it that only use the 2 cartridge system. This printer also includes a a really user friendly interface on its color touch screen display.

              Photosmart Premium e-All-In-One:
              The next step up from the "Plus" model. This unit adds additional software features to a larger touch panel, it also adds duplex, or two-sided, printing as well.

              Artisan 725:
              This printer packs quite a punch for the usually sub-$200 price tag. For starters it uses 6 ink cartridges, C, Y, M, K, LC, LM, giving you a much wider gamut for printing photos. Photos containing items such as beads to the wild colors of a Fancy dancer's bustles will appear a bit more vibrant as compared to some other models that only use 4 colors. This machine and the next model up can also print directly onto printable CDs and DVDs.

              Artisan 835:
              Pretty much the same as the 725 except it uses an enhanced touch pad enabled LCD, more software options, plus fax options, and top sheet feeder for faxing and scanning.

              PIXMA MG5220
              Canon's entry level AIO photo printer. This machine uses 5 cartridges, CYMK and a pigment Photo Black. The additional pigment photo black ink cartridge increases the quality and depth of shadows across all colors, which gives this printer a slight advantage over the systems that use 4 cartridges, but not as good as the 6+ ink systems.

              PIXMA MG6120
              Everything in the MG5220 plus this one uses an additional Gray cartridge, which further enhances the quality and depth of shadows and overall color gamut of printed photos. Duplex printing, and a larger LCD are some additional features that can be found on this model. Recently I compared this printer to the HP Photosmart Premium e-All-In-One by printing a picture in which the side of a house in the background was light by the sun, which in the photo was a slight cream yellow color, the HP made the wall a more pure white where as the Canon was able to get the cream yellow much closer to the original. The PIXMA 8120 is pretty much the same thing but with the ability to scan old film negatives and slides and the option to connect to a hard wired network with an Ethernet cable.

              Professional Photo Printers:
              Note that these machines are not really meant for the average consumer because they are more complicated, use more ink and cartridges, and for the most part to take full advantage of them the photo would have had to have been taken with a high end camera such as a DSLR.

              Canon Pro9000 Mark II
              This is the printer that I own and use. This machine is massive and uses 8 ink cartridges, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key, Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Red, and Green. The reason why this printer and all other professional printers are so big is the fact that they are designed to print on medium format (13 X 19) paper sizes and specialty art paper, like canvas. With the addition of a Red and Green cartridge combined with better on board processing and print heads, this machine will yield a 10 to 15% wider color gamut than the other machines that I have listed above. On occasion Canon runs a special where in if you purchase one of their DSLRs you can get this printer for like $100 to $150 after you mail in a rebate, but you first have to fork over the $499 cost of the machine and wait 6 to 8 weeks for the rebate to come in. Craigslist and Ebay are full of these where a person bought the printer with the intention of getting the rebate and then selling the printer for around $200, making a small profit; just remember safety is number 1 when dealing with private sellers.

              Epson R1900
              This printer is similar to the Canon Pro9000 Mark II, but it uses a different set of colors for the cartridges, including an orange, red, and gloss optimizer, it also has a slightly higher resolution, but that is due to the fact that this machine is newer. This machine will yield a modest 7% more colors than the Pro9000 MKII, or 17 to 22% more colors than the consumer grade printers that I listed above. With the red and orange inks facial features will pop out a little better. This machine also has support for using rolls of paper to make a custom length printout up to 44 inches.

              Thats it for me tonight, if anyone has any questions feel free to ask.
              CERN may have discovered the Higgs Boson but...

              Help provide better webcasts with wireless cameras by purchasing a decal for your car! We all know you love car decals, don't deny that you don't have them. This is you with a car decal ->


              Join the online community forum celebrating Native American Culture, Pow Wows, tribes, music, art, and history.

              Related Topics


              • Wakalapi
                Cyber Geek talk for Real People
                by Wakalapi
                Anybody else here use Linux? If you have a really messed up computer you're thinking of just junking, dispair no more.

                The fix:

                Replace Microsoft Windows with the secure, stable, fast and memory-efficient Linux operating system. Today, you don't have to be a computer geek to...
                11-11-2008, 08:35 PM
              • momme
                Dyeing questions
                by momme
                I looked through the archives and didn't see anything on this so thought i'd ask. We are coming in to canning season and last year (by accident) i learned that Elderberry is a very pretty color on plain muslin, but washes out fairly easily. Was wondering if anyone had and info on how to set a natural...
                08-12-2005, 03:49 PM
              • Elo Janis
                NDN Thoughts on the Gun Control Issue
                by Elo Janis
                I am interested how you all felt about the gun control debate that has ensued after the Sandy Hook massacre. It seems to be getting more and more heated every day with the nation equally divided between gun owners who are vehemently opposed to any sort of regulation and those who are calling for new...
                01-17-2013, 10:09 AM
              • serapin
                outfits for ffd's
                by serapin
                what do you guys look for in a great fancy feather outfit and why?????
                08-30-2001, 04:06 PM
              • muskrat_skull
                Important new research on RA, thyroid, diabetes, heart, autoimmune disease
                by muskrat_skull
                I put this is in a new thread because I think it is very important to the health of everyone. For the past few years, the National Institute of Health has been very concerned about the rise in autoimmune problems--from diabetes, to all the autoimmune disease like RA, Sjogrens, lupus, ms,...
                02-10-2012, 03:22 PM



              There are no results that meet this criteria.

              Sidebar Ad