Anyway, back to Digital Photo Printers. There are a few things you need to know when it comes to printing photos. First and foremost is what you see on your screen is not always what you will get when you print your photos. Calibrating a monitor to provide 100% color accuracy is difficult even when you have the right tools. For the 90% or more of us that don’t have these specialty tools, it’s next to impossible. With that being said, if color accuracy is your goal, then check out Color Vision. They sell a complete line of products that are designed for calibrating your monitor. They even have one for your home entertainment system.
Ok, sorry about the sidebar….back to the printers. There are basically two kinds of photo printers. Ink-Jet and Dye-Sublimation. Let’s talk about Ink-jet first. Honestly, I am not a big fan of these types of printers. While they are convenient, and have consumables that are available just about everywhere, the quality of the print is not nearly as good when compared to Dye-Subs. Now that’s not to say that a good quality ink-jet is not something that you should own. They are great to have for printing all types of documents, as well as pictures. The technology behind these printers has increased tremendously over the past few years, and the dpi for good ink-jets is up in the 9600 x 2400 dpi range. Canon has printers in this range for around $200.00. The other downside is the cost of the ink, and ultimately the cost per print. Some print cartridges for Ink-Jet printers are in the $60-$70 range, and that cost can really add up if you have to print multiple copies just to get the right color.
The other alternative, and probably the better choice (in my opinion) when it comes to quality of the prints is Dye-Sublimation, Dye-Sub for short. These printers have been around for a while, but are just slowly coming into the mainstream. Canon, Kodak, Sony, Olympus and a company called Hi Touch Imaging all have printers that are comparable in price to Ink-Jets. The difference is that most of these offerings print only 4 x 6 photos (Canon does have a 4 x 8 option). Kodak and Olympus also make large format Dye-Sub printers that can print 8 x 10 photos, but they are around $500.00 each. Hi-Touch Imaging also has a model that prints larger photos, but it is limited to 6 x 8 in size.
There is also the advantage of the consumables for dye-subs. They are sold packaged together as ink and paper. The ink comes in a cartridge that has what appears to be a cellophane sheet on a roll. The cartridge can be used the same amount of times as there is paper in the pack, so when you are all out of paper, you are all out of ink. You add both at the same time. You might be asking “Yeah, but if I have to buy both, then they charge me more, right?” Actually, the answer is no. Depending on the manufacturer, the cost per print is anywhere from .19 cents to .38 cents per picture.
The obvious downside to the dye-sub is that you are limited to a 4 x 6 photo (unless you upgrade to the larger Kodak or Olympus). However, if you are printing family photos for albums and scrapbooks, then 4 x 6 might be all you need. Besides, if you do want that one special photo as 8 x 10, you can always order it online, or take your memory card to the nearest CVS, and print it out there.
I could get into all the details of how the dye-sub printer uses a continuous tone when laying the ink on the paper, and how it is transferred using a heat method which renders the picture completely dry the second it comes out of the printer, but that might be too much information. My point here is to let you know that an Ink-Jet printer might not be your only option for printing those photos.
If you would like additional information on the different types of printers, and how each one works, check out this site. http://www.pctechguide.com/Input-Output.htm
I’ve also included manufacturers links to different Dye-Sub Printers.