Printing Your Digital Photos

You’ve got your digital camera and you’ve taken great photos. Now what will you do with them? Once you’ve transferred your digital photos to your computer, you’ve got some choices. You can email them to friends, post them on a website or display them as a slideshow on a television. But what is the best way to turn your digital photos into prints?

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There are several options today for getting your digital photos from the digital domain and into your hands. What is best for you will depend on your particular needs. In this article we will take a look at these choices in order to help you decide which will work best for you.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers can be bought for next to nothing and are capable of produce amazing print quality. But while inkjet printers are cheap to buy, using them can be very pricey. Manufacturers of these printers also produce the ink and paper required. That’s where they make their money. When you realize that you would be paying half as much for an ink cartridge as you did for the printer, you may have second thoughts about buying that fancy new inkjet.

On the plus side, owning an inkjet printer allows you to make a variety of print sizes right at home. This can give you the opportunity to experiment with photo correction and see the results with test prints right away. Plus you can use the printer for your other printing needs as well. Many new printers on the market also function as scanners and photocopiers. Some even have slots allowing you to insert your digital camera’s memory card directly to the printer.

Inkjet printers, while a bit costly to use, make it possible to have your own mini photo lab right at home.

Portable Direct Printers

Many manufacturers are touting the direct print capabilities of their cameras. In order to use this feature, you can buy a small printer that hooks up to your camera directly. The upside to these is that you can take them with you and get prints right on the spot. This makes them great for people who need to take pictures and print them on the go. Also, the printers use a dye-sublimation printing process that is superior to most inkjets.

Before you rush out and buy one of these portable direct printers, there are a couple things you should know. First of all, most of them will only work with a particular brand of camera. This means if you buy a new camera down the road, it may not work with the printer you own. Secondly, you have to buy special paper and ink cartridges for these printers that are not only expensive, but can be hard to find. Finally, most of these portable printers only print up to 4×6 size.

Direct printers are easy to operate and portable, but like with inkjets, can be costly to use.

Photofinishing Labs

In the old days of film, you would shoot a roll and then bring it to your local photofinisher for processing. With digital cameras you no longer need to develop your pictures, so you may find that you’re not visiting your local photo lab anymore.

Many photofinishers are becoming aware of the digital revolution and have converted their systems so that they can accept and print digital photos. This means that you can bring your pictures on a memory card, CD-R or even upload your photos to the photofinisher’s website.

While it may take a bit longer than printing a photo from home, the quality can be better and the price lower. The printers these labs use cost tens of thousands of dollars and are capable of printing top quality prints on glossy or matte paper. Plus many labs offer a variety of other printing options including printing to mugs, mouse pads, calendars and t-shirts. Some labs even color correct your photos before printing them out.

While photo labs can take longer than printing from home, you don’t have to put out the cost of buying printing equipment and keeping up to date with the latest printing technology. Photofinishers provide a way to get cheaper, better prints.

Conclusion

There are more options than ever for printing your digital photos. The one that’s best for you will depend on your needs. You will want to consider whether price, quality, convenience or portability is most important turning your digital pictures into prints.

Inkjet Printers

Advantages

  • Can be used for all your printing needs including document printing
  • Some allow you to insert your digital camera’s memory card for direct printing
  • Printers are generally inexpensive
  • Allow you to print from the comfort of your own home

Disadvantages

  • Ink and photo paper can be expensive
  • Technology can be outdated quickly

Portable Direct Printers

Advantages

  • Convenient because they don’t need a computer
  • Portability
  • Direct connection to your camera
  • Allow you to take a photo and print it within minutes

Disadvantages

  • May only be compatible with certain camera brands
  • Can be costly (around $1 per 4×6 print)
  • Require special ink and paper cartridges
  • May only print up to 4×6 size
  • Are not compatible with your computer
  • Printers can be expensive

Photofinishing Labs

Advantages

  • High quality
  • Inexpensive
  • Many labs also color correct your images
  • You do not need to invest any money in the printing technology that will soon be outdated
  • Photos can be printed on a variety of items (t-shirts, mugs, puzzles, calendars, etc.)

Disadvantages

  • You don’t get your prints for at least an hour
  • You may have to pick up the prints from the store