Getting Great Photo Prints From Your Digital Camera

The first step to getting great digital photo prints, is to make sure you use a good quality digital camera.

Digital photos are gaining popularity over traditional film photos because of the features and convenience associated with the newer technology. In some cases it’s even more cost effective to print your own photos at home instead of taking them to a developer or sending them in.

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Here are some words of wisdom for making great digital photo prints at home.

There are really 4 key components to a great printed photo: Image, Printer, Ink, Paper. Each is part interrelated therefore equally important for success.

The image is the starting point for a good photo. There are many different camera models out there, but in general, you will need at least 3.2 megapixel picture taking ability. Some snazzy digital SLR cameras have 8 megapixels or more. The camera should always be set to the highest resolution while taking the shots just in case you want to make enlargements later on.

Image transfer is crucial!

Don’t just throw the highest pixel image at some paper, you may not be happy with the results.

Sometimes, too high of a pixel count will create unsightly jagged color transitions in your photo and waste a lot of your ink and time. Too few pixels and the photos will turn out very “grainy”. It’s usually best to stay within the 200-300 pixels per inch range.



This chart may help you determine your appropriate photo sizes.

Print Size Good Results (200 ppi) Excellent Results (300 ppi)
4×6 inch 800 by 1200 px (~1 megapixels) 1200 by 1800 px (~2 megapixels)
5×7 inch 1000 by 1400 px (~1.5 megapixels) 1500 by 2100 px (~3 megapixels)
8×10 inch 1600 by 2000 px (~3 megapixels) 2400 by 3000 px (~7 megapixels)
11×14 inch 2200 by 2800 px (~6 megapixels) 3300 by 4200 px (~14 megapixels)
16×20 inch 3200 by 4000 px (~13 megapixels) 4800 by 6000 px (~29 megapixels)
(data compiled from PC World.com)

Legend
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ppi = Pixels per inch
px = Pixels
~ = Approximately
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For example, if you had a picture taken with a 1.5 Megapixel digital camera, a 5×7 inch print is probably the largest size print that would work. Anything larger than a 5×7, may not look good.

However, if you had a picture taken with a 14 Megapixel camera, you should be able to print out a 11×14 inch print with excellent results (300ppi), or a “good” looking 16×20 inch print at 200 ppi.

In addition to the digital camera image, there are a few other components that go into making good quality digital photos you’ll want to be aware of: Your printer, the ink cartridges you use, and the quality of the photo paper you use. Each component factors into your end result.