With more people using digital cameras, more are also printing these digital images at home. To avoid the hassle of store development, and extra processing fees, photo printers are a good investment for amateur or professional photographers alike. However, unlike a professional lab, many individuals might be unaware of specific ways to best optimize printing from home. The following tips will help you get the most out of your photo printer, allowing you to best capture all of life's precious moments for many years to come.
Invest in high-quality photo paper.
The single best way to ensure a high quality photo at home comes from buying the right paper. In particular, you need to know the difference between glossy and matte finishes. Glossy finishes are better designed for vibrant landscapes or other outdoor shots. Matte finishes are better designed for architecture, black and white, or simple portraits because they bring out shadows and other subtle details.
Check your printer's photo settings.
Many printers have to be optimized for photo printing. Always make sure you have the highest quality setting. Often times normal day-to-day printing can be done in a draft setting, but photos require this high quality setting for the clearest image. Many printers also can be optimized even further, with specifications for the type of photo you will be printing. If you're printing a matte photograph, for instance, check out this tutorial from Digital Photo Magazine.
Get to know editing software, if you have it.
Most printers have basic editing software that allows you to crop photos, adjust brightness, contrast, and sharpness with just a few single clicks. Check your printer's manual to see if this is included or just browse through your programs folder. These little touch ups can make the difference between a good and exceptional image, so make use of this software whenever you are able to.
Look at print resolution before printing.
Be careful not to overedit or crop your photo too much. These edits can resize the photo to a much lower resolution. Because photographs are a series of dots, otherwise known as pixels, if the image has fewer of these pixels, it will come out blurry. When in doubt, always stick to smaller 4 by 6 or 5 by 7 prints for the clearest image. If you want to print a larger photo, after editing be sure to view it in its "actual size" in a print preview. For more information on what pixels are, and how they effect photo quality, Photoshop Essentials offers an excellent in-depth analysis of these ideas.
While these are only some of the tips to help you get the perfect photo printed at home, they can go a long way in helping you to familiarlize yourself with all aspects of photo printing. For all of the photo printing pros out there, feel free to share other tips below. Happy printing!