How to choose a photo printer: the characteristics you have to pay attention to
When choosing a photo printer you should consider the following technical characteristics of the device:
- Print resolution;
- The connection interface;
- Additional Features.
It is worth remembering that a photo printer is a specialized device, and it is designed to print images, not documents or similar materials. Of course, there are no functional restrictions on the text output of such “office equipment”, but due to the high cost of prints it is not feasible.
Also it is separately necessary to mention portable photo printers.
There are two types of photo printers, which differ in principle – inkjet and dye-sublimation.
Inkjet photo printers
Inkjet photo printers print in the following way – toner (paint) in liquid form through special nozzles is applied directly to the paper sheet. Due to the fact that most models of these devices support 6-8 shades, the print quality is quite high and the color rendering is good.
- Ability to print images of different formats, up to A4;
- Relatively low cost of printing;
- Ability to print texts, documents, etc.d. (but it is not practical in any case);
- High noise level;
- Low color rendering relative to sublimation photo printers;
- Low water-resistance of prints (however, some models use ink that is resistant to moisture);
Sublimation photo printers
In sublimation photo printers the toner is applied on a special film. When you print, the head of the device heats it up, the ink boils, and transfers it to the paper. It makes for deeper color reproduction.
- Excellent, according to most photographers, color rendering;
- Low noise level;
- Waterproof printing for all models of photo printers;
- Expensive consumables;
- Thus, an inkjet photo printer is well suited for home use, but the dye-sublimation – for professional use;
- Inability to print texts and similar documents.
- Limitation on the size of prints (the vast majority of photo printers support paper size less than 10×15 cm);
So, an inkjet photo printer is well suited for home use, but a dye-sublimation printer – for professional use.
Printing resolution is one of the most important features of photo printers. It determines the detail of the image and the smoothness of color transitions. The resolution of photo printing is measured in dots per inch (dpi).
It is not reasonable to buy an expensive photo printer for home use with a resolution of more than 4800×1200 dpi. This density alone produces an image with sufficient smoothness and detail. For infrequent high-resolution prints you can go to the appropriate salon.
Besides, the photo printers with printing resolution more than 4800×1200 dpi are expensive – both the device and consumables – and low speed. And both inkjet and dye-sublimation.
In addition to resolution, the quality of prints in inkjet photo printers is affected by the number of colors in the cartridge. Models that support 8 toner colors provide better color reproduction and smoother transitions.
Requires a quick connection of the photo printer to a computer to ensure sufficiently high print speed. Therefore, the interfaces that are used in such devices are as follows:
- Traditional USB;
- Wireless Wi-Fi;
- Wireless Bluetooth for communication with a smartphone;
- Card reader for connecting memory cards;
- USB for connecting your smartphone or camera.
USB implies a wired connection to a computer. The advantage of this standard is the high data transfer rate – faster than that of Wi-Fi or similar interfaces. So the delay in printing is minimal. The disadvantage is obvious – you need to put the printer right next to the computer.
Printers that support Wi-Fi can be placed anywhere in the home. In this case, they act as a network printer. Data transfer speeds on wireless photo printers are optimal for most users. What’s more, such devices can also send photos from other devices in the local network – multiple computers, smartphones, tablets, etc.d.
Bluetooth connection is good for printing from smartphones, tablets, etc.d. Some computers also support this interface, but the convenience of communication can only be called controversial.
The card reader allows you to print directly from memory cards of SD and similar standards. Pretty useful interface if you frequently need to output images from cameras or cameras to paper. But it is better not to use it as the primary connection standard.
USB connector (external) allows you to connect your smartphone or camera to the photo printer. Works similarly to a card reader or Bluetooth – that is, provides convenience in some cases, but is not suitable for use as a primary.
The main interfaces for connecting photo printers are, of course, USB and Wi-Fi. Models equipped with both of these would be a great solution for your home or even a small studio.
Additional features do not determine the characteristics of a photo printer, but make the use of such a device more convenient and pleasant. Such features include:
- Touch screen display. Great solution when printing photos from a memory card, flash drive or USB-connected camera. It makes selecting source photos more convenient;
- Photo editing. Another convenient function for printing without a computer. It allows you to do a little retouching of images (crop, rotate, apply filters and masks) before putting them on paper;
- Built-in scanner. Allows you to digitize paper or film prints and negatives;
- Supports plain paper. Suitable for printing documents, text, etc.d.;
- Built-in memory. Allows you to copy photos to the memory of the device and print without connecting a computer or smartphone.
As it usually happens, additional functions of photo printers increase the cost of the device. So you should buy a model with these features only if you really need them.
Portable photo printers
Portable photo printers should be separated into a separate class. They are compact and lightweight devices that allow you to get prints anywhere and easily connect to a smartphone, tablet, and in some cases even a camera. They provide high image quality and maximum printing speed.
However, portable photo printers have two serious drawbacks:
- They work only with branded consumables – namely, special photo paper;
- The size of a print is usually very small, so the images obtained with such devices can be used only as a souvenir.
Among the manufacturers of photo printers we can distinguish:
- Canon. Known for compact photo printers designed for home use. Provide sufficient printing quality for undemanding owners and have a very democratic price;
- Epson. Let out rather expensive photo printers, however with the expanded functionality and high quality of the image;
- Fujifilm. Another manufacturer of fairly inexpensive photo printers. Has a good quality of printing, but in most cases requires special consumables, which, in turn, can be quite expensive;
olariod. Produces compact printers that work only with branded consumables.
In the following articles, our experts tell you how to choose a laser printer, the secrets of choosing a printer for home and the main criteria for choosing printer paper.