In the good days, photo printing was left to the professionals who developed our films. These days, we often print our photographs at home using our own equipment. Here are some top tips to help you get better results from your inkjet photo printer.
- Choose the right print size – You can tell your computer to print a photo at any size and it will comply. But that doesn’t mean that the image is guaranteed to be very good. There are many factors that go into print quality. You need enough pixels in your image for the printed photo to have high quality. At least 200 dpi (dots per image) is recommended for good print quality. Not sure how many pixels are in your photo? Right-click on the image file’s icon in the document panel. Choose ‘Properties’ or ‘get info’ and link the details in the tab. You should see the width and height listed in pixels. Determine the recommended print size by dividing the photo’s pixel size by 200 (or 300 for higher-quality prints). E.g. 2000×3400 pixels divided by 200 = 10 x 17 inches. Of course, this is approximate and a lot of different factors affect photo quality. This technique will give a good rule of thumb for deciding whether a photo will print well.
- Choose the right paper – You can print stunning photos from modern inkjet printers, but not just any paper will do. Plain paper, for example, absorbs the ink, which washes out the colours and destroys detail. For best results, use the printer manufacturer’s recommended photo paper. Photo paper comes in a variety of forms. The most common varieties are glossy and semi-glossy (also called matte). Glossy is exactly what it sounds like: it’s shiny and gives you photos a resounding visual image. Glossy paper is very reflective, it can generate glare in direct sunlight. If you want a less reflective alternative, consider matte. It is not quite as sharp as glossy paper, and fine detail can get lost in the surface.
- Verify the print settings – When you’re ready to print a photo, double-check all the important factors. Check the paper is loaded correctly. Photo paper is designed to be printed on a particular side. If printed on the wrong side, the ink won’t absorb properly. and the photo won’t look good. Check to make sure that the right paper and ink type in the print settings are set correctly. Make sure those settings match the specs on the box. It’s not so bad if you configure the printer for premium paper and quality ink when printing on plain paper but you definitely don’t want the printer to think you’re using plain paper or draft settings when outputting to high-quality photo paper.
- Maintain your printer! Take good care of your printer! Inkjet printers occasionally have to be cleaned. Every month or two, it is a good idea to run your printer’s print head cleaning and print head alignment utilities. Don’t let your printer go unused for weeks at a time. Use it once a week minimum to prevent it from ‘gumming’ up.